Thursday, March 03, 2011

The Best Movies of 2010, and your Best Picture

The Grumbach Awards 2010

Best Picture

The Nominees Are (In alphanumeric order):

Note: Click on the Titles for the Reviews.

127 Hours: As I have said before, and I shall say again – this here is the American Movie of the Year. The performance that is James Franco quite coolly blends with the performance that is Aron Ralston which quite triumphantly performs the glorious American feat that is this film. It is at once a post-modern film that is not cynical but one of supreme faith in humanity. And then we have the academics of a schizophrenic filmmaker and a meta-performer provide for the most thrilling director-actor combo. This film is the reason why Hollywood is the biggest American cultural export.

Ajeossi (The Man from Nowhere): Quite simply the action movie of the year. Enough said.

Alle Anderen (Everyone Else): A relationship that cuts perilously close, so close that it borders on being unwatchable. Insecurities hide behind coolness, rather deliberately hidden behind a performance of coolness. Here is a couple who take pride in being different from everyone else, and that pride is a façade, a performance so difficult to maintain. The most closely observed, and least directed of all films this year.

Akmareul Boatda (I Saw The Devil): The beast of the year. Revenge not cold, not poetic, but down and dirty. The middlebrow preoccupation with revenge is taken to the cleaners here. Much like The Prestige the ego that is associated with revenge longs usurps love, and most correctly (politically incorrectly) the film condones that. A brilliant formal exercise, and a plundering of the slasher genre not merely to nod but to serve a thematic concern.

Copie Conforme (Certified Copy): What’s the difference between a Werner Herzog and a David Fincher? What’s the difference between Manhunter and Miami Vice? Why do we so instinctively respond to on-location filmmaking? Why does Quentin Tarantino obsess on film, and claim that he would never opt for digital? Why does Pixar obsess over the strangely paradoxical realistic looking animation? What is validity of urban India, or for that matter urban everywhere? Did Aron Ralston inspire 127 Hours or did 127 Hours inspire Aron Ralston? Kiarostami’s masterpiece might provide for some answers, but many more such questions.

Inception: The authoritarian movie of the year, in its structure and in its theme, which by definition makes it one of the greatest blockbusters. Here is a film that makes it impossible to watch it in any other way than its own terms, arresting us and instructing. It is awesome, magnificent and often redundant, and yet it is the film that the inner Melville in me responds to. In its attention to exposition, and its unwavering preoccupation with plot, the film brings together a most subtle way of character development – only through action. Did Nolan miss a Melvillian trick by constantly explaining his heist? I think he did, and I cannot stop fantasying how thrilling it would’ve been had we merely been a witness to this most elaborate mind-game. Remember The Brothers Bloom? A great film.

Kynodontas (Dogtooth): Here is the most liberal movie of the year. We might never have another Bruno on the screen, but if he were to make a film, here it is. If the Romanian masterpiece below was implicating its character, this film here implicates the viewer, and compels us to question our reactions and hence the hypocrisy of our morality. Quite undeniably the political allegory of the year.

Les Herbes Folles (Wild Grass): Resnais has always been ad-libbing and as always been discovering his films. A radical then, and still a radical. With images, with memory, with cinema. Resnais strives on cliché, on kitsch, on melodrama and here he spreads wildness around a stereotypical romance. It is like Resnais channeling a Norman Bates via Calvin, and the result is another Resnais masterwork.

Marţi, După Crăciun (Tuesday, After Christmas): The most moral camera of the year. In a film as this, the cool friend with no personal stakes somehow becomes a judge of sorts, and that is the role the camera assumes here. It is kind but it is implicating. This implication makes it the most gripping thrilling film of the year, so brilliantly orchestrated that a study like Tim Smith’s research on David Bordwell’s blog would yield greater more insightful results. In its choreography of action and its supreme craftsmanship of leading our gaze this film has no parallel. The rarest of rarities.

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives: There is magic, there is fantasy and there is this film. Yes it is a dream, yes it is cinema, yes it is a monk, but then there is a resistance in it that doesn’t sit well with me. If Uncle Boonmee had a brother, it would have to be Dostoevsky’s Uncle Zosima.

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger: As smart a film as Mr. Allen has ever made. Viewed purely from an architectural perspective, it is fascinating how Mr. Allen deftly handles the various players in a non-functional family, none of them feeling like supporting players, and still gives them the treatment of one of those multiple-story hyperlink movies. There’re supporting players of course, the ones who interact with each member of the family, each of those players feeling nothing but caricatures. Or maybe I get it wrong. Maybe, they are devices of fate, events draped as people and thrown at this family by the one sitting upstairs. It is strange how a cynical non-conformist like Mr. Allen might actually be giving into the workings and illusions of his fate and even suggesting that it might be the right choice. In many ways the spiritual parent to Christopher Nolan’s Inception, without of course all the pyrokinetics.

And the winner of the First Grumbach Best Picture Award is:

Alle Anderen (Everyone Else): Tell you what, I have only ever watched 43 min. of this film, and the vulnerability and observation inside of it is enough to tell me that this here is a masterpiece. It is immediate, and feels like almost looking inside of a mirror. Probably the most complicated and challenging movie of the year.


Just Another Film Buff said...

A superb, eclectic list. Great job!

man in the iron mask said...

Oh thanks man! Some real good movies this year...

Virus© said...

I love what you've done with the pretty little sparrow and that red MS Paint circle. Win! :D

Got to watch many on your list. I'll start.

I'll come back to comment. :)

man in the iron mask said...

Hah! Thats all I could do man. A little shortage of resources goes a long, long way.

But then, our good friend Srikanth did nail the code behind the image. Any guesses?

I shall be waiting!

Anonymous said...

Hell Yeah, Awesome list.

The Ancient Mariner said...

I was hoping to see Black Swan somewhere.

man in the iron mask said...

Black Swan is a film that annoyed me endlessly.

Anonymous said...

The Perfect list.....

I would have declared joint winners:

Alle Anderen and Kynodontas...

Castor said...

Sweet list unlike any I have seen before! Glad to see someone else appreciate 127 Hours so much, it sort of fell out of sight after all the Black Swan and King's Speech came out.

Sachin said...

I am glad to see the appreciation for Everyone Else. Although I hope you have seen more than 43 min of it now? :) I saw this film back in 2009 just when it was slowly making its way on the film festival circuit and when there were limited reviews of it, so it was a real discovery to come across it. The first 20 min were hard to pin down and I was not sure where it was going but once it became apparent, it was fascinating.

I would suggest the dutch film Hunting & Zn as another film that captures raw emotions in a relationship like Everyone Else.