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Goodbye to Language

Jean-Luc Godard's latest free-form essay film may be, more than anything else, a documentary of a restless mind.

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The Great Invisible

Winner of the SXSW Grand Jury Prize for Documentary, the film is strongest when it focuses on the micro rather than the macro. How the…

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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

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And the poll-winners are...

"The Social Network," "Carlos," "Winter's Bone"...

Is that starting to sound familiar? The results of two more large-scale critics' polls -- indieWIRE and Village Voice/LA Weekly -- have been announced and those seem to be the consensus picks for best (or favorite-est) movies of 2010. The thing I enjoy most about these kinds of polls is looking at the individual lists, to see if I can determine patterns (based on, say, the writers' geographical locations, publications, politics...) and to get an idea of how the consensus was reached. "The Social Network" placed on 52 of the 85 ballots cast (it would have been 53 out of 86, but I overlooked my e-mail invitation during my recent, month-long mucus infestation) -- a greater percentage than any poll-winner since Todd Haynes' "Far From Heaven" in 2002. The 100+ "critics and bloggers" (some overlapping) in the indieWIRE poll chose it as tops with 71 mentions and 461 points, followed by "Carlos" with 50 mentions and 361 points.

Voice critic J. Hoberman writes of his publications' survey:

The poll has a few anomalies. Three critics named movies as the year's best that figured on no one else's ballots: the Nicholas Winding Refn viking fest "Valhalla Rising," documentary "The Tillman Story" and Rodrigo García's adoption drama "Mother and Child." But these are proudly declared individual statements. Movies are more generally a collective art and social phenomenon.

As box office receipts measure popularity, polls manifest consensus. What's really fascinating is intensity of feeling. Each poll has a hidden story, revealing those movies that are not only liked but really liked or even passionately lurved. "Carlos" may have appeared on significantly fewer ballots than "The Social Network," but it garnered more first-place votes and had a higher average score. To quantify this sort of intensity, we've derived a primitive algorithm (factoring a movie's average score with the percentage of voters listing it first or second) known as the Passiondex™. [...]

(That "Lourdes," "Dogtooth" and "Life During Wartime" all received votes as the year's worst film just enhances their cult status.) Tied with "Dogtooth," and just ahead of "Greenberg" (No. 18) on the pash list: "The Social Network."

You will find my list (and a shameless mini-tantrum about "Inception" [#16], brought on by a recent Seattle critics' panel in which I participated at the Frye Art Museum) in the indieWIRE directory, though it's not terribly different than my MSN one -- the exception being that I got around to watching "The Ghost Writer" again for the first time since last February:

1) "The Social Network" 2) "Carlos" 3) "The Ghost Writer" 4) "Sweetgrass" 5) "Mother" 6) "Winter's Bone" 7) "Let Me In" 8) "The Killer Inside Me" 9) "Dogtooth" 10) "The Kids Are All Right"

(Links go to whatever I've written about the films on Scanners.)

Also included are categories for Best Director, Best Lead Performance and Best Supporting Performance (though I apparently goofed and put Annette Bening in the "supporting" column for the ensemble "The Kids Are All Right" -- but why she should be "lead" and Julianne Moore "supporting" is beyond me), Best Documentary, Best First Feature and other such things.

And now, I return to watching critically acclaimed 2010 releases in preparation for my Utterly Final List...

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