Dienstag, 28. Dezember 2010

Best of 2010 - The movies.

If everybody else is doing it, I might as well join in. The post is in English as a nod to my nonexistent international read readers.

First off, the rules: eligible for this list are all movies that were released in Germany this year, which in some cases is earlier than in other countries, and in most cases, later. Secondly, only full length feature films (meaning no short movies) are considered. Ratings for movies are always given on IMDb's 1-10 scale, where 1 is an utter and unbelievable abomination, 5 sub-average, 6 slightly above average, 7 good, 8 very good, 9 excellent and 10 a masterpiece.

I declare myself largely unimpressed with the bulk of 2010 works I've seen. Am I simply watching the wrong movies? Or am I misleading myself by mostly picking well-known (and well-known for a reason) films from the Classical and New Hollywood eras and unfairly comparing those to the mass of movies released this year? Looking at my IMDB voting history, 2010 clocks in with two 10/10 movies (that actually both were released in 2009 outside Germany). That might not sound bad by itself, but these are two out of... I'm not sure how many dozen. By comparison, I've seen a grand total of three movies from 1944 (hey, I'm working on it!) and they all were 10/10s. It's not a phenomena of classics only, as I'd consider four movies from 1986 as truly magnificent. Many other years deliver similar results.

Then again, I still haven't seen a fair share of 2010 productions I expect much from: "Lebanon", "The Ghost Writer", "Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives", "The Social Network" and especially "Bal" come to mind immediately. But there's quite a number of hyped movies that might have been good, yes, but fall short of excellence. This includes "Fish Tank" (7/10), the entertaining yet insanely overrated "Inception" (8/10) and "Un Prophète" (8/10). Generally, I've observed myself giving most recent productions (not just from 2010, but all recent years) lower ratings than other users, while frequently considering older movies much better than the IMDb average - which is, as I might add, rather typical of me, as I tend to get overly enthusiastic about the things I like.

But let's get on to the list, shall we? For once, I can even say that these are in order of preference:

1. El Secreto De Sus Ojos (The Secret In Their Eyes). Amazing piece of work and a deserved Oscar for Best Foreign Picture winner. A story of love, friendship, (in)justice and South American history is told, and it's told including all aspects in every single shot. The leads and the two most important supports are nothing short of breathtaking, their on-screen chemistry amazing - watch the elevator scene and you will know what I'm talking about. It is fascinating to watch the differences in the interplay between the two main characters in the two stages of the movie, set more than twenty years apart. Finally, the resolution is sure to haunt the viewer's conscience for much longer than the movie runs. (10/10)

2. Mary & Max. How utterly adorable. It's quirky, it's naive, it's random - and unlike many other movies, never annoyingly so. An ode to all the people that understood when no one did, and that made us become the way we are. (10/10)

3. Die Fremde (When We Leave). A very strong movie, with an equally strong Sibel Kekilli leading it. It depicts how traditionalism turns a young woman's family against her, ruining both the life of her and her family. As a character puts it: "God has nothing to do with it." It's all in the forced holding on to an outdated heritage and the inability of most individuals to break out of it. If anything speaks against this movie, it is that it trots similar ground as "Gegen Die Wand", while not quite reaching its brilliance. We'll be hearing from this as the German submission for the Best Foreign Oscar, I believe. (9/10)

4. 11'E 10 Kala (10 To 11). More than a pleasant surprise. Istanbul is changing, and when the owner of the apartment building decides to adapt and profit, the tenant Mithat sees his "collection" of old newspapers and other assorted stuff threatened. He enlists caretaker Ali to help him save it, and while their current lives are much more similar than it at first seems, they're of very different character. Both are also developed in distinct ways: Ali leaves the city quarter for the first time, encountering an entirely new world, while the viewer learns that there's a lot more to Mithat's background than visible. Remarkable in many ways, and definitely worth seeing. (9/10)

5. Moon. This seemingly came out of nowhere. It's original, it features beautiful scenes of the Moon surface, an interesting opposite of HAL and a... err, some great Sam Rockwells. There are some minor (well, major - just not annoying) science mistakes, but they don't really detriment from the believability of the movie. I'm curious about what the sequels will bring. (9/10)

Honourable mentions: "The Good Heart" (9/10, with a little goodwill), "Mr. Nobody" (8/10), "Women Without Men" (8/10) and "An Education" (8/10).


  1. Ich besorg dir jetzt deinen ersten international reader, wart mal!