Monday, December 27, 2010

Top-10 list #1

Anybody familiar with this blog knows I’m not much for keeping current. I don’t get around to some new books and movies until 50 or 100 years later. So my end-of-the-year Top-10 lists are a mix of old and new.

I’ve got two movie lists, actually – English-language films and foreign-language films. Today, in no particular order, is my pick of the ones in English. A couple of them are oldies, and if True Grit isn’t on the list, it’s because I haven’t seen it yet. Look for it on my next year’s list.

Exit Through the Gift Shop. Enjoyably droll documentary from British street artist Banksy. A revelation if you know only a little about street art, and a wonderful send-up of the art world establishment at its commercialized worst.

Winter’s Bone. Striking for how really immersed this film is in its back-country milieu and backwoods folks’ extra-legal code of conduct. Good performances and a well-written script.

The Ghost Writer. Roman Polanski’s nifty homage to Alfred Hitchcock in this thriller with Ewan McGregor and Pierce Brosnan. Great cameo with Eli Wallach.

Don’t Let Me Drown. Nice little Romeo and Juliet love story set in post-9/11 Brooklyn, with totally plausible performances by its young bilingual actors. Director: Cruz Angeles.

The Last Station. The incomparable Helen Mirren and Christopher Plummer in a historical domestic drama that is fascinating for its portrayal of the Tolstoys’ tumultuous marriage.

An Education. I enjoyed this mostly for its evocation of the London I first knew in 1964, before it became Americanized beyond recognition. Great cast and pleasantly entertaining.

Four Sheets to the Wind. A story of young Oklahoma Indians in a world that doesn't offer much of a place for them to fit in. Cufe, the central character is wonderfully played by Cody Lightning, who gives a thoughtful, quiet performance as a young man on the cusp of learning who and what he is. Director: Sterlin Harjo.

The Damned United. Enjoyable (and probably much fictionalized) biopic of Brian Clough (played by Michael Sheen) and his fruitless attempt to civilize the Leeds United football team in 1974.

The Exiles. Excellent docudrama about young Native Americans living in central Los Angeles circa 1960. The film vividly captures a time and place as it follows a half dozen characters during a night of bar hopping, cruising around town, and gathering on a hilltop overlooking the city for drumming and singing.

In a Lonely Place. Classic from 1950 with Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Graham in a story set in Hollywood. Qualifies as film noir, but reaches beyond the genre to tell a story of a screenwriter with an anger management problem. Director: Nicholas Ray.

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Next time: Top-10 foreign-language films


  1. I have yet to see a one of these. I'm humbled!

  2. Hum, I didn't see any of those. I've been four sheets to the wind, though.

  3. Never heard of these except for The Last Station. Was going to see it, but never got around to it.

  4. They look like some good movies to put on my "to see" list.

  5. Thanks for reminding me of Damned United. Completely forgot about it. And Exit Through the Gift Shop.

  6. Give me another 50 years, and maybe I'll see some of these too.

  7. That is a Bogart film I know of but have never seen. I'm glad it is a good one because I have so few new ones left.