In case you haven’t noticed (holla at my 2 faithful readers out there!) I’ve been severely slacking on my blog game as of late. Starting my film classes at Pitt this semester has really taken a toll on my love for film, and I can confidently say I’ve never felt more defeated in my life. You know, film classes really destroy the medium. At least that’s how I feel right now. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve encountered some fabulous instructors who give a great deal of insight into the topics their teaching (shoutout to Neepa!) and really give a new perspective on tired elements of the industry, but I feel like constantly (and consistently) analyzing the shit out of individual works of art totally strips any and all mystique away from these personalized products. I’m surrounded by (and being swallowed alive by) the pretentious arthouse crowd I’ve come to know as peers (aka fellow film students) who pretend to be completely unaware of the vast amount of made-up-but-intellectual-sounding bullshit that’s coming out of their mouths as if they’ve accidentally talked themselves into a goldmine of analytical pretention concerning the film under discussion. I mean yeah, I can make Esper’s The Maniac sound like a critique on 1930s censorship masked as brilliant piece of intentionally-bad filmmaking by using big words, too, but I’m going to take it for what it is; a really shitty, half-assed waste of time to sit through.
But, I’m getting way off-topic here…why did I start writing this piece again, you may ask? That’s right, to inform all six of you reading this (the only two that count are the aforementioned faithful readers, not including my grandfather and parents…and yes I’m including the second read my grandfather will probably give this in my count) of my annual pre-Oscar season top 10 of the year so far. And what better time to do this than that point during the year just before I become inundated (and slightly incapacitated) by brilliant performances and emotional low-blows whilst crying by myself at the local arthouse theater…why yes, Oscar Season is nearly upon us! (note: I wish I had more friends willing to accompany me to these things, but the thought of sitting through two hours of foreign films or things that don’t involve fake shaky cam ghosts doesn’t exactly entice the majority of my circle of friends).
So far this year, we’ve quite honestly seen some of the most interesting year-to-date release patterns I can recall of the past decade. I mean hell, Shutter Island went from being last year’s top contender in a handful of major categories to a *possible* technical filler nominee simply by pushing its release date to the first quarter of this year. We also watched The Kids Are All Right single-handedly do nothing to cement itself as a pre-beginning-race shoe-in for Best Picture, the only true lock on the radar at this point in any category. Baffling, I know…and not because of the quality of the film, but once again because of the release date. Summer releases generally don’t garner the acclaim needed to sustain a successful awards run, but Kids has come out of nowhere (thanks in large part to its progressive message’s relevance to society’s shift in ideology concerning sexuality) but will undoubtedly end up somewhere truly substantial. I really see this film maintaining its awards season steam well beyond its time, something modern BP winners rarely succeed in doing (Hurt Locker wha? Million Dollar Baby wai?). Pluse, I mean, you can’t deny that my love for the film has anything to do with the presence of goddess Julianne Moore (who some of you will remember I’ve included in my made-while-drunk list of “Best People in the Whole World”…yes, no other qualifiers necessary other than simply being “Best” to me while intoxicated) who gives her usual effervescent (I believe I misspelled that word, but I’m leaving it like that because it amuses me) performance as a lovely lezzy (melts my heart every time). I fear that the Academy will shy away from Moore in favor of Bening, though, simply based on marketing placing Bening at the forefront of the film’s cast. Ugh. Screw lead roles, I’m all for the ANTM-alum (miss Yaya DaCosta, holla Cycle 3!) getting some major screentime in the film. Score one for Tyra.
The majority of quality releases for 2010 thus far have undeniably come from veteran directors engaging in the usual arthouse/independent stint; Rodrigo Garcia stuck true to his reflective I-wish-I-were-a-woman ways with the fabulously, dishearteningly bleak Mother and Child (can you sense that I get immense pleasure out of acknowledging that I like feeling such emotional turmoil whilst watching a film?) of which contains one of the best performances of the entire year from Naomi Watts; Mark Romanek treated us to another dazzlingly depressing (albeit thematically irrelevant, even though it thinks it isn’t) film with Never Let Me Go; and Debra Granik also returns (after a 6 year hiatus from 2004’s epic Down to the Bone) with the taut and sufficiently rattling Winter’s Bone, a film (and director, I might add) that recalls the female-empowerment (deservedly so, as was not the case with Kathryn Bigelow) trip (both narratively and in terms of the awards circuit) of Frozen River’s Courtney Hunt two years ago.
But 2010’s stand-out gem is none other than Luca Guadagnino’s brutal portrait of domestic feminine sacrifice I Am Love. Guadagnino directs Tilda Swinton in one of the most haunting and relevant narratives to grace American screens since Rachel Getting Married. Swinton gives one of the best performances of her career (as she usually tends to do in these under-the-radar arthouse pictures) thanks to her unflinching willingness to delve into territory many other actresses of her iconic status would dare tread.
But what to look forward to? What’s in store for us this upcoming Oscar Season? Well, my darlings, that’s an entirely different post that I’m not all that inclined to spend an hour crafting right now. For the time being, let’s just marvel at what we’ve been graced with thus far into the year, and giddily anticipate the vast amounts of cinematic fabulosity (holla Kimora) we know is coming our way over the next few months *cough* Black. Freaking. Swan *cough*. Cheers to 2010 so far. I mean, what could possibly go wrong? The only direction a year following one in which this happened…
…can only be up, right? Here’s hoping…
Oh and PS, no, I haven’t grown tired of quoting the Meryl Streep version of Julia Child at ear-splitting levels at amusingly-inappropriate times…oh how 2009 will live on in mysterious ways.
Top 10 of 2010 (So Far)
1 – I Am Love
2 – The Kids Are All Right
3 – Catfish
4 – Mother and Child
5 – Never Let Me Go
6 – I’m Still Here
7 – Conviction
8 – Shutter Island
9 – Chloe
10 – Winter’s Bone