{Of all lies, art is the least untrue - Flaubert}

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Film 2009: The List

What is point of doing year end lists? Vanity for one, or may be a logical demarcation of time and effort, a scale to weigh in goodness and greatness over days and dates, and may be an excuse to name what you think should be seen by all and even more importantly to reveal false gods and fake idols (by omission or admission), and if you are lucky, get a discussion started by someone somewhere about movies - their heart and health.

This year was particularly eventful for me. I met Himani in June and married her in Oct. Moved to a small town in New Hampshire, with limited access to films. There are few good theatres nearby, which show good films, if you are willing to drive a little. These developments made watching movies little more difficult and a lesser priority in the sundry list of things to do.

In Dec, I managed to catch most of the movies, locked myself and saw movies back to back, and was very glad to find some great films. As last year, my emphasis still is silly, weak, futile, hysterical heart rather than boggling mind and more importantly the therapeutic power of films. Not a brilliant jig-saw puzzle and its oh-so-brilliant final solution, but a flow of many rivers, their turns, the trees nearby and a delta of fertile silt and soil, and the Man who still is human and its handling by an artist infused with humbling power of spirit, moral inquiry and quiet rapture.

I have intentionally waited for few weeks to post this, so that the newly watched films are digested properly, but there will always be second thoughts and re-evaluations. Here you go, as vanities toss and turn.

Top 12 (in rough order)
Revanche (Götz Spielmann)
You, the Living (Roy Andersson)
Two Lovers (James Gray)
A Serious Man (Ethan Coen, Joel Coen)
Treeless Mountain (So Yong Kim)
Moon (Duncan Jones)
Bright Star (Jane Campion)
Lorna's Silence (Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne)
24 City (Jia Zhangke)
35 Shots of Rum (Claire Denis)
The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow)
Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino)

Honorable Mention
Tokyo Sonata (Kiyoshi Kurosowa)
Coraline (Henry Selick)
Julia (Erick Zonca)
The Cove (Louie Psihoyos)
Still Walking (Hirokazu Kore-eda)
Where the Wild Things are (Spike Jonze)
Fantastic Mr. Fox (Wes Anderson)
Sita Sings the Blues (Nina Paley)
Summer Hours (Olivier Assayas)
Of Time and the City (Terence Davies)

Disappointments (of various degrees)
Tetro (Francis Ford Coppola)
The White Ribbon (Michael Haneke)
Police, Adjective (Corneliu Porumboiu)
The Headless Woman (Lucrecia Martel)
The Limits of Control (Jim Jarmusch)
In the Loop (Armando Iannucci)

Worst Film
(500) Days of Summer (I haven't seen Up in the Air yet)

Notable Performances
Jeremy Renner - The Hurt Locker
Abbie Cornish - Bright Star
Juliette Binoche - Summer Hours
Diane Krüger, Christoph Waltz and Mélanie Laurent - Inglourious Basterds
Michael Stuhlbarg - A Serious Man
Johannes Krisch - Revanche
Tilda Swinton and Kate de Castillo - Julia
Joaquin Phoenix, Vinessa Shaw - Two Lovers
Sam Rockwell - Moon
Arta Dobroshi, Jérémie Renier - Lorna's Silence
Gina Pareño - Serbis
Hee-yeon Kim - Treeless Mountain
Kyôko Koizumi - Tokyo Sonata

Blind Spots
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
Anvil!: The Story of Anvil
The Beaches of Agnès
Sherlock Holmes
The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - New Orleans
Broken Embraces

See last year's list here.