Monday, January 3, 2011

QT's Best of '10

Surprisingly bland:

1. Toy Story 3
2. The Social Network
3. Animal Kingdom
4. I Am Love
5. Tangled
6. True Grit
7. The Town
8. Greenberg
9. Cyrus
10. Enter The Void (“Hands down best credit scene of the year … Maybe best credit scene of the decade. One of the greatest in cinema history.”)

And the runners up are:

11. Kick Ass
12. Knight and Day
13. Get Him To The Greek
14. The Fighter
15. The Kings Speech
16. The Kids Are All Right
17. How To Train Your Dragon
18. Robin Hood
19. Amer
20. Jackass 3-D


Christian Lindke said...

The only thing bland and possibly predictable about this list is Tarantino's inclusion of self-important "hipster" crap like Greenberg.

How to Train Your Dragon is a bit low for me on his list. It is the best 3D movie made to date, and the first Dreamworks movie with "heart." Not surprising given that it had the director of Disney's Lilo and Stitch (one of the best Disney films ever) at the helm.

My list would be similar to Tarantino's but would include Book of Eli -- a masterpiece if you clip out the "library" visual toward the end, Legend of the Guardians and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. It would eliminate Greenberg, Jackass, and The Social Network -- of those I have seen -- and a couple that I haven't seen.

David Chute said...

Probably "bland" is the wrong word. I was struck by how unexeptionable and unprovocative the choices are, considering the source.

And of course any list that fails to include "Winter's Bone" is automatically relegated to the children's table.

Christian Lindke said...

Ah, but the best films of the year -- and many of those of all time -- are made especially for the children's table.

Christian Lindke said...

And "Winter's Bone" was such an easy movie for the American viewer to go out and see.

If you didn't see it in a theater, not on a screener or at a Festival, then it doesn't count. That makes it fetish, or at best "culturati," viewing.

Put another way... a film may be a great film, but how can it be called a "best of the year" when the public hasn't had a chance to view it in the year credited?

David Chute said...

This is fairly mainstream:

David Chute said...

But also: how widely a film is or isn't distributed is exactly the sort of consideration (along with, say, its PR and P&A budgets) that many critics, including myself, consider it a matter of professional pride, if not ethics, to overlook. Those accidents of the marketplace are among the factors what critics awards, in particular, are supposed to counteract.

Christian Lindke said...

I agree that you should point out the film and its merits. I also agree that the film itself is worth the viewing, but the fact that fewer than 600k watched the film in the theaters is more than a minor marketplace failure. It is a failure on the part of the studio that released the film.

I would also argue that the "preciousness" that some critics held the film in was a factor.

BTW, the fact that the most recent James L. Brooks film bombed is argument enough that big budgets don't equate to quality or to mass market acceptance. It is the Town & Country of this decade.

Christian Lindke said...

BTW, I don't think it takes any particular savvy to notice a film that specifically panders to critical audiences.

Noticing a quality film that doesn't pander through the elite festival circuit and through sending screeners to critics would be a better display of finding that which is overlooked.

You should exhibit professional pride for discovering excellent HK and Indian films. Discovering precious festival fare isn't particularly worthy of pride.

None of that is to say "Winter's Bone" isn't worth the time. Netflix has many excellent promoted offerings like the "Girl Who" series and "Centurion" for example.

David Chute said...

As a critic I reviewed, and as viewer I watched, the movie. Not its distribution pattern or advertising campaign.

Debra Granik did her job well. Why should she be penalized because the marketing folks didn't?

Christian Lindke said...

It isn't just the marketing folks who dropped the ball, it was the critics as well. The movie makes many "darling" lists, but the film was released at Sundance last year.

If critics were truly championing the film, as they should rather than merely hording their "discoveries," then more than 600k would have seen the film.

Isn't a critic supposed to champion the overlooked? Discovering it -- even if such discovery really means being solicited as "leaders of opinion" -- isn't enough.

Neither is including a film that was released to critics in January on some obscure, pedantic, elitist, and ignored "top of the year" list.

Tulkinghorn said...

Have no real opinion about what merits inclusion on ten best lists, except to note that I approve of critics using such lists to bang the drum for movies they liked ESPECIALLY if they did not reach the audiences they deserved. (Has anyone noted how few people put "Inception" on their lists, for example?)

I kind of agree that the ‘release it to the cognoscenti three months before it hits the theaters’ strategy has a real downside….

600,000 admissions for a movie that was in 134 theaters at its peak is pathetic.

It could be that the specialty divisions of the majors and the indie distributors have criteria for success that do not include reaching broader audiences...

Tulkinghorn said...

Just came across something that shows the critical impact of a ten best list -- a re-evaluation of a movie that was mostly slighted as a mere remake, when it possibly should not have been:

Cool quote:

“Let Me In” is a work of remarkable virtuosity and cleverness (there are moments, as in the scene that Matt selects, in which the film verges on being a neo-realist vampire black comedy, and there’s joy in the simple surprise of how shot follows shot) and of impersonal, arm’s-length expression. Most unusually and impressively, Reeves thinks in images, even if, in this film, he isn’t thinking with images. I’m intensely curious and eager to see whatever he offers next.

Christian Lindke said...

The problem with "Let Me In," which is excellent, is that it was released during a time when the original was still at a rising point in its product development cycle.

Had they waited a year or two more to release the film, it would have done much better.

I do agree that lists should be used, but that they are less effective than constant promotion.

Picture the two scenarios.

First scenario a critic who enjoyed an overlooked film mentions the film in reviews of almost every similar film that comes out in a year -- and in reviews of Blu Ray re-releases that bear resemblance. The critic looks for opportunities to champion the film. The critic mentions the merits of both the film being reviewed and the film being championed.

Second scenario a critic reviews a film positively and then remains quiet until a "top 10" list comes out.

In the first, the idea becomes ingrained into the readers' minds. They cannot help but wonder what this crazy film is, if only to cease being annoyed.

In the second, the reader's reaction is:

"Toy Story 3...saw it. The Social Network...saw it. Animal Kingdom...---empty stare, blah, blah, blah --- never heard of it, and on and on."

A list provides no context and is useful as bibliographic resource, but includes little compelling reasoning -- even those that contain some description typically share this failing.

If you want to champion, then tilt windmills. Don't merely post billboards.