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Kim Voynar

By Kim Voynar

Sundance, Top Tens and Critics Groups. Oh. My.

2010 is a wrap, 2011 is here, but for most of us who write in this industry, until we get past February it’s all about Sundance and Oscar. The publicist letters about Sundance slates start hitting inboxes during the Winter Break (I send them straight to the “Sundance” file until after the new year, because I am getting old and grumpy and more hardcore about guarding family time these days) and don’t stop coming until about midway through the fest.

And of course, because the Academy has a twisted sense of humor, Oscar nominees are announced at the asscrack of dawn during Sundance, when everyone is running around Park City trying not to slip on the ice and break anything or freeze to death at a shuttle stop. Or both.

Before we descend into all that madness, though, it seems apropos to sit back and look at how the top tens and critics’ group awards are shaping up this year. One of my critics’ groups, the Online Film Critics Society (which sounds much more hoity-toity than what it really is, which is mostly a bunch of film journalists and critics busting their asses all year to garner enough freelance work to keep the internet turned on), just announced its year-end awards, and I can’t say I’m either surprised or particularly happy to see we awarded The Social Network Best Picture (and when I say “we” I mean, pretty much everyone else but me, I am very much in the minority on this one). But my vote was only one among many, and I have to respect that clearly, a lot of my colleagues think Fincher hung the moon with this film. Whereas I see it more as him maybe hanging up a glitzy neon sign of the moon.

I know, I know. It’s tops on almost every top ten list except mine. It’s winning critics’ group awards right and left. It’s chances for winning Oscar appear good — though I agree with David that it is far from the lock people seem to assume. Social Network reflects the cultural zeitgeist (sorry, I just couldn’t help myself there), yes, but it’s the cultural zeitgeist, for the most part, of people who are, say, 40 and younger. Not that older people don’t use Facebook (or at least play Farmville an awful lot), but the way that Facebook has shaped the very way we communicate with each other has impacted younger people more than the senior set. And there are still a lot of older folks in the Academy who may not be quite as in love with Social Network as the voices dominating the internet conversation about the Oscar race. So we’ll see.

I was glad to see Never Let Me Go top David’s Top Ten list. I went back and forth over that film … it moved me deeply when I saw it at TIFF, and I still think Andrew Garfield is far more deserving of an Oscar nod for his performance in that film than Social Network. But Social Network has everyone’s attention, and Never Let Me Go came and went quietly, with little fanfare, which makes me kind of sad because it is a beautiful, tragic film, and one of the few I will revisit (the book, by the way, would be #1 on my book list for 2010).

My own top ten list this year had a lot of downer films on it, and I wonder how much of that has to do with me feeling very reflective about my life over the past couple years. Certainly Biutiful — although I think it stands on its own merits as both Innaritu’s best film and Javier Bardem’s most complex, challenging performance — ripped my guts out in part because of my own illness last year. Another Year, apart from being one of Mike Leigh’s best efforts and it’s outstanding performances, rings true in its depiction of loneliness and aging and life choices, and how one person’s life can seem so easy while another person’s seems so hard. Black Swan is tragic but simply brilliant, and while I respect the right of others to find it unbearably pretentious, I cannot see what you see in it if you feel that way, so we will have to politely agree to disagree. I saw it again this weekend, and now I want to see it yet again. There are so many layers to this film, it’s complex and beautiful and challenging.

Upon reflection though … there’s not really an “upper” or purely entertaining film on my list — even Inception, the most mainstream of the lot, delves into death and guilt and darkness. Which either makes me a candidate for the Sylvia Plath Award for depressing top ten lists, or perhaps just means that matters of life and death and philosophical ponderings have weighed heavily on me this year, and my list reflects this.

When people who know what I do for a living ask me what current movies I’d recommend, they almost always append that request with, “But not anything depressing!” or “Something entertaining, not too artsy.” Which is not what my personal taste in films tends to run toward, but okay.

In that spirit, I offer those of you who find depressing films too … well, depressing, my Top Ten Uplifting Films of 2010. Films you could take your mom to, even if she loves soap operas or Lifetime movies. Films that are enjoyable to spend your time with, even if I don’t think they’re necessarily the best films of the year (though these is some overlap with my Top Ten Features and Top Ten Docs). There’s not a depressing one in the lot. And yes, The Social Network is on this one.

Top Ten Uplifting Films of 2010

1. Toy Story 3
2. The Social Network
3. Exit Through the Gift Shop
4. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
5. Kick-Ass
6. Get Low
7. The Fighter
8. Made in Dagenham
9. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 1
10. Knight and Day (Yes, yes, it’s completely ridiculous. But I liked it.)

There you go. Ten films from 2010 that, while not perhaps my favorite artistically, I thought were fun to watch, and I wouldn’t have been irritated at spending my hard-earned cash to see them. Maybe you’ve enjoyed some of them, maybe you’d have a better list. Feel free to share what your own favorite movies of the year were in the comment.

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2 Responses to “Sundance, Top Tens and Critics Groups. Oh. My.”

  1. press says:

    My list Top Films
    1 .The Social Network
    2.Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 1
    3. Toy Story 3

  2. I conceive this web site has very good composed written content articles .

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon