My annual accounting of contenders who missed the Oscar cut is live on MSN. There weren’t any surprises this year. Here’s my wish list of the surprises I would have enjoyed seeing.
Oscar opened the Best Picture list to ten nominees last year, not out of guilt for leaving out so many worthy nominees, mind you, but as a way to make sure the big audience-pleasing Hollywood movies that Middle America (in other words, the Oscar telecast audience) has actually seen would find a place in the show. This year they score with blockbusters “Toy Story 3” (both number one at the box office and one of the best reviewed films of 2010) and “Inception,” Hollywood hits “The Social Network” and “True Grit” and success stories “The King’s Speech” and “Black Swan.”
What did they miss? I don’t think anyone expected “Let Me In,” the remake of the Swedish winter-dark vampire thriller “Let the Right One In,” to show up this year, being both a remake and a horror film, but this perfectly-realized film surely deserves a nod as much as (if not more than) most films that made the cut. “The Town” was widely predicted to be a nominee and Peter Weir’s etched-in-earth survival drama “The Way Back” was the best film of 2010 that no one saw in 2010. But the most egregious absence is Roman Polanski’s “The Ghost Writer,” which swept the European film awards yet is nowhere to be seen on this year’s list of nominees. The smart, gripping, subtly Hitchcockian thriller may have simply come out too early in the year, or maybe the recent extradition controversy simply churned up a belated Polanski backlash. Either way, this is the Best Film of 2010 to come out of the nominations empty-handed.
The Online Film Critics Society (of which yours truly is a member) announced the winners of the 14th Annual Online Film Critics Society Awards on the morning of Monday, January 3. And here they are…
Picture: The Social Network
Director: David Fincher, The Social Network
Actor: Colin Firth, The King’s Speech
Actress: Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, The Fighter
Supporting Actress: Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit
Original Screenplay: Christopher Nolan, Inception
Adapted Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network
Foreign Language Film: Mother (South Korea)
Documentary: Exit Through The Gift Shop
Animated Feature: Toy Story 3
Cinematography: Roger Deakins, True Grit
Editing: Lee Smith, Inception
Best-of lists are by their nature subjective things, and even more so when it comes to DVD/Blu-ray. What makes a DVD release the “best”? The movie itself? The video and audio quality of the mastering and presentation? The supplements? Rarity of the title? Scope of the collection? Critical acclaim? Cult demand? Some inexplicable balance of some or all of these?
Well, I guess the latter is the closest we’ll come to quantifying the mysterious process, which is why rather than the usual Top Ten list, I’ve broken my picks into categories, so I can celebrate a box set achievement separately from a brilliant home video debut separately from a landmark restoration. Which is not to say this list is not run through with my own subjective judgments, simply that I have found my own way to spread the love around (including naming runners-up as my whims take me). I reviewed most (though not all) of these on various websites (including Parallax View) and have linked to these longer pieces wherever possible.
And for the 2010 release that I love most, allow me to present my…
DVD Release of the Year
Three Silent Classics by Josef Von Sternberg (Criterion)
Josef von Sternberg is the great stylist of the thirties, a Hollywood maverick with a taste for visual exoticism and baroque flourishes (which prompted David Thomson to dub him “the first poet of underground cinema”), but step back into his silent work and you’ll find a storyteller of unparalleled talent and one of the great directors of silent cinema.
Once again, I was honored with an invitation to participate in the annual Village Voice / LA Weekly Film Critics’ Poll. (It went live earlier this week but I’ve been out for Christmas and let things slide a bit.) The list is slightly different from my MSN list, and even though it was published after the MSN poll, its deadline was earlier, so this was a bit more spontaneous, a little less worked over.
I’ve been slow updating the DVD pages here because I’ve been pouring through end-of-the-year releases and writing up lists and essays to go along with them.
The first of those lists is now up at MSN, where I joined twelve other critics and film writers in a collective survey of the best of the year. The feature, which counts down the compilation list with accompanying essays, starts here.
My piece is here (no spoilers from me; you’ll have to click through to find out) and you can view the individual lists (not just mine, but lists from friends and colleagues Jim Emerson, Richard T. Jameson, Glenn Kenny, Kim Morgan, Kathleen Murphy and others) starting here.
More to come as the screenings continue and I watch (and rewatch) the 2010 offerings.