Dominic’s Favorite Films of 2010
10) Four Lions (UK). A satire about four terrorists. Actually has some touching bits with the ringleader and his wife and little boy.
9) Lourdes (France). A quadriplegic is ambivalent about being at the famous healing shrine of Lourdes in this thorough and sophisticated exploration of healing and miracles. (Another film from 2010 that deals with religion in a sophisticated way is Vision, about the medieval abbess Hildegard of Bingen.)
8) The Fighter (USA). A fact-based boxing movie that’s really about a fighter torn between his new girlfriend and his dysfunctional family. The complex characters and relationships will probably appeal even more to fans of family dramas than to fans of sports movies. Christian Bale’s performance as the drug-addicted brother is quite powerful. My favorite from Hollywood this year. (Although I liked The Social Network, 127 Hours, and Toy Story 3 a lot.)
7) Catfish (USA). The only documentary on my list — I just don’t watch that many docs. But the middle section of this film plays like a thriller as a young man gets suspicious about the veracity of his Facebook friend. And the last part, the confrontation, plays out quite unexpectedly and sensitively. Best not to know anything else before watching.
6) White Material (France). Challenging emotionally and artistically. But Claire Denis is an extraordinary filmmaker, and this look at a white African who insists on staying in the country despite a dangerous revolution is complex and unpredictable, even if unbelievable in some ways. Chocolat, Denis’ 1988 film about a white 8-year-old girl in colonial Africa, is simpler and more accessible. And her film 35 Shots of Rum was my 2nd favorite film last year.
5) Mademoiselle Chambon (France). Less is more with this exquisite character study of a married man who is drawn to his son’s teacher.
4) Another Year (UK). There’s even less plot in this film, which could be infuriating to some. But I found the lead character fascinating as she fights to deny her desperation.
3) Me Too (Spain). A Down’s Syndrome university grad falls for his co-worker. Sensitive rather than exploitive. The lead is played terrifically by a man with Down’s Syndrome. (Other favorite foreign language films of the year include Nora’s Will, The Secret in Their Eyes, Mid-August Lunch, and Undertow.)
2) Animal Kingdom (Australia). Slowburn suspense thriller about an orphaned teen taken in by his grandmother and criminal uncles. The grandmother, played by Jacki Weaver, is one of the most intriguing characters of the year.
1) Winter’s Bone (USA). Another slowburn suspense thriller about a teen in danger, this time a girl in the Ozarks who braves all kinds of danger to find her bail-jumping father. Writer-director Debra Granik’s Down to the Bone (2004) is also a terrific film, starring the amazing Vera Farmiga as a mother stuggling to kick her drug addiction. (Other favorite English-language films of the year include Tiny Furniture, Fish Tank, Blue Valentine, and The King’s Speech.)
—Reprinted with persmission from the Torch3m “Dominican Movies, Music & Magic” January 2011 e-newsletter. For more information about Torch3m and Mud Puddle Films, visit www.torch3m.org.