I’m going to come out right away and be a jerk and say that I’ve seen a lot more movies than you have, Alex, so my list is bigger… which is always better, as you know. This is a working list, of course. I will not have a final list until around January.
Eccentricities of a Blond-Haired Girl
Last Train Home
Red Riding 1974 (though I also liked RR1980 a lot too)
The Human Centipede
There’s still some end-of-year stuff that I haven’t seen yet; I’ve seen most of the good stuff that’s come out so far this year.
I guess the point of lists (especially year-end top ten lists) is to create discussion or arguments. I think it’s important to see that we have several of the same films in common on both of our lists (I figure we’d have more if you’d seen more of the ones on my list). I still feel obliged to say that several of the films on your best-of-the-year-list, Alex, are on my worst-of-the-year list… or just are dull movies not worth excitement.
But first, I want to say that Sweetgrass is not on my list, but I think it’s great. It’s some of the most beautiful cinematography of the year (if not the best, period) and has far and away the most colorful cussing I’ve ever heard in my life. I think it’s very well done and I like it a lot.
Here are some on your list I like less, Alex:
Life During Wartime: I really, really didn’t like this film. It felt totally unnecessary after Happiness (which I love) and I don’t think it adds a lot to the greater story. Some of the characters are ridiculous (like Ally Sheedy) and most of the actors aren’t as good as the original actors in the original roles (sorry, but Shirley Henderson is nowhere near as good a Joy as Jane Adams was). It moves so slowly and is so ridiculously episodic, every story felt truncated and overdone.
Shutter Island: This is a top contender for worst film if the year from me. It probably won’t win, but I think it’s garbage. This is Marty mailing it in. Alex, you have to explain to me what the fuck Patricial Clarkson was doing on the far side of the island in a cave. And Max von Sydow as a Nazi doctor? C’mon! I’m surprised James Gandolfini wasn’t cast as a Jersey mobster. I know there’s this idea that it’s a movie about movies and it plays on clichés of cinema… but I think it’s just a sloppy cliché itself.
Catfish: I really didn’t think much of this film. I don’t think it’s very interesting. It’s not bad, but I think it might be a fraud and I don’t think I care if it is or not. It’s a movie about being-ness in the internet age. It’s as deep as the Social Network – which is to say paper-thin. The best part of the film is when the guy explains the catfish metaphor… in the last scene… oy vey.
The American: I think I’ve totally forgotten this film already. It was a big fart in the wind. It’s not really interesting, we never really get to know Clooney or his character and under-writing somehow passes for mystery and something interesting. I think the relationship with the priest is interesting, but rather superficial and the relationship with the whore is banal and ridiculous. (Yes, Clooney, you are going to be the one guy who is able to rescue the whore and make her an honorable wife… oh, brother.)
Alex: Aaron, you big ol’ size queen, I admit I have many movies to catch up on — as I write this I’ve seen exactly 50 releases from 2010, which must be about a third of your total — but that won’t stop me from opining with my trademark blend of authoritativeness and arrogance.
Nothing on your list offends me (again, of those I’ve seen), though I don’t think Everyone Else and A Prophet are that good. (I know, I promised to give A Prophet a second look. I will, I swear.)
But, of course, everything you say about my choices is utterly wrong and deeply misguided. I’ve actually never been a big fan of Happiness, so this new take on it — from an older, perhaps more sentimental Solondz — gets closer to what I didn’t find in the first movie. The difference for me is that Happiness is about people who are unhappy, but Life During Wartime is about people who are trying to be happy, which is much more interesting and sincere and complicated and ironic and painful. Only the Ally Sheedy character feels un-thought-out — actually, she feels like she belongs in the first movie.
I’ll get in your face more when I get home tonight.