Todd McCarthy has delved into two of what he considers the year’s best films. He goes deeply into Carlos and The Social Network and then tosses in the others he thinks fit the bill, which should give us a loose idea of what top ten lists might start shaping up to look like:
Assayas, like Fincher, obsessively tracked down virtually everything it was possible to learn about his subject. But then a writer or filmmaker must acknowledge when they‚Äôve reached the end of that road and give themselves permission to invent, add and speculate about what seems justifiable and plausible within the context of everything else they‚Äôve got. It‚Äôs where biography and myth-making meet and it‚Äôs why Assayas calls his film ‚Äúa fiction‚Äù based on the life of the real man. One would imagine that it‚Äôs a description Fincher would similarly embrace as regards his own film.With these two films so decisively more provocative, absorbing, energetic, entertaining and in all ways rewarding than any other dramatic features that have come out this year, what can be said about the rest of the pack? In going over my personal list of the year‚Äôs best so far, it strikes me that, to an inordinate degree, the good films were what are often called ‚Äúfestival films;‚Äù all but one, in fact, made their debuts at festivals, not in commercial release. In no special order, these films include ‚ÄúA Prophet‚Äù (shown in Cannes 2009 but not opened in the U.S. until this year), ‚ÄúAnimal Kingdom,‚Äù ‚ÄúThe Kids Are All Right,‚Äù ‚ÄúLet Me In,‚Äù ‚ÄúWinter‚Äôs Bone,‚Äù ‚ÄúEnter the Void,‚Äù ‚ÄúThe King‚Äôs Speech,‚Äù ‚ÄúNorth Face‚Äù and, a bit below those, ‚ÄúBlue Valentine,‚Äù ‚ÄúBlack Swan‚Äù and ‚ÄúPlease Give.‚Äù
The only non-festival title I would include in this company is ‚ÄúToy Story 3,‚Äù and while I would concede that ‚ÄúInception‚Äù is a must-see, it remains too problematic to be ranked in any top ten of mine. Festivals really were where the action‚Äôs been for me this year, including for documentaries: Sundance served up ‚ÄúWaiting for Superman‚Äù but, far better yet, Cannes premiered ‚ÄúInside Job,‚Äù which I would agree warrants the label mandatory viewing if I didn‚Äôt fear making attendance sound more like a duty than a pleasure.
Don’t miss this McCarthy article. Note the mention of Let Me In.