During my two and half months living in New York I have been lucky with the movies that have hit the big screen. Overall it has been a good year and I have gone to the cinema more than I have in recent years when I just buried myself in DVDs at home. As I am finding it extremely difficult to decide on a countdown of the years best films I am going to chicken out and just list off the top 10 in no order. I personally prefer the excitement of the countdown, but as I said it is proving to be quite tough. However I do have a number one spot that I believe to be the best movie of the year, which I will leave to last. This list is what I consider to be the best movies of this year. You are welcome to disagree.
"Mother" (Bong Joon-Ho). No matter what he does Bong Joon-Ho will never be able to surpass his masterpiece "Memories of Murder", but we can all enjoy watching him try. "Mother" is a fine film and it is evident that he is a master of the mystery/thriller genre and he never holds up with the dark humor. South Korean murder mysteries are funnier than most Hollywood comedies these days. Joon-Ho's craft is impeccable in his thrillers and he repeats the rural environment that he utilized in "Memories of Murder", which creates a chilling atmosphere.
"Buried" (Rodrigo Cortes). Now here is an extremely impressive film that was able to keep audiences on the edge of their seats even though they were trapped in a grave for 94 minutes. Not only is this an excellent thriller, but it also takes a humorous inspection of the modern devices of communication and the absolute frustration that comes with them. The humor doesn't last though as Cortes portrays the most depressing conclusion I have seen in years.
"Shutter Island" (Martin Scorsese). Although Scorsese doesn't need to prove his directing skills to anybody he still tries new and interesting projects. This time he makes an attempt with a psychological thriller with a gothic ambiance. He pulls it off of course with great style. We all know what to expect, but we enjoy the mystery ride anyway with support from great dream and flashback sequences.
"Somewhere" (Sofia Coppola). Not the greatest plot of the year, but Coppola does what she is best at and that is documenting characters and character relationships. Indeed it does take patience, but it is well worth it as we witness these characters and relationships unfold. In an age where we are subjected to rapid cuts every few seconds it is nice once and a while to simply go steadicam and concentrate on one scene or character. "Somewhere" demonstrates a simply crafted piece of work that follows the life of a movie star, who has no idea what his purpose is. Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) has the money, fame and any woman he wants, but he is incapable of receiving pleasure from anything, anyone or any act. He is depressed. This film follows the same premise as the excellent "Lost In Translation"- big movie star, depressed and isolated in a nice hotel, but is portrayed in more documented format.
"127 Hours" (Danny Boyle). Similar to "Buried" Danny Boyle's "127 Hours" focuses on a man trapped, however this is a survival story and not a mystery/thriller, but an in depth look at human nature. James Franco plays the real life mountain climber Aron Ralston and deserves an Oscar nomination if not a win. Ralston goes through stages of guilt, sorrow, delusion and hope, which is expressed during an intense 95 minutes. Not only does Boyle convey a startling portrayal of survival and human drive, but lets the audience witness visually stunning shots of Utah's Canyon Land. Ralston is trapped, but has been isolated for some time before his accident and this disaster has given him time to reflect and we follow him in his physical and mental journey.
"Inception" (Christopher Nolan). "Inception" incorporates fantastic effects, great action, a complex narrative that all help create a superb heist movie set in the sub conscious. It took Nolan years to develop the script and it is evident why. This isn't your run of the mill action, heist or even psychological thriller. It is an excellent take on lucid dreaming and the architecture of dreams. What I found to be so intriguing about this film were the amount of layers our protagonists wage through in order to complete their mission.
"Black Swan" (Darren Aronofsky). Ballet has been portrayed as a psychological terror before (see The Red Shoes) and Aronofsky re- establishes that concept in this unsettling thriller that mashes reality and fantasy with the help from a great performance by Natalie Portman (Nina). Vincent Cassel plays Thomas, the director of Swan Lake, who attempts to use his intensity to bring out Nina's. He wants her to play the Black Swan as well as she plays the White, but it is Lily (Mila Kunis) who proves that she is perfect for the part. There is also the uncomfortable and unsettling relationship between Nina and her mother (Barbara Hershey). This movie keeps the audience guessing and has them on the edge of their seat and sometimes makes them jump out of it. This is my favourite Aronofsky film to this date and thats really saying something following "The Wrestler".
"The Social Network" (David Fincher). Jason Reitman's "Up in the Air" mirrored the economic crisis of society in 2009, and in 2010 "The Social Network" reflected how we are beginning to perceive each other in contemporary society. It is too early to know if it is a crisis or not. Facebook is a global phenomenon that has influence society tremendously. I previously noted that I had a slowly developing script that focuses more on the affect Facebook has on society, but this movie explains why and how it all began. It is an excellent biopic of this phenomenon and Time Magazine's 2010 "Man of the Year". That man is Mark Zuckerberg. Not only is this a riveting story that has compelled huge interest, but it is also wonderfully directed by Fincher and his style that was put on the map after "Fight Club" is marvelously incorporated into his latest work making it a film for these times.
And the best movie of the year according to me is:
"The Ghost Writer" (Roman Polanski). From a new way of telling a story to the oldest way, Polanski proves that he is a master of his trade and produces a fantastic thriller. In a time where we constantly see fast images, big explosions through CGI it is hard to believe that a great thriller like "The Ghost Writer" can be made anymore. No hype or gimmicks, but simply a great story that unfolds through the images we see on screen. Hitchcock and De Palma were avid fans of the visual, which Polanski expresses brilliantly at the conclusion. I must admit that I am biased as this is my favourite type of film, but it is unbelievable how underrated this movie is. Possibly to do with Polanski's personal life, as if that should have any affect on audiences of this movie. For me "The Ghost Writer" holds up as a positive because even though I am not against mindless movies that portray mediocre narratives or CGI effects, I am happy to see that authentic filming methods are still relevant in Hollywood and world cinema. It still works.
Death at a Funeral
Hot Tub Time Machine
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale
The King's Speech