Best Films of 2010

John Price’s Home Movie isn’t on any of my Top 10 lists but I’ve thought about it as much as any film I saw in 2010. The title is literal: Price shot Home Movie in and around his house with an old Russian 35mm camera and processed the film by hand. In some ways, it’s not so different from those silent 16mm films your uncle would shoot at birthday parties and family reunions. It’s built mostly from images of his two daughters as they do typical little-girl things like playing dolls and riding swings. But the literal size of the film—I saw it beautifully projected in Cinemascope ratio—and the playfulness of Price’s montage won me over. It also helped me to understand the curious sensation that’s overtaken my day-to-day experience of the world since I became a father in April: a nostalgia for the present. To be a parent is to live each moment twice: once right now and also, simultaneously, in the future, when the particular joy of this particular experience is a memory. Price’s film somehow manages to get that, and I’m grateful for it.

Best of 2010

This year, to determine eligibility I’ve decided to follow the “New York commercial release” rule, which means that this list has been culled from the 40 or so films I saw. Honestly, this Top 10 could be shuffled randomly and I’d probably be as satisfied with the results. I also wouldn’t complain too loudly if a few of these were replaced by Wild Grass, Greenberg, Dogtooth, The Oath, or The Ghost Writer. There were a lot of very good releases in 2010 but no one film stands out as an overwhelming favorite. I finally settled on Eccentricities of a Blonde-Haired Girl for the top slot because the final cut made me gasp. It’s just a devestating moment—totally original, unexpected, and right. I’ve included Lee’s Secret Sunshine as an honorable mention because it does, technically, qualify as a 2010 release but I saw it three-and-a-half years ago! If you’re keeping score at home, feel free to put it in the top slot and bump down the next ten. If my memories are to be trusted, it’s my favorite film of 2007/2010.

1. Eccentricities of a Blonde-Haired Girl (Manoel de Oliveira)
2. Bluebeard (Catherine Breillat)
3. Our Beloved Month of August (Miguel Gomes)
4. Boxing Gym (Frederick Wiseman)
5. Vincere (Marco Bellocchio)
6. Sweetgrass (Ilisa Barbash & Lucien Castaing-Taylor)
7. The Social Network (David Fincher)
8. The Exploding Girl (Bradley Rust Gray)
9. Around a Small Mountain (Jacques Rivette)
10. Everyone Else (Maren Ade)

Honorable Mention: Secret Sunshine (Lee Chang-dong)

Favorite New Films I Saw in 2010

The top six films here are all nearly perfect in very different ways.

1. Atlantiques (Mati Diop)
2. Film Socialism (Jean-Luc Godard)
3. Promises Written in Water (Vincent Gallo)
4. Meek’s Cutoff (Kelly Reichardt)
5. RUHR (James Benning)
6. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
7. Eccentricities of a Blonde-Haired Girl (Manoel de Oliveira)
8. Coming Attractions (Peter Tscherkassky)
9. Boxing Gym (Frederick Wiseman)
10. Tuesday, After Christmas (Radu Muntean)

Favorite Discoveries of 2010

I suppose I’ll eventually run out of John Ford films to put on this year-end list, which will be a damn shame. I considered The Quiet Man (one film per director rule), but The Long Gray Line is such a strange and moving film. I’m glad I didn’t see it years ago, when I would’ve mistaken its melodrama for ridiculous sentiment. It made me weep like a child. (Although by that standard alone, Line finishes a distant second to Make Way for Tomorrow. Obviously.) In alphabetical order:

The Bride of Frankenstein (James Whale, 1935)
The Burmese Harp (Kon Ichikawa, 1956)
The House is Black (Forugh Farrokhzad, 1963)
The Long Gray Line (John Ford, 1955)
Make Way for Tomorrow (Leo McCarey, 1937)
A Married Couple (Allan King, 1969)
Les rendez-vous d’Anna (Chantal Akerman, 1978)
Stroszek (Werner Herzog, 1977)
Tender Mercies (Bruce Beresford, 1983)
Written on the Wind (Douglas Sirk, 1956)