George East’s Top 10 Films of 2010

by George_East on December 31, 2010

I haven’t seen The Social Network which pretty much seems to be the critical film of the year, from Sight and Sound to the NME. I struggled to see how a film about an Ivy League nerd who becomes a billionaire at the age of 24 could have any dramatic interest at all. I cannot say whether I was wrong, but my top 10 films of the year in a year when a lot of big name directors disappointed, were:

1. White Material

Claire Denis’ film about a white coffee plantation owning family in an unnamed West African country in the midst of civil war and endemic corruption was my film of the year. Isabelle Huppert was superb as the stubborn plantation owner (the white material) refusing to let go of the plantation as forces beyond her control close in from all directions. The African landscape is used beautifully and the questions raised about the legacy of colonialism ever present in a part of the world that appears irredemiably broken (the current events in the Ivory Coast spring to mind).

For Denis to produce such a film so soon after her brilliant study of aging and father/daughter relationships, 2009’s 35 Shots of Rum, makes her to my mind the most impressive director currently working.

2. Of Gods and Men

Astounding study of the strength of faith and community in facing fear and death as I previously blogged here.

3. Mother

This South Korean film has an extraordinary central performance by that country’s biggest soap star, Hye-Ja Kim in the title role. It is a film about the lengths a mother is willing to go to in order to protect her mentally disabled teenage son from being held responsible for the death of a teenage girl. It is a powerful but quirky film about blindness to the truth and obsession.

4. Another Year

Mike Leigh’s best film since Life Is Sweet once again stars Jim Broadbent. This time as one half of a happy middle aged middle class couple who play nursemaid, counsellor and hosts to a number of friends, family members and work-mates over the course of the year. It is a film about missed chances and the role that luck has in how any life pans out and is typically incisive in its dissection of human relationships.

5. The Father of My Children

Mia Hansen-Love’s second film is very much a film of two halves. The first about an independent film producer desperately trying to keep all of the balls of his business in the air at once while dealing with unsympathetic money men and prima dona directors. The second a film about grief and moving on after the producer’s business failure results in his suicide.

I didn’t have high expectations for this film before I saw it, but was blown away by its power.

6. The Maid

South American cinema is in something of a purple patch at the moment. This was the pick of the crop this year. A brilliant study of a maid with a Chilean family, who jealously refuses to accept any help from other staff the family try to bring in to help her. A film about class and friendship. Brilliantly played and at times very funny.

7. Lourdes

This Austrian film about the pilgrimage of a wheelchair-bound woman in her early 20s to Lourdes to seek a cure is brilliant in its dissection of the gaudy tackiness of the miracle industry, while being wholly respectful of those who seek assistance there.

8. Dogtooth

This blackest of black comedies came from Greece. It tells the tale of a family in which the children are not allowed out of the house and garden of their home, having been told by their parents that the world outside is too dangerous.

At the screening I went to a woman berated the cinema staff afterwards in tears screaming ‘how can you advertise this as funny, it is awful’.

Child abuse, imprisonment, nods to the Fritzl case and incest are hardly obvious subjects for comedy, but this is an unflinching satire of middle class parenting neurosis. And yes it is very funny (often in a can’t look at the screen kind of way).

9. Winter’s Bone

Red neck America is usually portrayed from the point of view of the outsider who strays into a primitive and scary world (think Deliverance or Southern Comfort).

Winter’s Bone depicts a community in the Ozarks in Missouri from within. The community is no less scary for that – full of crystal meth addicts, terrifying matriachs and grinding poverty. This brutal world and it’s affect on a tough 17 year old girl, Ree, played in one of the acting performances of the year by Jennifer Lawrence, is brought vividly to life by director Debra Granik working from her own script.

10. Kick Ass

For sheer fun this was hard to beat. Fake super heroes, cartoon baddies and 11 year old girls using the cunt word. Marvellous.

Previous post:

Next post: