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Happy New Year!

My best wishes and deepest thanks to all the brilliant contributors and patient readers who make this place whatever it is!

If anyone has ten best lists to post — for the year, the decade, or any other arbitrary division of time — this would be an excellent moment to do so.

563 comments to Happy New Year!

  • John

    With regard to your list posted (far) above, any word on if we will ever have a chance to see Wiseman’s THE GARDEN? What’s the current situation with this film?

  • Ben

    We haven’t seen Dave Kehr’s list yet, have we?

  • Being the subject of the occasional gratuitous nasty dig or slander here, I thought perhaps it would be proper that you go to the horse’s mouth, but of course anything I might say is loaded with salt, ask Kent Jones who to my knowledge I have never met.

    And a blog for my daughter, Clara, whom I have been unable to see and who has been unable to see her father since August 2002, courtesy of Teresa Villaverde’s actions.

    Is there something about watching too many films that damages a persons soul?

  • A small correction to the above “Kent Jones whom…” and “person’s” soul.
    And since I can’t seem to find it could Adrian Martin contact me or could someone send his email. Thanks (can contact via my website)

  • John B

    This is several weeks late but I just wanted to propose a Top/Best shots of the year list. My recall isn’t that great but here are a few of my favorites:
    1. Hurt Locker – the overhead shot of Sgt James pulling the wire up from the ground that exposes a number of buried bombs around him shaped like a daisy.
    2. Star Trek – the camera gliding over the ship in the opening shot of the movie (really involving).
    3. Avatar – a lot of good visuals, but I still remember a lo-tech shot from the beginning showing a row of seated soldiers about to disembark from their aircraft. The subtle 3D effect really put me in the plane with them. It seemed to indicate the potential of the process in non-action orientated movies.

  • Now that I’ve seen much more of the competition (I’d have said “most of” I hadn’t read Kent’s “Film Comment: lists):

    White Ribbon
    Summer Hours
    Hurt Locker
    35 Shots of Rum
    Fantastic Mr. Fox
    Inglorious Basterds
    Sin Nombre
    Me and Orson Welles

  • Kent Jones

    Alex, I have an unfortunate habit of making lists from films I’ve seen the previous year, as opposed to films that were commercially released during that year. Three of the films of your list (the Denis, the Assayas and the Linklater) were on my list last year.

  • Guess you didn’t like WHITE RIBBON much. It totally exceeded my already pretty high expectations, although my expectations and pleasures have as much or more to do with sociological vision and historical acuity as direction in any abstracted sense (the direction seems to me pitch perfect but unobstrusive except perhaps in its coolness and austerity –and the wide-ranging lucidity that shines through). Right I’m too enthused,though to have anything like stable judgment as to RIBBON’S overall merits. I;’ve little desire to sell it thiugh,for uit seems to me about as much more esoteric than THERE SHALL BE BLOOD AS THE LATTER is to,say, INGLOROUS BASTERDS — or ADVENTURELAND.

  • Kent Jones

    Alex, I never saw THE WHITE RIBBON. It’s still playing here, and I need to remedy the situation. Nor have I seen ADVENTURELAND, but it did arrive here the other day.

  • ADVENTURELAND is pretty light stuff, maybe about as good as SAY ANYTHING.

  • Jared Weigley

    Here is my (very belated) Ten Best List for 2009:

    1)A Serious Man
    2)Import Export
    3)35 Shots of Rum
    4)Black Dynamite
    5)Police, Adjective
    6)Night and Day
    7)Fantastic Mr. Fox
    8)The Frontier of Dawn
    9)La Danse
    10)Orphan/Lorna’s Silence (tie)


    .24 CITY and THE HEADLESS WOMAN I saw in 2008, so they were on my list for that year.

    .Three of my top ten films (IMPORT EXPORT, NIGHT AND DAY, FRONTIER OF DAWN) had one week runs at Anthology Film Archives. I really want to commend Anthology for giving me the opportunity to see these works.

    .I also want to give props to the AMC chain for charging $6 (half the normal admission) if you see a film at one of their theaters in New York before noon. When you’re on a tight budget like I often am, that $6 discount can be the crucial difference between catching a movie in theaters or waiting ’til it comes out on DVD.

    .Ulrich Seidl is a major director deserving of far more recognition than he currently receives.

    .I was too busy teaching last fall, and thus missed the 2009 New York Film Festival. Regretably, this meant missing several films that are now at the top of my must-see list. These include Pedro Costa’s NE CHANGE RIEN, Joao Pedro Rodriguez’s TO DIE LIKE A MAN, Zhao Dayang’s GHOST TOWN, and Maren Ade’s EVERYONE ELSE. The latter film I particularly lament missing out on. For anyone who has ever taught a class, Ade’s debut film, THE FOREST AND THE TREES, is one of the scariest motion pictures in recent memory.

    .So far, the best films I’ve seen this year are Illisa Barbash and Lucien Castaing- Taylor’s SWEETGRASS, Zachary Oberzan’s FLOODING WITH LOVE FOR THE KID, and Juliette Garcias’ BE GOOD. The latter screens at 6:30 on Feb 28th at the Walter Reade Theater in NYC (the same day A BRIGHTER SUMMER DAY is being shown). I didn’t see THE WHITE RIBBON until this past January, and am still mulling it over in my head. The thing that really sticks with me so far is the performance by the actress who played the girl the teacher protagonist is courting. My favorite Michael Haneke films remain THE SEVENTH CONTINENT and THE PIANO TEACHER.

  • Flooding with Love for the Kid is also one of my favorites of the year so far: an amazing movie and a very moving experience on a number of levels.

    Here’s my 2009 top 20:

    01. Two Lovers (James Gray)
    02. A Serious Man (The Coen Brothers)
    03. Night and Day (Hong Sang-soo)
    04. Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino)
    05. Hunger (Steve McQueen)
    06. The Headless Woman (Lucretia Martel)
    07. Pontypool (Bruce McDonald)
    08. The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call: New Orleans (Werner Herzog)
    09. Crank: High Voltage (Neveldine/Taylor)
    10. Duplicity (Tony Gilroy)
    11. 35 Shots of Rum (Claire Denis)
    12. Julia (Erick Zonca)
    13. Summer Hours (Olivier Assayas)
    14. In the Loop (Armando Ianucci)
    15. Taken (Pierre Morel)
    16. Still Walking (Hirokazu Koreeda)
    17. Whip It (Drew Barrymore)
    18. The Informant! (Steven Soderbergh)
    19. Police, Adjective (Corneliu Porumboiu)
    20. Frontier of Dawn (Philippe Garrel)

  • Jared Weigley

    I haven’t been so emotionally involved with a movie in a long time. FLOODING WITH LOVE FOR THE KID’S paucity of means definitely contributes to this.