Sunday, 12 December 2010

My Favourite Films of 2010

It’s that time of year when newspapers and magazines start to list their cultural highlights of the year. So not wanting to feel left out, here are The Invisible Province’s top five movies of 2010.


Of Gods and Men (Xavier Beauvois). Film making doesn’t get much more luminous than this. This is based on the real life story of seven monks in a North African monastery who are threatened by Islamic fundamentalists. The narrative exhibited a complete lack of pretension, irony or religious cliché. This is a sublime study of religious vocation and sacrificial love. I am not ashamed to say that this deeply moving film brought me to tears. If this doesn’t win the Oscar for best foreign film I’ll eat my biretta.

I am Love (Io sono l'amore) (Luca Guadagnino). This was a flawed film, but these were flaws in a diamond. The story of a frigid bourgeois Milanese family coming apart at the haute couture seams was told with ravishing imagery and an opulence that made love to the senses. Tilda Swinton’s central performance – part ice-maiden, part Lady Chatterley, all pent up sexual repression – was a master class in melodrama. Oh, and then there was that bowl of soup...

Another Year (Mike Leigh). It was the tenderness and humanity of Mike Leigh's latest film that impressed me. Yet, it is a film that has split audiences. I side with the view that the shifting, moral complexity of the characters does not undermine the central thesis that human beings are made for goodness. A film that reveals the sadness and serenity found in the human condition and why we would not have it any other way.

The Killer Inside Me (Michael Winterbottom). The only film that made me flinch and turn away from the images of brutality on the screen. Yet, this was as far from the current trend in torture porn as you can imagine. A serious analysis of sadism and masochism that months after seeing it has left questions in my mind about what makes us moral beings and what degrades us. Not an easy watch but one that is thought provoking which is more than can be said for most films.

Winter’s Bone (Debra Granik). For me the performance of the year goes to Jennifer Lawrence who seemed to inhabit her 17 year old character in a way that appeared to make acting redundant. This was a film that could have played to all the “white trailer trash” stereotypes but stubbornly refused to do so. Instead, we were given an austere portrait of the damage eking a poverty-stricken life from a harsh environment can do to human beings.

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