Screens Top 10s
1) 'WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE' The No. 1 spot is reserved for the movie that took my breath away, a most involuntary response. Where the Wild Things Are did and does.
2) 'THE BEACHES OF AGNÈS' Agnès Varda's beaches are festooned with mirrors and scarves and her courtyard with sand and umbrellas. Her film autobiography, like her life, is alive with possibility, passageways, and progress.
3) 'A SINGLE MAN' Acclaimed fashion designer Tom Ford (who was born in Austin) delivers a first film that defies expectations of dilettantism and proves that there can be second acts in American life.
4) 'A SERIOUS MAN' Apart from enjoying the Coens' engagement in ontological questions, this film, more than any other, filled me with the joy of identity: Jewish culture and Jefferson Airplane. L'chayim!
5) 'THE HURT LOCKER' So taut, no movement unpurposed: This movie shows what it really takes to be ready for war.
6) 'SUMMER HOURS' This French film is a lovely rumination on the meaning of things, one that reminds us that meaning is created by human beings and not inherent in the objects themselves.
7) 'AN EDUCATION' Like A Serious Man, An Education is, for me, another experience in identity filmmaking. I recognize too well this movie's young girl who wants nothing more than to shed her mediocrity.
8) 'UP' An instant classic: From the second this one was out of the gate, you could see it was going to be a timeless family jewel, one that spanned generations and seasons.
9) 'ANTICHRIST' Agony, guilt, and psychological suffering are fearlessly expressed by Lars von Trier, Willem Dafoe, and Charlotte Gainsbourg. They truly go where angels fear to tread.
10) 'BRIGHT STAR' Sensuous and voluptuous, Jane Campion's story of the tubercular poet John Keats and his lady love Fanny Brawne recasts the hackneyed old stanza in refreshing new verse.
Inglourious Basterds, District 9, Goodbye Solo, The Baader Meinhof Complex, Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire
Paranormal Activity, Observe and Report, Up in the Air
The Limits of Control, Brüno, Drag Me to Hell
ACTING KUDOS (MALE)
Colin Firth (A Single Man), Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds), Stanley Tucci (Julie & Julia, The Lovely Bones), Alfred Molina (An Education), Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart)
ACTING KUDOS (FEMALE)
Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air), Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air), Carey Mulligan (An Education), Julianne Moore (A Single Man), Catherine O'Hara (Where the Wild Things Are)
Spike Jonze (Where the Wild Things Are), Joel and Ethan Coen (A Serious Man), Agnès Varda (The Beaches of Agnès)
BEST SCREENPLAY (ORIGINAL)
Bright Star (Jane Campion), A Serious Man (Joel and Ethan Coen), The Hurt Locker (Mark Boal)
BEST SCREENPLAY (ADAPTED)
A Single Man (David Scearce and Tom Ford), Where the Wild Things Are (Spike Jonze and Dave Eggers), An Education (Nick Hornby)
The Ugly Truth. This reactionary movie about acquiescing to outdated sexual stereotypes in order to find happiness is also indicative of the bad screen choices made by America's newest rom-com princess Katherine Heigl.
Ensembles Make the Movie: Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire, A Serious Man, The Hurt Locker, Summer Hours, An Education, Where the Wild Things Are