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December 15, 2010


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Nice list Glenn, have to disagree on Centurion though, thought it was one of the worst movies of the year. Noel Clarke's performance in particular was atrocious. A pity as i'm a big fan of The Descent. Is it True Grit you're seeing today?


Have critics not seen Blue Valentine, or what's going on here?

Glenn Kenny

@ Mark J: Yes, "True Grit" it is. BTW, I have to say honestly that I really didn't notice the "acting" in "Centurion..."

@ Nort: "Blue Valentine" is worth seeing, for sure...if you like that sort of thing, which I don't mean as a dismissal. I'm reviewing it for MSN Movies, that notice will go up around the time that the movie hits theaters. I'm sure that Derek Cianfrance is crushed that it took him TWELVE YEARS to get his vision to the screen (seriously, this picture's pre-release hype almost puts that of "Tiny Furniture" to shame) and said vision doesn't even make my towp TWENTY, but that's the way the cookie crumbles. And I'm sorry.


Wow, I've seen more of the films on this list than probably on any of your previous best-of lists. I was on fire this year!

CARLOS is going to be hard to beat -- even TRUE GRIT will have to be pretty spectacular, but since I expect it to be, who knows what the future holds? But CARLOS was probably the most gripping, provocative, relentlessly entertaining and shocking and I-don't-know-what I've seen in some time. Highly, highly impressive.

For the life of me, I can't remember what I ultimately thought of LIFE DURING WARTIME. "Very Todd Solondz-y" is probably it, which tends to mean I'm very glad it was made without having the words to describe what it is.

Not that it matters, but as things stand I'd probably swap the placements of THE SOCIAL NETWORK and SHUTTER ISLAND. I'd say they're probably equally good, but THE SOCIAL NETWORK was merely excellent, while SHUTTER ISLAND was excellent and made for me.

Also yes to BLUEBEARD and TOY STORY 3. GREENBERG's a maybe. And I, too, liked CENTURION, though I don't know that I liked it THAT much. I did notice the performances, though, and thought Fassbender was terrific, as was the chick who played a version of that other chick from the not-very-good DOOMSDAY. WINTER'S BONE and INCEPTION also check out, so carry on.

I'm hoping to see three more of these movies -- WHITE MATERIAL, WILD GRASS and BLACK SWAN, this weekend, but will probably only get around to two of them.


By the way, Glenn, have you seen Breillat's SLEEPING BEAUTY yet?


Well, I don't know about the hype, but I certainly thought Blue Valentine was easily among the top 3 I have seen this year, and I'm not sure how the likes of Centurion can be put above it. But different strokes for different folks, as they say, I guess.

Tony Dayoub

Appropriate that THE SOCIAL NETWORK sits on the same rung of the ladder I placed it in since we were sitting right next to each other when we saw it. But I'm surprised my number 1 and number 3 of the year didn't even crack your top 20. Why no love for I AM LOVE or THE AMERICAN (actually you can skip this one since I now remember you liked it well enough but didn't think it was that significant)?

As for TRUE GRIT (and THE FIGHTER), I wonder if the late timing of the release for what is obviously an Oscar hopeful seems to speak to the studio's apprehension in regards to its quality. I can't remember this kind of positioning—one in which previews are held after most top 10 lists start popping up—for such an awards hopeful in quite some time.

Glenn Kenny

@ Bill: No, I have not seen Breillat's "Sleeping Beauty" yet, dammit.

@ Nort: Well, maybe if "Blue Valentine" contained a few more beheadings, I might have rated it as high as "Centurion." But seriously...no, I think well of it, and I know a lot of people who were powerfully affected by it, and I liked it a lot better than I had anticipated, although it does get more than a bit formally schematic by the end. And I can say no more, because I don't want to put my whole review in this comments thread, and also because today I'm in that kind of mood that mildly compels me to wanna piss on anything that's sincere or "sincere," and "Valentine" most certainly is that sort of thing. So, off to the gym, to work off a little pissiness and emerge in a more thrifty, brave, clean and reverent state of mind.


"...which received something resembling a timely United States theatrical release or "run" in 2010."

Aye, there's the rub... I get so confused trying to remember the things I see at a festival as opposed to their "regular" release.

Overall, a very good list, though I probably would have put "White Material" in the top 10. I was very glad to see "Wild Grass" in the top 10 too (I suspect this was on more 2009 lists for festival screenings so won't be as prominent this year).

Here are my top 16 - admittedly, I saw quite a few at AFI Fest in Los Angeles, but hopefully they'll get released in the coming year (think of it as advance warning). Also, the #1 goes to Chabrol, more a sentimental choice really - but exactly the type of new Chabrol film that I'll really miss...

Bellamy - Chabrol
Eccentricities of a Blond Haired Girl - de Oliveira
Wild Grass - Resnais
Around A Small Mountain - Rivette
Certified Copy - Kiarostami
White Material - Denis
Poetry - Lee Chang Dong
Uncle Boonmee - Weerasethakul
In The Beginning - Xavier Giannoli
Please Give - Holofcener
Me Too - Antonio Naharro, Alvaro Pastor (Spain)
Undertow - Javier Fuentes Leon (Peru)
Everyone Else - Maren Ade (Germany)
Alamar - Pedro Gonzalez Rubio (Mexico)
Monsters - Gareth Edwards (U.K.)
Splice - Vincenzo Natali (Canada)


Nice one on Centurion.

It's a shame when a great little B Movie like that gets shunted aside for no particular reason.


No love for DOGTOOTH?

Of the ones on your list I've seen (THE SOCIAL NETWORK, TOY STORY 3, BLACK SWAN, SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD, GREENBERG, SOLITARY MAN, WINTER'S BONE, INCEPTION, and THE GHOST WRITER), the only one I would take serious issue with is EVERYONE ELSE - I could not abide any of those characters, and I thought the film went nowhere. CARLOS, FISH TANK, and SHUTTER ISLAND I need to see again (the first two because of technical reasons, the last one because, well, you always have to watch Scorsese twice).


@Donald - I like seeing SPLICE on your list. What a great, wonky, misunderstood movie.

MONSTERS, though...that one has five absolutely brilliant minutes (bet you can guess which five). The rest of it bugged me silly.

Phil Freeman

Glad to see Centurion on your list. I wrote about it for MSN - not in their movie section, though; on my metal blog.




Phil Freeman

Link to my Centurion review didn't show up in my last comment; here 'tis:


Jim Gordon

Enter the Void. Every other movie I saw this year shrivels in its shadow.

Glenn Kenny

@ Graig: "Insanity" is a bit of a strong word there, pardner. Given that I'm friends with the makers of "Solitary Man" (a fact I've iterated to the extent that to iterate it further feels to me like name-dropping, but what do I know, I guess), the more pertinent characterization might be "corruption."

Seriously, this is what I LOVE about ranked, or ostensibly ranked, lists. One decide, more or less arbitrarily, because it's all arbitrary when you come down to it, to hold the list to, say, 20 films, and within that construct, one places a particular film "on top" of the other; which suffices to compel some...individual to question one's sanity. Jeez. You know, "Tired of Waiting" only got to #6 on the United States Top 40 singles chart back in 1965, and I don't ever think any the lesser of it for that. Nor do I sit around getting bitter over the songs that topped it, whatever they were. But that's just me.

@ lipranzer: Yeah, "Dogtooth" is pretty good. A little on the obvious side. I'm not entirely crazy about its claque either. I try hard not to let such things play with my judgment, but one never knows about the subconscious and stuff. Had I done 25 films, that woulda made it, as would "Home" and likely "Splice."

Hollis Lime

Tentative top ten:

2.My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done? (if it counts)
3.The Ghost Writer
5.The White Ribbon
6.A Prophet
7.Shutter Island
8.The Social Network
10.Exit Through The Gift Shop/Winter's Bone.

Pretty terrific year, I thought, but be prepared for people to call it a bad year for movies because Hollywood wasn't doing well and of course, the rest of the world doesn't exist.

Need to see Wild Grass, True Grit, Black Swan and a couple of others.

Hollis Lime

What "claque" for Dogtooth? I wish there was a signifigant claque.


My take on ENTER THE VOID is that it's like LADY IN THE LAKE meets LEGEND OF THE OVERFIEND. So it would save you renting either of those, I guess.


Also, this is the best review of SPLICE I've read:


Arbogast expands, to great effect, on his thoughts in the comments.

Pete, King of Detectives

Jim Gordon, I'm right there with you on ENTER THE VOID.


My ten favorite new movies to first play Chicago in 2010:

10. White Material (Denis)
9. Hereafter (Eastwood)
8. Black Swan (Aronofsky)
7. The Ghost Writer (Polanski)
6. Everyone Else (Ade)
5. Shutter Island (Scorsese)
4. Wild Grass (Resnais)
3. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Weerasethakul)
2. The Social Network (Fincher)
1. Certified Copy (Kiarostami)

I only saw the "theatrical" version of Carlos. If I had seen the full version, I have a feeling I would have included it. The only films I really wanted to see but missed were Tuesday After Christmas and Life During Wartime.


bill, thank you for the link to Arbogast's review of "Splice", which I found to be spot-on.

Glenn, regarding the always problematic issue of ranking, for my yearly list I ended up just going by age/stature which I know is not very subtle. But it actually worked out pretty close to how I'd have ranked them in quality or impact. I guess all things being equal "Wild Grass" would've been first and "Uncle Boonmee" would have been higher too. But maybe experience and age do count for something...


Is SOMEWHERE somewhere?

James Keepnews


Er, uh, does this mean Bryce Dallas Howard is done something terrible by tentacles? Yeeesh, I think I need a Bardo Thodol, neat, and leave the bottle...


I didn't really think WINTER'S BONE was that good (which is to say I probably think Kenny's ranking is about right); the best I can say about it is that there wasn't anything bad about it - no false notes (except perhaps the chainsaw scene), no point at which things started to devolve into Sundance schlock or a Hollywoodized version of poverty. So, impressive verisimilitude. Some small insights on gender in patriarchal parts of America. Solid tone. But... is it just me or could it have been a lot stronger if it either put both feet in the suspense genre, or dropped any pretense of being a thriller altogether? I felt it was a film that wanted to use the promise of suspense to get people to the theater, only to think it was too smart to take genre seriously, too smart to spend much time on prosaic plot points like the mystery of the missing dad. When, of course, it could have said everything it wanted to say and been a great thriller at the same time. It started off on a decent paranoid dread foot, and concededly, it would've been absurd to work up a Pakulaesque conspiratorial web of bearded meth dealers, but by the end I felt that countless opportunities for suspense were being wasted (like the cattle auction) so the director could indulge in her penchant for aimlessly limning geography. And also, that all that obsessive limning of geography subtracted from any sense that the story meant anything outside of its specific context, the way that, for all its sense of place, THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE is a film about debilitation, not a film about Boston. I felt like I was watching a documentary about a region, not a story about people who happen to live in a particular place and whom I ought to care about.


Glenn, when I say "insanity," I hope you know I say it with all due respect and with tongue planted firmly in cheek. I saw SOLITARY MAN on DVD and thought it was somewhere between good and very good -- which is to say that I liked it very much, though I have a hunch it probably played a bit better on the page. I just don't think it's anywhere near as successful at what it's trying to do as WINTER'S BONE, which blends genre elements with naturalism and never draws attention to itself.

For me, I'm disappointed John Curran's STONE isn't getting any end of the year love -- there's maybe a certain heaviness of tone in the delivery, but WOW - it goes to some strange and troubling places. Best DeNiro performance since JACKIE BROWN.

Oh, and what of VINCERE? And no love for HARMONY AND ME?

(That last question, of course, was a joke. Though I am curious to see if it makes a certain someone's year-end list...)


Hollis - I agree with you about the quality of movies this year. Yes, as far as "Hollywood" movies go, you had to shovel a lot of shit to get to the ponies, so to speak, but there were good movies elsewhere if you knew to look.

As far as the "claque" for DOGTOOTH goes, I must admit I'm one of those people who kept mentioning how good it was on other websites any chance I could. That in itself is not a "claque," but I can see how others might find it a little annoying (even if, in this case, I think it's justified to talk about this film).

My tentative top 10 (bearing in mind I haven't seen ANOTHER YEAR, BIUTIFUL, BLUE VALENTINE, RABBIT HOLE, SOMEWHERE, or TRUE GRIT yet):

Either THE FIGHTER or THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, I haven't decided which.


FYI for those of us who are trying to catch up: EVERYONE ELSE and CENTURION are both currently on Netflix Instant Watch.

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