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Lists and Awards, Part the Fourth

The Auteurs Daily

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

"You'd expect that when a decade essentially begins (towers fall) and ends (bubbles burst) with rude awakenings, with sudden bombardments of reality, that it would slow the drift of American movies into the realm of the private, the solipsistic, the computer-generated," writes David Edelstein in New York's big "00s Issue." But: "The most compelling films of the last decade, bad and good, suggested that globalization and instant communication have not brought us closer but driven us deeper into our dream worlds." And the movie of the decade? Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. "The most marvelous, the most resonant, the best movie of the aughts isn't overtly political, but writer Charlie Kaufman and director Michel Gondry weave together so many 21st-century fears that this truly screwball romance has the kick of a Philip K Dick paranoid fever dream."

And so begins the fourth entry to roundup notes on year-end and decade-end lists and awards. Previously: 1, 2 and 3 (updated through yesterday).

The Guardian's got a decade-in-review special that looks to be an ongoing project for the time being. "[T]he noughties began with Iranian cinema at the height of its acclaim," writes Peter Bradshaw, and there were other "waves" as well: "the brilliantly scabrous and extreme Asian wave, and the passionate Latin American wave. Brilliant films from Paolo Sorrentino and Matteo Garrone appeared to conjure up a new Italian wave, while the resurfacing of painful suppressed memories of the Nicolae Ceausescu regime drove an extraordinary flowering of Romanian cinema. But the 50th anniversary of the French new wave was the occasion for critics to ask themselves plaintively: will there ever again be another new wave to match that? In truth, none of this decade's 'waves' measured up. Apart from everything else, Godard, Rivette, Chabrol and Agnès Varda are still very much alive, making new work."

And there's an accompanying gallery: "Top 10 key films of the noughties." Also: Picks from filmmaker Kevin Macdonald and Christine Langan, Head of BBC Films.

"In January of 2003 when Reverse Shot first made its appearance on the shelves and tables of New York film cultural centers (Film Forum, Walter Reade Theater, NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, Anthology Film Archives), the internet was not yet a cinephilic hub," blogs co-editor Michael Koresky. "Many seem to think the aughts were a subpar decade for filmmaking, but that doesn't alter the fact that, for most of our writers, it was arguably the most important in our development as thinkers and watchers." So they've been "polling all the major and continuing contributors to Reverse Shot in the publication's history. We will be revealing one entry per day, counting backwards to number one, through New Year's Day." And they're beginning with #20, Terence Davies's The House of Mirth. Michael Koresky does the honors.

At IFC, Aaron Hillis explains why Jonathan Caouette's Tarnation is the exemplary documentary of the 00s.

The Oregonian's Shawn Levy explains why Joel and Ethan Coen are his filmmakers of the decade.

Mike Baab's put together "a list of the movies that, in spite of all the upwind incentives, told us something about this decade. I don't necessarily think these are the best movies of the last 10 year per se, I just think these are the ones we will show our kids when we want to tell them what it felt like to live in the first decade of the new millennium." Via the House Next Door.

Matt Langdon has begun his decade countdown with the years 2000 and 2001.

Jason Kottke introduces the Noughtie List.

Online listening tip. "Kevin Lee talks to Richard Brody about his top ten films of the 2000s, in which he lists three Chinese feature films: Jia Zhangke's The World, Wang Bing's Fengming: A Chinese Memoir, and Ying Liang's The Other Half. This conversation touches on all three films, and why Brody considers Chinese cinema to be 'the crucial story in cinema of the past decade.'"

Update: Hammer to Nail has asked filmmakers - "directors, producers, DPs, editors, etc" - to "choose one film from the decade that really stuck with them and write a hearty paragraph of explanation." In the first round, they've got some terrific entries from Jennifer Phang (Half-Life), David Zellner (Goliath, Foxy and the Weight of the World), Sean Baker (Take Out, Prince of Broadway), Katherine Dieckmann (A Good Baby, Diggers, Motherhood) and Dave Boyle (White on Rice, Big Dreams Little Tokyo).

Updates, 12/8: Here's a browseable top 50 of the decade: "As rated by The Auteurs community. In order from highest to lowest. Of course this list is always influx as the community rates more films, but this is a current snapshot."

"I do enjoy a good list, but not when it feels premature," writes Dan Sallitt, "and the vagaries of international distribution make it impossible for all but a few ardent festival-hoppers to know yet what has happened in 2009. Even my list of 2008 favorites is just stabilizing. A solution finally occurred to me: exclude 2009 from my decade list, and include 1999, which was shafted in the last round of decade-end list making. My 100 favorite films of 1999-2008, in very, very approximate order of preference." His #1: Tony Gilroy's Michael Clayton.



S James Snyder picks the "10 Best Sci-Fi Movies of the Decade" at Techland. His #1: "I put A.I. right up there with Hitchock's Vertigo - another long-underrated gem that dissects the less-than-rosy reality of human intimacy."

"Canada's Top Ten is an unique annual event, established in 2001 by TIFF to honour excellence in contemporary Canadian cinema, reinforcing TIFF's commitment to Canadian filmmakers." The selections have been made and the film will be screening at the TIFF Cinematheque from January 14 through 21.

Online listening tip. IFC's Matt Singer and Alison Willmore "share ten of our favorite guilty pleasures from the past decade, from overly ambitious political/entertainment satires to over-the-top action flicks."

Updates, 12/9: There are over 50 lists in Time's "Top 10 Everything of 2009" special, and of course, Richard Corliss's "Top 10 Movies" is one of them. His #1: The Princess and the Frog. Topping his lists of performances: Mo'nique as Mary Jones in Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire and Colin Firth as George in A Single Man.

The Auteurs community's been posting away in three new "best of the decade" topics in the Forum: Images, Filmmakers and Films.

Hammer to Nail doesn't just announce awards, it writes them up. Mike S Ryan explains at length why the Golden Hammer goes to Larry Fessenden. Likewise, Michael Tully on the Silver Hammer for Jody Lee Lipes. And then there's the list of the 13 best films of 2009. #1: Ramin Bahrani's Goodbye Solo.

Polling in progress at indieWIRE: Best of the Decade, 2009, Lead Performance, Supporting Performance, Director, Documentary, Screenplay, First Feature and Undistributed Film.

Updates, 12/10: Michael Sicinski is tweeting his list of the top 50 avant-garde films of the decade.

In the LA Weekly, David Thomson looks back on the 00s and decides to focus on "a handful of small movies I want to propose and suggest you see. I find that too few people have seen many of them." First off, for example, is Jonathan Glazer's Birth, which, as it happens, is central to Ryan Gilbey's roundup of great performances of the 00s in the New Statesman: "[W]hen [Nicole] Kidman, scrutinised by the camera at a Wagner concert, signals in her eyes an emotional breakthrough that is entirely interior, we are witnessing in practice Robert Altman's theory that actors can be auteurs, too - that they can provide an authorial presence in a movie as persuasively as any director."

Patrick Z McGavin writes up his top ten of '09 and lists several more.

Now Kevin Lee, too, is counting down his top 50 of the 00s on Twitter.

Vanity Fair's "Ten Best Films of 2009."

Updates, 12/11: "When I started reviewing Japanese films for The Japan Times in 1989, many of the people making and distributing them were convinced that the Hollywood juggernaut was slowly crushing them," writes Mark Schilling. "How could they hope to compete against superior Hollywood technology and vastly larger Hollywood budgets? In the past decade, however, Japan's film industry has not only survived but thrived. In the 10 years from 1999 to 2008, the number of local films released soared from 270 to 418, while their market share rose from 31.9 percent to 59.5 percent." He offers a few reasons - and his top ten Japanese films of 2009. #1: Fish Story.

Ian Barr launches his blog with a top 100 of the decade. His #1: Mulholland Dr.

Ben Walsh selects a round of best DVDs of the year for the Independent.

Updates, 12/12: Michael Atkinson: "I'm not sure if Adaptation is emblematic of the American-film 00s - I'm afraid that the real culprit might be one blockbuster or another, exemplifying at this stage our fears instead of our hopes - but it's certainly an endlessly resonating high-water mark, a mirror-hall launch that Godard could've loved, and which preemptively folded all commentary about it, positive or negative, into its self-knowing structure. Director Spike Jonze never dropped the ball, and Nicolas Cage was surpassingly brilliant, but it's Charlie Kaufman's bomb test, successful enough to establish him, in a stroke, as the most original and fecund screenwriting talent this country has seen since, possibly, ever."

Also at IFC, Alison Willmore: "By virtue of unstoppable output alone, Soderbergh's made more of a mark on the 00s than any other working director. But that's not why he's my pick for director of the decade."

Chris Stults joins the tweet countdown with his top 50 avant-garde films of the 00s.

Dennis Cooper lists his "favorite fiction, albums, movies, sites of 2009."

The latest round of "Filmmaker Reflections" at Hammer to Nail (with links to earlier batches).

Among those contributing to the L Magazine's "Discerning Person's Guide to Underrated Christmas Movies," compiled by Miriam Bale: Whit Stillman, the Siren, Jonathan Rosenbaum, Kent Jones, Richard Brody, Dave Kehr, Andrew Sarris, Molly Haskell and more.


Pan's Labyrinth

The AP's David Germain and Christy Lemire present their decade top tens. Germain's #1: Pan's Labyrinth. Lemire's: No Country for Old Men.

Rolling Stone's Peter Travers picks his top ten of the decade. You have to wonder how many pullquotes with his name on them have appeared on posters for these movies. At any rate, his #1: There Will Be Blood.

Adrian Curry picks his "Movie Posters of the Decade."

Updates, 12/13: "The best films of the last ten years resisted the distraction or distractedness which seems to be the decade's signature," writes David N Meyer in the Brooklyn Rail. "Remarkably, directors created and audiences found films that required and rewarded concentration." His #1: Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill, parts 1 and 2.

Newsweek's David Ansen counts down his ten "most memorable movies" of the decade. His #1: Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away.

The Observer's Philip French saw a weak year for Hollywood overall, though horror and docs fared well. His top ten for 2009 is in chronological order.

The Online Film Critics Society asks its members: "What movie most embodies the spirit of the 2000s?"

"Cinema Tropical announced the results of a poll of the top Latin American films of the past decade which is headed by Argentinean filmmaker Lucrecia Martel's La Ciénaga (2001). Cinema Tropical has compiled a list of the Top Ten Latin American Films of the Decade (2000-2009), based on a survey of distinguished critics, scholars and film professionals based in the New York City area."

Also via They Shoot Pictures, Don't They?, Entertainment Weekly's "10 Best Movies of the Decade!"; Top 50 of the 00s from Flicks, with contributions from more New Zealanders; top 100 from Complex.




The Washington, DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA) have named Up in the Air the Best Film of 2009 and handed it two more awards as well: Best Actor for George Clooney and Best Adapted Screenplay for Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner. Best Director, though, goes to Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker.

Charles Gant has a sort of fun and dishy report in the Guardian on last night's British Independent Film Awards.

An award of a different sort: not a movie poster is celebrating its first birthday by reposting its three most popular posters that were, in fact, never movie posters.

Updates, 12/12: "Jacques Audiard's crime drama A Prophet was awarded the Louis Delluc prize by Cannes film fest prexy Gilles Jacob at a ceremony held Friday in Paris," reports Elsa Keslassy in Variety. "The award, considered to be France's most prestigious film honor, was created in 1937 in homage to Louis Delluc, the first French journalist covering film in Gaul and the founder of discussion forums called cine-clubs."

Samson & Delilah has fared very well indeed at the Australian Film Institute awards, picking up Best Film and Best Direction (Warwick Thornton).

The White Ribbon has just dominated this year's European Film Awards, winning Best Film, Director and Screenwriter for Michael Haneke. Other awards: Actor: Tahar Rahim (A Prophet); Actress: Kate Winslet (The Reader); Composer: Alberto Iglesias (Broken Embraces); Carlo Di Palma European Cinematographer Award: Anthony Dod Mantle (Antichrist; Slumdog Millionaire, which is also the People's Choice Award-winner); European Film Academy Prix D'Excellence: Francesca Calvelli (editor, Vincere); European Discovery: Katalin Varga.

For news and tips throughout the day every day, follow @theauteursdaily (RSS).

Since when is that nitwit Richard Brody an “esteemed scholar of Chinese cinema studies”?!?! I think Kevin Lee does great work, but this is just embarrassing.

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