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Lists and Awards #5. Critics Circles and More

The Auteurs Daily

Claire Denis

The fourth roundup of year-end and decade-end lists and awards was updated through Sunday morning (previously: 1, 2, 3). Now, a new week begins, with various critics groups circling in on their award-winners, guilds convening and countless other bodies and individuals releasing their rankings.



"Defying critics to once again trot out lazy 'down-year' grousing, 2009 delivered a cinematic bounty for those intrepid enough to venture outside their staid megaplex comfort zones," argues Nick Schager, introducing Slant's "Best of 2009" special. It's an annotated list of 25, in order, followed by each of the seven contributing critics' own lists. Their collective #1: 35 Shots of Rum, "Claire Denis's final masterpiece of the decade."

"[W]hen I ask myself what film of the 'aughts' was both an artistic and commercial breakthrough, what film galvanized a global audience while blending pop fantasy, wrenching melodrama and historical-political relevance, then I arrive at a final answer that unites and satisfies all three of my personas," writes Andrew O'Hehir, discussing his choices for the best films of the decade while simultaneously introducing the newly launched Film Salon. "Both a heartbreaking tale of Spain under fascism and a soaring reinvention of fairy tale archetype, Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth brought Lord of the Rings viewers to art-house cinema, and art-house buffs to a fantasy flick. The greatest film of the decade? Probably not. But as a film that carved out a rich and satisfying middle way between Hollywood pandering and cinephile obscurantism, a film that won awards and sold tickets without compromising its intelligence or daring, it might be the one that meant the most."

So Film Salon is also featuring filmmakers and critics writing about their films of the decade: RJ Cutler (The September Issue) on Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous; Nicole Holofcener (Lovely & Amazing) on Michel Gondry and Charlie Kaufman's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; the New Republic's Christopher Orr on Pixar; and Jonathan Rosenbaum on A.I. Artificial Intelligence: "[A]ny ordinary auteurist way of processing cinema can't begin to handle this masterwork adequately: Reading it simply as a Spielberg film, as most detractors do, or even trying to read it simply as a Kubrick film, is a pretty futile exercise with limited rewards, even though the fingerprints of both directors are all over it."

The New Yorker's gathering all its lists under one handy URL.

Via the House Next Door, Brendon Bouzard's year in film.

Online listening. The Film Talk: Jett Loe and Gareth Higgins discuss the "Films of the Decade."

Updates: "Why limit myself to the few new movies I managed to see this year?" asks Ed Howard. "Instead, here are 21 great films that I caught up with in 2009, including one that actually was newly released this year."

Anne Helen Petersen looks back on a decade of "Celebrity and Academic Style."

From the Playlist: "The Best Music Documentaries of the Decade." Erin Donovan's got her own list of 50.

In Contention's Kristopher Tapley on 2009: "I liked. A lot. Of movies. And I relish the opportunity now to pay tribute to the year’s best, some 30 titles, each of which could have been a top 10 finalist in any other year." But there is a top ten, and in the #1 slot: A Serious Man.

At the Film Panel Notetaker, favorite discussions, Q&As: Brian Geldin, Erin Scherer and Leah Meyerhoff.

Updates, 12/15:


A "Top 10 Movies of 2009" special is up at MSN Movies. Jim Emerson: "Motley contributors include Richard T Jameson, Kathleen Murphy, Dave McCoy, Kim Morgan, James Rocchi, Glenn Whipp, Sean Axmaker, Mary Pols, Don Kaye and me. Be sure to check out the individual lists here."

"In the spirit of Bad Lit's annual Movie of the Year pick, I've decided that I should equally pick just one film as a Movie of the Decade," writes Mike Everleth. "And that movie is: Plaster Caster."

More films of the decade at Film Salon: Mary Harron on David Lynch's Inland Empire, "the work of a great director who will go only where he wants to go," and Michael Tully on The Real Cancun: "No, I'm not kidding." And more: Dennis Lim on Jia Zhangke's Platform, which "has the special force of a state-of-the-world address," and Andrew Grant on Charlie Kaufman's Synecdoche, New York, "a perfect snapshot of where our heads were at in these early years of the 21st century."

The London Times picks its "100 Best Films of 2009."

Stuart Comer and Rajendra Roy write up the "best motion pictures and moving images of 2009" for frieze.

Not Coming to a Theater Near You is conducting a poll, the "Decade in Review," and you're invited to submit titles and comments.

The Playlist's "Best Documentaries of the Decade." 25 in all, plus honorable mentions. #1: Capturing the Friedmans.

Updates, 12/16: Cahiers du Cinéma posts its 2009 top ten. #1: Alain Resnais's Wild Grass.

Film Salon launches its "Directors of the Decade" series with Matt Zoller Seitz on Michael Bay: "Snaking through each Bay film like a supercharged electrical cord is an intertwined faith in brute force and technological wizardry. In this regard, Steven Spielberg's championing of Bay - he executive produced The Island and both Transformers films - is strange. Bay is Spielberg's thug-jock doppelgänger, openly embracing values that Spielberg has traditionally regarded with distaste or skepticism."

Glenn Kenny lists his top 16 of 2009 in preferential order. His #1: Summer Hours.


Yi Yi

At Cinematical, Jeffrey M Anderson lists his top ten foreign films of the decade. His #1: Edward Yang's Yi Yi. For Vadim Rizov (Film Salon), Yi Yi "may be the greatest film ever, let alone the best of the decade." More from Andrew Chan at Reverse Shot, still counting down the top 20 films of the decade, one essay at a time.

Back in Film Salon, Scott Z Burns, who's written The Informant! and The Bourne Ultimatum, on Adaptation: "I remember sitting in the dark being both moved and jealous of what Charlie Kaufman and Spike Jonze accomplished - I wanted to give up writing because it seemed like they had taken everything I had ever wanted to say and said it better, funnier and faster."

And Jeff Lipsky (Flannel Pajamas) on Ingmar Bergman's Saraband: "It stands alone: a stunning conclusion to a near-perfect career."

"Shaggy Dog Movies" are "the cinematic equivalent of 'shaggy dog' jokes - stories that build and build only to leave the viewer with a preposterous anticlimax of an ending." Simon Abrams at GreenCine Daily: "Sometimes they drag the viewer along and build up the expectation that some central burning question will be solved when, in fact, it won't. Sometimes their creators bite off more than they can chew, delivering a film that's prematurely deemed an ignoble failure because it's too wrapped up in its own obtuse punchline to let us in on the joke. Whatever the reason, the fact that they don't add up in the end is what makes them so fascinating, confounding, irritating, bewitching and cruelly funny. A few of them involve God, outer space and/or other generic conventions, because nothing makes for a more enticing road to nowhere than a heady story about alien or celestial mother ships. Behold, my Top 10 Favorite Shaggy Dog Movies of the Decade That Was the Aughts." #1: Richard Kelly's Southland Tales.

"I am a 64 year old film viewing nutcase." Father Geek lists his top 20 for 2009 at AICN. His #1: Avatar.

The Playlist the "Best Animated Films of the Decade." Ten plus honorable mentions. Their #1: Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away.

The AV Club lists the "19-plus worst films of 2009."

Cinema Blend lists the "Most Unfairly Overlooked Movies of the Decade."

Updates, 12/17: "The year in film 2009." The AV Club counts from 20 (Coraline) to 1 (The Hurt Locker).

"What in the world do David Lynch, Terrence Malick, Michael Mann, Wong Kar-wai and Hou Hsiao-hsien have in common?" More directors of the decade from Matt Zoller Seitz at Film Salon: the "sensualists." And more films of the decade, too: Sebastian Gutierrez (Women in Trouble) on Alfonso Cuarón's Children of Men, "for its ideas, for its look, for the fact that it is deeply emotional without being sentimental and for its great sense of music (none more than the kick-ass Jarvis Cocker end-credits finale, 'Cunts Are Still Ruling the World'). Hats off, Mr Cuarón."

From Richard T Jameson and Kathleen Murphy at MSN Movies, "Moments out of Time: Images, lines, gestures, moods from the year's films."

Mike Everleth: "[T]he most 'innovative' filmmaker I can think of this year is South Africa's Aryan Kaganof, whose Civilization and Other Chimeras Observed During the Making of an Exceptionally Artistic Feature Film is Bad Lit's 2009 Movie of the Year."

"Inspired by my good friend Adrian Curry, whose 'Movie Posters of the Decade' post over at The Auteurs led critic (and Twitter fiend) Roger Ebert to issue forth a 'bleh' (and then respond with his own choices), I thought I'd join in on the fun and put together a post on posters as well," writes Andrew Grant. "Yet rather than 'best' or 'favorite' I decided to focus on films and/or posters that aren't as well known here in the States - things I saw at film festivals, or in a Paris Metro station, a billboard in Shinjuku, etc. Others I simply stumbled upon online."

Jonathan Kiefer in the Faster Times lists "Ten Films of the Past Ten Years that I’d Like to Mention Now."

Time Out London's film critics pick their five best (and one worst) movies of 2009.

Christopher Campbell revisits the best documentaries of the decade at Cinematical.

Slate's John Swansburg and Chris Wilson present the "Aught-omatic," an "interactive guide to all the 'best movies of the decade' lists.... To see which movies of the aughts are earning the most end-of-decade love, select the 'Points' category from the drop-down menu on the left. You can also sort the films by director or by total number of appearances on best-of lists."

Adam at Northwest Film Forum's Hot Splice picks his top ten of '09. #1: Miguel Gomes's Our Beloved Month of August.

"What Were the Worst Hollywood Remakes of the Decade?" asks Movieline.



It was a good weekend for Kathryn Bigelow and The Hurt Locker; and for Christoph Waltz and Mo'Nique.

Yesterday, The Hurt Locker swept the Boston Society of Film Critics Awards, taking Best Picture, Actor (Jeremy Renner), Director (Bigelow), Cinematography (Barry Ackroyd) and Editing (Bob Murawski and Chris Innis). Vulture's Bilge Ebiri notes that "a source informs us that the Coen brothers' A Serious Man, which ultimately took home only one award (for Best Screenplay), actually put up a pretty decent fight, coming in second in balloting for Best Picture, Editing, and Cinematography."

Kathryn Bigelow

But The Hurt Locker and Bigelow prevailed. With the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, too, who, like the Boston critics and the New York Film Critics Online and the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, all also named Waltz (Colonel Landa in Inglourious Basterds) and Mo'Nique (Mary in Precious) best supporting actor and supporting actress, respectively. Click on the organizations' names for full lists of winners.

A few surprises: The online New Yorkers name Avatar best picture of the year. LA goes for Yolande Moreau (Séraphine) for best actress. The Women have decided that (500) Days of Summer has the best original screenplay going for it (Scott Neustadter and Michael H Weber).

Meantime, the Broadcast Film Critics Association has released its list of nominees.

Updates: The New York Film Critics Circle has reaffirmed The Hurt Locker, Kathryn Bigelow, Christoph Waltz and Mo'Nique as critical favorites this year. Among the other winners: Best Actress to Meryl Streep for Julie & Julia and Best Actor to George Clooney for Up in the Air and Fantastic Mr Fox (also named Best Animated Film). Terence Davies's Of Time and the City is named Best Nonfiction Film. Olivier Assayas's Summer Hours picks up another Best Foreign Film honor. Best First Feature: Steve McQueen's Hunger. And a special award goes to Andrew Sarris "for his contribution to film criticism."

The American Film Institute's "10 Most Outstanding Motion Pictures and TV Programs of the Year."

It's always around this point in the season - mid-December, thereabouts - that an overview, a nice clean chart comes in handy. Movie City News has one. The Awards Scoreboard.

"The Southeastern Film Critics Association (SEFCA) named Up in the Air the Best Picture of 2009 in its 18th annual voting," reports Andy Lauer, who has the full list of winners at indieWIRE.

Updates, 12/15: "Golden Globe voters thrust Up in the Air into the award season spotlight with the most nominations in the major categories," reports Brooks Barnes for the New York Times. More from Eugene Hernandez at indieWIRE and Andrew Stewart in Variety - which is already gathering reactions from several of the nominees. Melena Ryzik, the NYT's new Carpetbagger, offers some "Instant Globe Analysis." Joe Bowman offers his take, too.

SF360's Susan Gerhard reports on the San Francisco Film Critics Circle award-winners. Yes, they've gone for The Hurt Locker and Kathryn Bigelow, too, but they've also chosen Christian McKay in Me and Orson Welles over Christoph Waltz and Colin Firth in A Single Man over Waltz and Clooney for best supporting actor and actor, respectively. Anvil! The Story of Anvil wins best documentary, You, the Living, best foreign language film. And on the local front: "The Marlon Riggs Award, which honors Bay Area filmmakers who show courage and innovation, went to Frazer Bradshaw for his Sundance-premiered drama Everything Strange and New, about family/working life shot in Oakland, California, and Barry Jenkins for Medicine for Melancholy, his San Francisco-shot black-and-white portrait of two African American twentysomethings exploring each other and a changing city."

The Austin Film Critics Association has voted and listed and Charles Ealy has the results at the Austin Movie Blog. Once again: The Hurt Locker and Kathryn Bigelow. But there are also quite a few Basterds on this list, too, including Mélanie Laurent (Best Actress). The Austinites have also listed their top 10 of '09 and of the Decade. #1 on that one: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.


Inglourious Basterds

The San Diego Film Critics Society has taken care of their voting rounds "in record time," as Scott Marks reports. And they've come up with some surprises. Quentin Tarantino and his Inglourious Basterds edge out Bigelow and The Hurt Locker. Also: Best Actress for Michelle Monaghan for Trucker and Best Supporting Actress for Samantha Morton for The Messenger. Best Foreign Language Film: Il Divo. Scott Marks: "Each year the group votes a special award in honor of our fallen colleague, Kyle Counts. The award is normally given to an individual who has gone the extra mile to enhance San Diego's movie scene. This year we honored Reading Cinemas Gaslamp 15 for it's bold alternatve booking policy that showcases smaller independent films that might not otherwise have played town."

Updates, 12/16: The Toronto Film Critics Association has named two films as best of the year, reports Jennie Punter for Variety: Steve McQueen's Hunger and Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds.

The Chicago Film Critics' Association has settled on its nominations and not only has Roger Ebert posted them, for fun, he's also added a survey. Naturally, "Your votes will not count in the association's own balloting!" But still.

Updates, 12/17: "The Screen Actors Guild this morning passed along its nominees for the 16th annual SAG Awards, which didn't yield much in the way of surprises," writes ST VanAirsdale, who has the full list at Movieline. "But beyond Precious, Inglourious Basterds and Up in the Air leading the way with three nominations apiece, the list wasn't without its minor intrigues."

At the Alternative Film Guide: The Las Vegas Film Critics Awards and the Dallas-Ft Worth Film Critics Awards.

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