Cinespect Presents: Editors’ Top Ten for 2010 – Carlos’ Picks
Published on December 31st, 2010 | by Carlos J. Segura0
Top Films of 2010: Carlos’ Picks
A glorious and delirious mash-up of “Carrie,” “Suspiria,” “Showgirls,” “Repulsion,” “The Red Shoes,” and, perhaps most of all, “Perfect Blue;” it seamlessly blends dark, psychosexual comedy and beautiful, eerie imagery that is often in the form of hallucinations, both fantastic and of the out-of-the-corner-of-your-eye variety. The story, as the comparisons will indicate, is nothing new but Aronofsky’s ability with actors (the cast is uniformly excellent), his confidence in juggling and transcending his clichés, letting the pace ebb and flow while the film crescendos (this is a film that actually earns the right to say it crescendos) through to a powder keg of a finale that is a frenzy of dance, music, monsters, and violence, earns this film the status of masterpiece.
2. The Social Network (U.S.; Director: David Fincher)
A tale of a boy’s club run amok with betrayal, jealousy, and greed in the pursuit of power that oozes gothic atmosphere (Harvard could almost stand in for the boarding school in Clouzot’s “Diabolique”) and is all the better for it. Although the film’s brisk plotting and mile-a-minute dialogue delivery (think “His Girl Friday” on speed) is entertaining and solid enough it is nothing without Fincher’s brooding, foreboding and shadowy visuals; there are two break-out performances worth seeing here (Andrew Garfield and the underrated Justin Timberlake) along with Eisenberg’s relatively passive aggressive yet no less impressive work.
3. A Prophet (France; Director: Jacques Audiard)
A rags to riches story where the student becomes, and trumps, the master. The half-French, half-Arabic Malik El Djebena enters prison an illiterate, unconnected, and denigrated subject under his Corsican superiors (who look down on him because of his Arabic heritage). Forced to prove himself twice as much because of his half-breed status he eventually comes into his own and ends up being one of the most respected folks in the prison hierarchy. A blunt and suspenseful action/thriller that is anchored by a lead who is alternately sympathetic and despicable to some audience members perhaps (his actions are ultimately illegal and immoral) but as embodied by Tahar Rahim (another star making performance) his innocent appearance, and intentions at times, leave you unsteady in terms of where your sympathies lie and this is the movie’s most exciting aspect.
4. Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work (U.S.; Directors: Ricki Stern, Anne Sundberg)
A documentary that looks at the source of Joan’s comedy, namely her personal life and some of the more painful aspects and moments of her life, two of them being her husband’s suicide and the other when her talk show was cancelled. The doc is also a look into a day in the life of Joan Rivers, looking at the ins and outs of what goes into keeping up a career in a field, namely comedy, that is male dominated and ageist it seems. A showbiz doc that mines that pain that gets the laughs while stripping its audience of any glitzy illusions they may have had about the career of Joan Rivers.
5. I Love You Phillip Morris (France, U.S.; Directors: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa)
While it looks like this one is destined to fall through the cracks amidst the awards season it deserves a second look if for no other reason than to see Jim Carrey at his most manic and heartbreaking. The bleeding heart of this movie is the sickly and refreshingly sweet relationship between Carrey and McGregor which grounds a movie that could have gone far too out of control if not for the romance that motivates Carrey’s conman into committing illegal acts in order to make a life of luxury for him and Phillip outside of prison. The year’s most romantic movie.
6. Wild Grass (France; Director: Alain Resnais)
Love and whimsy are in the air as are film references (this film is especially recommend if the title “The Bridges of Toko-Ri” means anything to you). Even if it doesn’t the plot, which concerns a lost wallet that connects a man and woman who find themselves entangled in romantic complications with each other, will sweep you up in its unabashed romanticism (exceptional cinematography by Eric Gautier); what makes this one notable is how it allow characters of a certain age, namely middle to old, to lose their heads just as much younger characters often do, proving that love knows no age. Luckily talent doesn’t either; Alain Resnais was 87 when this was first released in Europe.
7. Inside Job (U.S.; Director: Charles Ferguson)
Never mind shades of gray in characters. In “Inside Job” there are only good guys and horrible ones. Charles Ferguson creates a film that is accessible, exciting, infuriating yet so chock full of information and fast in its pacing that you may need another go to take it all in. In his quest to figure out what happened when the financial crisis hit in 2008 the director circles the globe collecting countless interviews to try and figure out what happened. Seeing and hearing Ferguson essentially catch some of the subjects with their pants down may give you some of the best guilt-free schadenfreude you’ve felt in a while.
8. The Kids Are Alright (U.S.; Director: Lisa Cholodenko)
This is one where there are no clear bad guys, just people looking for love, validation, and family while making some mistakes and learning a thing or two on the way. Sounds square and it is for the most part in the best way. It’s a warm and family-oriented film that shows how much work (yes, work) goes into creating and keeping a family together; the runner-up best performance of the year comes from Annette Bening as one of the two mothers who is overprotective (rightfully so) of her family when a dark and handsome Mark Ruffalo, who was responsible for providing the sperm that allowed lesbian couple Jules and Nic to have their two kids, makes his way into their lives.
9. We Are What We Are (Mexico; Director: Jorge Michel Grau)
Shown at this year’s New York Film Festival this one is most likely going to be in next year’s top three if not at the very top. Had it been an official release it would be closer to the top but for now it must wait its turn behind the official releases. That said Grau’s film is simply the best horror film in years. New Yorkers won’t have to wait long for a release; expect sometime in the spring of 2011.
10.Certified Copy (France, Italy, Iran; Director: Abbas Kiarostami)
Yes, it’s not fair perhaps to include two festival films on the list. However, when what was offered in official releases just didn’t leave you with enough options to round off a top ten you have to dip into the film festival pond (it should be noted that New York Film Festival was strong this year and folks should have enough to look forward to once some of the films from the festival are released in 2011). Rather than say anything about the film, which will be released in spring of 2011 in the U.S., we exit this list and 2010 with the hope that there will be too many things to choose from for a top ten next year (in official releases).
Special Mention: Re-release of “Shoah”
Best NYC Film Event: Fuego: The Films of Isabel Sarli
Worst Film: Soul Kitchen (Germany; Director: Fatih Akin)