Honourable Mentions (in alphabetical order):
Animal Kingdom, Certified Copy, Eccentricities of a Blond Hair Girl, Exit through the Gift Shop, Four Lions, The Ghost Writer, Inception, The Kids Are All Right
The truth is that Blue Valentine’s bruising story really hit me hard, more personally than most other films do. Maybe because in my own life, I’m at the beginning end of the spectrum of this tale and the prospect of the other end breaks my heart. Or maybe it’s just because Blue Valentine is far from the cartoonish portrayals of relationships we often get out of American cinema. Whatever it is, in my books Blue Valentine is one of the best films of the year and Ryan Gosling righteously deserves the title of “Best Actor of his Generation”.
Here, the story twists and moves back and forth several times, every time taking a stranger turn than before, and in its path to the final revelation, shows us shocking details about the war torn region and is full of moving moments of universal familial love. The result is a powerful film, one of the strongest about the state of the Middle East that succeeds on both levels: as a thrilling detective story with the backdrop of civil war, and as a delicate story about loyalty and human triumph.
Aside from that, I feel a personal connection with Andy that I’m sure millions of the film’s fans share with me. I was around the same age as Andy when Toy Story came out, and four years later I felt the strengthened attachment to those toys when the second instalment was released. I’ve almost finished University now; Andy’s a few years behind me in life, but I can’t deny that I’ve experienced the ending of this film first hand myself. Toy Story 3 has a place in my heart that no other film on this list can come close to competing for.
Honestly though, I wish the conversation about this film hadn’t become so violently about the Oscar race, and about a head to head race with The King’s Speech. In a bigger scheme of things, none of that really matters. The Social Network is great film that will be remembered as one of the best American films of its time. Only time can tell if it actually defines our generation as some have claimed. The quality of the film however, the sharp dialogue, the crisp images, the moody music, and the brilliant performances don’t need time to define themselves. They already have.
my original review of The Illusionist I mentioned my decision to never call a film “an all-time favourite” after the first screening and wrote that I consider that decision the only reason why I don’t claim The Illusionist is a masterpiece of that level. Six months later and after another screening, Sylvain Chomet’s film still feels exactly like a timeless classic to me. Its own dreamy brilliance aside, in a top 5 list otherwise filled with films about crime and war and greed and perversion, The Illusionist is breath of fresh air among my favourites. And so it is among animated features. It looks like Chomet is single-handedly saving 2D drawn animation. Will American animators ever follow suit?
Dogtooth is the greatest study of human nature in cinema in a long long time. Its surrealism might be more reminiscent of a children’s fairy tale, but its traumatizing depiction of our vulnerability and simplicity is freakishly bold and refreshingly pure. And when all is said and done, Dogtooth, more than any other film this year, defines great cinema for me: original, confident, powerful, and beautiful. Oh, and that touch of perversity doesn’t hurt either.
Other entries in my year-end reviews:
Performances, Writing, Editing, Cinematography, Directing