Bet you can guess which film's topped the Village Voice poll this year. Analyzing the results, J Hoberman notes that David Fincher's The Social Network is listed on 52 of 85 ballots, "the largest percentage of any poll-topping movie since Todd Haynes's Far From Heaven won in 2002... The last time a newly anointed Time Person of the Year like Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg got the simultaneous Hollywood treatment was back in 1943 (Joe Stalin, Mission to Moscow)." Topping his own list of ten, though, is The Strange Case of Angelica (image above): "Manoel de Oliveira's latest last film, which includes the 101-year-old director's first use of CGI in his debut dream sequence, is as funny and peculiar as its title promises. Putting his own eccentric spin on the myth of Orpheus, the last working filmmaker to have been born during the age of the nickelodeon offers a modest, ultimately sublime meditation on the photographic essence of the motion-picture medium, as glimpsed in the half-light of eternity."
Other results of the Voice poll: Actor (Jesse Eisenberg tops that one), Actress (Jennifer Lawrence for Winter's Bone), Supporting Actor (John Hawkes, Winter's Bone), Supporting Actress (Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom), Director (Olivier Assayas, Carlos), Screenplay (Aaron Sorkin), Undistributed Film (Jean-Luc Godard's Film Socialisme), First Feature (Exit Through the Gift Shop), Documentary (Exit again), Animated Feature (Toy Story 3) and Worst Film (The Last Airbender). You can also browse the individual ballots.
Aaron Hillis talks with some of this year's breakout performers. Ronald Bernstein (Daddy Longlegs), for example, whose own favorite film of 2010 dates back to 1973, Rainer Werner Fassbinder's World on a Wire: "The rep circuit was strong and [that] scratched the itch with the most gusto. Batshit baroque and sort of knowingly dopey, too. Like gourmet junk food." For Mila Kunis (Black Swan), it's Winter's Bone: "Jennifer Lawrence is fantastic, and the simplicity was just so beautiful. I was completely captivated." Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit) goes for The Social Network: "The opening scene with Rooney Mara and Jesse Eisenberg is amazing." Stephen Dorff (Somewhere) will have what she's having: "I thought that was a cool script, and Andrew Garfield is really talented. I hadn't seen his work before, and he stood out for me. But my favorite part was Trent Reznor's fantastic score."
Eric Hynes talks with the programmers who make New York the US capital of repertory, Melissa Anderson looks back on another rotten year for sapphic sex and Chuck Wilson looks ahead to "the ten 2011 films we're excited to see."
"Inception both conquered the 2010 zeitgeist and helped define it," writes LA Weekly film editor Karina Longworth. "It was merely the biggest rendition of the year's most prevalent movie theme: How do you know that what you think is real is actually, like, really real? How do you know that you're not being fucked with?... Two of my Top 10 choices, Roman Polanski's The Ghost Writer and Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island, directly deal with the 'real real' question, and most of the other films on my list incorporate some variety of au courant questioning, from the romantic skepticism of Everyone Else (is what seems to be love really love?) to Enter the Void's vision of afterlife as 'the ultimate trip,' to the full-on phantasmagoria of my No. 1 film of the year." Which is Trash Humpers: "Influenced by surveillance and prank videos, but hardly haphazard (in fact, its nonaesthetic is the result of intricate design and careful production), [Harmony] Korine's faked relic about a separatist group of drunken, garbage can-fetishizing, self-mythologizing miscreants is the ultimate, twisted fairy tale allegory for our decaying times."
You'll find the "Best (and worst) of 2010" lists from Time Out New York's critics all on one page. David Fear's #1 is Winter's Bone: "Debra Granik's airtight adaptation of Daniel Woodrell's novel turns a world of Southern inhospitality into a proving ground for a steadfast, steel-spined young woman. Pitch-perfect, start to finish." Joshua Rothkopf's is The Social Network: "A movie torn out of the here and now (yet poised at a wary distance from the digital gospel), David Fincher's cryptic masterpiece won't be fully understood for years." And Keith Uhlich's is Wild Grass: "Alain Resnais's stalker romance brilliantly confounds at every turn. The wry final passage raises it from comic to cosmic statement — what glorious fools we mortals be." Also: "Ten Moments from 2010."
There are four categories in Electric Sheep's roundup of "Hits and Misses of 2010," all of them revisited by the magazine's reviewers: "The Magnificent Seven" (Bong Joon-ho's Mother, Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, Giorgos Lanthimos's Dogtooth, Winter's Bone, Yang Ik-joon's Breathless, Werner Herzog's Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans and Claire Denis's White Material), "The Good" (too many to list here), "The Bad" and "The Ugly" (Michael Winterbottom's The Killer Inside Me).
Stephanie Zacharek: "I enjoy looking at other critics' top-10 lists, but I almost always find the choices at the bottom — including 'honorable mentions,' if a critic has included them — the most interesting. At the top of the list, the pressure is really on: I always start with the movie I simply loved best, and then deal with the inevitable criticism that it cannot possibly be the 'best' movie out there in a given year. (The only way to 'deal with' such criticism is to ignore it.)" So if you object to her starting off with Sofia Coppola's Somewhere, well, she won't hear you. Also at Movieline, Michelle Orange: "In sifting through the year in movies I tried an experiment in passivity, and tracked the films that came back to me in moments. In no particular order, these are the films — and in some cases the moments — that sped up my heart, slowed down my mind, and found a place to live in my imagination beyond 2010."
"Almost all the movies I chose explore the margins of society and experience, from the loneliness of a monomaniacal billionaire to the outsider art of the damaged victim of a hate crime, from a childlike dancer pushed to the limits of solipsistic obsession to a young girl who's been 12 years old for a long time." Peter Keough's #1 is The Social Network. Also in the Boston Phoenix: Nicolas Cage's "dogged pursuit of the sublime serves as inspiration to the rest of us whores," writes Eugenia Williamson. "He proves definitively that it's great to be alive in 2010, transcending even the advantages of the Hollywood dynasty into which he was born. I refer you to Gwyneth Paltrow. Did she outbid Leonardo DiCaprio for a dinosaur skull? Does she own two islands? Two castles? Two albino cobras? An octopus? Does she even have one Lamborghini? No, no, no, no, no. And no." She gives us "the Year in Cage."
In the Independent Weekly, The Social Network tops Neil Morris's list, Nathan Gelgud considers the films made for TV screens (Carlos, the Red Riding trilogy, the Mesrine films, Killer Instinct and Public Enemy #1 and even Trash Humpers) and Zack Smith asks, "Is there hope for our culture on a 4-inch screen?"
Robert De Niro's on the cover of the new issue of Esquire, collecting the best of ten years' worth of "What I've Learned" interviews (with the likes of Robert Altman, Werner Herzog and dozens of others) and adding a fresh round. NPR's pop culture blogger, Linda Holmes, looks back on "50 things I heartily, unironically, truly admired and enjoyed this year." The New Republic editors picks their "Best Books of 2010."
IN OTHER NEWS
Today's news from the Berlinale: First and foremost, a condemnation of the sentencing of Jafar Panahi and Mohammed Rasulof. Second, the poster for the 61st edition, running February 10 through 20. Third, the lineup for Forum Expanded: "This year, the program focuses on films, videos and installations that challenge political thought in aesthetic form. In Mohammadreza Farzad's Into Thin Air, memories of the Iranian revolution are investigated through remnants of history stored in images. A German politician encounters the creative industry in René Frölke's Führung, while other works carry out research on political landscapes (National Motives by Raphaël Grisey and Minor by Patty Chang). In new works by some of the leading figures of the avant-garde tradition, including James Benning, Barbara Hammer, Guy Maddin and Tony Conrad, the topicality of a counter-cinema is underlined both with respect to film as well as to the influence of film on contemporary art. At the same time, artists such as Lawrence Weiner, Santiago Sierra, Yael Bartana, Wendelien van Oldenborgh and Patty Chang extend the idea of what cinema is, using the medium of film to reflect upon their own artistic practices."
Fourth, "the jury that awards the Berlinale Shorts prizes will consist of American photographer and filmmaker Nan Goldin, Israeli film director and head of the Sam Spiegel Film School Renen Schorr, and Tunisian director and producer Ibrahim Letaief."
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