Unknown Pleasures, a festival of American independent film, opens at the Babylon in Berlin tomorrow with Francis Ford Coppola's Tetro and runs through January 16. With special programs focusing on the work of Thom Anderson and John Gianvito, the lineup also features, for example, Alejandro Adams's Canary, Matt Porterfield's Hamilton and Putty Hill, Kentucker Audley's Open Five and a collection of shorts from Red Bucket Films.
While we're in the neighborhood, and to segue into today's roundup of year-end lists, Cargo's just posted "Was vom Jahr bleibt" ("What remains — what lasts — of the year"), a collection in German from contributors and friends.
Topping Mark Schilling's list of the best ten Japanese films of the year is Villain (Akunin): "Sang-il Lee's drama about an intense young laborer (Satoshi Tsumabuki) who falls for a thirtysomething men's store clerk (Eri Fukatsu) while on the run from the police for murder is rightfully being showered with awards. Lee, who made Yu Aoi a star with his 2006 hit Hura Garu (Hula Girls), extracts a similar career-best performance from Fukatsu as the shy, unworldly but stubbornly devoted clerk. Lee does what masters of Japanese cinema used to do with regularity, but now seems little short of a miracle: craft incisive, luminous drama from the common and sometimes sordid materials of ordinary lives." Also in the Japan Times, Kaori Shoji and Giovanni Fazio comment on their top ten non-Japanese films that played in the country in 2010.
Asia Pacific Arts: "As always, our writers were free to define 'best,' 'Asian,' 'film,' and '2010' however they wished." Frequent mentions: Feng Xiaogang's Aftershock, Takashi Miike's 13 Assassins, Hong Sang-soo's Hahaha, Tetsuya Nakashima's Confessions, Hirokazu Kore-eda's Air Doll and Li Hongqi's Winter Vacation.
"Las mejores películas argentinas de 2010." Diego Lerer's been counting them down. His #1: Ezequiel Acuña's Sightseeing.
Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives tops Lisa K Broad's list at Tativille, where Michael J Anderson considers some of the year's major events: "Concerning current trends in contemporary film art, I would beginning by citing the preeminence of Apichatpong and [Abbas] Kiarostami in world film art, and not only because the two directors made the year's two finest films.... Kiarostami's significance extended beyond the fact that the master made his best film (Certified Copy) since 2002's Ten, returning to narrative fiction filmmaking for the first time in eight years... Perhaps the biggest cinematic news story of 2010, however, involved a third Kiarostami disciple, the director's former assistant Jafar Panahi. Released on bail earlier this summer, the director has since been sentenced to six years imprisonment and a twenty year filmmaking ban. Beyond the enormous human and political tragedies represented by Panahi's jailing, and its implications for the Iranian film industry — it is not insignificant that Kiarostami directed his first fiction feature outside Iran this year — Panahi's absence from world cinema during his prime years is nothing short of catastrophic for the art form; Panahi is indeed one of the very few filmmakers working anywhere today who consistently makes films that belong to that baker's dozen of major works each year."
Jonathan Kiefer in the Faster Times: "In the spirit of the Amazon/iTunes Genius recommendation, wherein some insidious algorithm presumes to inform you that your soul is just another vacant database in need of loading, I humbly offer one last list of 2010 movie mentionables — an if-then top 10." For example, his #1: The Movie About Facebook and Therefore Also About Our Lonely Crazy Changing World: As much as I like Jesse Eisenberg and what he did, and can acknowledge David Fincher playing to his strengths (and Aaron Sorkin to his weaknesses), the truer Facebook movie, much more a product of its generation, was Catfish. It's a bothersome, backlash-courting film, but in that way also genuinely cathartic."
Quite a list over there at In Review Online. 20 films, 20 smart and brief write-ups. Their #1: White Material: "In the span of two years, [Claire] Denis has made two very different films that have each topped our yearly best-of lists. This one's a staggering achievement of cinematic form, but more importantly, it's a crucial document of familiar conflicts, and of a revolution that will not be televised."
Film Experience's panoramic multi-part year in review extravaganza carries on expanding.
Everyone Else is #1 on Mike D'Angelo's list in the Las Vegas Weekly: "Barely released in the US (but available now on DVD), this razor-sharp dissection of a troubled relationship observes two proudly unconventional young Germans on holiday in Sardinia, where they lock horns with a happier, kitschier couple. Few movies even attempt to tackle the dizzying array of conflicting emotions that writer-director Maren Ade conjures here." Josh Bell's top film is Greenberg: "Both brutal and brutally funny, this biting character study about a weirdly charismatic misanthrope features a career-best performance from Ben Stiller in the title role. Like many Noah Baumbach characters, Greenberg isn't exactly likable, but he's instantly recognizable and achingly relatable."
"How is a critic to interpret a year in film that just didn't send him?" asks Ty Burr. "For the first time in recent memory, I had to wrack my brain to come up with an annual Top 10 list." But of course, he's managed — he's had to, it's his job — and Banksy's Exit Through the Gift Shop is in the top spot: "A few critics have indignantly insisted the movie's a hoax, and even if they're right (which I doubt), they're both missing and proving the point — that art becomes a commodity and a con the moment the spray-paint is dry." Also in the Boston Globe, for Wesley Morris, "Twenty-ten was stingy with true greatness but flush with excellence, very goodness, and 'hey, that wasn't bad at all.'... I don't have a favorite. I have a team, unranked, equally admired, and mostly available in theaters or through most video services."
"[I]nstead of doing a rigid Cinematical's Top 10 of 2010, we decided to do things a little differently. We asked our staff — which, at over 20 strong, collectively represents members from various film critics' organizations around the country — to give us their picks for the three best films of the year and then made a compilation of the results." Landing in the #1 slot: Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan.
Listening (99'28"). Mark Kermode tells the BBC's Simon Mayo all about his favorite films of the year. Viewing. At Salon, Matt Zoller Seitz is counting down the "Best Scenes of 2010."
David Cairns looks back on a year of viewing, month by month. The Playlist contributors recall their "Favorite Onscreen Moments in 2010." And Christopher Bourne's been counting down his top 40 films of 2009.
Via Ed Gonzalez at the House Next Door, Joe Pompeo has selected the "best long-form media writing of 2010, magazine edition," at Yahoo! and his #1 choice is Chris Jones's profile of Roger Ebert for Esquire.
At IFC.com, Stephen Saito looks back on "2010's Most Memorable Critical Dust-Ups."
n+1: "We asked contributors to tell us what happened this year in the places they live and know well."
Cultural critics for the New York Times and the Independent look ahead to a few highlights of 2011.
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