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By Mark Peranson
Hey there, people! I suspect many of you who are reading this over the holidays are curled up with either the colossal Ford at Fox box or the Criterion Berlin Alexanderplatz—neither of which I have, hint, hint—so thanks for taking time to amuse yourselves with the old fashioned written word, or what passes for it these days.
All things considered, it really wasn’t a bad year after all. For completely selfish reasons—I’ve seen all I need to see that was produced this calendar year—the Cinema Scope Top Ten appears in the Winter 2008 issue rather than last year’s Spring (this stitch in time doesn’t mean I like lists any more than before). The story of 2007, as our slanted list indicates—comprised of films with their initial screenings this past year—is American cinema. Cinema Scope is a Canadian-based yet international-looking publication, so unfortunately distance between contributors precludes a knock-down, drag-out round-table debate to reach a consensus (though I suppose there are ways now, thanks to the tubes of the interwebs). So our Top Ten is a weighted survey of (naturally) ten editors and selected regular contributors, and a film must appear on multiple ballots to qualify.
Compared to last year’s Top Ten, this year sees a certain red, white, and blue bias. Though it was by and large a dismal year for studio releases, the year’s story is the strength of a number of quite different films made by Americans, with support coming for other American signed and produced content (such as Into the Wild, We Own the Night, and I’m Not There). I could have seen this coming after this year’s Cannes, and though I’m tempted, I don’t have the brainpower at present to venture an opinion as to what this means.
1. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson)
2. Zodiac (David Fincher)
3. Secret Sunshine (Lee Chang-dong)
4. Dans la ville de Sylvia (José Luis Guerin)
5. Paranoid Park (Gus Van Sant)
6. Profit motive and the whispering wind (John Gianvito)
7. My Winnipeg (Guy Maddin)
8. Go Go Tales (Abel Ferrara)
9. La France (Serge Bozon)
10. 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days (Cristian Mungiu)
Paul Thomas Anderson’s masterful There Will Be Blood is by a landslide the Cinema Scope film of 2007—I don’t really care that the PTA+ won’t be officially released in Canada until the first week of January. (And I don’t agree with all of these choices, but will stand by them as an accurate reflection of the magazine’s editorial slant). There Will Be Blood won over PTA-haters, just as Fincher’s Zodiac did to Fincher haters (myself included). Those who love it, just loooove it—and if the vox populi concurs, that, too, may say something about the current tenor (though I’m not putting any bets on that one). But this “new” American cinema is not as simple as it seems, nor is it the be all and end all, of course: the Winter issue, as usual, also highlights a number of films from the fall festival circuit still seeking distribution (which includes a few on the top ten). One more personal note from me, as to the DVD of the year: the amazing Austrian Filmmuseum two-disc package of Straub-Huillet’s Class Relations: great film, super transfer, English subtitles, unparalleled extras. Buy it, watch all of it, and thank me later.