1. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
2. The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceaucescu (Andrei Ujica)
3. Mysteries of Lisbon (Raúl Ruiz)
4. Film Socialisme (Jean-Luc Godard)
5. Winter Vacation (Li Hongqi)
6. The Strange Case of Angelica (Manoel de Oliveira)
7. I Wish I Knew (Jia Zhangke)
8. Meek’s Cutoff (Kelly Reichardt)
9. ATTENBERG (Athina Rachel Tsangari)
10. The Ghost Writer (Roman Polanski)
Ten Special Mentions: Aurora (Cristi Puiu); Carlos (Olivier Assayas); Certified Copy (Abbas Kiarostami); Cold Weather (Aaron Katz); Curling (Denis Côté); Des hommes et des dieux (Xavier Beauvois); Le Quattro Volte (Michelangelo Frammartino); El Sicario Room 164 (Gianfranco Rosi); The Social Network (David Fincher); Unstoppable (Tony Scott)
If this list looks familiar, I doubt that’s because it’s typical of other such summaries capping the last year in cinema. It certainly isn’t representative of the Oscars, which for the first time in my Oscar-conscious life I successfully avoided watching, certainly helped by time zone issues—though you’ve got to be in some nuclear shelter to avoid hearing about their egregious offenses to the movies and to humanity in general. Rather, the officially certified list has been up at Cinema Scope Online since the beginning of January, as part of our attempt to be more current than the quarterly format allows—but for the benefit of those who have yet to come across this carefully curated fount of film writing, I replicated it herein (also for reasons of posterity). If you’re reading this online or on your IPad—iPad subscriptions now available!—it’s just a click away, or if you’re one of those old- timey print people, I strongly suggest you power up your computer and check it out before the Middle Eastern revolutions spread to your country and the powers that be shut off your internet. At this rate, judging from the internet chatter, we’re only two or three more Oscar ceremonies away.
But back to the good-old magazine, a Charlie Sheen-free zone wherein you’ll find a typically wide-ranging collection of articles that deal with about every aspect of that amorphous thing one might call “cinema” in March 2011. (As much as I love the arthouse, cinema is more today than cinemagoing, as a number of the articles that follow point out.) The intentionally pluralistic approach of Cinema Scope—I’ve said it before, but today you need to repeat things for them to sink in—ranges from focuses on a film about a psychokinetic tire, historical cave paintings in 3-D, the end of the world, and recent or pending theatrical releases from Iran, France, the US, and South Korea; filmmakers who earned retrospectives (Nathaniel Dorsky) and films that recently premiered at film festivals in Berlin and Rotterdam, one of which was made as a special event for German television (Dreileben); a look back at some of our favourite TV shows of last year, and a look ahead to one that should make similar lists at the end of this one (Mildred Pierce); surveys of experimental and marginal cinema premiering for the first time on DVD (from Spain and Brazil—and, at Cinema Scope Online, North Korea!); and an exclusive artist’s edition of drawings and words from Heinz Emigholz that involves a bit of concentration, but is very much worth the time. And, as the saying goes, much, much more. Alas, the only thing missing is a Hollywood production.
But perhaps the best that Hollywood studios have to offer is being produced for the smaller screen. Speaking of television, I was tempted in January to append the list above with special mentions of TV shows, and this being my space and needing to fill it with words, I will do so now, in alphabetical order: Archer; Breaking Bad; Community; Dexter; Fringe; Parks and Recreation; Party Down; Rubicon; Southland; and Treme. Special mentions: the first half of Terriers; from the BBC, Sherlock and The Trip; and, solely for Terrence Howard, Law and Order: Los Angeles.