Another Year, Another Iras

And so, for the 35th time, we gathered together to decide the fate of Western civilization -- no, I'm sorry, that's not exactly right, it is?

Oh, yeah, we voted our own film awards and, if I say so myself, we acquitted ourselves with more grace, wit and intelligence than many of our colleagues and the various industry groups. If you want to read a more thorough recounting (literally), check out Michael Giltz's blog, Popsurfing. (There's a link to your left.)

However, here are
my the final results in all the categories, with my own first-place choice in parentheses:

Best Picture
: Hunger (Still Walking)
Best Director: Olivier Assayas -- Summer Hours (Hirokazu Kore-Eda -- Still Walking)
Best Actor: Sharlto Copley -- District 9 (Issei Ogata -- The Sun)
Best Actress: Catalina Saavedra -- The Maid (Penelope Cruz -- Broken Embraces)
Best Supporting Actor: Liam Cunningham -- Hunger (Cunningham)
Best Supporting Actress: Anna Faris -- Observe and Report (Edith Scob -- Summer Hours)
Best Screenplay: Olivier Assayas -- Summer Hours (Hirokazu Kore-Eda -- Still Walking)
Best Cinematography: Sean Bobbitt -- Hunger (Raoul Coutard -- Made in USA)
Best Production Design: Philip Ivey -- District 9 (Yelena Zhukova -- The Sun)
Best Music: Marvin Hamlisch -- The Informant! (Alberto Iglesias -- Broken Embraces)
Best Costumes: Janet Patterson -- Bright Star (Hope Hanafin -- (500) Days of Summer)

And here, at long last, is my ten-best list for 2009 (based on 76 films viewed -- my worst total since 2000m, unfortunately, but it was that kind of a year for us):

1. Still Walking – Hirokazu Kore-Eda

2. Summer Hours – Olivier Assayas

3. 35 Shots of Rum – Claire Denis

4. Hunger – Steve McQueen

5. (500) Days of Summer – Marc Webb

6. The Sun – Alexander Sokurov

7. La Silence du Lorna – Jean-Luc and Pierre Dardenne

8. Broken Embraces – Pedro Almodovar

9. The Beaches of Agnes – Agnes Varda

10. The Hurt Locker – Kathryn Bigelow

Honorable Mention: Police, Adjective, Duplicity, Katyn, The Cove, Empty Nest, Fados, Laila’s Birthday, Shall We Kiss?, In a Dream, Unmistaken Child, Made in USA.

It seems like everyone who does this nonsense for a living had to chime in with a ten-best list for the decade just completed. (I'm not going to get into the debate on which ten years constitute the decade. Let's get real, people.) The New York Independent Film Critics Circle were no exception. We used weighted voting, ten points down to one, (like the baseball writers voting for MVP and Cy Young awards). First, here is my ten-best list for the '00s:

1. The Son – Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne

2. Colossal Youth – Pedro Costa

3. “The Heart of the World” – Guy Maddin

4. 2046 – Wong Kar-Wai

5. Goodbye Dragon Inn – Tsai Ming-Liang

6. Untold Scandal -- Je-Yong Lee

7. Notre Musique – Jean-Luc Godard

8. Syndromes and a Century – Apichatpong Weerasethakul

9. My Father, My Lord – David Volach

10. I’m Going Home – Manoel de Oliveira

This was a remarkable decade and getting this list down to a mere ten was downright painful. If you look at how our voting went, you'll get some sense of the great films I was forced to leave off my own list.

1. The Son
2. Zodiac -- David Fincher
3. Yi Yi -- Edward Yang
4. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford -- Andrew Dominik
5. Edge of Heaven -- Fatih Akin
In the Mood for Love -- Wong Kar-Wai
7. "The Heart of the World"
8. Mysterious Skin -- Gregg Araki
Bus 174 -- Jose Padilha and Felipe Lacerda
10. The Death of Mr. Lazarescu -- Cristi Puiu
Head-On -- Fatih Akin
Spirited Away -- Hayao Miyazaki
13. 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days -- Cristian Mungiu
The Dreamers -- Bernardo Bertolucci
House of Sand and Fog -- Vadim Perlman

These are exciting lists. All of the filmmakers listed are, with the exceptions of Jean-Luc Godard, Bernardo Bertolucci and Manoel de Oliveira, are young filmmakers or mature filmmakers at the peak of their powers. The lists suggest some of the geo-economic shifts in the film world, with east Asian filmmakers, directors from Romania and the Middle East giving a massive transfusion of fresh talent to the art form. The most glaring omissions are the lack of women directors (although several of them turned up on individual best-of-decade lists) and Latin Americans (with the exception of Bus 174).

Things are definitely looking up. Or as the newspaperman in Hawks's The Thing should have said, "Watch the screens! Keep watching the movie screens!"


Melina Gerges said…
Did you see "The Stoning of Soraya M." .... that was an incredible movie! There is another small budget film coming out. I saw it at a film fest : movie is called "Solo" the story of the Artist Joseph Gerges Check it out!