2010: Films

I’m often asked if it was “a good year” for films. Well, I saw a lot of films this year, and many of them were good – I saw more foreign films than in 2009, thanks to DVDs from Artificial Eye and Optimum, and to the proximity of the new HMV Curzon in Wimbledon, which has just celebrated its first birthday and looks – from where I’m sitting ie. somewhere very comfortable and predominantly free of idiots texting and talking – to be enjoying a steady stream of customers, whether it’s for the strategically programmed mainstream studio draws like Harry Potter or Sex & The City 2, or for the more esoteric stuff you simply don’t get at the Odeon (the first showing of Of Gods And Men, aka Des hommes et des dieux, one of my films of the year, was pretty much a full house). Long may it continue. Supporters and previous beneficiaries of the UK Film Council might say it was a bad year for British films, but with funding in the hands of the BFI now, even that may seem a storm in an administrative teacup as time passes. Wider cuts across the arts in this country will force people to spend their money more wisely, and creative people will always find a way. That is my glib view.

Although many of my favourite films of 2010 were indeed foreign, with Un Prophète and Des hommes et des dieux at the top, I’m happy to say that a mainstream American studio picture crowns the list: The Social Network. It’s a film I rushed back to see for a second time – that says as much about my appreciation of it as the fact that as soon as I’d heard The Suburbs by Arcade Fire, I put it straight back on. Other fine American films included A Single Man, Winter’s Bone, Somewhere and Toy Story 3. I have nothing against American films, I just tend to find more nourishment, and a greater number of surprises, in non-American work. A film like Leaving, or Partir, by Catherine Corsini, could simply not be made outside of France, either literally, or emotionally and thematically. Clearly, I haven’t seen every significant film released in 2010 (I don’t get invited to foreign film festivals like other critics, and I was too busy to attend the London Film Festival and wear a hole in my accreditation), and so I haven’t seen Uncle Boonmee, or Aurora, or Film Socialisme, or Police, Adjective, to name but four that I think I’d like. But I’ve done pretty well, so this is a fairly reliable list. I know I didn’t like Robin Hood, Sherlock Holmes or Invictus, and I was hugely disappointed by The Ghost and Shutter Island, because I expected so much more from their feted directors. Two of my beloved French films annoyed me: Gainsbourg and Father Of My Children, which proves I am not xenophobic against my own kind. And you know how I feel about Inception, surely the most lavish set of emperor’s new clothes in recent memory. It was meanwhile heartening to see another excellent – world-class – British sociopolitical comedy to follow up 2009’s In The Loop, namely Four Lions. (Interesting that both were products of writers, performers, directors and producers honed in television and reasonably new to cinema, which gives hope to us all.)

Let’s do the list, then.

1. The Social Network (David Fincher)
2. Un Prophete (Jacques Audiard)
3. Of Gods And Men (Xavier Beauvois)
4. The Secrets In Their Eyes (Juan José Campanella)
5. Winter’s Bone (Debra Granik)

6. Somewhere (Sofia Coppola)
7. Leaving (Catherine Corsini)
8. Another Year (Mike Leigh)
9. Four Lions (Chris Morris)
10. Toy Story 3 (Lee Unkrich)

11. Greenberg (Noah Baumbach)
12. I Am Love (Luca Guadagnino)
13. Tetro (Francis Coppola)
14. Kick-Ass (Matthew Vaughn)
15. Lourdes (Jessica Hausner)

16. A Single Man (Tom Ford)
17. The Kids Are All Right (Lisa Cholodenko)
18. The Illusionist (Sylvain Chomet)
19. Capitalism: A Love Story (Michael Moore)

Incidentally, I had a great time at Sex & The City 2, but I know it’s not even as good as Sex & The City 1, which wasn’t as good as Sex & The City. So it doesn’t make the list, but it does hold fond, if tipsy, memories, thanks to time and place.

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6 thoughts on “2010: Films

  1. It’s a good job we all like different things, isn’t it? I thought “Winter’s Bone” and “Somewhere” were tedious in the extreme, although to be honest I agree with most of the rest of your list – your top four are mine as well (with Toy Story 3 being my fifth.)

    • I caught your show on radio 4 last night and agreed with most of your points except for the strange comment that the coins in Scott Pilgrim were somehow reprehensive of lost quarters. That seems a bit abstract doesn’t it? It may as well have been small pocket-watches to represent the wasted hours.

      As someone who has wasted many a ‘quarter’ and an hour on Japanese video games I can securely inform you that the coins are actually a direct parody of games such as the Final Fantasy series which reward the player with money upon killing an enemy to further the in-game economy. The original book series contained many such geeky meta-jokes such as all shops being the same inside and fizzy drinks boosting your stats.
      Nerdiest comment ever?

      • I think you misheard me, I_Am_A_Wallet. I know full well that the coins represent energy/health. I can’t remember what I said, but I definitelydidn’t say “quarters” because I would never use the phrase “quarters” and I don’t think coins represent coins. But thanks for picking me up on it! I used to play a lot of computer games in my thirties and know all about them, which is why I was confident enough to talk about the subject.

  2. Glad to see the marvellously understated ‘Lourdes’ in your selection, Andrew. I keep trying to persuade friends to check it out ( largely unsuccessfully). And I finally watched ‘A Single Man’ last night and bawled my eyes out. I’ll be trawling through your list for some of the others I haven’t seen yet. Always behind these days, as I find visiting the cinema to be a purgatorial experience (Brighton’s Duke of York apart.).

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