It's so hard to just list down my only 10 most favorite films of all in this year. Anyway, here they are. (Some were released in 2009 in their countries but they have just been released or I have just seen them this year.)
Top 10 Most Favorite Films of 2010
LOURDES (France/Austria/Germany, Jessica Hausner)
While watching this film, it feels like watching the red digital number of the time bomb ticking down. Beneath the stillness on the surface lies the challenging grievous story of the other side of faith and hope. Sylvie Testud’s face in each single scene wins them all in this story of a crippled woman traveling the pilgrimage trip hoping for a sacred miracle to cure her. All other surrounding normal-looking characters are, in fact, not normal at all, which means more human in a way. The tone this film used for telling the story is outstanding with the mix of the desperate hopelessness and deep-hidden sarcasm.
Memorable scene: Sylvie Testud, as well as the audience’s heart, fell to the floor during the ballroom dancing.
POETRY (South Korea, Lee Chang-Dong)
Like his previous film, Secret Sunshine, Lee Chang-Dong is very good at centering a story on a woman tortured painfully right at her heart. The main character of Poetry is an old grandmother (Yun Jeong-hie) who believes that his grandson is one of the six teenagers who raped a school girl. Later on, the girl committed suicide by jumping off the bridge into the river. While searching for, probably this corny phrase can make you get it the best, “the meaning of life” through the poetry class, the grandmother also trying her best in every way, including the wicked one, to certain the case with the victim’s mother. Small town in rural area, again, is the location for the story where the close connection of the community plays an important role in giving the impact to the characters as same as Secret Sunshine. Yun Jeong-hie holds the entire film on her shoulders gracefully. The open-ended scene is ambiguous enough to make the audiences questioning in fear about what really happened for many days after the film ended.
Memorable scene: Badminton scene before the ending sequence.
LAST TRAIN HOME (Canada/China, Fan Lixin)
It proved again as it has proven before since Fan Lixing’s previous documentary, Up the Yangtze, that sometimes, intentional flavorizing at a certain level can do no harm to a documentary in which the traditional principle of it is to reflect the pure truth as it is. On the contrary, it made this film tastier without destroying the trueness of it. No truth bending here though, what I mean is that in some scene we see a well-designed composition, technically, or a little dramatization, emotionally. The pictures of the biggest migration of the world, as the film claimed, of the Chinese traveling back from the cities to their hometowns during Chinese New Year are, somehow, spectacularly scary. Especially in the year that there was big news on snow storm and the electricity went down and the trains were out of service, it was like a disaster. Although the story of the subject family does not give any unseen which the audiences have never known before in many other Chinese films that came earlier, like the impact of social structure to the smallest social unit as family structure, or the issue on generation, education and economic gaps, the impact to us is yet profounding.
Memorable scene: “You said you want to film the real me! So this is the real me!”
ETERNITY (Tee Rak - ที่รัก) (Thailand, Sivaroj Kongsakul)
The personal memoir of Sivaroj Kongsakul on his parents’ love was delicately delivered into this most beautiful film of the year. Finally, the honest old-fashioned way of love expression conquers all. Tears of overwhelming happiness is the tears this film caused, not the tears of sadness as many others. There are so many little ways to express the love without saying directly “I love you” in this film and those are the sweetest ways to say it. Although the second act where the lovers slowing falling into each other is so touching and full of simple expression of love, but the third act may be the most impactful part of all when the object of affection is missing but the way the left-behinds living on their lives shows that love is still lingering there. Touching, overwhelming and mesmerizing. Heartbreakingly sweet.
Memorable scene: She reached out her hand under the mosquito curtain at night before he too reached out his to hold hers.
HONEY (Turkey/Germany, Semih Kaplanoglu)
The intention of this film is, actually, to kill the audiences! The story, in fact, is very melodramatic and can be made into an uncompromised tear-jerking melodrama. Luckily, Honey chose to tell its story of lost in a family with realistic slow pacing instead, in which eaten our hearts bit by bit through the end. No burst of tears because your tears might get stuck somewhere in your throat. Until the very end of the film, you might find your tears have already run down your face without you knowing since when. The little boy who stole everyone’s hearts, Bora Altas, gives an amazing acting in which you have to ask yourself silently many times, “How can he play so good like that?” His look, especially his eyes, is sadly cute. Definitely, Honey is Bora Altas, and Bora Altas is Honey!
Memorable scene: The boy willingly drank his milk for his mother. The boy tried to catch the moon in the water. The boy and his mother turned back to the road behind them when they heard the sound. Any many more…
BRIGHT STAR (Australia/UK/France, Jane Campion)
Abbie Cornish, once again, did not fail us the audiences at all (although, personally, I think she looks a lot better in blonde hair). She made it through wonderfully with the role of Fanny Brawne, a brightly shining star from first love. And even more awesome when the character’s heart was broken. The first appearance of Ben Whishaw in the lean period costume frighteningly reminds me of his role in Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. Instead of making a biopic about the legendary poet, John Keats, Jane Campion did what she can do best which is focusing on a female character, Fanny Brawne - the first love of Keats. I strongly believe that many people who watched this film would go to YouTube just to watch again and again the beautiful letter-reading scenes. It is the same as the pillow case that Fanny embroidered, this film is nothing but a beautiful sheet of cloth embroidered by Jane Campion with poetry, summer butterflies, purple flowers and first love.
Memorable scene: All the letter-reading scenes, and when Fanny cried like she could not breathe anymore after knowing the news.
(500) DAYS OF SUMMER (USA, Mac Webb)
We have seen a thousand love story or romantic-comedy films until we couldn’t imagine anymore how can we have any new in this genre. And this film is the answer. Of course, the story is not new, and because of the not-new story itself that hit right at our hearts. It’s the story once happened to every one of us, to simply say, so the audiences can easily connect. Maybe the point of praise should also go to the way the film used in telling the story, the stylish non-linear way. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel are charming than ever before.
Memorable scene: Heartbreaking spilt screen between expectation and reality.
RED DRAGONFLIES (Singapore, Liao Jiekai)
This film may not be the sweet for everyone. However, it is obviously seen that Liao Jiekai has paid attention in every main element all through every minor detail of this fabric. It is enjoyable seeing the lives of all characters in the film, and much more with the trekking along the old railroad in the green forest of the three youngsters. Watching Singaporean film with the background of forest instead of skyscrapers as usual strangely gives a happy calm feeling. It is easy to smile along the conversation of the kids although it is so ordinary. Nostalgic feeling is just about perfectly right and, luckily, not too cheesy-heavy. The film is like traveling back to the small memories in the past. The ambiguity of some incident or character is like the faded memory that we cannot be sure which detail is true, which detail is imaginary. Some may find the liking to this film is more and more developing even though several days have passed. With the fact that this is just the first feature film of Liao Jiekai, it is hard to resist having high expectation to his next.
Memorable scene: The Kids journeyed deeper and deeper into the damp green forest where there’s almost no trail to follow anymore.
WINTER’S BONE (USA, Debra Granik)
This thrilling drama chilled us deep down to the bone by a very well-written story of a small seventeen years old girl (the amazing breakthrough Jennifer Lawrence), on her own, fighting for her family’s survival, on the factual ground that her missing father might not be alive anymore. The people in this town are much scarier than those in the horror flicks like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The whole town tightly sealed their lips not to let the girl knows what she supposes to know the most. Dale Dickey, who for the international film lovers, comes from the middle of nowhere (she is more on TV), scares us all with her colder-than-the-coldest-winter face. And surprisingly, John Hawkes is so unrecognizable that he was the guy in Miranda July’s Me and You and Everyone We Know. As bright as Lawrence, Debra Granik shines so bright in directing this film that would haunt you for a big while after watching.
Memorable scene: The second encounter of Lawrence and Dickey, and the boating out to find the father.
INCEPTION (USA, Christopher Nolan)
Roller-coaster riding probably is the closet feeling to watching this film. It’s the right combination of innovative plot, spectacular scenes, rousing music and good acting (especially from Marion Cotillard). Not that often that a film can create a huge impact and become a milestone of the contemporary film history. Since The Matrix, Inception is the next now. Christopher Nolan’s name has just been written deeper in the stone.
Memorable scene: Ariadne playing spectacularly for the first time in her dream. Stylish MTV action scene of Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the elevator.
Another Next 10 (Because it's so hard to list them out.):
I WISH I KNEW (China, Jia Zhang-Ke)
AN EDUCATION (UK/USA, Lone Scherfig)
THE SOCIAL NETWORK (US, David Fincher)
AGORA (Spain, Alejandro Amenábar)
IN THE WOODS (Greece, Angelos Frantzis)
GREENBURG (US, Noah Baumbach)
MOTHER (South Korea, Bong Joon-Ho)
WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE (US, Spike Jonze)
UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES (Thailand, Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
REIGN OF ASSASSINS (China, Su Chao-Bin/John Woo)