It's an annual event as well as a browse that could suck up an entire weekend: Senses of Cinema's worldwide poll of… well, they're not all critics, so let's just call them friends of cinema. You'll want to scroll up and down the whole thing, but take a look, too, at the best of 2011 according to Notebook editor Daniel Kasman and contributors Celluloid Liberation Front, Christoph Huber, Olaf Möller and Dan Sallitt as well as a major presence here in the Forum and elsewhere, David Ehrenstein.
London. This is the year we'll be seeing the results of Sight & Sound's poll of more friends of cinema regarding the greatest films of all time. It happens only once every ten years and in the magazine's pages, Graham Fuller argues a mighty case for the return of Jean Vigo's L'Atalante (1934) to the top ten. The film's opening today for an extended run at BFI Southbank, so you'll find more on it from Peter Bradshaw (Guardian, 5/5), Eithne Farry (Electric Sheep), Tom Huddleston (Time Out London, 5/5) and Jack Jones (Little White Lies).
Elsewhere. UCLA Film & Television Archive and the UCLA Center for European and Eurasian Studies present an evening with Marina Goldovskaya, "the leading documentary chronicler of the wrenching changes that have gripped the Soviet Union and modern-day Russia beginning in the late 20th century." SIFF Cinema at the Uptown in Seattle is screening the Best Documentaries of 2011 through Thursday. The Boston Festival of Films From Iran opens today and runs through January 29. And the Chicago Reader's JR Jones survey's "This week's movie action" in the Second City.
Reading. Film culture is alive and well, J Hoberman assures New York Times critics Manohla Dargis and AO Scott: "Over the past 15 years the photographic basis of the medium has been eroded by digital image making, the traditional delivery system is changing, not just for cinema but for criticism, the audience is dwarfed by the audience for video games, and yet great things continue to be made…. [T]here’s still room for novelty and potential for debate. Look at the fracas over The Tree of Life and Melancholia. It just goes to show that, although a great filmmaker like the Soviet master Andrei Tarkovsky was a minority taste at best among the critics of the 80s (check out his reviews), his epigones have succeeded in creating significant cine-scandals."
And more reading. Selections from the January issue of Electric Sheep are up: "We start off the year with the real truths behind fake documentaries to mark the Blu-ray release of Peter Watkins's incendiary Punishment Park, whose denunciation of the US government's repression of dissent remains powerfully relevant 40 years later." … Charles Simic for the New York Review of Books on growing up with the movies … And if you can't read Japanese, Art Theatre Guild pamphlet #87 is still fun to leaf through; Nihon Cine Art's just made it available.
In other news. The full program and schedule for the International Film Festival Rotterdam, opening Wednesday and running through February 5, is now online.
Nanni Moretti will be President of the Jury of the 65th edition of Cannes, running May 16 through 27.
Lynn Shelton's Your Sister's Sister will open the Seattle International Film Festival on May 17, reports Moira Macdonald of the Seattle Times. SIFF, of course, runs forever, this year through June 10.
"The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival (April 12-15) has chosen to highlight the career of Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker Stanley Nelson (Freedom Riders, A Place of Our Own) for its annual Full Frame Tribute," reports Nigel M Smith at indieWIRE. Nelson is also among several documentary filmmakers (including Barbara Kopple, Jessica Yu, Steve James, Joe Berlinger and on and on) who'll be taking part in Focus Forward, "a new series of 30 three-minute stories about innovative people who are reshaping the world through act or invention." Here's the trailer.
Awards. "Fresh off its Golden Globes' win earlier this week, Michel Hazanavicius's The Artist came up trumps at the London Film Critics' Circle Awards, winning best film, director and actor for Jean Dujardin," reports Diana Lodderhose for Variety. "Asghar Farhadi's A Separation won foreign language pic, screenwriter of the year for Farhadi and supporting actress for Sareh Bayat." Peter Knegt has the full list of winners at indieWIRE, where he also reports that the Costume Designers Guild "have announced nominees in three separate film categories — contemporary, fantasy and period — for its 14th annual awards ceremony." Deadline has the nominations from the Motion Picture Sound Editors. And the nominations for the GLAAD Media Awards are out.
Lists. TCM's "10 Most Influential Silent Films" and the Independent's "10 best silent films."
In the works. "Sion Sono is following up Himizu, which he rewrote to include the March tsunami, with Land of Hope, a family drama set after a huge earthquake and Fukushima-type nuclear accident." Gavin J Blair has more in the Hollywood Reporter.
Two items on Kristen Wiig at the Playlist. Instead of sleepwalking into a Bridesmaids sequel, she'll join Sean Penn and Robert De Niro in The Comedian, with Penn directing, as Simon Dang reports, and she may join Ben Stiller and Shirley MacLaine in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, as Kevin Jagernauth reports.
Jon S Baird will direct an adaptation of Irvine Welsh's novel Filth with a cast featuring James McAvoy, Jamie Bell, Eddie Marsan, Joanne Froggatt, Jim Broadbent and Imogen Poots, reports James Wallace at FirstShowing.
"It was a pretty big deal when George Clooney agreed to perform in Dustin Lance Black's play 8," writes Joshua L Weinstein for TheWrap. "It just got bigger. Jane Lynch, Matthew Morrison, Rob Reiner, Martin Sheen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Campbell Brown, Matt Bomer, Cleve Jones, Christine Lahti, Rory O'Malley, Yeardley Smith and George Takei also will star, the producers said Thursday. 8 is about the trial in a San Francisco federal court that overturned California's Proposition 8, which banned gays and lesbians from marrying."
Eye candy. "2012 marks the 20th anniversary of BFI Film Classics, the British Film Institute's renowned series of books on landmarks in world cinema. To celebrate, [Creative Review] and BFI Publishing are giving one student the chance to design the cover of a special edition of one of these renowned books." Above: Mark Swan's cover for Went the Day Well? by Penelope Houston.
Birthdays. David Lynch is 66. Fellini would have been 92 today.
Obits. "Etta James, the earthy blues and R&B singer whose anguished vocals convinced generations of listeners that she would rather go blind than see her love leave, then communicated her joy upon finding that love at last, died Friday morning," reports Randy Lewis for the Los Angeles Times. She was 73. "As a teen, James formed a trio called the Peaches, which was discovered by R&B musician and promoter Johnny Otis (who, coincidentally, died Tuesday at age 90)."