As this is my first complete year of blogging, I’ve decided to adopt another tradition from The filmspotting boards, and share my top 20 discoveries in film.
These discoveries can be a film, a group of films, an actor or anything else film related that I discovered this year. The one thing it can’t be is things from this year. Discoveries are about digging into the past and finding out about things you missed.
That being said, here is the list:
When I first started getting into films, Kieslowski was one of the first, if not the first, director I attached to, watching and rewatching his Three Colors: Trilogy as well as The Double Life of Veronique. Since 2007, I’ve been content to just rewatch those films. Until this year, when I decided to do a marathon to discover his past work.
2. Horror Films
I didn’t watch horror before 2010. The only real horror film I saw before this year was The Shining. This year, I decided to get over that and I took a horror film class. Here are just a few of the films I saw, and fell in love with as a result: Carrie, Creepshow, Peeping Tom, Cat People, A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), Eyes without a Face and Repulsion. I even did a Freddy vs. Jason marathon.
3. A Serious Man
I watched this film, and then the next day I watched it again. I haven’t done that since I was a kid. I was hooked on this film. The great blend of dark comedy, heady philosophy and goofy suburbia critique all synthesized into what has become my favorite Coen Bros. movie.
I hate war movies. Hate em. They’re too preoccupied with violence, male bonding, patriotism and realism. This film isn’t. A synthesis of sights and sounds, there are few films that can match the pure cinematic effect of this fantastic descent into the madness of war, as contemplative as it is chaotic.
This is the film I want to revisit the most from what I’ve seen this year. It started off as something I thought I understood and then proceeded to transform, mutate and evolve into one of the greatest films I’ve ever seen.
5. The Last of the Mohicans (1992)
Epic mountains. Epic. trees. Epic shots of Daniel-Day Lewis. Enough said.
Too many things to note here so I’ll just leave the review to say it all again.
Two film sustained purely on words. I tend to not like films with lots of words. The fact that both of these became instant favorites is telling.
I’m always attracted to films about people stuck in downward cycles of depravity, it speaks to the deeply flawed human in me. This film might be the one that captures it the best.
9. The Vanishing (1988)
This is probably the best film I saw this year that I didn’t write about. I regret that. But every time I think of this film, all my mind can do is zero in on the ending, which still remains one of the creepiest and unsettling things I’ve ever seen. I get chills now even thinking about it.
This film has everything: great use of color, fantastic dialogue, spectacular action set-pieces and men in tights joyously laughing away their troubles.
9. The Prestige
I saw this when it came out, and I’m fairly certain I saw it when it came out on DVD. But it wasn’t until I watched it again that I finally was able to tap into the brilliance of this film, making it easily my favorite Nolan film.
10. Mulholland Dr.
Even though I like some strange and bizarre films, I like to think I’m sane enough to decry the insanity of films as bizarre as David Lynch’s films. Turns out I’m just as crazy as everyone else.
11. The Beguiled
Many thanks to my film buff antagonist Chuck Canzoneri for suggesting this film. We disagree about almost everything, but he’s surprised me with a couple of great suggestions, this being the finest one.
12. Into the Wild
This should surprise no one, given my general hate of people, love of trees and praise of films that have Kristin Stewart.
13. Jackie Brown
I’m wary about praising or overselling this film, but it might just be my new favorite Quentin Tarantino flick.
14. Out of the Blue
Linda Manz is a revelation all over as the lead in Dennis Hopper’s response to the hippie era of filmmaking. Glad to see he found his way back to Earth before his final departure.
15. Southland Tales
When I saw this film I thought it was pretty bland. But the more I think about it, the more I think Richard Kelly is some brilliant genius and he’s struck upon something that will eventually dominate media storytelling. Too bad it blew up in his face before it had chance to evolve.
16. The Room
No other film experience this year was as fun, as memorable or as deeply scaring as this film. It’s objectively the worst film I saw this year, but I’ll always look back on the experience of watching it fondly.
17. Roman Polanski
I caught The Pianist at the tail end of last year, but it wasn’t until this year that I delved headlong into the works of what has easily become one of my all time favorite directors. Repulsion and Rosemary’s Baby left me haunted by domestic life while Chinatown completely blew me away on two separate viewings. I even found his feature from this year (The Ghost Writer) top notch, which makes me certain I’ll be delving into more of his work in 2011.
18. Hayao Miyazaki
I saw Spirited Away a few years back and thought it was stupid. Man, was I dumb back then (I still am, just less so). After revisting it, I immediately delved back into more. While Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind left me unimpressed, it was My Neighbor Totoro, and Princess Mononoke that showed me the errors of my ways.
19. Jeff Bridges
Yes, I met The Dude last year, but at the time I just thought he was your average guy. Crazy Heart changed my mind on that and after revisting The Big Lebowski, I found a new talent that I was interested in following. I’m not sure if Bridges will ever be able to convince me he’s anything other than The Dude but I’m fine with that as long as I keep finding his performances as engaging and entertaining to watch.
20. Frank Borgaze
Who is Frank Borgaze? Only your everday, average overlooked early era filmmaker. His silent film Lucky Star and sound feature The Mortal Storm proved to be the one, two punch that made me interested in checking out this talented and overlooked director, lost amid the big towering names of the early studio era.