Thursday, 20 January 2011

So Long 2010

Best film I saw at the cinema in 2010:

(honorable mentions: Toy Story 3, Up In The Air)

For one reason or another, I've watched films on DVD a lot more than going to the cinema this past year. Partly due to there being a smaller selection of films I've really wanted to experience at the cinema this year; partly due to time constraints, in that it's a lot quicker and simpler to put a disc in a DVD player than it is to head to the cinema; but also, partly for no reason in particular - the reasons I've just given are certainly with the benefit of hindsight, but neither was particularly prominent throughout the last twelve months. My selection was naturally narrowed therefore, but the films that I considered are in no way inferior to those of previous years. Toy Story 3 was very close to claiming the honour, as it's another Pixar masterpiece, rounding off the Toy Story trilogy faithfully to the characters and universe of the franchise that also proves that "threequels" and beyond can be fantastic pieces of cinema in their own right. Kick-Ass pipped it to the honour, being as it is a film of equally high calibre (but clearly very different genre and intention). Its triumph comes from its relatively minuscule budget and the perseverance of those who made it to make it a success. It's also not a sequel, whereas TS3 has the previous two films to help in its success. Kick-Ass is also one of the boldest and most uncompromising pieces of cinema of the whole year, or indeed any year. Up In The Air also deserved consideration for the great performances, polished direction and the uncanny balance of reality and hyperreality created within it.

Best film I saw (for the first time) on DVD in 2010:
(honorable mentions: Shutter Island, Inception, Blazing Saddles, A Serious Man, Synecdoche, New York )

All of these films stayed with me as something special, as films that chose to do things individually, setting challenging goals and reaching them sublimely. Shutter Island is another Scorsese-DiCaprio masterpiece with a unnerving Hitchcockian feel and superb craftsmanship throughout. Inception is one of the most original and ambitious films I can remember ever seeing, and solidifies Nolan as a truly special director. It took me far too long to see Blazing Saddles, but it's a genuinely innovative, unreserved and unequivocally hilarious comedy that will stay with me for the rest of my life. A Serious Man took my breath away with the Coens' masterful ability to build character and fly in the face of cinematic convention. And Synecdoche, New York is almost indescribable, but incredibly beautiful filmmaking from Kaufman, a perfect performance from Seymour Hoffman and is almost certainly the most cerebrally challenging film I've seen all year (yes, even more so than Inception).

So how did Exam manage to beat all these? Simply put, Exam excels in every single challenge it sets itself. It contains some of the finest storytelling I have ever seen in cinema. It shows that great cinema can rely almost solely on the writing, direction and acting and be a comprehensive success. And it inhabited my brain way after the credits had rolled. I was left exploring the world of Exam in my brain for a long, long time. A world which in many ways was only hinted at. Of all the many exquisite films I saw in 2010, Exam blew me away even more than the rest.

Best TV show that I saw for the first time in 2010:
Life After People

I didn't watch a great deal of new TV this year. I picked up Life After People cheap on DVD after being intrigued by the idea. And it's a very entertaining watch. It mixes the ludicrous with the highly technical in a way that's never really appealed to me before. It's almost certainly a guilty pleasure, but sometimes that's exactly what you need. If you've never seen/heard of Life After People I urge you to give it a go. If nothing else, you'll have a laugh - whether at its entertainment factor or at its expense.

Best TV show that I continued to watch in 2010:
(honorable mention: Doctor Who)

Doctor Who went from strength to strength with a fantastic send-off for Tenth Doctor Tennant at New Year followed by a series of equal if not greater success introducing the team of Stephen Moffat taking over as executive producer and new Doctor Matt Smith. The series felt rejuvenated after a quiet year in 2009, with Smith making The Doctor entirely his own whilst at the same time bringing just as much warmth and vibrance to the role as was recognisable in Tennant's incarnation, and Moffat introducing a slightly darker tone to the series overall, countering the slightly overindulgent and flabby feel that previous executive producer Russell T. Davies had delivered towards the end of his tenure.

But I just cannot ignore Lost's final season. Not as successful overall as Season 5 (especially on a repeated viewing), but keeping things fresh and innovative with the "flash-sideways" timeline whilst at the same time providing enough answers (with "enough" being the pivotal word) to bring the series to a satisfying and fitting conclusion. Many were unhappy, but when a series generates as much intricate mythology and fan theorising it's an inevitability. Personally I loved it. Lost is the best series from the first decade of the 21st Century, and the best bar one (The West Wing, if you're interested) that I've ever seen.

Best singles of 2010:
DJ Fresh - Gold Dust

Cee-Lo Green - Fuck You

Magnetic Man - I Need Air

Duck Sauce - Barbra Streisand

Best albums of 2010:
Sadly, I don't have even one best album of 2010. The new albums from The Chemical Brothers, Scissor Sisters, Fatboy Slim & David Byrne, Daft Punk and Royksopp may have been candidates if I had got round to getting hold of them. Equally, I've briefly enjoyed new albums from Magnetic Man, Richard Cheese, Gorillaz and Goldfrapp this year, but don't feel I've listened to them enough to warrant judging any of them as best albums. In the past, none of these albums would have slipped through my fingers, all receiving at least a few listens each. Unfortunately it seems to have been my enthusiasm for music that has fallen by the wayside this year due to increasing demand of my time for other unavoidable commitments, and it's something that even as I type leaves me feeling quite disappointed in myself. All I can do is endeavour to significantly improve upon this in 2011.

A thin year in some ways (I haven't been to see any live shows for a good couple of years now), and I hope that 2011 is a year where I can pick up some interests that have dropped off slightly in recent times. Whether that is actually achievable remains to be seen, but the intention has now at least been stated and here's hoping it will be fulfilled, at least in part.

No comments: