Pocket Cinephile's Best of 2010
1. Io sono l'amore (I Am Love), Luca Guadagnino, 2009
Guadagnino's domestic tragedy is at once familiar and endlessly refreshing. Working within the well established framework of a large, monied European family, the director subsumes a barrage of influences (from Ophuls to Roeg to Chabrol, amongst others) into a vision that is, in the end, wholly and masterfully his.
2. Un Prophete (A Prophet), Jacques Audiard, 2009
A sweeping and fully realized prison saga, Un Prophete is Audiard's best film to date by some margin. Tahir Rahim's Malik El Djebena has definite echoes of Henry Hill, and, like Scorsese's protagonist, is that rare character that seems to authentically evolve on screen.
3. Somewhere, Sofia Coppola, 2010
Coppola draws from a cadre of European and Asian influences (think Claire Denis and Tsai Ming Liang) in crafting this intimate and enchanting riff on American alienation.
4. True Grit, Joel & Ethan Coen, 2010
The Coens' reboot of True Grit is a wholly original experience, and all the hallmarks you expect are there - Deakins' immaculate vistas, a panoply of perfectly pitched characters, and, most noticably, a vertiable thesaurus full of funny, flowery talk.
5. The Ghost Writer, Roman Polanski, 2010
Polanski's latest is an unfussy, efficient, and effective mystery. Much like Brad Anderson and his similarly classicist Transsiberian, Polanski draws from Hitchcock, Reed, et al to create an eminently watchable yarn.
6. Inspector Bellamy, Claude Chabrol, 2009
The most consistently great director of the French New Wave delivers yet another dignified, engaging, and well-made movie with this, his last film. Set against the tacit backdrop of a procedural, the film is ultimately more a twilight years examination of things left unsaid, and, as such, respresents a fitting and graceful coda for one of cinema's best filmographys.
7. The American, Anton Corbijn, 2010
Corbijn's film is a precise, deliberate, and labyrinthine thriller, recalling closely the classic European crime cinema of Jean-Pierre Melville and Julien Duvivier.
8. The Kids Are All Right, Lisa Cholodenko, 2010
Lisa Cholodenko's latest film is, on its face, a solid but unremarkable film. That it, much like the director's previous work, is a witty, approachable, sexy, and well-acted film for adults, however, might just be remarkable enough.
9. Fish Tank, Andrea Arnold, 2009
While a bit overlong, Arnold's grimy, sub-working class distillation of the Lolita trope is, ultimately, an engaging piece of cinema. Katie Jarvis' Mia rings true as an outwardly defiant, inwardly naive youth and the ever-solid Michael Fassbender is at once disarming and unsettling as the lecherous Connor.
10. White Material, Claire Denis, 2009
Arguably the most commanding screen presence of her generation, Isabelle Huppert positively dominates Denis' fractured tale of civil and cultural unrest in contemporary Africa.