Top Ten Lists

I’m beginning to wonder. If the Academy were populated with critics, how would their eclectic taste ever overlap enough for any movie to get 5% of the vote?

(By the way, I named Detective Dee among my top 10 last year, and people averted their eyes the way they do when encountering street-corner doomsday preachers.)

1. The Artist
2. Hugo
3. Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame
4. The Tree of Life
5. War Horse
6. Super 8
7. Cave of Forgotten Dreams
8. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
9. Rango
10. Fast Five

I love a good rationalization, so I’ll re-post the reason Richard Corliss gives for including Fast Five after the cut.

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Look outside the 3-ring circus to find treasures in our peripheral vision. Should it matter that Ontario’s Thom Ernst isn’t a Brand Name like Ebert if he’s the only guy we can rely on to bring up Monsieur Lazhar?

1. Monsieur Lazhar
This film tops my list as the best film of 2011 – a list that is shared with Café de Flora and Shame… a movie that celebrates life and yet refuses to ignore the horrors.

2. Café de flore
A spiritual odyssey that flows seamlessly from era to era, passing the logic of time and continuity in order to create a mystical revolution of cinema’s possibilities.

3. Billy Bishop Goes to War
4. Starbuck
5. Take This Waltz
6. Grinders

Nothing about Richard Brody’s list of 26 films in The New Yorker touches me more than his introductory premise.

2011 in cinema could be called, with apologies to Joan Didion, the year of magical thinking. Many of the year’s best movies exalt the metaphysical, the fantastical, the transformative, the fourth-wall-breaking, or simply the impossible, and—remarkably—do so (following Didion’s theme) in response to loss, grief, mourning. These films depart from “reality” (or what is often offered up as such with a stern reproach to the ostensibly frivolous alternatives) not in order to forget the irrefutable but in order to face it, to think about it, to act on it more freely. And much (though not all) of the new realm of cinematic fantasy results from the increased availability and quality—the very inescapability—of sophisticated digital cinema. Every technological advance starts as a miracle, becomes a necessity, and ends up as a vice. Despite ambient complaints about the alienation of the real by means of the virtual, the powers of the virtual are now being wielded by artists, who reverse the course —- they restore to daily life its share of the miraculous.

Writing like that is a reminder that obsessing over the specific of each critic’s year-end round-up can sometimes tend to diminish what we value most about their work. Reading sharp analysis of films in their cultural context is one of the great pleasures associated with loving movies and thinking about what makes the best of them so special.

1. The Future

Miranda July is the Marguerite Duras of 2011: she infuses her movie with literature in order to make it more truly cinematic, reveals a choreographic precision that evokes physical intimacy and remoteness better than any other film this year, bares her metaphysical strivings in order to explore her most practical and venal fears and desires, fulfills the promise of her film’s exquisite title.

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I like Drive at number one but the rest is enough to make me pop a gasket.  It’s not that it’s so bad, particularly, it’s just — I mean, what the fuck, bro. To quote Aurora Greenway, let’s just leave it at that. Thanks to Dimitri.

1- ‘Drive’
2- ‘Senna’
3- ‘The King’s Speech’
4- ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part Two’
5- ‘The Artist’
6- ‘Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy’
7- ‘True Grit’
8- ‘Bridesmaids’
9- ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’
10- ‘Black Swan’

The following positions:
11- ‘Blue Valentine’
12- ‘The Fighter’
13- ‘Hanna’
14- ‘We Need To Talk About Kevin’
15- ‘The Inbetweeners Movie’
16- ‘Super 8’
17- ‘Incendies’
18- ‘The Tree of Life’
19- ‘The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn’
20- ‘Fast Five’

David Denby of The New Yorker gives his Top 10. Read the rest of his summaries here.

Hugo”—In Martin Scorsese’s wondrous 3-D masterpiece, you  feel like you’re inside a giant box with the entire history of the cinema  playing on the walls. The movie is intricate, touching, a reverent summing up of  the past of movies, and a triumphant, heart-swelling surge into the future.

The Tree of Life”—Yes, I know, Terrence Malick’s movie is  unbearably high-minded and humorless. But still! There are sequences that rival  the greatest things ever done in movies, especially the long family episodes  with Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain, and the little boys, in which the camera  floats around the characters, and all of eternity is summoned in the minutest  motions of love and rage. Brad Pitt gives an amazing performance; he’s a shoo-in  for the Oscar.

Margin Call

Certified Copy

A Separation


The Descendants

J. Edgar

Source Code

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Now for something completely different. We’re nothing if not completionists.

1. Habemus Papam (We Have a Pope), Nanni Moretti

2. L’Etrange affaire Angélica (The Strange Case of Angelica), Manoel de Oliveira

  •  The Tree of Life, Terrence Malick

4. Hors Satan (Outside Satan), Bruno Dumont

  • Essential Killing, Jerzy Skolimowski

6. Melancholia, Lars von Trier

  •  Un été brûlant (A Burning Hot Summer), Philippe Garrel

8. Super 8, JJ Abrams

  • L’Apollonide (Souvenirs de la maison close) (House of Tolerance), Bertrand Bonello
  • Meek’s Cutoff, Kelly Reichardt

For perspective and comparison’s sake, Cahiers’ Top Ten of 2010, after the cut.

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Peter Bradshaw is so thorough, his year-end round-up reads like a very elegant list of ranked nominations.  Nicely done, sir.

Best film

  • The Artist (dir. Michel Hazanavicius)
  • Margaret (dir. Kenneth Lonergan)
  • A Separation (dir. Asghar Farhadi)
  • Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (dir. Tomas Alfredson)
  • Poetry (dir. Lee Chang-dong)
  • The Tree of Life (dir. Terrence Malick)
  • Le Quattro Volte (dir. Michelangelo Frammartino)
  • We Need to Talk About Kevin (dir. Lynne Ramsay)
  • The Skin I Live In (dir. Pedro Almodóvar)
  • Bridesmaids (dir. Paul Feig)

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Let the glorious idiosyncrasies begin!
New York magazine’s David Edelstein throws down the gauntlet, or something.  (in alphabetical order):

The Adventures of Tintin
Melancholy and madcap, Mike Mills’s inventive weave of past and present ushers you into the mind of its hero (a superb Ewan ­McGregor) as he agonizes over his emotional inheritance. As the dad who comes out of the closet at 75, Christopher Plummer is light and lithe, buoyed by his new life among the boys.
Ralph Fiennes stars and directs from John Logan’s canny script. Not definitive, but taut, brutal, and unsettling—Shakespeare’s surly warrior by way of The Hurt Locker.
The Descendants

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2010 master chart 1 preview

Our friend Ziyad Abul Hawa has really outdone himself with this year’s final chart of charts, expanding the scope to include 114 films. Compiling data from 4 prominant ratings sites (the BFCA, MetaCritic, Rotten Tomatoes, and IMDb) with a column tabulating the current box office earnings provides us with a handy way to scan the numbers for all the titles we’ve been tracking the past 12 months. Plus, it’s just an awesome piece of artwork in itself — a year-end montage of movie ratings. Full list of 114 films after the cut, as well as links to giant size versions. Thanks Ziyad!

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Andy's Room Toy Story 2

That’s¬†what he’s saying. No mention of Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere, which took the top prize in Venice. So, Tangled and Toy Story 3 in his top ten. Animal Kingdom at #3!

1. Toy Story 3, 2. The Social Network, 3. Animal Kingdom, 4. I Am Love, 5. Tangled , 6. True Grit, 7. The Town, 8. Greenberg, 9. Cyrus, 10. Enter The Void (“Hands down best credit scene of the year … Maybe best credit scene of the decade. One of the greatest in cinema history.” – QT), 11. Kick Ass.

And the runners up are 12. Knight and Day, 13. Get Him To The Greek, 14. The Fighter, 15. The Kings Speech, 16. The Kids Are All Right, 17. How To Train Your Dragon, 18. Robin Hood, 19. Amer, 20. Jackass 3-D


(Happy 1/1/11 every1!) Metacritic charts another way of looking at Top 10 Lists collected from 50 individual critics. Tabulated on the basis of first- and second-place rankings (with points also awarded for every appearance a movie makes on each Top 10), it’s an interesting aggregate for several reasons.¬† It show us that fervent admirers who feel a movie is a perfect ‘100’ can easily overcome the bashing of negative appraisals that sometimes wreck a film’s overall average score. It demonstrates how a movie that may have harsh detractors can still rise to the forefront. When all the negativity is throw out and we focus only on the passionate praise, it’s the 1’s and 2’s that lift a movie to the top of the charts.¬† Why is this approach useful? Because it represents a miniature simplified version of the Academy’s own preferential ballot, where the predominant weight of 1st and 2nd place slots can obliterate the polarizing effect of naysayers.

Half the chart is here on the homepage and the other half is attached after the cut.

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You’ll want to click over to the BBC to watch the video, which includes clips from all of the films, but here are the top ten counted down — I Am Love at number 3 is especially delicious.

10. Please Give
9. True Grit
8. Toy Story 3
7. Black Swan
6. Inception
5. Winter’s Bone
4. Another Year
3. I am Love
2. The King’s Speech
1. The Social Network

Marshall Fine makes a list of the year‚Äôs “10-best unseen or unacknowledged films ‚Äì think of it as the downer-dozen-minus-two.” Movies he considers either under-appreciated, under-attended or both.

  • Greenberg
  • Somewhere
  • The American
  • Biutiful
  • Winter’s Bone
  • Blue Valentine
  • Another Year
  • Mother
  • A Prophet
  • Tiny Furniture

Fine reminds us that this “is NOT a 10-best list.”

Rather, it’s my list of the best movies of 2010 that you probably didn’t see, didn’t want to see or didn’t know about. But they were all movies that challenged the viewer in one way or another. Which is why, for the most part, they went (or will go) unseen.

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“Toronto’s Village Voice” NOW creates a Top 10 that combines the favorite titles from each of it’s movie critics, and then the writers break it down to their more personal lists of 10.

  1. The Social Network – David Fincher (“The classic American tale of success, power and greed is updated for the online generation: There Will Be Blood on apps. Broad themes and contemporary resonance aside, Fincher‚Äôs masterful comedy is also the most accessibly entertaining movie this year, featuring a talented cast that can compute Aaron Sorkin‚Äôs rapid-fire dialogue faster than your MacBook.”)
  2. A Prophet – Jacques Audiard (“A young, illiterate French-Arab prisoner (Tahar Rahim) manoeuvres through the institution‚Äôs ever-shifting social and ethnic power structure and, in the process, learns how the world works ‚Äì inside and outside the concrete walls. Audiard‚Äôs audacious epic, anchored by frighteningly natural performances by Rahim and Niels Arestrup as the prison‚Äôs Corsican gang leader, deserves its comparisons to all those other great crime films, including The Godfather.”)
  3. Exit Through the Gift Shop – Banksy (“Banksy‚Äôs smart, self-effacing and hilarious satire is a scathing look at how genuine street art becomes that most cringe-inducing adjective: commercial. The film‚Äôs suspect origins might be a Borat-style ploy and we may never get to know the real Banksy, but what‚Äôs clear is his discomfort with his own mass popularity.”)
  4. True Grit – Joel and Ethan Coen
  5. Police, Adjective – Corneliu Porumboiu
  6. Inception – Christopher Nolan
  7. 127 Hours – Danny Boyle
  8. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives – Apichatpong Weerasethakul
  9. Marwencol – Jeff Malmerg
  10. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World – Edgar Wright

Individual critics lists, after the cut.

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The Hollywood Reporter’s Kirk Honeycutt:

1. Inception
2. The Social Network
3. The King’s Speech
4. 127 Hours
5. True Grit
6. Carlos
7. A Prophet
8. The Kids Are All Right
9. Winter’s Bone
10. The Way Back

Todd McCarthy’s list, after the cut.

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  1. The Social Network
  2. 127 Hours
  3. The Tillman Story (“Amir Bar-Lev’s exquisitely crafted documentary about former NFL player and Army Ranger Pat Tillman not only put his story into crucial context, but it offered a provocative meditation on myth, propaganda and our abiding need for narrative neatness.”)
  4. I Am Love
  5. Please Give
  6. Inception
  7. No One Knows About Persian Cats (“Iranian director Bahman Ghobadi gave viewers a vital, progressive view of modern-day Tehran in this fact-based picaresque through the city’s raucous, diverse underground music scene.”)
  8. The Kids Are All Right
  9. The Ghost Writer
  10. Fair Game (“Doug Liman’s concentrated, well-calibrated revisiting of the story of Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame Wilson avoided axe-grinding in favor of a taut drama that reminded viewers that even the most cynically stage-managed political theater possesses unseen human stakes.”)

Noel Murray

  1. Black Swan
  2. Winter’s Bone
  3. The Social Network
  4. Mother
  5. The Illusionist
  6. Greenberg
  7. Inception
  8. Carlos
  9. Dogtooth
  10. True Grit

Four more lists from Onion AV critics after the cut.

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10 slots, 23 titles. Because Kenneth Turan clusters a few movies in matched sets and calls a 3-way tie for #1.

  1. “No. 1, in triplicate It’s not just that good things traditionally come in threes. I’m splitting the top slot of my 10 best list among Inception, The Social Network and Toy Story 3 for a reason. I’m doing it because, considerable evidence notwithstanding, I still believe in Hollywood movies. So I’m encouraged beyond measure when studio films not only please both critics and audiences but also so dominate their moment in time that you have to see them or be left out of the national conversation.”
  2. Animal Kingdom
  3. Inside Job & The Tillman Story
  4. Ajami, Eyes Wide Open, and Lebanon
  5. The King’s Speech
  6. Night Catches Us & Nora’s Will
  7. A Prophet, Mademoiselle Chambon & White Material
  8. “Two tiny gems (Kisses and Prince of Broadway), two offbeat animated films (A Town Called Panic, The Secret of Kells), and a pair of proficient Hollywood entertainments (Unstoppable and The Town) helped brighten this year.”
  9. True Grit
  10. Winter’s Bone


Says Ebert:

David Fincher’s “The Social Network”is emerging as the consensus choice as best film of 2010. Most of the critics’ groups have sanctified it, and after its initial impact it has only grown it stature. I think it is an early observer of a trend in our society, where we have learned new ways of thinking of ourselves: As members of a demographic group, as part of a database, as figures in…a social network. My best films list also appears on my main site, but I am posting it here on the blog so that you can comment on it. In response to the reader protests of recent years, I’ve returned to the time-honored tradition of ten films arranged in order from one to ten. After that, it’s all alphabetical. The notion of objectively ordering works of art seems bizarre to me.

Here are the year’s best feature films:

1. The Social Network
2. The King’s Speech
3. Black Swan
4. I Am Love
5. Winter’s Bone
6. Inception
7. The Secret in Their Eyes
8. The American
9. The Kids Are All Right
10. The Ghost Writer

A bit more of Ebert after the cut.

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Owen Gleiberman and Lisa Schwarzbaum’s top 10 from this week’s issue of EW (not yet online, so thanks to Seankgallagher.)

Lisa’s top 10:

  1. The Social Network
  2. The Kids are All Right
  3. Winter’s Bone
  4. Toy Story 3
  5. Last Train Home
  6. Animal Kingdom
  7. The Ghost Writer
  8. A Prophet
  9. Another Year
  10. 127 Hours

Owen’s top 10, after the cut.

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