This year I managed to catch a total of 98 films; 63 in theatres and 35 on dvds/blu-ray, a little shy of 2 films per week on average. You can see the entire list here.
Singapore’s selection of films via dvd rental isn’t nearly as fantastic as Japan – when I was in Tokyo rental chains like Tsutaya or Geo often left me spoiled for choices, for they carry a huge inventory of films from all over the world…how I miss those days. The silver lining is that cinema ticket prices in Singapore is only about 1/3 of that in Japan, which is why I’ve seen a lot more films at the theatre since I came back.
With that, here are my 9 favourite films of 2010, in no particular order of merit : ( actual release date of some films may not be 2010. )
1) Tangled ( Nathan Greno & Byron Howard )
I really like this one. As I so excitedly exclaimed to my friends right after the screening, “I can feel (Disney’s) magic once more.” – something that hasn’t happened in a long, long time. The look of the film was beautiful, the soundtrack was great, but man, the animation…simply jaw-droppingly good. Can’t wait to catch this on blu-ray again.
2) The American (Anton Corbijn)
Many of my friends snored through this one and just as many cursed its the most boring movie they’ve seen in a long time, but I absolutely adored The American. The classy, elegant way the film was shot, and those quiet, mundane moments uninterrupted by music, I drank in with relish. MTV directors like Anton Corbijn, Mark Romanek, Michel Gondry, Spike Jonze and Jonathan Glazer have such amazing talent and so much to offer to the industry I wish they made one movie every year.
3) The Town ( Ben Affleck )
Its hard to talk about this film without making comparisons to Michael Mann’s Heat, a magnum opus of the heist genre, but I think The Town held its own well. All the lead roles gave impressionable performances but certainly Jeremy Renner’s character as the loose canon James, Affleck’s highly volatile partner stole most of the limelight. I haven’t been so terrified of a screen character since Javier Bardem’s hell incarnate Anton Chigurh in the Coen brothers’ No Country for Old Men. Couple that with an intense, explosive shootout at the end and you have a highly successful heist film.
4) Up In The Air ( Jason Reitman )
A neatly crafted mix of smart, witty humour dispersed with empathetic, poignant moments, Up In The Air might well be my fav. film of the year. As we live a vicarious life through the journey of Clooney’s character Ryan Bingham, his actions and decisions feed introspective questions back to us, but the film never proffers any ostensible answers. I found the colorful and graphical opening sequence really soothing and almost hypnotic in nature, and definitely reminds me of the flights I used to make to and fro Japan/Singapore, staring into the vast sea of azure blue clouds, my thoughts lost in the process.
5) Detective Dee And The Mystery Of The Phantom Flame (Tsui Hark)
Perhaps I entered the cinema with really low expectations, but Detective Dee was the dark horse 0f 2010. Tsui Hark hasn’t made a film I thoroughly enjoyed since Blade (Dao) some 16 years ago, so Dee was a refreshing return. Hong Kong films are well known for their intense and superbly choreographed fight sequences, of which Dee certainly delivered but it also bought alongside a plot with a level of intrigue and suspense very seldom seen in the martial arts/period genre.
6) Inception ( Christopher Nolan )
As with his previous outing The Dark Knight, Inception is a film that takes some time to warm up to and gets progressively better and richer with multiple viewings. There’s so much going on in each scene the subtle subtexts hidden in the dialogue is hard to understand ( and fully appreciate ) in just one single seating.
7) The Page Turner [ La tourneuse de pages ] (Denis Dercourt)
The young and beautiful Déborah François delivers a chillingly steely performance as Mélanie, a gifted but embittered music student in this highly effective French thriller. Stylishly photographed, the Page Turner is meticulous, quietly affecting and suspenseful all at the same time.
8 ) The Social Network ( David Fincher )
David Fincher’s The Social Network is two rock solid hours of smart, engaging dialogue, many of which I wasn’t fast enough to fully appreciate during my first viewing, so I’m looking forward to watching it again when my blu-ray arrives. Shot entirely on high definition video using using the Red One camera system, the director of photography Jeff Cronenweth ( who also contributed to Se7en, Fight club and Mark Romanek’s One Hour Photo ) gave the film an icy, bluish look largely devoid of warm tones to mirror the cold, calculating nature of the film’s central characters.
9) Life – Sir David Attenborough
One can expect nothing less than spectacular when BBC’s Natural History Unit and Sir David Attenborough join forces to create a new program, as evident in all their past documentaries like Blue Planet, Planet Earth, Life of Mammals and more. Each episode is an awe inspiring journey filled with incredible and wonderous insights into our natural world.
Other notable mentions of the year include Tron Legacy (for its stunning visuals), Bright Star, A Serious Man, Reign of Assassins and the Japanese film Confession. Films that I didn”t care much for include The Last Airbender and the remake of Clash of the Titans.
And now I’ll love to hear what some of your favourite films this year are. :]