Thursday, January 21, 2010 on Twitter

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


The decade concluded with another great year for films throughout the world. Among the notable highlights of the year was female filmmakers Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker), Jane Campion (Bright Star) and Claire Denis (35 Shots of Rum) all returning to a master-level of filmmaker. Spike Jonze (Where the Wild Things Are) and Wes Anderson (Fantastic Mr. Fox) both gave classic children novels their unique auteur signatures. With a masterful throwback film (The House of the Devil) Ti West proved to be the future master for contemporary horror cinema. Sion Sono (Love Exposure) took his bizarre originality to new depths. Richard Kelly (The Box) and Jody Hill (Observe and Report) proved bold originality can still be made in mainstream Hollywood films. Diablo Cody (Jennifer’s Body) and Judd Apatow (Funny People) took their filmmaking toward a new level of maturity. Pedro Almodovar (Broken Embraces) continued to prove the camera loves the star-power of his muse Penelope Cruz. Sam Raimi (Drag Me To Hell) blended humor, action, and horror with the effortlessly and invention of the Evil Dead films. Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds) acknowledged his own obsessions with violence and the impact of films with what very well may be his masterpiece.

These were just some of the notables in the year of films, but one constant trend that may define the year is animation filmmaking (of all kind) has reached its golden era – lead by Henry Selick’s pinnacle achievement in stop animation (Coraline). The always reliable Pixar reached new profound heights with what is their most lovely and touching and quite possibly best film (Up). Wes Anderson brought his patent visual style into stop-animation (Fantastic Mr. Fox). Mamoru Oshii took his anime to philosophical depths (The Sky Crawlers). Nina Paley proved the simplicity and creative charm of independent animation filmmaking (Nina Sings the Blues). Not to mention better-then-usual Hollywood animated fare, proving Pixar has raised the bar for other studios (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Monsters vs Aliens). I guess it is surprising and upsetting then that in a year of such wonderful animation, perhaps the greatest animated filmmaker of all – Japan’s Hayao Miyazaki – made the most uninspiring film of his amazing career (Ponyo), though the film is still beautiful on a level of visual animation.