Duck, You Sucka
I’d just like to say that not many years ago I was the one who thought someone should start a year-end film critics’ poll, a la The Village Voice’s Pazz & Jop survey, and I nagged editors at both the Voice and Film Comment on it several times before the idea took, first at the Voice, then, now it seems, everywhere. It was my idea. Dammit.
Anyway, as it has been folded into the Zeitgeist via polls and appearances in The Village Voice, indiewire, Sight & Sound, Film Comment, The Boston Phoenix, In These Times, The L Magazine, and, in a sense, Moving Image Source, here’s my 2011 Top Ten, qualitatively arranged as always.
1. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
2. A Brighter Summer Day
3. A Separation
4. Mysteries of Lisbon
5. My Joy
7. Martha Marcy May Marlene
8. City of Life and Death
9. Tuesday, After Christmas
Runners-up, in order: You All Are Captans, Le Quattro Volte, Putty Hill, Meek’s Cutoff, The Trip, Certified Copy, The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975, Silent Souls, Children of Hiroshima, The Arbor, Drive, Shame, The Artist...
The grand total: 2 old movies, 1 Iranian, 1 Iranian in exile, 2 documentaries, 1 Russian, 1 Ukrainian, 1 Korean, 1 Romanian, 4 U.S. genuine indies, 1 U.S. dependie, 0 Hollywood studio entries... 0 sequels, 2 films edited down from made-for-TV mini-series, 1 found-footage film...
The year's Nobel goes, a little too late, to Raul Ruiz.
Note that the list does not come within a Nigerian-runner’s short mile of Melancholia, J. Edgar, The Help, The Tree of Life, Tabloid, Hanna, Moneyball, The Debt, The Descendents, We Need to Talk About Kevin, The Ides of March, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Rampart, X-Men: First Class, Young Adult or Albert Nobbs, which have come to be this year’s most celebrated deflated souffles, gobbled up by some critics remarkable only for the bloated scale of their bellies and the numbness of their taste buds. So to speak. In other words, far too many critics today know next to nothing about the medium of which they are ostensibly expert. It’s safe to say that far too few even bothered to see ten or more of the films on my twentysomething list, because the damn things are demanding or long or weren’t gifted with a robust ad campaign. This reality makes polls, however well-intentioned, essentially meaningless. Among sports writers, for instance, this kind of rigor-less attitude toward material and achievement would cost people jobs. With film, the opposite has often proven to be the case.
Note too that A Brighter Summer Day (1991) and Children of Hiroshima (1952) are not new or newish films, but are included because they received, simply enough, their first U.S. week-long engagements. Period. To ignore them is to let the whims and market cowardice and dull-wittedness of film distributors, and the reasons they do or do not choose films for theatrical and video release, control the discourse.
As for blogging, I'll say what Warren Beatty said when he won his producing Oscar: I'll try to do better.