Everyone Else

The Entries

Acquarello

Michael J. Anderson

Geoff Andrew

Martyn Bamber

Lynden Barber

Michael Bartlett

Raphaël Bassan

Paolo Bertolin

Pamela Biénzobas

Vassily Bourikas

Christopher Bourne

Serge Bozon

Stephen Brower

Thomas Caldwell

Michael Campi

Michelle Carey

Conall Cash

Lesley Chow

Ian Christie

Matthew Clayfield

John Conomos

Francis Cruz

Michael Da Silva

Adrian Danks

Dustin Dasig

John Demetry

Jorge Didaco

Wheeler Winston Dixon

Matthew Flanagan

Donal Foreman

Gwendolyn Audrey Foster

Patrick Friel

Jean-Michel Frodon

Geoff Gardner

Antony I. Ginnane

Chiranjit Goswami

Paul Grant

Jim Hemphill

José Sarmiento Hinojosa

Alexander Horwath

Peter Hourigan

Brian Hu

Christoph Huber

Dominik Kamalzadeh

Daniel Kasman

Simon Killen

Gabe Klinger

Rainer Knepperges

Kevyn Knox

Violeta Kovacsics

Marc Lauria

Maximilian Le Cain

Kevin B. Lee

Dennis Lim

J.B. Mabe

Miguel Marías

David Melville

Olaf Möller

Richard Moore

Bill Mousoulis

Thure Munkholm

Peter Nagels

James Naremore

James L. Neibaur

Cyril Neyrat

Sarah Nichols

Darragh O’Donoghue

John Orr

Volker Pantenburg

Jit Phokaew

Andréa Picard

Richard Porton

Bérénice Reynaud

Marcos Ribas de Faria

Peter Rist

Ben Russell

Dan Sallitt

Howard Schumann

David Schwartz

Mark Spratt

Brad Stevens

Richard Suchenski

Gerwin Tamsma

Ignatiy Vishnevetsky

Robert von Dassanowsky

Virginia Wright Wexman

Deane Williams

Barbara Wurm

Neil Young


ACQUARELLO

NASA Design Engineer and author of the Strictly Film School website.

Favourite films (in preferential order)
Das weisse Band – Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte (The White Ribbon, Michael Haneke, 2009)
Zum Vergleich (In Comparison, Harun Farocki, 2009)
Independencia (Raya Martin, 2009)
35 rhums (35 Shots of Rum, Claire Denis, 2008)
Villa Amalia (Benoît Jacquot, 2009)
Ghost Town (Zhao Dayong, 2009)
Alle Anderen (Everyone Else, Maren Ade, 2009)
Sense of Architecture (Heinz Emigholz)
Los abrazos rotos (Broken Embraces, Pedro Almodóvar, 2009)
Les Plages d’Agnès (The Beaches of Agnès, Agnès Varda, 2008)

Honourable mentions
Bellamy (Claude Chabrol, 2009)
Singularidades de uma Rapariga Loura (Eccentricities of a Blond Hair Girl, Manoel de Oliveira, 2009)
Liverpool (Lisandro Alonso, 2009)
Les Herbes folles (Wild Grass, Alain Resnais, 2009)
Politist, adj. (Police, Adjective, Corneliu Porumboiu, 2009)

MICHAEL J. ANDERSON

PhD candidate in Film Studies and History of Art at Yale University. He also maintains the weblog Tativille.

1. Politist, adj. (Police, Adjective, Corneliu Porumboiu, 2009)
2. L’Heure d’été (Summer Hours, Olivier Assayas, 2008)
3. Liverpool (Lisandro Alonso, 2008)
4. 36 vues du Pic Saint Loup (Around a Small Mountain, Jacques Rivette, 2009)
5. 35 rhums (35 Shots of Rum, Claire Denis, 2008) and White Material (Claire Denis, 2009)
6. Two Lovers (James Gray, 2008)
7. Fantastic Mr. Fox (Wes Anderson, 2009)
8. Aruitemo aruitemo (Still Walking, Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2008)
9. Una semana solos (A Week Alone, Celina Murga, 2007)
10. The Limits of Control (Jim Jarmusch, 2009)

Runners-up: Bright Star (Jane Campion, 2009), El cant dels ocells (Birdsong, Albert Serra, 2008), Jerichow (Christian Petzold, 2008), Madeo (Mother, Bong Joon-ho, 2009), Das weisse Band – Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte (The White Ribbon, Michael Haneke, 2009)

To provide some context for my choices, I included 2009 US commercial releases La mujer sin cabeza (The Headless Woman, Lucrecia Martel, 2008) and Tôkyô sonata (Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2008) on my 2008 list (they were #1 and #2 respectively), while I have yet to see Cahiers du cinéma favourites Les Herbes folles (Wild Grass, Alain Resnais, 2009) and Vincere (Marco Bellocchio, 2009).

GEOFF ANDREW

Geoff Andrew is Head of Film Programme at BFI Southbank.

Five absolute standouts
Das weisse Band – Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte (The White Ribbon, Michael Haneke, 2009)
A Serious Man (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2009)
Shirin (Abbas Kiarostami, 2008)
Vincere (Marco Bellocchio, 2009)
Politist, adj. (Police, Adjective, Corneliu Porumboiu, 2009)

And 20 very fine works indeed
Les Herbes folles (Wild Grass, Alain Resnais, 2009)
The Limits of Control (Jim Jarmusch, 2009)
Gigante (Adrián Biniez, 2009)
Madeo (Mother, Bong Joon-Ho, 2009)
Lourdes (Jessica Hausner, 2009)
35 rhums (35 Shots of Rum, Claire Denis, 2008)
Ander (Roberto Castón, 2009)
The Informant! (Steven Soderbergh, 2009)
The Girlfriend Experience (Steven Soderbergh, 2009)
Bright Star (Jane Campion, 2009)
Barbe Bleue (Bluebeard, Catherine Breillat, 2009)
Köprüdekiler (Men on the Bridge, Asli Özge, 2009)
Un Prophète (A Prophet, Jacques Audiard, 2009)
Cea mai fericita fata din lume (The Happiest Girl in the World, Radu Jude, 2009)
Morfiy (Morphia, Alexei Balabanov, 2008)
In the Electric Mist (Bertrand Tavernier, 2008)
Jal aljido Mothamyeonseo (Like You Know It All, Hong Sang-Soo, 2009)
Fish Tank (Andrea Arnold, 2009)
Aya Seyahat (Journey to the Moon, Kutlug Ataman, 2009)
A l’ouest de Pluton (Henri Bernardet, Myriam Verreault, 2009)

One film which I greatly admire but have reservations about
Kinatay (Brillante Mendoza, 2009)

Two arthouse turkeys
Antichrist (Lars Von Trier, 2009)
Soudain le vide (Enter the Void, Gaspar Noé, 2009)

Discovery of the year
Pas koji je voleo vozove (These Earthly Days Keep Rolling By, Goran Paskaljevic, 1979)

MARTYN BAMBER

Martyn Bamber is the Head of Subtitling at the European Captioning Institute, and provides subtitles for a variety of films and television programmes. He is also a freelance writer and has contributed several articles to Senses of Cinema.

Favourite films from 2009 seen in the UK (in alphabetical order)
En la ciudad de Sylvia (In the City of Sylvia, José Luis Guerín, 2007)
Funny People (Judd Apatow, 2009)
The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow, 2008)
Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009)
The International (Tom Tykwer, 2009)
Låt den rätte komma in (Let the Right One In, Tomas Alfredson, 2008)
Le Silence de Lorna (The Silence of Lorna, Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne, 2008)
A Serious Man (Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, 2009)
Two Lovers (James Gray, 2008)
Where the Wild Things Are (Spike Jonze, 2009)

LYNDEN BARBER

Lynden Barber is a freelance film journalist contributing to publications and websites including The Australian, Limelight, SBS Film, Lumina (AFTRS), ABC Unleashed, australianscreen (National Film and Sound Archive) and newmatilda.

Not in order of preference
Låt den rätte komma in (Let the Right One In, Tomas Alfredson, 2008)
An Education (Lone Scherfig, 2009)
Two Lovers (James Gray, 2008)
Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009)
Le Père de mes enfants (The Father of My Children, Mia Hansen-Love, 2009) seen at the Filmfest Muenchen 2009
Samson and Delilah (Warwick Thornton, 2009)
L’Instinct de mort (Mesrine: Killler Instinct, Jean-François Richet, 2008)
L’Ennemi public n°1 (Mesrine: Public Enemy No. 1, Jean-François Richet, 2008)
Alle Anderen (Everyone Else, Maren Ade, 2009) seen at the Melbourne International Film Festival
Disgrace (Steve Jacobs, 2009)
L’Heure d’été (Summer Hours, Olivier Assayas, 2009)
Last Ride (Glendyn Ivin, 2009)
In Search of Beethoven (Phil Grabsky, 2009)
Wake in Fright (Ted Kotcheff, 1971)
Tulpan (Sergei Dvortsevoy, 2008)
Of Time and the City (Terence Davies, 2009)
Balibo (Robert Connolly, 2009)
Food, Inc. (Robert Kenner, 2009) seen at the Melbourne International Film Festival
Moon (Duncan Jones, 2009)
Avatar (James Cameron, 2009)
Der Baader Meinhof Komplex (The Baader Meinhof Complex, Uli Edel, 2009)
Away We Go (Sam Mendes, 2009)
Les beaux gosses (The French Kissers, Riad Sattouf, 2009)
Three Blind Mice (Matthew Newton, 2009)
The Boys Are Back (Scott Hicks, 2009)
Genova (Michael Winterbottom, 2009)
Rachel Getting Married (Jonathan Demme, 2008)
Louise-Michel (Gustave de Kevern, Benoît Delépine, 2009)
Dean Spanley (Toa Fraser, 2009)
(500) Days of Summer (Marc Webb, 2009)

Like You Know It AllMICHAEL BARTLETT

Michael Bartlett is a freelance film writer living in London.

Bellamy (Claude Chabrol, 2009)
Helen (Joe Lawlor and Christine Molloy, 2008)
Lat den rätte komma in (Let The Right One In, Tomas Alfredson, 2008)
Jal aljido mothamyeonseo (Like You Know It All, Hong Sang-soo, 2009)
Moon (Duncan Jones, 2009)
Shirin (Abbas Kiarostami, 2008)
35 rhums (35 Shots of Rum, Claire Denis, 2008)
Two Lovers (James Gray, 2008)
Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Woody Allen, 2008)

Tie for 10th: In The Loop (Armando Iannucci, 2009) / Tulpan (Sergei Dvortsevoy, 2008) / Valhalla Rising (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2009)

Two of the most riveting films of the year – for very different reasons – were Fish Tank (Andrea Arnold, 2009) and A Religiosa Portuguesa/La Religieuse portugaise (The Portuguese Nun, Eugène Green, 2009) but I don’t include them in my top ten because, for all their directorial flair, they represent for me an ideological and formal dead end for cinema.

Guilty pleasures included Le Donk and Scor-zay-zee (Shane Meadows, 2009) and the ubiquitous Paranormal Activity (Oren Peli, 2007), while the best “new” films I saw all year were three I’d already seen in 2008 (a much richer year for film): Encounters at the End of the World (Werner Herzog, 2007), La vie moderne (Modern Life, Raymond Depardon, 2008) and Aruitemo aruitemo (Still Walking, Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2008).

A great year for (re)discoveries, though. Here’s a Top 15: After Hours (Martin Scorsese, 1985); Akarui mirai (Bright Future, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2003); BBC – The Voice of Britain (Stuart Legg, 1935); The Bed Sitting Room (Richard Lester, 1969); Chocolat (Claire Denis, 1988); Contes immoraux (Immoral Tales, Walerian Borowczyk, 1974); Decision at Sundown (Budd Boetticher, 1957); Il grido (The Cry, Michelangelo Antonioni, 1957); Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (Chantal Akerman, 1975); The London Nobody Knows (Norman Cohen, 1967); M (Joseph Losey, 1951); Mayis sikintisi (Clouds of May, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 1999); Nihon no yoru to kiri (Night and Fog in Japan, Nagisa Ôshima, 1960); Le Silence de la mer (The Silence of the Sea, Jean-Pierre Melville, 1949); Subida al cielo (Ascent To Heaven/Mexican Bus Ride, Luis Buñuel, 1951)

RAPHAEL BASSAN

Raphaël Bassan is a French film critic who has written, since 1970, on avant-garde cinema (and other forms of cinema) in specialised reviews such as Écran and La Revue du Cinéma, in national dailies such as Libération, and in dictionaries and encyclopaedias, for example L’Encyclopaedia Universalis.

In alphabetical order
La Danse: Le ballet de l’Opéra de Paris (La Danse: The Paris Ballet Opera, Fred Wiseman, 2009)
Das weisse Band – Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte (The White Ribbon, Michael Haneke, 2009)
Homecoming (Narcisa Hirsch, 1980) short film presented at the Festival des cinémas différents de Paris
Gabbla (Inland, Tariq Teguia, 2008),
Irène (Alain Cavalier, 2009),
Jeder für sich und Gott gegen alle (The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser, Werner Herzog, 1974) seen at the Herzog retrospective at the Centre Pompidou
Meditations on Revolution part 1: Lonely Planet (1997), Meditations on Revolution part II: The Space in Between (1997), and Meditations on Revolution part III: Soledad (2001) (Robert Fenz) seen at the Festival Cinéma du Réel, Centre Pompidou
My Brother’s Wedding (Charles Burnett, 1983, reissue in 2009 in French theatres
New York Portraits (chapter one, 1978, chapter two, 1980, chapter 3, 1990) (Peter Hutton) seen at the Festival Cinéma du Réel, Centre Pompidou
Playtime (Jacques Tati, 1967) seen at the Tati retrospective at the Cinemathèque française
Qu’un seul tienne et les autres suivront (Silent Voice, Léa Fehner, 2009)

It’s a real challenge to write this kind of list, but I play the game by expressing the broad spectrum of my taste. I have selected eleven films, some are internationally recognised, such as The White Ribbon, while others, like the first film by Léa Fehner, Qu’un seul tienne et les autres suivront, or Gabbla by Tariq Teguia, have had only a limited visibility in the area of French film criticism. If I have to sum up my intellectual voyage as a film critic, I can say that I never thought there was only one way to think and write about cinema, its aesthetics or philosophy. For each category of film, I adopt a specific way to translate the images, their continuity, and their secret or hidden meanings. I think that we are able to like, at the same time and in the same lifetime, works by Jean-Luc Godard, Hollis Frampton or Mario Bava. We have the simple obligation to not make abusive comparisons between the films, and to consider each of them in its own ecosystem.

In different countries (and in France especially) we can see all kinds of films (in festivals or retrospectives). I chose two trilogies of avant-garde documentary films by Peter Hutton and by the young Robert Fenz, and a film by a veteran Mexican female filmmaker, Narcisa Hirsch, born in 1928 and largely unknown, to indicate simply that these artists also exist and have an importance in the history of cinema, just as the authors of fictional mainstream oeuvres.

PAOLO BERTOLIN

Paolo Bertolin works as a programmer for a number of international film festivals (among them, Venice, Bratislava and the Udine Far East Film Festival). This year, he curated the Paolo Benvenuti retrospective at the 38th International Film Festival Rotterdam.

My favourite films of 2009*
Lola (Brillante Mendoza, 2009)
White Material (Claire Denis, 2009)
Strella (Panos H. Coutras, 2009)
Sawan Baan Na (Agrarian Utopia, Uruphong Raksasad, 2009)
Engkwentro (Pepe Diokno, 2009)
casting a glance (James Benning, 2007)
Gran Torino (Clint Eastwood, 2008)
Woman On Fire Looks For Water (Woo Ming Jin, 2009)
Petition: The Court of the Complainants (Zhao Liang, 2009)
Ahasin Wetei (Between Two Worlds, Vimukthi Jayasundara, 2009)

*I include here only films I have seen for the first time during the last year

Most overrated films in 2009
1. Slumdog Millionaire (Danny Boyle, 2008) – probably the decade’s biggest fraud…
2. Soul Kitchen (Fatih Akin, 2009)
3. Un Prophète (A Prophet, Jacques Audiard, 2009)

Three unanswered questions
1. Why is Andrzej Wajda’s Tatarak (Sweet Rush, 2009) regarded by so many European critics as “innovative”?
2. Why were Clint Eastwood’s equally masterful Changeling (2008) and Gran Torino (2008) both (almost) completely shut out of the Oscar run?
3. Why did the Venice Film Festival jury completely overlook a masterpiece like Brillante Mendoza’s Lola (2009)?

PAMELA BIENZOBAS

Pamela Biénzobas is a Paris-based Chilean film critic, co-founder of Revista de Cine Mabuse, and outgoing vice-president of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics.

Since I feel I need a criterion for this kind of exercise, I decided to limit this list (or these lists) to films commercially released in France during 2009 (no matter where or when I saw them).

Ten French films (+1 bonus)
Surprisingly, many of the films I shortlisted are French:

The most shattering
(Quebecois bonus): J’ai tué ma mère (I Killed My Mother, Xavier Dolan, 2009)

The most inventive
Léger tremblement du paysage (A Faint Trembling of the Landscape, Philippe Fernandez, 2008)

The most compelling
Irène (Irene, Alain Cavalier, 2009)

The most heart-warming
35 rhums (35 Shots of Rum, Claire Denis, 2008)

The most hilarious
Les Beaux gosses (The French Kissers, Riad Sattouf, 2009)

The most playful
Les Herbes folles (Wild Grass, Alain Resnais, 2009)

The most nonjudgmental
La Fille du RER (The Girl on the Train, André Téchiné, 2009)

The most virtuoso
La Danse: Le ballet de l’Opéra de Paris (La Danse: The Paris Ballet Opera, Fred Wiseman, 2009)

The most sensually (and absurdly) apocalyptic
Les Derniers jours du monde (Happy End, Jean-Marie Larrieu and Arnaud Larrieu, 2009)

The most subtly elliptical
Yuki and Nina (Nobuhiro Suwa and Hyppolite Girardot, 2009)

The most effectively constructed
Un Prophète (A Prophet, Jacques Audiard, 2009)

Three confirmed masters (+2 bonus):
(Younger talent bonus): Revolutionary Road (Sam Mendes, 2008)
(New master bonus): Gabbla (Inland, Tariq Teguia, 2009)
Public Enemies (Michael Mann, 2009)
Das weisse Band – Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte (The White Ribbon, Michael Haneke, 2009)
Vincere (Marco Bellocchio, 2009)

Three tales of three cities
Of Time and the City (Terence Davies, 2008)
My Winnipeg (Guy Maddin, 2007)
Joy Division (Grant Gee, 2007)

Three fables of a child’s soul
Where the Wild Things Are (Spike Jonze, 2009)
Coraline (Henry Selick, 2009)
Gake no ue no Ponyo (Ponyo on the Cliff, Hayao Miyazaki, 2008)

Three portraits of Chile
Tony Manero (Pablo Larrain, 2008)
Huacho (Alejandro Fernández Almendras, 2009)
Navidad (Sebastián Campos, 2009)

Two Australian wonders
Mary and Max (Adam Elliot, 2009)
Samson and Delilah (Warwick Thornton, 2009)

The two most unfairly dismissed (when presented in Cannes 2008)
La mujer sin cabeza (The Headless Woman, Lucrecia Martel, 2008)
Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman, 2008)

The single most overrated
Gran Torino (Clint Eastwood, 2008)

VASSILY BOURIKAS

Filmmaker and cinephile, living in Berlin and Greece.

These are some films I really enjoyed in the last year, including some that resurfaced. I am sure I forgot some.
Stara Škola Kapitalizma (Old School of Capitalism, Želimir Žilnik, 2009)
Strella (Panos H. Coutras, 2009)
Zum Vergleich (In Comparison, Harun Farocki, 2009)
Tweet’s Ladies of Pasadena (Timothy Carey, 1973)
Public Enemies (Michael Mann, 2009)
Trypps #6 (Malobi) (Ben Russell, 2009)
Par dzimtenīti (Three Men and a Fishpond, Laila Pakalnina and Maris Maskalans, 2008)
Zoom Doku (Ludwig Schönherr, 1967-69)
Kentaur (Centaur, Tamás St. Auby, 1973-75)
Un Prophète (A Prophet, Jacques Audiard, 2009)
Materialfilm Performance, Ein 35mm Cinemascope Expanded Cinema Event
(Material Film Performance, A 35mm Cinemascope Expanded Cinema Event, Wilhelm Hein, 2009)
Zasto ne govorim srpski (na srpskom) (Phil Collins, 2008)
Spirit house (Robert Todd, 2008)
Ramses (Romuald Karmakar) segment of Deutschland 09 – 13 kurze Filme zur Lage der Nation (Germany 09: 13 Short Films About the State of the Nation, 2009)
Pression (18fps version) (Ljubomir Šimunić, 1970-75)
((((())))) (Leslie Thornton, 2009)
Tabiaah Samitah (Still Life, Akram Zaatari, 2008)
Scrap Vessel (Jason Byrne, 2009)
La Rabbia di Pasolini (Rage by Pasolini, Pier Paolo Pasolini and Giuseppe Bertolucci, 2008)

CHRISTOPHER BOURNE

Christopher Bourne is a writer and cinephile based in New York City. He blogs on film at The Bourne Cinema Conspiracy.

2009 was an embarrassment of cinematic riches, so much so that I refuse to submit myself to the “tyranny of ten”, as the estimable critic Jonathan Keifer terms it, since there were far more than ten films that deserve recognition as great achievements. Therefore, in a nod to the great Casey Kasem, here is a Top 40 countdown of the year’s best films. Everyone has their own rules for inclusion, and these were mine: if a film had or began its commercial run, or played for at least a week in New York during the calendar year 2009, it was eligible. The vagaries of film distribution being what they are, many of the films on my list were not actually made in 2009.

1. 35 rhums (35 Shots of Rum, Claire Denis, 2008)
2. Meotjin haru (My Dear Enemy, Lee Yoon-ki, 2008)
3. Liverpool (Lisandro Alonso, 2008)
4. Du levande (You, the Living, Roy Andersson, 2007)
5. Hyazgar (Desert Dream, Zhang Lu, 2007)
6. Bam gua nat (Night and Day, Hong Sang-soo, 2008)
7. Hunger (Steve McQueen, 2008)
8. Up in the Air (Jason Reitman, 2009)
9. Medicine for Melancholy (Barry Jenkins, 2008)
10. Adventureland (Greg Mottola, 2009)
11. Tôkyô sonata (Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2008)
12. Aruitemo aruitemo (Still Walking, Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2008)
13. Goodbye Solo (Ramin Bahrani, 2008)
14. Babi buta yang ingin terbang (Blind Pig Who Wants to Fly, Edwin, 2008)
15. Treeless Mountain (So Yong Kim, 2008)
16. Tulpan (Sergey Dvortsevoy, 2008)
17. Munyurangabo (Lee Isaac Chung, 2007)
18. Import/Export (Ulrich Seidl, 2007)
19. The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow, 2008)
20. Er shi si cheng ji (24 City, Jia Zhangke, 2008)
21. Tyson (James Toback, 2008)
22. Les Plages d’Agnès (The Beaches of Agnès, Agnès Varda, 2008)
23. Somers Town (Shane Meadows, 2008)
24. Flower in the Pocket (Liew Seng Tat, 2007)
25. Adela (Adolfo Alix Jr., 2008)
26. Yasukuni (Li Ying, 2007)
27. Dai-Nihonjin (Big Man Japan, Hitoshi Matsumoto, 2007)
28. Rembrandt’s J’Accuse (Peter Greenaway, 2008)
29. Of Time and the City (Terence Davies, 2008)
30. The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema (Sophie Fiennes, 2006)
31. Two Lovers (James Gray, 2008)
32. Fantastic Mr. Fox (Wes Anderson, 2009)
33. Valentino: The Last Emperor (Matt Tyrnauer, 2008)
34. Where the Wild Things Are (Spike Jonze, 2009)
35. Humpday (Lynn Shelton, 2009)
36. Wonangsori (Old Partner, Lee Chung-ryoul, 2008)
37. Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009)
38. L’Heure d’été (Summer Hours, Olivier Assayas, 2008)
39. The Informant! (Steven Soderbergh, 2009)
40. Zombieland (Ruben Fleischer, 2009)/Drag Me to Hell (Sam Raimi, 2009)

Honourable mentions (in alphabetical order): Antichrist (Lars von Trier, 2009), The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (Werner Herzog, 2009), Bronson (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2008), Brüno (Larry Charles, 2009), Chugyeogja (The Chaser, Na Hong-jin, 2008), District 9 (Neill Blomkamp, 2009), The Limits of Control (Jim Jarmusch, 2009), Observe and Report (Jody Hill, 2009), Paper Heart (Nicholas Jasenovec, 2009), Politist, adj. (Police, Adjective, Corneliu Porumboiu, 2009), Pontypool (Bruce McDonald, 2008), Gake no ue no Ponyo (Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, Hayao Miyazaki, 2008), Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (Lee Daniels, 2009), Revanche (Götz Spielmann, 2008), Rudo y Cursi (Rough and Vulgar, Carlos Cuarón, 2008), Serbis (Service, Brillante Mendoza, 2008), Sin Nombre (Without Name, Cary Fukunaga, 2009), Taxidermia (György Pálfi, 2006), Tokyo! (Michel Gondry, Léos Carax, Bong Joon-ho, 2008), The Yes Men Fix the World (Andy Bichlbaum, Mike Bonanno, Kurt Engfehr, 2009).

SERGE BOZON

Filmmaker and critic for Cahiers du Cinéma.

All Around a MountainBad Biology (Frank Henenlotter, 2008)
Espelho Mágico (Magic Mirror, Manoel de Oliveira, 2005)
Jitsuroku rengô sekigun: Asama sansô e no michi (United Red Army, Kôji Wakamatsu, 2007)
Aquele Querido Mês de Agosto (Our Beloved Month of August, Miguel Gomes, 2008)
La Famille Wolberg (The Wolberg Family, Axelle Ropert, 2009)
Le Roi de l’évasion (The King of Invasion, Alain Guiraudie, 2009)
36 vues du Pic Saint Loup (Around a Small Mountain, Jacques Rivette, 2009)
Je ne suis pas morte (I Did Not Die, Jean-Charles Fitoussi, 2008)
L’Idiot (The Idiot, Pierre Léon, 2008)
Bellamy (Claude Chabrol, 2009)

STEPHEN BROWER

Stephen Brower (Santa Monica, CA) is Vice President of AandR and Marketing for Vanguard Records and is the publisher of the film blog pocketcinephile.com.

The top 10 + 1 films of 2009
1. Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009)
Tarantino cements his legacy as a singular visionary with Inglourious Basterds, a masterful series of tête-à-têtes birthed of the director’s own peculiar universe, wherein claustrophobic chamber dramas masquerade as populist action set pieces with the audience none the wiser.
2. Trash Humpers (Harmony Korine, 2009)
Korine’s is a baldly experimental, near-confrontational, primal scream of a film. The director commits wholly to a primitivist film-as-found-object conceptualisation, relentlessly suppressing the notion of artifice throughout, and, in turn, producing a highly artful and expressive work.
3. The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow, 2008)
Following in a straight line from the revelatory, war-defining combat films of Samuel Fuller, Bigelow’s equally relentless and unapologetically non-contextual film seems poised to stand as the authoritative soldier’s-eye-view document of contemporary, post-millennial conflict.
4. The House of the Devil (Ti West, 2009)
In an era of garishly over-styled horror films, West’s satanic chiller is something of a revelation. The year’s most surprising film wrings its near-constant restless mood from an unsettling scenario, efficient plotting, and smart, loaded compositions.
5. Public Enemies (Michael Mann, 2009)
Mann’s film is an epic hail of tommy gun fire. As with his similarly under-appreciated Miami Vice (2006), the director’s relative inattention to the execution of cops-and-robbers conventions throws into relief that this is large-scale filmmaking at its most composed, controlled and masterful.
6. La mujer sin cabeza (The Headless Woman, Lucrecia Martel, 2008)
Over the course of three remarkable features, Lucrecia Martel has proven a master of hazy, somnambulant tones, an approach that is perfectly fitted to this elliptical pseudo-mystery. María Onetto is thrust into the foreground (both literally and figuratively) as the much-troubled Verónica, and her expressive, often expressionless, performance provides a canvas for the director’s suggestion and innuendo.
7. Stellet licht (Silent Light, Carlos Reygadas, 2007)
Invoking by turns Terrence Malick’s painterly compositions, Ingmar Bergman’s stark solemnity, and Bruno Dumont’s agrarian primitivism, Reygadas’ metaphysical domestic tale is a striking, singular and difficult work.
8. L’Heure d’été (Summer Hours, Olivier Assayas, 2008)
Assayas’ is a small, well-mannered film about big, ill-mannered themes. Nothing less than youth, family, nostalgia, death and the detritus of life are assayed in this composed, elegant piece.
9. The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (Werner Herzog, 2009)
Herzog, operating within the skeleton of a police procedural, and directing as if from the unconscious, unleashes a manic, magnetic Nicolas Cage in an unsettling and wholly absurd world of the director’s making.
10. Adventureland (Greg Mottola, 2009)
Mottola’s stoned carnival workers, both intellectually and chronologically, fall somewhere between Richard Linklater’s varsity slackers and Whit Stillman’s neurotic Fourierists. More importantly, they reside in the same casual, lived-in space that makes this naturalist Summer’s tale as eminently watchable as either Dazed and Confused (1993) or Metropolitan (1990).
11. Los abrazos rotos (Broken Embraces, Pedro Almodóvar, 2009)
Simply put, Almodóvar re-confirms his standing as a contemporary master with this yarn of guilt, performance, and longing. Aside from an assured wrangling of the film’s many-headed plot, the director paints every inch of his frames with a precision that lays plain an incredible skill.

And two major disappointments
Das weisse Band – Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte (The White Ribbon, Michael Haneke, 2009)
Haneke turns a sharply critical (and sumptuous) eye on pre-War Germany in this deliberately paced cultural indictment. The director’s austere relation of severe, near-Calvinist village life is exacting, but at times undermines his film’s narrative tension in its coldness.
Antichrist (Lars von Trier, 2009)
Antichrist is a veritable black hole of psychological tumult and visceral eruption oddly married with cabin-in-the-wood slasher film conventions. Lars von Trier’s characters, however, are too narrowly drawn to bear the weight of such ravenous activity. The director’s own staging of Euripides’ Medea is a far more fully realised portrait of unfettered, vindictive angst.

THOMAS CALDWELL

Freelance writer and broadcaster who specialises in film criticism and educational writing on film. He writes Cinema Autopsy, reviews for The Big Issue, and is the author of Film Analysis Handbook (Insight Publications, 2005).

Instead of writing the usual apology or disclaimer for creating a Best Of List, I’m just going to confess that I love creating these lists as they provide a snapshot of what films I was most immediately impressed by from the year that has just finished. As time passes many of these films will fade from memory while some continue to resonate and establish themselves in film history so it will be nice to be able to refer back to such a list and remind myself of films that may be forgotten.

Top ten films with a theatrical release in Melbourne, Australia in 2009
1. Balibo (Robert Connolly, 2009)
2. Rachel Getting Married (Jonathan Demme, 2008)
3. Avatar (James Cameron, 2009)
4. Genova (Michael Winterbottom, 2008)
5. Antichrist (Lars von Trier, 2009)
6. Samson and Delilah (Warwick Thornton, 2009)
7. Up (Pete Docter and Bob Peterson, 2009)
8. Two Lovers (James Gray, 2008)
9. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (Terry Gilliam, 2009)
10.  Every Little Step (Adam Del Deo and James D. Stern, 2008)

The film that left the biggest impression on me in 2009 was Balibo, which left me initially feeling completely shattered and later left me in awe of how skilfully crafted it is with its combination of human drama, international politics and historical detail. The only two films I saw twice in the cinema in 2009 were Rachel Getting Married and Avatar; films at almost the opposite end of the spectrum to one another in representing what cinema can achieve. The ultra small scale Rachel Getting Married provided a deeply emotional examination of family dynamics and my love of cinema that captures a sense of place and something deeply human is further reflected by my inclusion of Genova, Samson and Delilah, Two Lovers and Every Little Step. The extravagant spectacle Avatar created one of the most immersive cinema experiences to date and my love of cinema as a visual art form is further reflected by my inclusion of Antichrist, Up and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.

Honourable mentions
11. Milk (Gus Van Sant, 2008)
12.  The Wrestler (Darren Aronofsky, 2008)
13.   Låt den rätte komma in (Let the Right One In, Tomas Alfredson, 2008)
14.  District 9 (Neill Blomkamp, 2009)
15. Moon (Duncan Jones, 2009)
16.  Bright Star (Jane Campion, 2009)
17. Gomorra (Gomorrah, Matteo Garrone, 2008)
18.  L’Heure d’été (Summer Hours, Olivier Assayas, 2008)
19.  Mary and Max (Adam Elliot, 2009)
20. The Limits of Control (Jim Jarmusch, 2009)

Top Ten unreleased films
While Melbourne is a tremendous city for film, especially with cinemas such as Cinema Nova that are very much committed to independent releases, a number of exceptional films still miss out on getting general theatrical releases. Fortunately for the Melbourne based film lover there is the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) and what seems like an endless stream of film festivals picking up the slack. For this reason I’ve separately listed films screened in Melbourne in 2009 but not given a general theatrical release (and to date not scheduled for a 2010 release).

1. Ai no mukidashi (Love Exposure, Sion Sono, 2008)
2. 35 rhums (35 Shots of Rum, Claire Denis, 2008)
3. Bumazhnyy soldat (Paper Soldiers, Aleksei German Jr., 2008)
4. Bakjwi (Thirst, Park Chan-wook, 2009)
5. Joheunnom nabbeunnom isanghannom (The Good, the Bad, the Weird, Kim Ji-woon, 2008)
6. L’instinct de mort (Public Enemy Number One (Part 1), Jean-François Richet, 2008)
7. Madeo (Mother, Bong Joon-ho, 2009)
8. Bronson (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2009)
9. JCVD (Mabrouk El Mechri, 2008)
10.  T Is for Teacher (Rohan Spong, 2009)

Melbourne also benefits from a wide range of retrospective screenings and in a year that was already spectacular for Australian cinema it was an added bonus to have screenings and then long overdue DVD releases of Richard Lowenstein’s 1986 masterpiece Dogs in Space and Ted Kotcheff’s ‘lost’ 1971 classic Wake in Fright. Watching a newly restored print of Sergio Leone’s C’era una volta il West (Once Upon a Time in the West, 1968) at The Astor Theatre was another highlight on the cinematic year as was visiting ACMI’s Dennis Hopper and the New Hollywood exhibition. The Melbourne Cinémathèque once again provided a terrific program in 2009 and it was great to finally catch-up on some previously unseen films by Ingmar Bergman and Samuel Fuller as well as discovering for the first time the under-appreciated cinema of Frank Borzage.

MICHAEL CAMPI

Under the spell of moving images for many decades, Michael Campi has been involved with film exhibition events and is a programming consultant to the Melbourne International Film Festival as well as being a full-time health professional in Melbourne.

35 rhums (35 Shots of Rum, Claire Denis, 2008)
Gran Torino (Clint Eastwood, 2008)
A Serious Man (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2009)
Madeo (Mother, Bong Joon-ho, 2009)
Vincere (Marco Bellocchio, 2009)
My Year Without Sex (Sarah Watt, 2009)
Jal aljido mothamyeonseo (Like You Know It All, Hong Sang-Soo, 2009)
Les Plages d’Agnès (The Beaches of Agnès, Agnès Varda, 2008)
Entre les murs (The Class, Laurent Cantet, 2008)
Darbareye Elly (About Elly, Asghar Farhadi, 2009)
Nanjing! Nanjing! (City of Life and Death, Lu Chuan, 2009)

Other works encountered for the first time in 2009 and happy reunions anticipated
Piotr Anderszewski – Voyageur Intranquille (Piotr Anderszewski – Unquiet Traveller, Bruno Monsaingeon, 2009)
Sawan baan na (Agrarian Utopia, Uruphong Raksasad, 2009)
Er Dong (Yang Jin, 2008)
Ming Mei Shi Kwong (Glamorous Youth, Philip Yung, 2009)
Banjir Kemarau (Flooding in the Time of Drought, Sherman Ong, 2009)
Ai no mukidashi (Love Exposure, Sion Sono, 2008)
Bu Neng Mei You Ni (No Puedo Vivir Sin Ti, Leon Dai, 2008)
Yu Yan (Fish Eyes, Zheng Wei, 2009)
Heosuabideuleui ddang (Land of Scarecrows, Roh Gyeong-tae, 2008)
Jang-rae-sig-ui member (Members of the Funeral, Baek Seung-bin, 2008)
Optical Vacuum (Dariusz Kowalski, 2008)
1428 (Du Haibin, 2009)
Xunzhao zhimei gengdeng (The Search, Pema Tseden, 2009)
Guangban (Sun Spots, Yang Heng, 2009)
Kûki Ningyô (Air Doll, Kore-eda Hirokazu, 2009)
Sham moh (At the End of Daybreak, Ho Yuhang, 2009)
Karaoke (Chris Chong Chan Fui, 2009)
Hwioribaram (Eighteen, Jang Kun-jae, 2009)
Los abrazos rotos (Broken Embraces, Pedro Almodóvar, 2009)
Singularidades de uma Rapariga Loura (Eccentricities of a Blond Hair Girl, Manoel De Oliveira, 2009)
The Time that Remains: Chronicle of a Present Absentee (Elia Suleiman, 2009)
Sonbahar (Autumn, Özcan Alper, 2008)

Other special memories of filmgoing in 2009
The Ichikawa Jun retrospective at the Hong Kong International Film Festival, in particular Byôin de shinu to iu koto (Dying in a Hospital, 1993)
The Eros and Massacre sidebar of Japanese rarities at the Melbourne International Film Festival
Three films by Yesim Ustaoglu: Pandora’nin Kutusu (Pandora’s Box, 2008), Bulutlari beklerken (Waiting for the Clouds, 2003), Günese yolculuk (Journey to the Sun, 1999)

Special DVD releases this year include the Criterion Nikkatsu noir set of invaluable Japanese riches from the seemingly bottomless magic well of cinema history in Japan, the continuing releases from the Korean Film Archive, particularly the Yoo Hyun Mok set and the collected work of Joris Ivens from the Netherlands. It’s also gratifying to see an almost complete set of the work of the late Solrun Hoaas released by Ronin Films. May her insights, perseverance and determination be now appreciated by an increasing and appreciative audience.

MICHELLE CAREY

Head of Programming for the Melbourne International Film Festival, Co-programmer for the Melbourne Cinémathèque and Festivals Editor for Senses of Cinema.

Cinematic highlights of 2009 (in alphabetical order)
1428 (Du Haibin, 2009)
36 vues du Pic Saint Loup (All Around a Mountain, Jacques Rivette, 2009)
Adventureland (Greg Mottola, 2009)
Alle Anderen (Everyone Else, Maren Ade, 2009)
Carcasses (Denis Côté, 2009)
Ddongpari (Breathless, Yang Ik-june, 2009)
Fish Tank (Andrea Arnold, 2009)
Die Frau mit den 5 Elefanten (The Woman with the 5 Elephants, Vadim Jendreyko, 2009)
Ice (Robert Kramer, 1969)
Indepencia (Raya Martin, 2009)
Jal aljido mothamyeonseo (Like You Know It All, Hong Sang-soo, 2009)
Karaoke (Chris Chong Chan Fui, 2009)
Maynila: sa mga kuko ng liwang (Manila: In the Claws of Light, Lino Brocka, 1975)
Morfiy (Morphia, Alexei Balabanov, 2008)
Morrer como um homem (To Die Like a Man, João Pedro Rodrigues, 2009)
Ne Change Rien (Pedro Costa, 2009)
Un lac (A Lake, Philippe Grandrieux, 2009)
Le Père des mes enfants (The Father of My Children, Mia Hansen-Løve, 2009)
Petition: The Court of the Complainants (Zhao Liang, 2009)
Politist adj. (Police, Adjective, Corneliu Porumboiu, 2009)
Proshchanie (Farewell, Elem Klimov, 1983)
Samson and Delilah (Warwick Thornton, 2009)
Todos mienten (They All Lie, Matias Piñeiro, 2009)
Trash Humpers (Harmony Korine, 2009)
Trypps #6 (Malobi) (Ben Russell, 2009)
Tweet’s Ladies of Pasadena (Timothy Carey, 1973)
Villalobos (Romuald Karmakar, 2009)
Das weisse Band – Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte (The White Ribbon, Michael Haneke, 2009)

and, less specifically…

Arthur and Corinne Cantrill’s expanded cinema performance at MIFF (co-presented by OtherFilm)
The Experimental Forum at Thessaloniki International Film Festival especially Zdravi ljudi za razonodu (Litany of Happy People, Karpo Godina, 1969-71)
Roberto Rossellini and Jerzy Skolimowski seasons at the Melbourne Cinémathèque
Post-Punk mixtapes program at MIFF
Films of Artavazd Pelechian especially Obitateli (Inhabitants, 1970)
Len Lye exhibition at ACMI
Rainer Werner Fassbinder DVD releases in Australia through Madman Entertainment

CONALL CASH

Conall Cash has been a student in the humanities at universities in the United States and Australia. He writes about film for a few publications, and maintains the website Catabloguing.

This year I had the good fortune to be able to travel to a few film festivals in Europe and the United States, and also to be around for two of the major festivals in my native Australia, at Sydney in May and Melbourne in July/August. My list reflects these geographical movements, and hence represents a fairly idiosyncratic view of what constituted a “new” film in 2009. For whatever reason, there are 21 films on this list. No order of preference is given, I am very fond of them all, however I will indicate here that the really astonishing, devastating, “stand-out” films were those by Grandrieux, Kiarostami, Tsai, Denis and Brisseau.

35 rhums (35 Shots of Rum, Claire Denis, 2008)
36 vues du Pic Saint Loup (All Around a Mountain, Jacques Rivette, 2009)
À L’Aventure (Jean-Claude Brisseau, 2009)
Adventureland (Greg Mottola, 2009)
Barbe Bleue (Bluebeard, Catherine Breillat, 2009)
Walang Alaala ang mga Paru-paro (Butterflies Have No Memory, Lav Diaz)
Independencia (Raya Martin, 2009)
Un Lac (A Lake, Philippe Grandrieux, 2008)
Choepcheopsanjung (Lost In The Mountains, Hong Sang-soo)
Ai no mukidashi (Love Exposure, Sion Sono, 2008)
Napoli, Napoli, Napoli (Abel Ferrara, 2009)
Ne Change Rien (Pedro Costa, 2009)
Nang mai (Nymph, Pen-ek Ratanaruang, 2009)
Bumazhnyy soldat (Paper Soldier, Alexei German Jr., 2008)
Les Plages d’Agnès (The Beaches of Agnès, Agnès Varda, 2008)
Shirin (Abbas Kiarostami, 2008)
Singularidades de uma Rapariga Loura (Eccentricities of a Blond Hair Girl, Manoel de Oliveira, 2009)
Aruitemo aruitemo (Still Walking, Kore-eda Hirokazu, 2008)
Two Lovers (James Gray, 2008)
Visage (Face, Tsai Ming-liang, 2009)
What Happened on 23rd Street in 1901 (Ken Jacobs, 2009)

LESLEY CHOW

VengeanceWriter on film for Bright Lights, photography for Photofile, and other arts for Spark.

Films of the year
1. Vengeance (Johnnie To, 2009)
2. Un Lac (A Lake, Philippe Grandrieux, 2008)
3. L’Heure d’été (Summer Hours, Olivier Assayas, 2008)
4. Sell Out! (Yeo Joon Han, 2008)
5. I Could Never Be Your Woman (Amy Heckerling, 2007)
6. The Girlfriend Experience (Stephen Soderbergh, 2009)
7. Julia (Erick Zonca, 2008)
8. Shirin (Abbas Kiarostami, 2008)
9. Jay (Francis Xavier Pasion, 2008)
10. Watching the Detectives (Paul Soter, 2007)

IAN CHRISTIE

Ian Christie is a film historian, curator and broadcaster, currently Professor of Film and Media History at Birkbeck, University of London.

The following aren’t in order, except of recall (and there are a lot of new films I’ve not seen this year…)

Bright Star (Jane Campion, 2009)
No mean achievement to have found a way of making Keats and his poetry come alive, through filling the historical void that is Fanny Brawne. Wonderful performance by Abbie Cornish, and a tremendous sense of the materiality of early 19th-century life. Surprisingly, the film needs defending against both high and lowbrow detractors.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (Terry Gilliam, 2009)
Gilliam getting back to what he does best, which is creating rich Arabian Nights worlds of wit and fantasy, yoking together unlikely actors in a movie that revels in mixing homemade settings and effects with some high-concept design.

Fish Tank (Andrea Arnold, 2009)
Quite simply the best-conceived and best-made British realist film of the year, and a real advance on Arnold’s debut, Red Road (2006). A film that shows and tells us what we need to know about life in Britain today, with the same urgency as Kes (Ken Loach, 1970).

Låt den rätte komma in (Let the Right One In, Tomas Alfredson, 2008)
Smouldering Scandinavian reinvention of the old vampire yarn, suffused with real adolescent poetry.

Sleep Furiously (Gideon Koppel, 2008)
Life in a remote Welsh village distilled by Koppel with wry affection in haunting images.

Antichrist (Lars von Trier, 2009)
Another kind of horror movie, delving back into the Scandinavian roots of the genre (Benjamin Christiansen, Carl Theodor Dreyer): deep, dark and unforgettably disturbing.

plus an honourable mention for Poltory komnaty ili sentimentalnoe puteshestvie na rodinu (Room and a Half, Andrey Khrzhanovsky, 2009), a beautiful, fantastic evocation of the world of poet Joseph Brodsky, which includes animated sequences that match the best in Russian animation. Astonishingly, this is the first feature by 69 year-old Khrzhanovsky (father of Ilya, the director of 4 [2005]), who was one of Kuleshov’s last pupils.

MATTHEW CLAYFIELD

Matthew Clayfield is a journalist, critic and screenwriter currently based in Sydney, Australia.

Best new film
A Serious Man (Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, 2009)

Runners-up
Barbe Bleue (Bluebeard, Catherine Breillat, 2009)
Fantastic Mr. Fox (Wes Anderson, 2009)
Milk (Gus Van Sant, 2008)
Van Diemen’s Land (Jonathan Auf Der Heide, 2009)

Other highlights
Che: Part One and Che: Part Two (both Steven Soderbergh, 2008)
The Girlfriend Experience (Steven Soderbergh, 2009)
La nana (The Maid, Sebastián Silva, 2009)
Les Plages d’Agnès (The Beaches of Agnes, Agnès Varda, 2008)
Pontypool (Bruce McDonald, 2008)
Rachel Getting Married (Jonathan Demme, 2008)
Samson and Delilah (Warwick Thornton, 2009)
Singularidades de uma Rapariga Loura (Eccentricities of a Blond Hair Girl, Manoel de Oliveira, 2009)
Valentino: The Last Emperor (Matt Tyrnauer, 2008)
Visage (Face, Tsai Ming-liang, 2009)
The Wrestler (Darren Aronofsky, 2008)

Best retrospective screening
Sátántangó (Béla Tarr, 1994) at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art

Runners-up
Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (Chantal Akerman, 1975) as part of the “Girls 24/7” season at the Sydney Film Festival
Wake in Fright (Ted Kotcheff, 1971) at the Sydney Film Festival

Other retrospective highlights
The Big Parade (King Vidor, 1925) at the Sydney Film Festival
Cléo de 5 à 7 (Cleo from 5 to 7, Agnès Varda, 1962) as part of “Girls 24/7”
Flickorna (The Girls, Mai Zetterling, 1968) as part of “Girls 24/7”
Overlord (Stuart Cooper, 1975) at the Sydney Film Festival

Best television series
Mad Men Season 3 (Created by Matthew Weiner)

Runners-up
Community Season 1 (Created by Dan Harmon)
Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 7 (Created by Larry David)

JOHN CONOMOS

An artist, critic and writer who lectures at the Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney. His most two recent books are Mutant Media (Artspace/Power Publications, 2008) and, co-edited with Brad Buckley, Rethinking the Contemporary Art School (NASCAD University Press, 2010). He is presently in Paris at the Cité on a Power Institute residency researching early surreal documentaries.

What follows is my selection of ten films that I have found worth seeing. They are not in any preferential order. Doing lists is a highly problematic but addictive thing for me. All my life I have been very interested in doing lists – the ten best, the twenty best and so forth – including favourite “desert island” lists of films, records, and such like. But in the last twenty odd years my passion for lists has greatly dwindled for many different reasons. At the core of my cinephilia (and bibliophilia) lies the Borgesian view of the world as a labyrinth (something that is wonderfully suggested in Alberto Manguel’s recent book as Borges’ teenage reader). Truth be told, I am not in any such shape or form a “completist”. I use to be in my own teen and early adult years, now I still engage doing “ten best film lists” as a kind of fugitive echo of my earlier cinephilic years. Now it seems that cinephilia is all the rage and cinema as we knew it has passed onto another mutable form of existence. These are complex issues that can not be adequately addressed here given the brevity of my context, nevertheless, I should make it quite clear that poll lists like these are extremely “Rashamon-type” affairs of one’s own occupational, cultural and personal encounters with cinema itself.

1. Shirin (Abbas Kiarostami, 2008)
Cinema that is refreshingly inventive. Kiarostami always surprises you.

2. Examined Life (Astra Taylor, 2008)
A walking and talking film.

3. Edward Said: The Last Interview (Mike Dibbs, 2007)
The 205 minutes extended version. One basic interview camera setup. Riveting and poignant cinema.

4. Les plages d’Agnès (The Beaches of Agnès, Agnès Varda, 2008)
Agnès by the sea. Enchanting.

5. A Serious Man (Ethan and Joel Coen, 2009)
Four rabbis later and our hapless young professor of physics is still seeking meaning in his rapidly crumbling world.

6. Los abrazos rotos (Broken Embraces, Pedro Almodóvar, 2009)
A sinuously told and biting “post-Warholian” melodrama, or, how to write a vampire film in a hurry.

7. Of Time and the City (Terence Davies, 2008)
A brilliant poetic documentary about Davies’ own childhood years in Liverpool.

8. L’Heure d’été (Summer Hours, Olivier Assayas, 2008)
One of Assayas’ better recent efforts.

9. Okuribito (Depatures, Yojiro Takita, 2008)
An unemployed cellist discovers that life can take a totally different path if you misread a newspaper advertisement.

10. The Girlfriend Experience (Steven Soderberg, 2009)
An experimental drama about selling sex that lingers in your mind for its resonant ironic undercurrents.

Overrated: Antichrist (Lars von Trier, 2009)

Saw this at a recent trade screening – my first in many years – sitting next to a well-known television presenter who gave it four stars. Her equally well-known television colleague gave it two stars less. For my two cents worth, he gave it two stars more than I would have done myself. What a waste of time and money! Please Mr von Trier, next time give some of your production money to someone who can make films like Terence Davies! To quote Van Morrison, in another context, Davies needs “a helping hand”.

Amongst the books that I read last year the following have been of value to me: (a) Marc Auge, Casablanca, Movies and Memory (Minneapolis/London: University of Minnesota Press, 2009), translated and with an introduction by Tom Conley; (b) Emilie Bickerton, A Short History of Cahiers du Cinéma (London/New York: Verso, 2009); and (c) two books by Giorgio Agamben, What is An Apparatus? and other Essays (Standford: Standford University Press, 2009), and, Profanations (New York: Zone Books, 2007).

FRANCIS CRUZ

Francis Cruz is a lawyer by day and a film critic whenever he has time for it. His articles have been published in Philippine Free Press and ClicktheCity. However, most of his reviews are still regularly found at his film blog Lessons From the School of Inattention.

2009 has been both kind and cruel to Philippine cinema. As we celebrate the numerous recognitions Filipino films are getting from beyond Philippine shores (Brillante Mendoza winning Best Director in Cannes for Kinatay (The Execution of P) with Raya Martin’s Independencia (which is the second Filipino film, after Mendoza’s Serbis [Service] in 2008, to be featured in the prestigious New York Film Festival) and Manila (co-directed with Adolfo Alix, Jr.) also premiering in the film festival; Pepe Diokno’s Engkwentro (Clash) winning the Luigi de Laurentiis Award and the Orrizonti Prize in Venice, where Mendoza’s Lola (Grandmother) premiered in the main competition of the film festival; Pusan and Thessaloniki putting the spotlight on Philippine cinema, concentrating on the diverse output of the new wave of directors from the vibrant independent scene; Vienna holding a retrospective of Lino Brocka’s works (among many others). We mourn the untimely passing of the heroes of Philippine cinema: Alexis Tioseco, a great critic who championed Southeast Asian, and more specifically Philippine cinema, concentrating on the films of Lav Diaz, Raya Martin and John Torres, whose works he dearly loved, with endless passion; and Johnny Delgado, a great actor whose collaborations with almost all of the country’s great filmmakers (Brocka, Mike De Leon, Gerry De Leon, Laurice Guillen, and Celso A. Castillo) make up a portion of this country’s vibrant cinema.

2009 also saw the continuation of what ails our cinema: an unimaginative mainstream (although I must admit that Chito Rono’s T2, the first half of which is quite intriguing, Olive Lamasan’s In My Life, a baby step for the mainstream to embrace gay cinema (as opposed to the banal comedies of Joel Lamangan that merely re-echoed the stereotypes of homosexuality from past decades with contemporary idiocy), and Laurice Guillen’s I Love You, Goodbye, a fine film except that it ended illogically, were minor delights), and local film distributors that favour brainless blockbusters (Michael Bay’s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Chris Weitz’s New Moon) to quality imports (although the latter part of the year saw the surprising commercial release of Werner Herzog’s The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, James Gray’s Two Lovers, Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds and Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox). Despite that, the year saw the continuation of what gives us hope in our cinema: Cinemalaya, despite my apprehensions about its raison d’etre of independence through creative compromise, had a roster of good to great products (Alvin Yapan’s Ang Panggagahasa Kay Fe [The Rapture of Fe], Veronica Velasco’s Last Supper No. 3, Borgy Torre’s charming short Bonsai); Cinemanila, apart from showcasing the best films from around the world (including Chris Chong’s Karaoke, Sergei Dvortsevoy’s Tulpan and Tomas Alfredson’s Let the Right One In), saw the premieres of Raymond Red’s Himpapawid (Manila Skies), his first film since winning the Palme d’Or for his short film Anino (Shadows), Christopher Gozum’s Anacbanua (Child of the Sun), and Armando Lao’s Biyaheng Lupa (Soliloquy); and CinemaOne, despite my problem with the festival’s treatment of its director’s property rights with regards their films, which produced its sole masterpiece, Ray Gibraltar’s Wanted: Border.

One can only hope for better things for 2010: with filmmakers getting their due respect, not only in terms of recognition but also basic sustenance (it pains me to see these filmmakers struggling to pay off debts incurred for the sole reason of advancing this country’s cinematic culture); with our audience actually watching the films that have garnered worldwide fanfare instead of simply reading about them in obscure press releases in several broadsheets; with more film lovers writing about our cinema, giving room to responsible discourse about our films. Now, on to the lists.

Top 10 foreign films released in 2009
The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (Werner Herzog, 2009)
Two Lovers (James Gray, 2008)
Gake no ue no Ponyo (Ponyo on the Cliff, Hayao Miyazaki, 2008)
Karaoke (Chris Chong Chan Fui, 2009)
Låt den rätte komma in (Let the Right One In, Tomas Alfredson, 2008)
Fantastic Mr. Fox (Wes Anderson, 2009)
Public Enemies (Michael Mann, 2009)
Tulpan (Sergei Dvortsevoy, 2008)
Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009)
Drag Me to Hell (Sam Raimi, 2009)

Top 10 Filipino films released in 2009
Independencia (Raya Martin, 2009)
Kinatay (The Execution of P, Brillante Mendoza, 2009)
Wanted: Border (Ray Gibraltar, 2009)
Anacbanua (Child of the Sun, Christopher Gozum, 2009)
Lupang Hinarang (Hindered Land, Ditsi Carolino, 2009)
Himpapawid (Manila Skies, Raymond Red, 2009)
Walang Alaala ang mga Paru-paro (Butterflies Have No Memory, Lav Diaz, 2009)
Ang Panggagahasa Kay Fe (The Rapture of Fe, Alvin Yapan, 2009)
Last Supper No. 3 (Veronica Velasco, 2009)
Kimmy Dora (Joyce Bernal, 2009)

Top 5 older Filipino films seen for the first time in 2009
Pagdating sa Dulo (At the Top, Ishmael Bernal, 1971)
Bakit Dilaw ang Gitna ng Bahaghari? (Why is Yellow the Middle of the Rainbow?, Kidlat Tahimik, 1994)
Bontoc Eulogy (Marlon Fuentes, 1995)
Ang Magpakailanman (The Eternity, Raymond Red, 1982)
Kagat ng Dilim (Dark Bites, Cesar Hernando, 2006)

MICHAEL DA SILVA

Michael Da Silva is a graduate of the University of King’s College with a diverse list of cinematic interests.

Before I present my list, I would like to mention that I welcomed the technological innovations provided by the “new” 3D technology in 2009. I was late on the proverbial 3D bandwagon and did not see a new 3D film until Monsters vs Aliens (Rob Letterman and Conrad Vernon, 2009). I walked out of the theatre impressed by the film’s ability to create depth and resist the urge to use cheap 3D tricks. Avatar (James Cameron, 2009) would be visually stunning without the 3D effects, but is all the more impressive for its 3D additions. While neither Monsters vs Aliens nor Avatar was even considered for a spot on my list, I was impressed enough by the growth of 3D technology that I would feel remiss if I did not note it here. 3D films provided me with the most fun I had in the theatres all year.

I often find that I fall behind in my international film viewing, so my list will be composed of films that are primarily in English. Das weisse Bande – Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte (The White Ribbon, Michael Haneke, 2009) is the best “foreign language film” I had the opportunity to watch this year. It may be the best film I saw all year. My fiancé talked me into seeing the film that would top my worst films list, namely The Ugly Truth (Robert Luketic, 2009).

My list of the top ten (primarily English language) films of 2009 is as follows:

1. A Serious Man (Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, 2009)
2. The Messenger (Oren Moverman, 2009)
3. The Girlfriend Experience (Steven Soderbergh, 2009)
4. The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call – New Orleans (Werner Herzog, 2009)
5. The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow, 2008)
6. Tyson (James Toback, 2008)
7. The Road (John Hillcoat, 2009)
8. Antichrist (Lars von Trier, 2009)
9. Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009)
10. Observe and Report (Jody Hill, 2009)

I am an avid follower of animation, so it is with great regret that I do not include any animated films in my top ten list. Fantastic Mr. Fox (Wes Anderson, 2009) and Coraline (Henry Selick, 2009) would occupy the next two spots on my list if the world poll solicited top 12 lists.

ADRIAN DANKS

Senior Lecturer and Head of Cinema Studies in the School of Applied Communication, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (University). He is co-curator of the Melbourne Cinémathèque, and editor of Cteq: Annotations on Film, published in Senses of Cinema.

20 best “new” films screening somewhere in Melbourne (in preferential order)
Inglourious Basterds1. Un conte de Noël (A Christmas Tale, Arnaud Desplechin, 2008)
2. Red Riding: 1974 (Julian Jarrold, 2009); Red Riding: 1980 (James Marsh, 2009)
3. Les plages d’Agnès (The Beaches of Agnès, Agnès Varda, 2008)
4. Generation Kill (2008)/Mad Men Series 3 (2009)
5. La vie moderne (Modern Life, Raymond Depardon, 2008)
6. Jitsuroku rengô sekigun: Asama sansô e no michi (United Red Army, Kôji Wakamatsu, 2007)
7. Tony Manero (Pablo Larrain, 2008)
8. L’enfer d’Henri-Georges Clouzot (Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Inferno, Serge Bromberg and Ruxandra Medrea, 2009)
9. Darbareye Elly (About Elly, Asghar Farhadi, 2009)
10. Louise Bourgeois: The Spider, the Mistress and the Tangerine (Marion Cajori and Amei Wallach, 2008)
11. The Damned United (Tom Hooper, 2009)
12. Of Time and the City (Terence Davies, 2008)
13. Face of an Other (Abject Leader, 2008) and Who’s Oscillating (Abject Leader, 2009)
14. Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009)
15. Balibo (Robert Connolly, 2009)
16. Milk (Gus Van Sant, 2008)
17. Aruitemo aruitemo (Still Walking, Hirokazu Koreeda, 2008)
18. Two Lovers (James Gray, 2008)
19. The opening credits of Watchmen (Zack Snyder, 2009); the first half of Samson and Delilah (Warwick Thornton, 2009)
20. Passages in both Up (Pete Docter and Bob Peterson, 2009) and Mary and Max (Adam Elliot, 2009)

5 bad films that were liked by some critics (but definitely not me)
1. Waiting for Sancho (Mark Peranson, 2008)
2. Disgrace (Steve Jacobs, 2008)
3. The Reader (Stephen Daldry, 2008)
4. Maradona by Kusturica (Emir Kusturica, 2008)
5. Fish Tank (Andrea Arnold, 2009)

8 overrated films and major disappointments
1. Public Enemies (Michael Mann, 2009)
2. The Wrestler (Darren Aronofsky, 2008)
3. A Serious Man (Ethan and Joel Coen, 2009)
4. Antichrist (Lars von Trier, 2009)
5. L’Heure d’été (Summer Hours, Olivier Assayas, 2008)
6. Valkyrie (Bryan Singer, 2008)
7. Revolutionary Road (Sam Mendes, 2008)
8. Frost/Nixon (Ron Howard, 2008)

2 pretty good but still overvalued critics’ favourites
1. The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow, 2008)
2. 35 Rums (35 Shots of Rum, Claire Denis, 2008)

Retrospective highlights
Screenings of Bigger than Life (Nicholas Ray, 1956), Some Came Running (Vincente Minnelli, 1958), Häxan (Benjamin Christensen, 1922), the José-Luis Guerín season (probably my true highlight, especially Tren de sombras, 1997), the Chris Marker season, The Mortal Storm (Frank Borzage, 1940) and Lazybones (Frank Borzage, 1925) at the Melbourne Cinémathèque; Overlord (Stuart Cooper, 1975), the Cantrills’ 3-colour separation films, and the Len Lye Exhibition at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image; Anna (Pierre Koralnik, 1967), Une femme est une femme (A Woman is a Woman, Jean-Luc Godard, 1961) and Pierrot le fou (Jean-Luc Godard, 1965) in the Anna Karina season at the Melbourne International Film Festival. And, finally, the following DVD releases: Masters of Cinema’s La tête contre les murs (Georges Franju, 1959), L’enfance nue (Maurice Pialat, 1968), and the second disc of La gueule ouverte (The Mouth Agape, 1974) containing the wonderful shorts Pialat made in Turkey in the mid-1960s (the feature itself is a self-consciously lascerating dirge I’d rather not experience again); Warners’ Forbidden Hollywood Collection, Volume Three (William Wellman’s Wild Boys of the Road, 1933, and Other Men’s Women, 1931, in particular) and, at last, Zabriskie Point (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1970); Fox’s Man Hunt (Fritz Lang, 1941); Sony’s The Films of Michael Powell (including 1969’s Age of Consent and a pristine A Matter of Life and Death, 1946, co-directed by Emeric Pressburger); ITV’s The Red Shoes (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1948); The BFI’s If War Should Come: The GPO Film Unit Collection Volume Three (especially Humphrey Jennings’ Spare Time, 1939); Columbia’s The Samuel Fuller Collection and Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics 1; Image Entertainment’s Treasures IV: American Avant-Garde Film, 1947-1986; Icarus’ D’est (From the East, Chantal Akerman, 1993); Eclipse/Criterion’s Travels with Hiroshi Shimizu and Criterion’s La prise de pouvoir par Louis XIV (The Taking of Power by Louis XIV, Roberto Rossellini, 1966); Joris Ivens, Wereldcineast.

DUSTIN DASIG

Training director, film critic and author of Reel Reviews: 20 Years of Movie Going in Manila.

Three significant trends and events in world cinema
1. Brillante Mendoza’s widely scorned Kinatay (The Execution of P, 2009) and surprise Venice competition entry Lola (2009) and Pepe Diokno’s first film Engkwentro (Clash, 2009) won major awards in Cannes, Venice and Dubai (a boon for Filipino films in the film festival scene).
2. The closure of ‘pseudo-indie’ American production companies (Miramax, Paramount Vantage).
3. The popularity of films on 3D (My Bloody Valentine [Patrick Lussier, 2009]; Avatar [James Cameron, 2009]) that is thematically urgent yet financially impractical (for a moviegoer).

Three alarming trends and events
1. The onslaught of formulaic gay-themed “indie” movies that hamper the artistic growth of Philippine independent film.
2. The decrease of embassy-sponsored film festivals (Israeli, Australian, British) in the Philippines, thereby limiting the free exposure of foreign language films to the mainstream audience.
3. The rising number of consumers who illegally download films not in the English language on the Internet.

Films that exemplify the best in moviemaking in 2009
Un prophète (A Prophet, Jacques Audiard, 2009)
Vals Im Bashir (Waltz with Bashir, Ari Folman, 2008)
Tôkyô sonata (Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2008)
The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow, 2008)
(500) Days of Summer (Marc Webb, 2009)
Aruitemo aruitemo (Still Walking, Hirokazu Koreeda, 2008)
Madeo (Mother, Bong Joon-ho, 2009)
Entre les murs (The Class, Laurent Cantet, 2008)
Tulpan (Sergei Dvortsevoy, 2008)
Samson and Delilah (Warwick Thornton, 2009)

Best classic film
The Lady Eve (Preston Sturges, 1941)

Worst film of the year
Kinatay (Brillante Mendoza, 2009) (as in “butchered” by me, just as many critics did)

JOHN DEMETRY

John Demetry is a film and music critic. A selection of his reviews (2000-07) will be published by Resistance Works, WDC, in the upcoming book Revolution to Revelation.

By far the best new movie I saw in 2009, Rabioso sol, rabioso cielo (Raging Sun, Raging Sky, Julian Hernandez, 2009) also rightfully owns the number three spot on the Best of ’00s list (not included). However, the film distribution and critical hegemony keeps the movie from reaching the audience it deserves. Hernandez seemingly recognises his circumstance in the film-cult machine: the era’s best new filmmaker relegated to the cinema’s gay ghetto (currently his Raging Sun, Raging Sky is available only for festival rentals). Yet, his work does not fit “gay movie” conventions (lazy critics compare him to the early 1990s New Queer Cinema when Antonioni and Ophuls would be more apt). So in a subversive modernist twist – a relatively minor detail in the film’s teeming nexus – Hernandez decorates a porn theatre box office with promotional stills from his own short Bramadero (an erotic meditation on death). Significantly: “bramadero” means “tethering post”. Although restricted by the film-cult hegemony (effectively: censorship), Hernandez’s unabashedly gay erotic content ties him to a deeper (resistance) gay/art legacy. Let’s break down the multivalent significance of the self-referential use of Bramadero stills in Raging Sun, Raging Sky:

1. Hernandez’s frank treatment of sexuality addresses the Desire (sexual/spiritual) exploited by grindhouse cinema, while also recognising that it provides a space for the social expression of Desire by members of a marginalised group.

2. Hernandez does not see his films as “above” grindhouse movies, but as part of a particular, sub-cultural history of art cinema distribution and exhibition.

3. Hernandez highlights and subverts the ghetto-ised nature of his own films (relegated to specialty audiences, yet actually expansive in their treatment of the human condition)

This begs the question: To what tethering post is New York City’s gaggle of gay film critics chained? (Raise your hand if you were at the lone New York festival screening of Raging Sun, Raging Sky.) The following lists one person’s genuine appraisal of time spent at the movies. In the spirit of Hernandez’s audacious proposition that the movie theatre is the site where love is found (and compassion developed), I give Raging Sun, Raging Sky its place on the best of the decade list. Should the United States be blessed by its official release in 2010, it will rule that year and set the standard for the next decade as well.

10 best movies of 2009 (US releases only)
1. This Is It (Kenny Ortega, 2009)
2. Maria Larssons eviga ögonblick (Everlasting Moments, Jan Troell, 2008)
3. Brothers (Jim Sheridan, 2009)
4. Du levande (You, the Living, Roy Andersson, 2007)
5. Next Day Air (Benny Boom, 2009)
6. Bandslam (Todd Graff, 2009)
7. Of Time and the City (Terence Davies, 2008)
8. Gentlemen Broncos (Jared Hess, 2009)
9. The Blind Side (John Lee Hancock, 2009)
10. Revanche (Gotz Spielmann, 2008)

JORGE DIDACO

A Portugal-based cinéphile.

I’m choosing only 2009 releases, despite the fact that several films are still to reach my corner of the world; a tentative top 10, in no particular order, although the first three are particularly dear to me.

A Religiosa Portuguesa/La Religieuse portugaise (The Portuguese Nun, Eugène Green, 2009)
Ehky ya Scheherazade (Scheherazade Tell Me a Story, Yousry Nasrallah, 2009)
Morrer como um homem (To Die Like a Man, João Pedro Rodrigues, 2009)
Fig Trees (John Greyson, 2009)
Cheraghi dar meh (A Light in the Fog, Panahbarkhoda Rezaee, 2009)
Alle Anderen (Everyone Else, Maren Ade, 2009)
Singularidades de uma Rapariga Loura (Eccentricities of a Blond Hair Girl, Manoel de Oliveira, 2009)
Politist, adj. (Police, Adjective, Corneliu Porumboiu, 2009)
Independencia (Raya Martin, 2009)
Tatarak (Sweet Rush, Andrzej Wajda, 2009)

WHEELER WINSTON DIXON

Wheeler Winston Dixon is the Ryan Professor of Film Studies, Professor of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, and Editor in Chief of the Quarterly Review and Film and Video. His newest books are Film Noir and the Cinema of Paranoia (Edinburgh University Press /Rutgers University Press, 2009) and A Short History of Film (co-authored with Gwendolyn Audrey Foster; Rutgers University Press, 2008).

Ten of my favourites of 2009, in no particular order
1. The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow, 2008)
2. An Education (Lone Scherfig, 2009)
3. Den du Frygter (Fear Me Not, Kristian Levring, 2008)
4. L’Heure d’été (Summer Hours, Olivier Assayas, 2008)
5. Paris (Cédric Klapisch, 2008)
6. Singularidades de uma Rapariga Loura (Eccentricities of a Blond Hair Girl, Manoel de Oliveira, 2009)
7. La Fille de Monaco (The Girl from Monaco, Anne Fontaine, 2008)
8. 35 rhums (35 Shots of Rum, Claire Denis, 2008)
9. Les Plages d’Agnès (The Beaches of Agnès, Agnès Varda, 2008)
10. Easy Virtue (Stephan Elliott, 2008)

The Hurt Locker was particularly effective, as was An Education, Fear Me Not, Paris, and The Beaches of Agnès. Much less interesting were Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds (2009), Michael Haneke’s Das weisse Band – Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte (The White Ribbon, 2009), Lars von Trier’s Antichrist (2009), Henry Selick’s Coraline (2009), Armando Iannucci’s In the Loop (2009), Joel and Ethan Coen’s A Serious Man (2009), Duncan Jones’ Moon (2009), to say nothing of Ruben Fleischer’s Zombieland (2009), or Roland Emmerich’s 2012 (2009). Oren Peli’s Paranormal Activity (2007) proved that you could still make a modestly effective thriller on a minimal budget, and, at the other end of the scale, as the year draws to close, James Cameron’s Avatar (2009) promises to demonstrate just how dull and reductive a $500 million 3D CGI film can be. Most of the really interesting films, both foreign and domestic, drift in and out of arthouses in a matter of weeks, or come out later on DVD; a number of the titles on my list were actually released in 2008, but only found their way to US audiences in 2009. And still, there isn’t a film on this list that really knocked me out; the last time that happened was with Fabián Bielinsky’s El Aura (2005), and unfortunately, he’s no longer with us. So we wait and hope, knowing that whatever happens in 2010 of interest will come from the margins rather than the mainstream – as always, as always, as always.

MATTHEW FLANAGAN

Matthew Flanagan is currently studying for a PhD at Exeter, UK. He sometimes collects images and words here.

It’s difficult to create a meaningful impression of a year of cinema when so much of it seems to take place out of reach, but that’s a fight (or at least a necessary gripe) for another day. Of the new films that I’m grateful for being able to see, the following stood out:

1. Coal Money /The Man with No Name (Wang Bing, 2008/09) – two very different documents (one of capitalist realism’s systems of exchange, the other a stoic retreat) from one of our most important filmmakers. If the decade began with Lisandro Alonso’s La libertad (2001), it’s perhaps fitting that it should end with Wang’s latest film: a quiet, dignified portrait of a life on the very edge of society, not a trace of fiction left in the face of its (and our) reality.

2. La frontière de l’aube (Frontier of Dawn, Philippe Garrel, 2008) / Two Lovers (James Gray, 2008) – the year’s greatest films about how it feels (or what it means) to love, and not be loved.

3. Ruhr (James Benning, 2009) – for the last hour (and shot) alone, no doubt the digital effect of the year.

4. 36 vues du Pic Saint Loup (All Around a Mountain, Jacques Rivette, 2009) – Renoir’s material ghost.

5. Melancholia (Lav Diaz, 2008) / Next Attraction (Raya Martin, 2008) – two equally radical films about the performance of fiction, about the lies we tell to lead our lives, and how we might represent, rather than surrender to, them.

6. 35 rhums (35 Shots of Rum, Claire Denis, 2008) – Denis’ greatest film.

7. La Danse: Le ballet de l’Opéra de Paris (La Danse: The Paris Ballet Opera, Fred Wiseman, 2009)

8. False Aging (Lewis Klahr, 2008) – I think Nathaniel Dorsky once said that it’s the music that really makes you cry in the movies, and he’s probably right.

9. Un lac (A Lake, Philippe Grandrieux, 2008) – first seen last year, but only confronted head-on this time round, late at night, cutting through the fog.

10. The Red Shoes (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1948) / Winstanley (Kevin Brownlow and Andrew Mollo, 1975) – a little unfair to rank these stunning restorations of two of the greatest British films ever made against the new, but they probably belong at the top.

Unranked: Zum Vergleich (In Comparison, Harun Farocki, 2009); Public Enemies (Michael Mann, 2009); Ne Change Rien (Pedro Costa, 2009); Phantoms of Nabua / A Letter to Uncle Boonmee (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2009); Série noire (Jean-Claude Rousseau, 2009); Singularidades de uma Rapariga Loura (Eccentricities of a Blond Hair Girl, Manoel de Oliveira, 2009); A Religiosa Portuguesa/La Religieuse portugaise (The Portuguese Nun, Eugène Green, 2009); La mujer sin cabeza (The Headless Woman, Lucrecia Martel, 2008); Waiting for Sancho (Mark Peranson, 2008); White Material (Claire Denis, 2009); Jerichow (Christian Petzold, 2008); Purgatorio / Heremias Book II [rough cut] (Lav Diaz, 2008/09).

Also, a few older films that I saw for the first time this year (some on film, too many on video), and hopefully learned something from. No crate-digging, no surprises, little order, and as abridged as possible:

Dyn amo / Central Bazaar (Stephen Dwoskin, 1972/76); Henry Geldzahler (Andy Warhol, 1964); Germany, Year Zero /Francesco, giullare di dio / The Taking of Power by Louis XIV (Roberto Rossellini, 1947-66); <—-> [Back and Forth] (Michael Snow, 1968-9); The Docks of New York / Thunderbolt / An American Tragedy / Crime and Punishment (Josef von Sternberg, 1928/29/31/35); La gueule ouverte (The Mouth Agape, Maurice Pialat, 1974); Ebolusyon ng Isang Pamilyang Pilipino (Evolution of a Filipino Family, Lav Diaz, 1993-2004); La Vallée close (Jean-Claude Rousseau, 1995); Silencio (Francois-Jacques Ossang, 2007); Other Men’s Women / Heroes for Sale (William Wellman, 1931/33); Pitfall / Crime Wave (Andre de Toth, 1948/54); Un homme qui dort (Bernard Queysanne and Georges Perec, 1974); La cicatrice intérieure / J’entends plus la guitare (The Inner Scar / I No Longer Hear the Guitar, Philippe Garrel, 1972/91); La vie nouvelle (New Life, Philippe Grandrieux, 2002); Ms. 45 (Abel Ferrara, 1981); Quixote / Valentin de las Sierras (Bruce Baillie, 1965/67); Innisfree (José Luis Guerín, 1990); Fort Apache / Wagon Master (John Ford, 1948/50), In Titan’s Goblet / Study of a River (Peter Hutton, 1991/96-7); Le crime de Monsieur Lange (Jean Renoir, 1936); O Sangue (Blood, Pedro Costa, 1989); Canyon Passage / Stars in My Crown (Jacques Tourneur, 1946/50); Le cochon (Jean Eustache, 1970); Arigatô-san / Kanzashi (Mr. Thank You / Ornamental Hairpin, Hiroshi Shimizu, 1936/41); Travelling Matte / Winter Solstice (Hollis Frampton, 1971/74); Ride Lonesome / Comanche Station (Budd Boetticher, 1959/60); Last Chants for a Slow Dance (Jon Jost, 1977); Smirennaya zhizn (A Humble Life, Aleksandr Sokurov, 1997); Fog Line (Larry Gottheim, 1970); Law and Order / Meat (Frederick Wiseman, 1969/76); Naniwa erejî (Osaka Elegy, Kenji Mizoguchi, 1936); Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks (Wang Bing, 2003); Spiral Jetty (Robert Smithson, 1970); casting a glance (James Benning, 2007); The Tall Target (Anthony Mann, 1951); Das Kino und der Tod / Das Kino und der Wind und die Photographie (Hartmut Bitomsky, 1988/91).

DONAL FOREMAN

Donal Foreman is a filmmaker, critic and programmer living in Dublin, Ireland. His website is www.donalforeman.com.

MilestonesI’ve divided my list into three short categories for a few reasons. For better or worse, I no longer have the cinephilic zeal that yearns to see everything, and to rank it. While I appreciate the importance of canons as a provisional form of curation, a necessary sifting of the year’s murky waters, I’m sceptical of the idealisation that comes with list-mania: the suggestion of the good films of the year or the films that should be seen. What gets left out of this kind of distillation is, for me, the importance of context: of how and where and with whom a film is seen, the connections and relations and associations surrounding it. Films are useless by themselves – even the great ones are ineffectual if left floating on lists and Netflix cues. Their power comes from the ways in which they become embedded and active in our relations with others, and catalysts for our own personal, emotional and intellectual adventures. In this sense, any great film, in order to work, must be a unique “event” – not in the way something like Avatar (James Cameron, 2009) is pitched (the universalised illusion of the “event film”), but in the sense of a subjective, localised and contingent experience. Each film on this list is great, important work, but they are not the best of 2009; just, for me, the right ones at the right time in the right place.

Five new films
Two Lovers (James Gray, 2008) at a Dublin multiplex
35 rhums (35 Shots of Rum, Claire Denis, 2008) at New York’s Film Forum
Politist, adj. (Police, Adjective, Corneliu Porumboiu, 2009) at the Bratislava International Film Festival
Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman, 2008) at a Dublin multiplex
Facs of Life (Silvia Maglioni and Graeme Thomson, 2009) at the Lucca Film Festival

Five old films
Milestones (Robert Kramer and John Douglas, 1975) at Anthology Film Archives
Méditerranée (Jean-Daniel Pollet, 1963) at the Different Directions Film Festival in Galway
J’entends plus la guitare (I No Longer Hear the Guitar, Philippe Garrel, 1991) bought on DVD at Kim’s Video and Music store in New York
Loren Cass (Chris Fuller, 2006) at the Cinema Village in New York
Our Daily Bread (Nikolaus Geyrhalter, 2005) at the Bratislava International Film Festival

Five live film events
Vivienne Dick’s “New York. No Wave. Super 8” event at the Cork Film Festival
Metamkine’s “musico-cinematic” performance at the NY French Institute’s Crossing the Line festival
Ken Jacobs’ presentation of Flaming Creatures (Jack Smith, 1963) and Blonde Cobra (Ken Jacobs, 1963) at the Millennium Film Workshop as part of the HOWL! festival, including Jacobs’ live soundtrack additions to the projection of Blonde Cobra...
Arin Crumley and Kieran Masterton’s successful fundraising campaign for the Open Indie project using Kickstarter.com
The projection of The Flicker (Tony Conrad, 1965) at the 16th monthly Experimental Film Club in Dublin

GWENDOLYN AUDREY FOSTER

Gwendolyn Audrey Foster is the coordinator of the Film Studies Program at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Her most recent book is A Short History of Film (co-authored with Wheeler Winston Dixon) from Rutgers University Press, 2008. She is also the co-editor of Quarterly Review of Film and Video.

My top ten films for 2009, in no particular order; some of these films date as far back as 2007, but only received release in the United States in 2009, and then, often only on DVD outside of major cities.

1. La Graine et le mulet (The Secret of the Grain, Abdel Kechiche, 2008)
2. La fille coupée en deux (The Girl Cut in Two, Claude Chabrol, 2007)
3. La mujer sin cabeza (The Headless Woman, Lucrecia Martel, 2008)
4. La nana (The Maid, Sebastián Silva, 2009)
5. Les Plages d’Agnès (The Beaches of Agnes, Agnès Varda, 2008)
6. Singularidades de uma Rapariga Loura (Eccentricities of a Blond Hair Girl, Manoel de Oliveira, 2009)
7. White Material (Claire Denis, 2009)
8. The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow, 2008)
9. An Education (Lone Scherfig, 2009)
10. Un prophète (A Prophet, Jacques Audiard, 2009)

and as runner-ups, Josiane Balasko’s Cliente (Client, 2008), Anne Fontaine’s La fille de Monaco (The Girl from Monaco, 2008), and Tom Ford’s A Single Man (2009).

As for Hollywood films, 2009 was a mediocre year at best; the film that everyone seems to be most riveted by was Jason Reitman’s Up in the Air (2009), which seems like a Capraesque throwback to me. As for James Cameron’s dreadful and deadly boring Avatar (2009), it proved only that one can spend a lot of money and still come up short on imagination. Many of the art house films that are being championed as “groundbreaking cinema” – Lars von Trier’s Antichrist, Michael Haneke’s Das weisse Band – Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte (The White Ribbon), Jim Jarmusch’s The Limits of Control, Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, Jane Campion’s Bright Star, Sally Potter’s Rage, Steven Soderbergh’s The Girlfriend Experience (all 2009) – strike me as being pretentious, overblown, or retreads. Someone needs to tell these very privileged directors when they’re going over the edge – and also to remember that editing can be a useful tool in structuring a compelling narrative.

The most exciting thing on the horizon is the rise of more democratic distribution conduits such as pay per view, IFC on demand, digital downloads and the like that offer easier access to challenging films, at a time when most theatres simply refuse to run them, outside of New York and Los Angeles. It also seems that some recognisably great films of the past are finally making it to DVD, such as Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975), numerous Yasujiro Ozu films, the Gaumont films of Alice Guy Blaché (at last!), a great deal of noir, as well as Roberto Rossellini’s historical films for RAI. If you have an all-region DVD player (as most people in the US don’t), you can finally get classic Laurel and Hardy shorts and features from the Netherlands in an immaculate new release from Universal home video, superbly digitally restored. On the guilty pleasure list, I’d put Jaume Collet-Serra’s Orphan (2009).

PATRICK FRIEL

Patrick Friel is the Director and Programmer of the Onion City Experimental Film and Video Festival (organised by Chicago Filmmakers).

Best of 2009
The best or most fascinating films, videos, and performance-based works I saw for the first time in 2009, regardless of date or means (public screening, DVD, online, etc) – with one vital excepted repeat viewing.

Revelatory repeat viewing
Miami Vice (Michael Mann, 2006) [first time viewing in 35mm]

New and newish narratives and features (rough order)
Solntse (The Sun, Aleksandr Sokurov, 2005)
Singularidades de uma Rapariga Loura (Eccentricities of a Blond Hair Girl, Manoel de Oliveira, 2009)
Let Each One Go Where He May (Ben Russell, 2009)
Walang alaala ang mga paru-paro (Butterflies Have No Memories, Lav Diaz, 2009)
Tie saam gok (Triangle, Tsui Hark, Ringo Lam, and Johnnie To, 2007)
Choepcheopsanjung (Lost in the Mountains, Hong Sang-soo, 2009)
Koma (Naomi Kawasi, 2009)
Hu die fu ren (Madame Butterfly, Tsai Ming-liang, 2008)

New and newish experimental (Canterbury titles are number one, McClure titles number two, random order after that)
January (Kyle Canterbury, 2009)
Garden (Kyle Canterbury, 2009)
Utah (Kyle Canterbury, 2009)
Gardens (Kyle Canterbury, 2009)
Screen (Kyle Canterbury, 2009)
From Fragments (Kyle Canterbury, 2009)
Chair (Kyle Canterbury, 2009)
That Bright Soasuch To Slip (Bruce McClure, 2009)
Barra di Torsione (Bruce McClure, 2009)
XXX (Bruce McClure, 2008)
“Level Off In An Environment They Are Suited For Flies Leisurely Over The Sea” [from the Pie Pellicane Jesu Dominae series] (Bruce McClure, 2009)
“And After Several Rapid Strokes of Their Wings” [from the Pie Pellicane Jesu Dominae series] (Bruce McClure, 2009)
“Insecure of Footing and Their Beaks Are Too Soft To Inflict A Wound” [from the Pie Pellicane Jesu Dominae series] (Bruce McClure, 2009) [live, multi-projector performance works]
The Anthem (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2006)
Phantoms of Nabua (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2009)
A Letter to Uncle Boonmee (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2009)
My Tears Are Dry (Laida Lertxundi, 2009)
tiempo prudente (Yoel Meranda, 2008)
océanéant (Yoel Meranda, 2009)
atlantis (Pieter Geenen, 2008)
Sequences and Interruptions (Nicky Hamlyn, 2008)
Wolf’s Froth/Amongst Other Things (Paul Abbott, 2009)
Resolution, Synthesis, Re-Composition (Makino Takashi, 2009)
The Seasons (Makino Takashi, 2008)
Beirut 2/14/05 (Alexandra Cuesta, 2009)
Home (Kevin J. Everson, 2008)
Ring (Kevin J. Everson, 2009)
Second and Lee (Kevin J. Everson, 2009)
Playing Dead (Kevin J. Everson, 2009)
Key to the Cities (Kevin J. Everson, 2009)
Ninety-Three (Kevin J. Everson, 2009)
Kempinski (Neil Beloufa, 2007)
Optra Field III-VI (T. Marie, 2008)
Bernadette (Duncan Campbell, 2008)
Dirty Goggles of Perception (Left and Right) (Joe Grimm, 2009) [live projector performance]
If There Be Thorns (Michael Robinson, 2009)
Wednesday Morning Two A.M. (Lewis Klahr, 2009)
I volti dell’Anonimo (Faces by a Person Unknown, Paolo Gioli, 2009)
Winnipeg Babysitter (Daniel Barrow, 2006)

Older / revival (random order)
White Heart (Daniel Barnett, 1975)
Restoring Appearances to Order in 12 Minutes (Coleen Fitzgibbon, 1975)
FM/TRCS (Coleen Fitzgibbon, 1974)
Found Film Flashes [FFF] (Coleen Fitzgibbon, 1973)
Le Corbeau et le renard (Marcel Broodthaers, 1967)
A Voyage on the North Sea (Marcel Broodthaers, 1973-74)
Krajobraz po bitwie (Landscape after Battle, Andrzej Wajda, 1970)
Flight (Stan Brakhage, 1974)
Airs (Stan Brakhage, 1976)
Sincerity I-V (Stan Brakhage, 1973-80)
Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here (Abraham Polonsky, 1969)
Window (Ken Jacobs, 1964)
Globe (Ken Jacobs, 1971)
One Second in Montreal (Michael Snow, 1969)
Side Seat Paintings Slides Sound Film (Michael Snow, 1970)
Canyon Passage (Jacques Tourneur, 1946)
Saint Flournoy Lobos-Logos and the Eastern Europe Fetus Taxing Japan Brides in West Coast Places Sucking Alabama Air (Will Hindle, 1970)
29: Merci Merci (Will Hindle, 1966)
Vanina Vanini (Roberto Rossellini, 1961)
A Motor Control Drawing (Len Gittleman, 1953)
Reverberation (Ernie Gehr, 1969)
Field (Ernie Gehr, 1970)
History (Ernie Gehr, 1970)
Les Assassins d’eau douce (Freshwater Assassins, Jean Painlevé, 1947)
Les Danseuses de la mer (Sea Ballerinas, Jean Painlevé, 1956)
Diatomées (Diatoms, Jean Painlevé, 1968)
La Pieuvre (The Octopus, Jean Painlevé, 1927)
La Daphnie (Daphnia, Jean Painlevé, 1928)
L’Oeuf d’epinoche (The Stickleback’s Egg, Jean Painlevé, 1925)
Cheese Mites (Charles Martin Duncan, 1903)
Chimes at Midnight (Orson Welles, 1965)
L’Enfant de Paris (The Child of Paris, Léonce Perret, 1913)
The Salvation Hunter (Josef von Sternberg, 1925)
The Preview Murder Mystery (Robert Florey, 1936)
Strangler of the Swamp (Frank Wisbar, 1946)
Song O’ My Heart (Frank Borzage, 1930)
The Day I Met Caruso (Frank Borzage, 1956) television program
Point of Order (Emile de Antonio, 1964)
Autumnal Equinox (Solariumagelani) (Hollis Frampton, 1974)
Summer Solstice (Solariumagelani) (Hollis Frampton, 1974)
Winter Solstice (Solariumagelani) (Hollis Frampton, 1974)
Mindfall I and VII (Hollis Frampton, 1977-80)
Matrix (Hollis Frampton, 1977)
Vibration (Jack Bond and Jane Arden, 1974)
Tomatos Another Day (James Sibley Watson, 1930)
Miracle (Ed Ruscha, 1975)
Ten (Abbas Kiarostami, 2002)
The Way South (Johan van der Keuken, 1981)
Safar e Ghandehar (Kandahar, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, 2001)
La Ciénaga (The Swamp, Lucrecia Martel, 2001)
Hak se wui (Election, Johnnie To, 2005)

JEAN-MICHEL FRODON

Jean-Michel Frodon’s writing can be found at http://blog.slate.fr/projection-publique/.

Alphabetical order, all released 2009 in France
35 rhums (35 Shots of Rum, Claire Denis, 2008)
Antichrist (Lars von Trier, 2009)
El cant dels ocells (Birdsong, Albert Serra, 2008)
Los abrazos rotos (Broken Embraces, Pedro Almodóvar, 2009)
Singularidades de uma Rapariga Loura (Eccentricities of a Blond Hair Girl, Manoel de Oliveira, 2009)
Gran Torino (Clint Eastwood, 2008)
Hadewijch (Bruno Dumont, 2009)
Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009)
Gabbla (Inland, Tariq Teguia, 2008)
The Limits of Control (Jim Jarmusch, 2009)
Liverpool (Lisandro Alonso, 2009)
Le Roi de l’évasion (Alain Guiraudie, 2009)
Jitsuroku rengô sekigun: Asama sansô e no michi (United Red Army, Kôji Wakamatsu, 2007)
Vincere (Marco Bellocchio, 2009)
Visage (Face, Tsai Ming-liang, 2009)
Les Herbes folles (Wild Grass, Alain Resnais, 2009)
Z32 (Avi Mograbi, 2008)

GEOFF GARDNER

Geoff Gardner was once a film distributor and, 20 years ago, director of the Melbourne Film Festival.

Best
The Wire series 1-5 (2002-2007),
60+ hours of sinewy, provocative and mesmering tales of life in Baltimore today. What can it be compared to? Perhaps the achievements of Louis Feuillade 90 or more years ago, in locating a teeming drama right in the midst of quotidian reality. I assume that the primary forces were David Simon and Ed Burns but the contribution of every actor, writer, producer and director seemed exemplary.

Top ten
Blessed (Ana Kokkinos, 2009)
Camino (Javier Fesser, 2008)
District 9 (Neill Blomkamp, 2009)
The Exploding Girl (Bradley Rust Gray, 2009)
Madeo (Mother, Bong Joon-ho, 2009)
Bumazhnyy soldat (Paper Soldier, Alexei German Jr., 2008)
Samson and Delilah (Warwick Thornton, 2009)
35 rhums (35 Shots of Rum, Claire Denis, France, 2009)
W. (Oliver Stone, 2008)
Nije Kraj (Will Not Stop There, Vinko Brešan, 2008)

Best “old” films seen for the first time in theatres or on DVD
La Denonciation (Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, 1962)
Framed (Richard Wallace, 1947)
Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (Chantal Akerman, 1975)
Kokoro (Kon Ichikawa, 1955)
Liliom (Frank Borzage, 1930)
The Locket (John Brahm, 1946)
La Pyramide Humaine (Jean Rouch, 1959)

ANTONY I. GINNANE

Antony I. Ginnane is a producer, distributor and commentator based in Los Angeles, USA and Melbourne, Australia. He is President of IFM World Releasing Inc. and President of the Screen Producers Association of Australia.

Top Ten 2009
Eligibility: Theatrical or premiere DVD release or festivals in US, Canada, Australia or New Zealand. Calendar year 2009. Alphabetical by title.

Another inspiring and exciting year for world cinema. Classic and reinvented genre rolls on.

The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (Werner Herzog, 2009)
Herzog takes Abel Ferrara’s cop as crazed catholic fanatic and turns him into a Melville-like nihilist. Nicolas Cage at his bug-eyed best.

Drag Me To HellDrag Me to Hell (Sam Raimi, 2009)
A visceral return to his roots in The Evil Dead (1981) and anatomical post-Lucio Fulci gothic, this re-imagining of H.P. Lovecraft is acutely terrifying.

The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow, 2008)
Bigelow takes John Wayne in The Searchers (John Ford, 1956) and James Stewart in the Anthony Mann westerns and drops that blended character into Iraq with a ticking-clock intensity.

Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009)
Another chapter in his encyclopedia of cinema, Tarantino covers Samuel Fuller, Robert Aldrich and Fritz Lang for starters and then examines more obscure French and German World War II works with cynicism and pathos.

Invictus (Clint Eastwood, 2009)
Another cool classical trip – this time a stripped-down biography against a background of race and sport.  As you would expect, more Otto Preminger than Stanley Kramer.

Jennifer’s Body (Karyn Kusama, 2009)
Every year needs an updated examination of the “female in horror” sub-sets and clarifications/revisions of the final girl’s role.

Katyn (Andrzej Wajda, 2007)
Wajda’s autobiographical reminiscence of his World War II experiences, 50 years after Popiól i diament (Ashes and Diamonds, 1958).

Public Enemies (Michael Mann, 2009)
Shimmering eccentric blend of John Milius and Arthur Penn; another existential hero goes down.

Chi bi (Red Cliff, John Woo, 2008)
David Lean, Akira Kurosawa, Anthony Mann and now Woo. The CGI here manages to enhance rather than obscure and history, it seems, can still fill the screen.

Watchmen (Zack Snyder, 2009)
A parallel apocalypse presented as a muse on the American post-war comic book. Synder likes his myths both classic and modern.

In a further, more expansive list, I would have included the following – all of which created a heady sense of the continuing relevance of cinema this year:

The International (Tom Tykwer, 2009)
Duplicity (Tony Gilroy, 2009)
Crank: High Voltage (Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, 2009)
Obsessed (Steve Shill, 2009)
State of Play (Kevin Macdonald, 2009)
Up (Peter Docter and Bob Peterson, 2009)
District 9 (Neill Blomkamp, 2009)
Zombieland (Ruben Fleischer, 2009)
Law Abiding Citizen (F. Gary Gray, 2009)
44 Inch Chest (Malcolm Venville, 2009)
Fantastic Mr. Fox (Wes Anderson, 2009)
Up in the Air (Jason Reitman, 2009)
Avatar (James Cameron, 2009)

CHIRANJIT GOSWAMI

Chiranjit Goswami resides in Winnipeg, Canada.

Best films of 2009
1. Where the Wild Things Are (Spike Jonze, 2009)
2. Das weisse Band – Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte (The White Ribbon, Michael Haneke, 2009)
3. Adventureland (Greg Mottola, 2009)
4. Up (Pete Docter and Bob Peterson, 2009)
5. Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009)
6. A Serious Man (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2009)
7. Fantastic Mr. Fox (Wes Anderson, 2009)
8. The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow, 2008)
9. The Informant! (Steven Soderbergh, 2009)
10. Sugar (Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, 2008)

Honourable mentions
Extract (Mike Judge, 2009)
Star Trek (J.J. Abrams, 2009)
Public Enemies (Michael Mann, 2009)
Sherlock Holmes (Guy Ritchie, 2009)
Madeo (Mother, Joon-ho Bong, 2009)
Air Doll (Kûki ningyô, Hirokazu Koreeda, 2009)
In the Loop (Armando Iannucci, 2009)
The Hangover (Todd Phillips, 2009)
Les Herbes folles (Wild Grass, Alain Resnais, 2009)
(500) Days of Summer (Marc Webb, 2009)
The Road (John Hillcoat, 2009)
Vengeance (Johnnie To, 2009)

Perhaps an obvious consequence of the fact that analysing movies no longer consumes my waking hours, but I was pleasantly surprised by how frequently I was genuinely entertained by the movies I watched over the past year. Of course, achieving such enjoyment was not without some labour – especially considering the past year also had its share of bloated, bland and bombastic films that I foolishly attempted to tolerate – and it wasn’t without some measure of compromise, as even the films I found engaging were not without some apparent, though understandable, flaws. However, such minor miscalculations were easily forgiven while observing a fascinating flood of films examining the effects of isolation, whether it was the escape offered by childhood imagination (Where the Wild Things Are), the irrational connections we courageously attempt in adolescence (Adventureland), post-adolescence (500 Days of Summer, Air Doll), and in our twilight years (Up, Les Herbes folles, Vengeance), the destructive decisions we convince ourselves are inevitable during adulthood (A Serious Man, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Extract, The Informant!), the treacherous tactics we get addicted to in combat (The Hurt Locker, Star Trek), the torture we inflict between generations (Das weisse Band), the tension created by cultural boundaries (Inglourious Basterds), or the daily struggles of immigrants who have been discarded by society (Sugar, The Road). Essentially, I’m just thankful that 2009 was much more captivating than I expected.

PAUL GRANT

PhD candidate in Cinema Studies at New York University.

Living in a village far away from anything related to contemporary film and film culture has me in the position of writing a sort of top 10 list of cinematic ephemera/experiences.

Best
1. Meeting at K-Films with Klaus Gerke of the militant film distribution collective Cine Libre and later co-founder of Cinéma Politique, a film collective and revue.
2. Editions Montparnasse’s DVD release Le Cinéma de Mai 68: L’héritage.
3. Périphérie DVD release of Marcel Trillat and Frédéric Variot’s 1970 Etranges étrangers and the accompanying book by Tangui Perron.
4. Ciné Reflet: found the issue of Positif dedicated to Michèle Firk (also in this category having conversations with Annie Tresgot, Boris Terk and Paul-Louis Thirard about Firk.)
5. Restored print of Jean Rouch’s Folie ordinaire d’une fille de Cham (1986).
6. The ONF release of four new box sets of the films of Pierre Perrault.
7. The worbly copy, with burned time-code, of Jean Prat’s tele-film adaptation of Roger Vailland’s 325, 000 Francs (1964).
8. Talking to Guy-Patrick Sainderichin, Alain Nahum and Richard Copans about their experience with Cinelutte.
9. Finding a copy of Jean-Patrick Manchette’s book of film criticism, Les Yeux de la Momie.
10. Seeing Thieves’ Highway (Jules Dassin, 1949) at the Christine.

Worst
The unbelievable murder of Alexis Tioseco and Nika Bohinc; the death of Paul Carpita; the death of Carole Roussopoulos; the appearance of a DVD release of Yann Le Masson’s masterpiece Kashima Paradise, and then its sudden disappearance.

JIM HEMPHILL

Jim Hemphill is a filmmaker and critic who writes regularly for American Cinematogapher magazine and its website.

The Box (Richard Kelly, 2009)
Crank: High Voltage (Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, 2009)
Drag Me to Hell (Sam Raimi, 2009)
Fired Up! (Will Gluck, 2009)
The Girlfriend Experience (Steven Soderbergh, 2009)
The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow, 2008)
Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009)
A Serious Man (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2009)
Tetro (Francis Ford Coppola, 2009)
Das weisse Band – Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte (The White Ribbon, Michael Haneke, 2009)

JOSÉ SARMIENTO HINOJOSA

José Sarmiento Hinojosa, a research and development consultant, musician and independent filmmaker in Lima, Peru, and co-editor of the movie blog (in Spanish) También Los Cinerastas Emperazon Pequeños.

We are (still) far from seeing cinema as an art, as a cultural expression, and understanding its importance. Nevertheless, this was a good year for local releases, but a terrible one for me as a cinephile…

Local releases (in Peruvian cinemas only)

Exceptional
Public Enemies (Michael Mann, 2009)
Death Proof (Quentin Tarantino, 2007)

Outstanding
The Reader (Stephen Daldry, 2008)
The Wrestler (Darren Aronofsky, 2008)
[Rec] (Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza, 2007)
Orphan (Jaume Collet-Serra, 2009)
Funny Games U.S. (Michael Haneke, 2007)
A fost sau n-a fost? (12:08 East of Bucharest, Corneliu Porumboiu, 2006)
District 9 (Neill Blomkamp, 2009)
Drag Me to Hell (Sam Raimi, 2009)

Have a redeeming feature
The Bank Job (Roger Donaldson, 2008)
The International (Tom Tykwer, 2009)
Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Woody Allen, 2008)
Doubt (John Patrick Shanley, 2008)
Gran Torino (Clint Eastwood, 2008)
Che: Part One (Steven Soderbergh, 2008)
Planet Terror (Robert Rodriguez, 2007)
La teta asustada (The Milk of Sorrow, Claudia Llosa, 2009)


Arrival gate (yet to be seen)
Tôkyô sonata (Tokyo Sonata, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2008)
Obsluhoval jsem anglického krále (I Served the King of England, Jirí Menzel, 2006)
Milk (Gus Van Sant, 2008)
W. (Oliver Stone, 2008)
Frost/Nixon (Ron Howard, 2008)
Up (Pete Docter and Bob Peterson, 2009)
Le Silence de Lorna (Lorna’s Silence, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 2008)
Inglourious Bastards (Quentin Tarantino, 2009)
Happy-Go-Lucky (Mike Leigh, 2008)

Overrated
Slumdog Millionaire (Danny Boyle, 2008)
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (David Fincher, 2008)
Le scaphandre et le papillion (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Julian Schnabel, 2007)

Alternative circuit (festivals, DVDs, downloads, etc.)
This has been a very poor year for me… this is my list of shame!

Outstanding
Entre les murs (The Class, Laurent Cantet, 2008)
Le voyage du ballon rouge (Flight of the Red Balloon, Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2007)
Boarding Gate (Olivier Assayas, 2007)
En la ciudad de Sylvia (In the City of Sylvia, José Luis Guerín, 2007)
Unas fotos en la ciudad de Sylvia (Some Photos from In the City of Sylvia, José Luis Guerín, 2007)
A Londoni férfi (The Man from London, Béla Tarr and Ágnes Hranitzky, 2007)

Have a redeeming feature
Adventureland (Greg Mottola, 2009)
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (Peter Sollett, 2008)

Arrival gate (yet to be seen)
Das weisse BandEine deutsche Kindergeschichte (The White Ribbon, Michael Haneke, 2009)
Hadewijch (Bruno Dumont, 2009)
Historias Extraordinarias (Extraordinary Stories, Mariano Llinás, 2008)
El cant dels ocells (Birdsong, Albert Serra, 2008)
White Material (Claire Denis, 2009)
35 rhums (35 Shots of Rum, Claire Denis, 2008)
The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (Werner Herzog, 2009)
My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done (Werner Herzog, 2009)
Antichrist (Lars Von Trier, 2009)
Vincere (Mario Bellocchio, 2009)
Les Herbes folles (Wild Grass, Alain Resnais, 2009)
Irène (Alain Cavalier, 2009)
The Hole (Joe Dante, 2009)
The Girlfriend Experience (Steven Soderbergh, 2009)

and a whole lot more…. shame on me!

ALEXANDER HORWATH

Alexander Horwath is the Director of the Austrian Film Museum in Vienna.

Here is my list of the top ten feature-length films of 2009 (meaning, which had their world premiere in 2009).

1. Les Herbes folles (Wild Grass, Alain Resnais, 2009)
2. Alle Anderen (Everyone Else, Maren Ade, 2009)
3. White Material (Claire Denis, 2009)
4. Morrer como um homem (To Die Like a Man, João Pedro Rodrigues, 2009)
5. Material (Thomas Heise, 2009)
6. Le Père des mes enfants (The Father of My Children, Mia Hansen-Love, 2009)
7. Un Prophète (A Prophet, Jacques Audiard, 2009)
8. Ex aequo: District 9 (Neill Blomkamp, 2009) + In the Loop (Armando Iannucci, 2009)
9. Ex aequo: La Famille Wolberg (The Wolberg Family, Axelle Ropert, 2009) + Man tänker sitt (Burrowing, Fredrik Wenzel and Henrik Hellström, 2009)
10. Ex aequo: Jal aljido Mothamyeonseo (Like You Know It All, Hong Sang-soo, 2009) + Das weisse Band – Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte (The White Ribbon, Michael Haneke, 2009) + Singularidades de uma Rapariga Loura (Eccentricities of a Blond Hair Girl, Manoel de Oliveira, 2009).

PETER HOURIGAN

Chief Assessor in Media for the Victorian Certificate of Education, and teaches classes in Media and Film with the CAE in Melbourne.

Broken EmbracesNot a Top Ten – but some special experiences, in chronological order of seeing

1. Clint Eastwood – almost an octogenarian, but he still stimulated with Gran Torino and Changeling (both 2008)
2. Frank Borzage – a revelation through the sumptuous (and really overpackaged) DVD set, and a wonderful season of screenings from Melbourne Cinémathèque.
3. Wendy and Lucy (Kelly Reichardt, 2008) – it almost seems like nothing when you’re watching, but it just won’t get out of your mind.
4. Gomorra (Gomorrah, Matteo Garrone, 2008) – it needed a second viewing to take in its full sweep.
5. At the Melbourne International Film Festival, several films made that extra impact. The only one I was expecting was Les Plages d’Agnès (The Beaches of Agnès, Agnès Varda, 2008). Other MIFF highlights for me were Andrzej Wajda’s Tatarak (Sweet Rush, 2009), La Nana (The Maid, Sebastián Silva, 2009), Nang mai (Nymph, Pen-ek Ratanaruang, 2009) and Kinodontas (Dogtooth, Yorgos Lathimos, 2009). And a documentary with that “You’ll never believe it” element – Prodigal Sons (Kimberly Reed, 2008).
6. Two films from my past that it was wonderful to catch up with again this year, Joseph Losey’s The Damned and Sparrows Can’t Sing (Joan Littlewood) (both 1963).
7. Taking Woodstock (Ang Lee, 2009). Perhaps if it hadn’t referenced Woodstock in its title, more might have enjoyed this.
8. Steven Soderbergh is a director I usually respect more than really respond to. But The Girlfriend Experience (2009) seemed to have something a bit more provocative. I think perhaps I may have actually enjoyed more the discussion experience with a film class afterwards.
9. Antichrist (2009) – I never thought I’d ever have the usually vapid, boring Lars von Trier film in a “Top” list. But Antichrist actually stirred, amazed, stimulated me.
10. Los abrazos rotos (Broken Embraces, 2009) – a real pleasure to finish the year with several viewings of a new Pedro Almodóvar film. Its pleasures certainly draw a lot from referencing his other films, but who cares. It’s a joy.

BRIAN HU

Editor of Asia Pacific Arts <asiapacificarts.usc.edu> and a PhD candidate in Cinema and Media Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Some highlights from a year of watching movies in Taipei, Los Angeles, Busan and Hong Kong.

1. L’Heure d’été (Summer Hours, Olivier Assayas, 2008)
2. Talentime (Yasmin Ahmad, 2009)
3. Shirin (Abbas Kiarostami, 2008)
4. Babi buta yang ingin terbang (Blind Pig Who Wants to Fly, Edwin, 2008)
5. Madeo (Mother, Bong Joon-ho, 2009)
6. Bakjwi (Thirst, Park Chan-wook, 2009)
7. This is It (Kenny Ortega, 2009)
8. Karaoke (Chris Chong Chan Fui, 2009)
9. Up (Pete Doctor and Bob Peterson, 2009)
10. Mak dau heong dong dong (McDull Kung Fu Ding Ding Dong, Brian Tse, 2009)
11. Treeless Mountain (So Yong Kim, 2008)
12. Zha lai nuo er (Jalainur, Zhao Ye, 2008)
13. Yan lei (Tears, Cheng Wen-tang, 2009)
14. Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009)
15. Yi xi zhi di (A Place of One’s Own, Lou Yi-an, 2009)
16. Bu neng mei you ni (Not Without You, Leon Dai, 2009)
17. Call if You Need Me (James Lee, 2009)
18. Goodbye Solo (Ramin Bahrani, 2008)
19. Shi yue wei cheng (Bodyguards and Assassins, Teddy Chan, 2009)
20. The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow, 2008)

CHRISTOPH HUBER

Film critic for Die Presse (Vienna).

2009 – year of the rogue

1. The long version (two expanded dozens)
Contact High (Michael Glawogger, 2009)
Chi bi and Chi bi xia: Jue zhan tian xia (Red Cliff and Red Cliff II, John Woo, 2008-09)
Vincere (Marco Bellocchio, 2009)
Bellamy (Claude Chabrol, 2009)
Totó (Peter Schreiner, 2009)
Valhalla Rising (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2009)
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (Werner Herzog, 2009)
Survival of the Dead (George A. Romero, 2009)
Villalobos (Romuald Karmakar, 2009)
Kei hei hup (Kung Fu Cyborg: Metallic Attraction, Jeff Lau, 2009)
Invictus (Clint Eastwood, 2009)
Command Performance (Dolph Lundgren, 2009)

or

Les Herbes folles (Wild Grass, Alain Resnais, 2009)
Vengeance (Johnnie To Kei-Fung, 2009)
Nanjing! Nanjing! (City of Life and Death, Lu Chuan, 2009)
Public Enemies (Michael Mann, 2009)
Ai no mukidashi (Love Exposure, Sion Sono, 2008)
Yi ngoi (Accident, Cheang Pou Soi, 2009)
The Hole (Joe Dante, 2009)
Das Vaterspiel (Kill Daddy Goodnight, Michael Glawogger, 2009)
Sawan baan na (Agrarian Utopia, Uruphong Raksasad, 2009)
Morrer como un homem (To Die Like a Man, João Pedro Rorigues, 2009)
Extract (Mike Judge, 2009)
Tau chut (The First 7th Night) and Tung moon (Rebellion) and Laughing gor chi bin chit (Turning Point) and Sei sung saw liu (Split Second Murders) (Herman Yau, 2009)

2. The short version (a concise top ten)
Lola (Giulio Questi, 2009)
Ramses (Romuald Karmakar, 2009)
Hotel Courbet (Tinto Brass, 2009)
Le streghe, femmes entre elles (Jean-Marie Straub, 2009)
For Alexis (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2009)
Mudanza (Pere Portabella, 2009)
Zwei Projekte von Friedrich Kiesler (Two Projects by Friedrich Kiesler, Heinz Emigholz, 2009)
Corneille – Brecht (Jean-Marie Straub, Cornelia Geiser, 2009)
La Bohème (Werner Herzog, 2009)
When Worlds Collude (Fred Worden, 2009)
Die Gamesammlung des Master K (KS-Film, 2009)
Joachim Gatti (Jean-Marie Straub, 2009)

3. The historical perspective
The Movie Orgy – Ultimate Version (Joe Dante [and Jon Davison], 1968)
Cinema Justice (Timothy Aglioga Carey [and Steve De Jarnatt], 1972)
Fiamma che no si spegne (Vittorio Cottafavi, 1949) and Una donna ha ucciso (Vittorio Cottafavi, 1952) and Una donna libera (A Free Woman, Vittorio Cottafavi, 1954) and I nostri sogni (Our Dreams, Vittorio Cottafavi, 1943) and Lo sconosciuta di San Marino (Michal Waszynski [and Vittorio Cottafavi], 1946)
Zapomnite ikh litsa (Remember Their Faces, Ivan Mutranov, 1931)
Ninja bugei-cho (Band of Ninja, Ôshima Nagisa, 1967) and Muri shinju: Nihon no natsu (Japanese Summer: Double Suicide, Ôshima Nagisa, 1967) and Hakuchu no torima (Violence at Noon, Ôshima Nagisa, 1966) and Natsu no imoto (Dear Summer Sister, Ôshima Nagisa, 1972) and Amakusa Shiro Tokisada (The Revolutionary, Ôshima Nagisa, 1962)
The Ninth Configuration (William Peter Blatty, 1980)
La rimpatriata (The Reunion, Damiano Damiani, 1963)
Bayan ko: kapit sa patalim (Bayan ko: My Own Country, Lino Brocka, 1985) and Jaguar (Lino Brocka, 1979) and Orapronobis (Fight For Us, Lino Brocka, 1985) and Tatlo, dalawa, isa (Three, Two, One, Lino Brocka, 1974) and Ina, kapatid, anak (Mother Sister Daughter, Lino Brocka, 1979)
I girovaghi (Hugo Fregonese, 1956)
Hop Jan (Heave Ho!, Vlatko Filipović, 1967)
Head (Bob Rafelson, 1968)
Auf dem Weg (Peter Schreiner, 1989) and Grelles Licht (Peter Schreiner, 1982)
Il passo (Giulio Questi, 1964) and Viaggio di nozze (Giulio Questi, 1961) and Om ad Po (Giulio Questi, 1954)
Initiation à la danse des possédés (Jean Rouch, 1949)
Le moulin maudit (Alfred Machin, 1909) and Chasse à la panthère (Alfred Machin, 1909) and Comment se fait le fromage de hollande (Alfred Machin, 1909)
Thunder Rock (Roy Boulting, 1942) and Dawn Guard (Roy Boulting, 1941) and Pastor Hall (Roy Boulting, 1940)
Anni facili (Easy Years, Luigi Zampa, 1953)
Tante Klementine (unknown, 1940-44)
The Private Files of Edgar J. Hoover (Larry Cohen, 1977)
Nerosubianco (Tinto Brass, 1969) and Tempo lavorativo (Tinto Brass, 1964) and Tempo libero (Tinto Brass, 1964)
Shiroi nagai sen no kiroku (Record of a Long White Line, Matsumoto Toshio, 1960) and AMPO joyaku (US-Japan-Security Treaty, Matsumoto Toshio, 1959) and Shiki soku ze ku (Everything Visible Is Empty, Matsumoto Toshio, 1975)
The Heartbreak Kid (Elaine May, 1972)
Les misérables (Mara Mattuschka, 1987)
Penjači (High Voltage Electricians, Ranko Stanišić, 1978)
Un tranquilo posto di campagna (A Quiet Place in the Country, Elio Petri, 1969)
Al-momia (The Night of Counting the Years, Chadi Abdel Salam, 1969)
Il mulino delle donne di pietra (Mill of the Stone Women, Giorgo Ferroni, 1960)
Carski Dan (Emperor’s Day, Milutin Kosovac, 1968)
The Passing of the Third Floor Back (Berthold Viertel, 1935)
The Romantic Englishwoman (Joseph Losey, 1975)
Stanarsko pravo lagumaša Safera (The tenancy rights of Safer the miner, Petar Ljuboev, 1974)
Une simple histoire (A Simple Story, Marcel Hanoun, 1959)
Na objedu (At the Meal, Vefik Hadžismajlović, 1972) and U kafani (In the Inn, Vefik Hadžismajlović, 1969)
Lumière d’été (Jean Gremillon, 1943)
L’anticristo (The Antichrist, Alberto Martino, 1974)
Way of a Gaucho (Jacques Tourneur, 1952)

Bonus for the unknown reader – the 2008 file
Yûheisha / Terrorist (Prisoner/Terrorist, Adachi Masao, 2007)
Rambo (Sylvester Stallone, 2008)
Into the Wild (Sean Penn, 2007)
JCVD (Mabrouk El Mechri, 2008)
Itinéraire de Jean Bricard (Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub, 2008)
Jerichow (Christian Petzold, 2008)
Encarnação do Demônio (Embodiment of Evil, José Mojica Marins, 2008)
Vegas: Based On a True Story (Amir Naderi, 2008)
The Sky Crawlers (Oshii Mamoru, 2008)
The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow, 2008)
Le deuxième souffle (Alain Corneau, 2007)
Throat: A Cautionary Tale (Paul Thomas, 2008)

or

Das Gelübde (Dominik Graf, 2007)
La terza madre (Dario Argento, 2007)
Obcan Havel (Citizen Havel, Pavel Koutecký and Miroslav Janek, 2008)
Er shi si cheng ji (24 City, Jia Zhangke, 2008)
Gomorra (Matteo Garrone, 2008)
Changeling (Clint Eastwood, 2008) and Gran Torino (Clint Eastwood, 2008)
BirdWatchers – La terra degli uomini rossi (Marco Bechis, 2008)
Bumažnyj soldat (Paper Soldier, Aleksej Aleksejevič German, 2008)
Melancholia (Lav Diaz, 2008)
Kimi no tomodachi (Kimi’s Friend, Hiroki Ryūichi, 2008)
Death Race (Paul W. S. Anderson, 2008)
La prestige de la mort (Death’s Glamour, Luc Moullet, 2006)

The short version
What the Water Said Nos. 4-6 (David Gatten, 2007)
Ki.Ka-Lounge (Tommy Krappweis, 2008)
Mosaik Mécanique (Norbert Pfaffenbichler, 2008)
Sipudo 4: Duku. Du mogwa (Ten Oxherding Pictures #4: Catching the Ox. Two Chinese Quinces, Lee Jisang, 2007)
Uralin perhonen (Katarina Lillqvist, 2008)
Le genou d’Artémide (Jean-Marie Straub, 2008)
Wer ist Helmut Käutner? (Marcel Neudeck, 2008)
Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along-Blog (Joss Whedon, 2008)
Hotel Rocalba (Josef Dabernig, 2008)
Vielfalt erforschen (Rainer Knepperges and Katrin Leuthe, 2008)

The historical perspective
Yuppi Du (Adriano Celentano, 1975)
Quinchun ji (Sacrificed Youth, Zhang Nuanxin, 1985)
Arcana (Giulio Questi, 1972) and La morte ha fatta l’uovo (Death Laid an Egg, Giulio Questi, 1968)
Marketa Lazarová (Frantisek Vlácil, 1967)
Die Rote (Helmut Käutner, 1962) and Monpti (Helmut Käutner, 1957) and Himmel ohne Sterne (Helmut Käutner, 1955)
Morgenrot (Gustav Ucicky, 1933)
December 7th (Gregg Toland and John Ford, 1943) and This is Korea! (John Ford, 1951)
Forest of Bliss (Robert Gardner, 1986)
Now, You Can Do Anything (Fred Worden and Chris Langdon, 1973)
Tutto è musica (Domenico Modugno, 1963)
När Kapten Grogg skulle porträtteras (Victor Bergdahl, 1917)
Dusty and Sweets McGee (Floyd Mutrux, 1971)
Perversion: Ceremony (Lasse Braun, 1971)
Danryu (Warm Current, Masumura Yasuzo, 1957) and Heitai yakuza (Hoodlum Soldier, Masumura Yasuzo, 1965) and Seisako no tsuma (Seisaku’s Wife, Masumura Yasuzo, 1965) and Hanaoka Seishu no tsuma (The Wife of Seishu Hanaoka, Masumura Yasuzo, 1967) and  Sonezaki shinju (Double Suicide of Sonezaki, Masumura Yasuzo, 1978)
Society (Brian Yuzna, 1989)
Fuoco! (Gian Vittorio Baldi, 1968)
Expurgation (Tom Concer, 1980)
Cheng nan jiu shi (My Memories of Old Beijing, Wu Yigong, 1983) and Bashan yeyu (Evening Rain, Wu Yigong and Wu Yonggang, 1980)
Boyevoy kinosbornik 12 (Vera Stroyeva and Gerbert Rappaport, 1942) and Gost’ (The Guest, Gerbert Rappapport, 1939)
L. A. Plays Itself (Fred Halstead, 1972) and Sex Garage (Fred Halstead, 1972)
Perchance to Scream (George Harrison Marks, 1967)
La hija del engaño (Daughter of Deceit, Luis Buñuel, 1951)
Ren gui qing (Woman Demon Human, Huang Shuqin 1987)
Vase de noces (Thierry Zéno, 1974) and Des morts (Of the Dead, Thierry Zéno and Jean-Pol Ferbus and Dominique Garny, 1981)
Judea. Semana Santa entre los Coras (Nicolás Echevarría, 1974)
Il grido della terra (The Earth Cries Out, Duilio Coletti, 1949)
Arme Leute (Vlado Kristl, 1963)
Seventh Heaven (Frank Borzage, 1927) and The Spanish Main (Frank Borzage, 1945)
Smog (Franco Rossi, 1962)
Zoot Suit (Luis Valdez, 1981)
Wladimir Nixon (Michael Pilz, 1971) and Underground (Michael Pilz, 1969)
Densité optique I (Patrice Kirchofer, 1977)
Flashback (Raffaele Andreassi, 1969)
Le vieux fusil (The Old Gun, Robert Enrico, 1975)
Jimmy the Gent (Michael Curtiz, 1934)
Berg-Ejvind och hans hustru (The Outlaw and His Wife, Victor Sjöström, 1917)

DOMINIK KAMALZADEH

Dominik Kamalzadeh is a film writer (Der Standard, kolik.film) and lives in Vienna, Austria.

12 films of 2009
Alle Anderen (Everyone Else, Maren Ade, 2009)
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (Werner Herzog, 2009)
Burning Palace (Mara Mattuschka and Chris Haring, 2009)
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (David Fincher, 2008)
Les Herbes folles (Wild Grass, Alain Resnais, 2009)
Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009)
Jal aljido Mothamyeonseo (Like You Know It All, Hong Sang-soo, 2009)
Lola (Brillante Mendoza, 2009)
Material (Thomas Heise, 2009)
Un Prophéte (A Prophet, Jacques Audiard, 2009)
Where the Wild Things Are (Spike Jonze, 2009)
White Material (Claire Denis, 2009)

12 films in retrospectives (or on DVD)
Deep End (Jerzy Skolimowski, 1970)
Le départ (Jerzy Skolimowski, 1967)
Le 17eme parallèle: La guerre du peuple (Joris Ivens, 1968)
Encounters At the End of the World (Werner Herzog, 2007)
Hakucho no torima (Violence at Noon, Ôshima Nagisa, 1966)
The Heartbreak Kid (Elaine May, 1972)
Idiocracy (Mike Judge, 2006)
Insiang (Lino Brocka, 1976)
Judex (Georges Franju, 1963)
Privilege (Peter Watkins, 1967)
Tinimbang ka ngunit kulang (Weighed, But Found Wanting, Lino Brocka, 1974)
À Valparaíso (Joris Ivens, 1962)

DANIEL KASMAN

Daniel Kasman is the editor of The Auteurs and lives in New York.

New/new: films premiering in 2009
36 vues du Pic Saint Loup (Around a Small Mountain, Jacques Rivette, 2009)
Adventureland (Greg Mottola, 2009)
Alle Anderen (Everyone Else, Maren Ade, 2009)
Drag Me to Hell (Sam Raimi, 2009)
Käfig (Cage, Karl Kels, 2009)
Le Père de mes enfants (The Father of My Children, Mia Hansen-Løve, 2009)
Public Enemies (Michael Mann, 2009)
Singularidades de uma Rapariga Loura (Eccentricities of a Blond Hair Girl, Manoel de Oliveira, 2009)
The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (Tony Scott, 2009)
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (Michael Bay, 2009
Le streghe, femmes entre elles (Jean-Marie Straub, 2009)
Waterfront Follies (Ernie Gehr, 2009)
Whatever Works (Woody Allen, 2009)
Zum Vergleich (By Comparison, Harun Farocki, 2009)

New/old: films theatrically opened in the US in 2009
Bam gua nat (Night and Day, Hong Sang-soo, 2008)
La mujer sin cabeza (The Headless Woman, Lucrecia Martel, 2008)
Liverpool (Lisandro Alonso, 2008)
Les Plages d’Agnès (The Beaches of Agnès, Agnès Varda, 2008)
Two Lovers (James Gray, 2008)

Old/old – retrospective films theatrically screened in 2009
Tih Minh (Louis Feuillade, 1919)
Glomdalsbruden (The Bride of Glomdal, Carl Th. Dreyer, 1926)
L’argent (Marcel L’Herbier, 1928)
This Day and Age (Cecil B. DeMille, 1933)
Pitfall (André De Toth, 1948)
The Small Back Room (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1949)
The World in His Arms (Raoul Walsh, 1952)
The Tall Men (Raoul Walsh, 1955)
Hot Blood (Nicholas Ray, 1956)
The Bellboy (Jerry Lewis, 1960)
Fire of Waters (Stan Brakhage, 1965)
Gu ling jie shao nian sha ren shi jian (A Brighter Summer Day, Edward Yang. 1991)
The Big Mouth (Jerry Lewis, 1967)
The Molly Maguires (Martin Ritt, 1970)
A Woman Under the Influence (John Cassavettes, 1974)
Tanczacy jastrzab (The Dancing Hawk, Grzegorz Królikiewicz, 1977)
Smorgasbord (Jerry Lewis, 1983)
La fille de 15 ans (The 15 Year Old Girl, Jacques Doillon, 1989)
Ponette (Jacques Doillon, 1996)

SIMON KILLEN

Simon Killen is the Acquisitions Manager for Aztec International.

There are good vintages, and there are very good ones.

2009 for me took a long while to get moving, but once it did, it was an avalanche of quality. And the qualities came from a remarkably diverse range of genres and production styles too. Reflecting, I guess, the splintering of all aspects of the cinema delivery business. When will an iPhone film make a Top 10? They say it’s not far away, but I ain’t holding my breath.

This year, I added a category that saddens me a lot – the superb features that I get to see on the festival circuit that just are not, in the harsh world I live in today, going to see repeat screenings in Melbourne. And I guess it’s tribute in a way to our own festival that I saw most of these films at MIFF 2009. Long may it continue.

Favourite films of 2009 – wide release
Samson and Delilah (Warwick Thornton, 2009)
Warwick Thornton’s debut feature surprised in many ways, from being a sublime work of artistic expression to making a fair impression at the box office – but what didn’t surprise at all to those who knew his work, was that his feature would be this good. See his short films below.

Un prophète (A Prophet, Jacques Audiard, 2009)
He’s not made many films, but when he does make one, you know it’s been scrupulously researched and shot. Audiard is one of the best filmmakers going around, and this grimy, intense study of a young man with his destiny being carved outside of his control is relentless gripping.

Up (Pete Docter and Bob Peterson, 2009)
There was an oddly disquieting night in Cannes last May when an animated feature opened the film festival. No stars, a false sense of excitement. What’s happening here? As it turned out, one of the best films of 2009 was happening there. Pixar’s team again show equal respect for story-telling as they do animation. And blindingly good characterisation too.

Aruitemo aruitemo (Still Walking, Kore-eda Hirokazu, 2008)
A film that demands complete attention, and repays that attention in spades. The dramatic basics could have been told in minutes, but that would rob the viewer of a world of subtlety and nuance that this story in 24 hours has to offer. A family adjusting to a death tries for dignity, and reveals some serious flaws. Kore-eda at the peak of his powers.

The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow, 2008)
Some action films slow-burn, this one doesn’t at all. Every second is excruciatingly tense and involving, and it’s as big a big screen film as I saw in ‘09. Make sure the sound system that accompanies this film is as good as you can get when you see it. Kathryn Bigelow’s legacy is already tremendous, and I hope she has lots more cinema in her.

Darbareye Elly (About Elly, Asghar Farhadi, 2009)
Iranian cinema fits into a convenient critical box for many people – this film should change that. Asgar Farhadi crafts a near-conventional drama set by the sea. But the drama shifts and mutates throughout, and soon crackles into darker places. Fine acting, fine script-writing. Needs distribution!

Encounters at the End of the World (Werner Herzog, 2007)
Werner Herzog makes more films than I have time to see. Glad I stopped in for this one – it’s completely mesmerising, and achieves what I want of documentaries. It makes a lateral journey into a complex subject, and exposes much more than it perhaps intended to. Oh, it looks and sounds amazing as well.

Louise-Michel (Gustave de Kevern, Benoît Delépine, 2009)
Gut-bustingly funny Belgian social satire. No, wait, come back! Remember black comedy? In short supply these days, this is a visceral and often offensive “up yours!” to the new social systems in Europe. Starring Yolande Moreau, an actress who just gets better and better.

25 Kilates (25 Carat, Patxi Amezcua, 2009)
Energetic, tightly scripted thriller from the Basque region of Spain. One of those films where all the components mesh beautifully – casting, concept, execution. Director Patxi Amezcua delivers a dream debut feature film. Will be released in 2010 by, er, Aztec International. That’s the disclosure out of the way.

Precious: Based On the Novel Push By Sapphire (Lee Daniels, 2009)
Started the year at Sundance with a different title altogether, picked up Oprah Winfrey endorsements along the way, changed titles, and released in November in the US to staggering per screen averages, a true phenomenon. Depending on your take, a lurid portrait of a life much worse than ours, or a sensitive study of one of the harshest inner city lives imaginable. The word “incredible” has rarely seemed so appropriate. And don’t get me started on how fine Mariah Carey’s acting is!

Films in the time-honoured arthouse mode that struggle for screens in 2009, and into the future

Amintiri din epoca de aur (Tales From the Golden Age, Hanno Höfer, Razvan Marculescu, Cristian Mungiu, Constantin Poescu, Ioana Uricaru, 2009)
Cristian Mungiu writes, and 5 other directors direct a range of short features. Warmly humorous, and tragically tough by turns.

The Time that Remains: Chronicle of a Present Absentee (Elia Suleiman, 2009)
If only the majority of the Middle East saw the world as Elia does….

35 rhums (35 Shots of Rum, Claire Denis, 2008)
Another chapter in the catalogue of my favourite filmmaker at work today. Elliptical, but not as elliptical as some.

Valhalla Rising (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2009)
I didn’t think much on first screening, but it will not depart from my mind. Brutal AND subtle…

Politist, adj. (Police, Adjective, Corneliu Porumboiu, 2009)
Cold, instructional, brilliant.

De helaasheid der dingen (The Misfortunates, Felix von Groenngen, 2009)
Starts out raucous and bellicose, finds tenderness and insight. Inspired more walkouts than I’ve seen in a film this year, and everyone who left made a big mistake.

And finally, the greatest joy of being older, is the face-slap that occurs every time I see GREAT films that I should have seen years ago. And high praise to anyone that programs these films, and more than anything, goes to the trouble of seeking optimal prints.

Warwick Thornton shorts – a palette of perfectly formed stories, all unique, all brilliant. You owe it to yourself to see these.
Shanghai Express (Joseph von Sternberg, 1932)  – the masterclass in moody, ever-so-slightly-threatening design and cinematography in the greatest moments Dietrich and Von Sternberg shared.
Roberto Rossellini retrospective – as exhaustive as we’ll see in Melbourne I think, curated with love by the Melbourne Cinémathèque. Amazing revelations: La macchina ammazzacattivi (The Machine That Kills Bad People, 1952) and Paisà (1946).
Going Down (Haydn Keenan, 1982) – Hayden Keenan’s free-wheeling “one crazy night in Sydney” film had escaped me until MIFF revival; a joyous burst of energy.
The River (Jean Renoir, 1951) – I’ve always loved the Rumer Godden book, but never imagined I’d see such a luscious print of the Renoir film adaptation. This was cinematic heaven, Melbourne Cinémathèque again.
Det sjunde inseglet (The Seventh Seal, Ingmar Bergman, 1957) – another film I’d never seen before, and saw as a larger than life print at ACMI courtesy of Melbourne Cinémathèque. Astonishing.

See you at the 3D digital screen in 2010.

GABE KLINGER

Gabe Klinger is Assistant Professor in the Department of Fine Arts at National-Louis University, and a contributor to The Auteurs and Cahiers du cinéma España. He is also the programming director of Chicago Cinema Forum.

DogtoothHighlights (alphabetical)
Aadmi Ki Aurat Aur Anya Kahaniya (A Man’s Woman and Other Stories, Amit Dutta, 2009)
Aguas verdes (Green Waters, Mariano De Rosa, 2009)
Los condenados (The Condemned, Isaki Lacuesta, 2009)
Drag Me to Hell (Sam Raimi, 2009)
Go Get Some Rosemary (Joshua and Benny Safdie, 2009)
Helsinki, ikuisesti (Helsinki, Forever, Peter von Bagh, 2008)
The Illusion (Susana Barriga, 2009)
Invictus (Clint Eastwood, 2009)
Jaffa (Keren Yedaya, 2009)
Kynodontas (Dogtooth, Yorgos Lanthimos, 2009)
Let Each One Go Where He May (Ben Russell, 2009)
Lowlands (Peter Thompson, 2009)
Morrer como um homem (To Die Like a Man, João Pedro Rodrigues, 2009)
Ne Change Rien (Pedro Costa, 2009)
No Meu Lugar (Eye of the Storm, Eduardo Valente, 2009)
Public Enemies (Michael Mann, 2009)
Ruhr (James Benning, 2009)
Sahman (Border, Harutyun Khachatryan, 2009)
Turistas (Tourists, Alicia Scherson, 2009)
Vincere (Marco Bellocchio, 2009)
Zum Vergleich (By Comparison, Harun Farocki, 2009)

Special mention (not because it’s worse or flawed – far from it – but because it would be nonsensical to rank or even think about it alongside any of the above films as part of the filmmaking landscape today, or as deserving any kind of special praise or emphasis on such silly lists, since it’s ultimately a work that by the circumstances of its creation will always be important, and need to be discussed, and every previous and subsequent film by its director):

Le streghe, femmes entre elles (Jean-Marie Straub, 2009)

Retrospective discoveries (chronological)
A Bandit’s Wager (Francis Ford, 1916)
Feu Mathias Pascal (Marcel L’Herbier, 1925)
Finis Terrae (Jean Epstein, 1929)
Rain or Shine (sound version, Frank Capra, 1930)
Povest plamennykh let (Story of the Flaming Years, Yuliya Solntseva, 1960/61, 70mm)
Cheyenne Autumn (John Ford, 1964, 70mm)
Dnevnye zvyozdy (Stars of the Day, Igor Talankin, 1966/68, 70mm)
The Mummy (Al momia, Shadi Abdel Salam, 1969)
Jaguar (Lino Brocka, Philippines, 1976)
Trances (Transes, Ahamed El Maanouni, 1981)

A real cinephile goldmine: the Vittorio Cottafavi retrospective curated by Giulio Bursi and Adriano Aprà at Il Cinema Ritrovato. If I had to name one out of the eleven films shown, it would be Una donna ha ucciso (1952). Reminder that 1) Cottafavi as a figure at the centre of postwar Italian cinema needs to be saved from critical obscurity, and 2) the films themselves need to be rescued from the dire conditions that they are in (many were supposed to be presented in new prints but were only made available in poor video transfers). Right now Cottafavi may be best known as the butt of a joke (an affectionate joke, but nevertheless) in Luc Moullet’s Les sièges de l’Alcazar (1989); hopefully in a few years his reputation will be restored, with the works of Alberto Lattuada, Luciano Emmer, Giuseppe De Santis, and others also standing in line.

Mention should also be made of the appearance of the World Cinema Foundation and their already impressive list of restorations. Among their heroic deeds, a badly needed facelift on Edward Yang’s A Brighter Summer Day (1991), the negative of which was nearly lost to vinegar syndrome.

I’d also like to mention two of the greatest American filmmakers, James Benning and Ken Jacobs, who have figured out something that the rest of us are still catching up on. The best I can say about their recent work is that it inspires me to go back to the beginnings of cinema. Sure, Michael Mann and Clint Eastwood are great, and continue to do what they do best, but I think we would have to forgive them for a lot of cornball ideas and a limited technical know-how that stems from having to depend entirely too much on others if we were to rank them as highly as Benning and Jacobs. On a similar note, I looked at Jim Jarmusch’s The Limits of Control as – and I mean this in the best possible way – the film of a brilliant student. Limits registers as a notebook cataloguing a decade of new tendencies in international cinema, a respectful nod to the filmmakers whose work Jarmusch admires. In his film, the characters are at their best when they’re awed by something that has its own weight and presence outside of the film’s fictive boundaries: a Tàpies painting, a flamenco dance…

Also, I agree with many colleagues that Alle AnderenEccentricities of a Blond Hair Girl, Les Herbes follesIndependenciaPolitist, adj., and White Material were among the year’s best offerings, even if I didn’t put them on my own list for any number of reasons (which are simply too long to attempt to enumerate here). And Kill Daddy Goodnight, Lunch Break, Spread, Adventureland, L’epine dans le coeur and Scheherazade, Tell Me a Story I greatly appreciated having the opportunity to see, and to discuss with friends who provided me with interesting frameworks for them, even if I wasn’t fully won over.

I haven’t seen but am looking forward to screenings of The Hole (Joe Dante, 2009) and 36 vues du Pic Saint Loup (All Around a Mountain, Jacques Rivette, 2009).

Meanwhile, I have a whole separate list which would just mention the notable DVD releases of the year, including Treasures 4 (Image Entertainment/National Film Preservation Foundation) (for the release of Christopher Maclaine’s The End [1953] alone), The Joyless Street (Editions Filmmuseum), The Sam Fuller Film Collection (Sony), the recent Spanish anthology of experimental cinema from 1955-2005 packaged with the title “Del éxtasis al arrebato” (Cameo), and, really, take your pick of any number of amazing Criterion or Masters of Cinema or Versus (Spain) releases, not to mention Gaumont’s Le cinema premier volume 2…

Certainly the most significant book release of 2009 was the collected film writings of Manny Farber. It’s hard to top that, but Chris Fujiwara’s monograph on Jerry Lewis is also an achievement to celebrate.

RAINER KNEPPERGES

Filmmaker, lives in Cologne.

Top 14 of 2009
Adventureland (Greg Mottola, 2009)
Bellamy (Claude Chabrol, 2009)
Drag Me to Hell (Sam Raimi, 2009)
Freifliegen (Undine Siepker, 2009)
Funny People (Judd Apatow, 2009)
I Love You, Man (John Hamburg, 2009)
Land of the Lost (Brad Silberling, 2009)
Das letzte Jahr (The Last Year, Klaus Wyborny, 2009)
Die Liebe der Kinder (Something is Always Missing, Franz Müller, 2009)
Madboy (Henna Peschel, 2009)
Revanche (Götz Spielmann, 2008)
Revolutionary Road (Sam Mendes, 2008)
Yes Man (Peyton Reed, 2009)
Zum Vergleich (By Comparison, Harun Farocki, 2009)

Favourite films seen again after years (in cinemas in Bologna, Brussels, Cologne and Neuss)
Drums Along the Mohawk (John Ford, 1939)
The Tingler (William Castle, 1959)
Dementia 13 (Francis Coppola, 1963)
Talentprobe (Peter Goedel, 1980)
Q – The Winged Serpent (Larry Cohen, 1982)
Purple Rose of Cairo (Woody Allen, 1985)
True Stories (David Byrne, 1986)
Leben BRD (How to Live in the FRG, Harun Farocki, 1989)
Der Mann aus dem Osten (The Man From the East, Christoph Willems, 1990)
Shiko funjatta (Sumo Do, Sumo Don’t, Masayuki Suo, 1992)

Discoveries (in cinemas in Bologna, Cologne, Hamburg, Munich and Vienna)
The Crowd (King Vidor, 1928)
Redskin (Victor Scherzinger, 1929)
Make Way For Tomorrow (Leo McCarey, 1937)
Kiss of Death (Henry Hathaway, 1947)
Traviata 53 (Vittorio Cottafavi, 1953)
Strait Jacket (William Castle, 1964)
Milchkännchen und Fischstäbchen in der Antarktis (Milk Jug and Fish Finger in the Antarctic, Arnold Hau, 1973)
Loulou (Maurice Pialat, 1980)
Songs for Drella (Ed Lachman, 1990)
Idiocracy (Mike Judge, 2006)

KEVYN KNOX

Kevyn Knox is a film critic and historian.  His reviews can be read at www.thecinematheque.com. He is also a regular contributor to MovieZeal, Gone Cinema Poaching and Film International. He is currently working on a book, tentatively titled “Wild Bill: The Life and Times and Movies of William A. Wellman”.

2009 was a rather strange year in cinema. At least when it came to the films I most enjoyed. The films that made my top 10 list. I’ve always been accused of being somewhat of an arthouse snob. I suppose, though I have championed mainstream films in the past, such an accusation cannot, to a certain point, be refuted. However, 2009 was different. It was a year where not only a comic book adaptation, but also one of the top-grossing blockbusters of the summer made it onto my list. It was a year where the total of Hollywood movies equalled that of indie cinema and just a mere two films made the list while speaking in foreign tongues. It was also a year that saw two of my favourite directors in top form, while both making the most controversial films of their respective careers. And it was also a year that saw two Hollywood converts heading back to their artistic roots. It was also a year that saw the triumphant return of one of the past’s greatest auteurs, after nearly two and a half decades on the critical skids. It was a year that surprised and delighted me both. And here it is, in convenient Top Ten form for your viewing pleasure.

1. Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009)
2. Antichrist (Lars von Trier, 2009)
3. The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow, 2008)
4. Public Enemies (Michael Mann, 2009)
5. Chi bi (Red Cliff, John Woo, 2008)
6. Watchmen (Zack Snyder, 2009)
7. Tetro (Francis Ford Coppola, 2009)
8. Drag Me to Hell (Sam Raimi, 2009)
9. Gomorra (Gomorrah, Matteo Garrone, 2008)
10. Star Trek (J.J. Abrams, 2009)

One final note: this list was written before having the chance to see Michael Haneke’s Das weisse Band – Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte (The White Ribbon, 2009). Once I see this film, the list may change slightly, in order to make room for this particular film (the only unseen film of the year that I believe has a shot at cracking the Top Ten) but then again, it may not. I suppose only time will tell.

VIOLETA KOVACSICS

Violeta Kovacsics is a film writer. She writes, as a freelance, for El Diari de Tarragona, Go Mag, Cahiers du cinéma-España and some other media.

Yuki and Nina (Hippolyte Girardot, Nobuhiro Suwa, 2009)
The Limits of Control (Jim Jarmusch, 2009)
36 vues du Pic Saint Loup (Around a Small Mountain, Jacques Rivette, 2009)
Todos mienten (They All Lie, Matías Piñeiro, 2009)
The Box (Richard Kelly, 2009)
Public Enemies (Michael Mann, 2009)
Vengeance (Johnnie To, 2009)
Ai no mukidashi (Love Exposure, Sion Sono, 2008)
Les Herbes folles (Wild Grass, Alain Resnais, 2009)
Independencia (Raya Martin, 2009)
Gran Torino (Clint Eastwood, 2008)
Alle Anderen (Everyone Else, Maren Ade, 2009)
Zum Vergleich (By Comparison, Harun Farocki, 2009)
Politist, adj. (Police, Adjective, Corneliu Porumboiu, 2009)
Beeswax (Andrew Bujalski, 2009)

MARC LAURIA

Marc Lauria is a F.C. (Freelance Cinephile) and the screenwriter of the upcoming film Dartworth.

1. The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow, 2009)
Critical consensus will out.  This will look great in fifty years.

2. Das weisse Band – Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte (The White Ribbon, Michael Haneke, 2009)
Village of the Damned (Wolf Rilla, 1960) as reimagined by Béla Tarr. But the cruelty and intensity are Haneke in excelesis.

3. Hunger (Steve McQueen, 2008)
This depiction of the 1981 hunger strike staged by IRA member Bobby Sands in a Northern Ireland prison is the year’s best debut.

4. Cztery noce z Anna (Four Nights with Anna, Jerzy Skolimowski, 2008)
A tale of romantic obsession in which a lonely morgue worker is fixated on a nurse, Skolimowski’s self-imposed 15-year hiatus from filmmaking has borne rich fruit – this is his best film.

5. Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009)
As gory as it is hilarious, this The Dirty Dozen (Robert Aldrich, 1967) homage is one of the great WW2 films. Never pious or sentimental, this is pure cinema – and pure Tarantino.

6. Coraline (Henry Selick, 2009)
Selick trumps his former mentor Tim Burton with this genuinely crazed stop-motion animation. The last hour is as perversely surreal as anything in Lynchland.

7. Fantastic Mr. Fox (Wes Anderson, 2009)
Hey, I love stop-motion animation – when it’s good.

8. Che: Part One and Che: Part Two (Steven Soderbergh, 2008)
Four hours of dialectic cinema – this is the most radical political film ever made by Hollywood.

9. Morfiy (Morphia, Aleksey Balabanov, 2008)
Shot through with his trademark black humour, Balabanov’s story of a young doctor getting hooked on morphine in Russia during the Revolution in 1917 is as bleak as it is uproarious.

10. Gomorra (Gomorrah, Matteo Garrone, 2008)
Finally – a mafia film made in Italy!

Runners-up, alphabetically: Les Plages d’Agnès (The Beaches of Agnès, Agnès Varda, 2008), Goodbye Solo (Ramin Bahrani, 2008), Låt den rätte komma in (Let the Right One In, Tomas Alfredson, 2008), Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman, 2008), The Time that Remains: Chronicle of a Present Absentee (Elia Suleiman, 2009), Tulpan (Sergei Dvortsevoy, 2008), Er shi si cheng ji (24 City, Jia Zhangke, 2008).

MAXIMILIAN LE CAIN

Maximilian Le Cain is a filmmaker and cinéphile living in Cork City, Ireland.

As time passes, it becomes more difficult to condense my experience of cinema down into lists. Attempts to do so have become almost depressing for some obscure reason probably linked to the fact that something sparks between films which have made an impression and life as it has been lived which is not reducible to either but nontheless persists as a sort of aethereal emotional residue. The impression of “cinema” which one internalises and carries transcends the list of films seen and to scour recent memory in search of such a list risks erasing a precious impression of good cinema as experienced in toto.

And, of course, the list omits the links between films, places, people, events, links of which one is perhaps unaware but which quietly, often imperceptibly, sometimes mysteriously weave themselves into the fabric of a life. And that life is yours, your one and only…

I will say that in 2009 I saw a great many good films, old and new. Or, at least, this is my impression: cinema was good to me.

And there’s certainly one film to be mentioned, a film which gives us the pulse of where cinema as an art is at this moment, one which I’ve seen hints of in many places and have long suspected must exist: Sherad Anthony Sanchez’s Imburnal (Sewer, 2008).

KEVIN B. LEE

Kevin B. Lee is a filmmaker and writer based in New York. His website is www.alsolikelife.com.

My top ten of 2009
Zum Vergleich (By Comparison, Harun Farocki, 2009)
Alle Anderen (Everyone Else, Maren Ade, 2009)
Niu pi II (Oxhide II, Liu Jiayin, 2009)
Fantastic Mr. Fox (Wes Anderson, 2009)
Beeswax (Andrew Bujalski, 2009)
Mai shou (Wheat Harvest, Xu Tong, 2008)
The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow, 2008)
La teta atsustada (The Milk of Sorrow, Claudia Llosa, 2009)
Los Herederos (The Inheritors, Eugenio Polgovsky, 2008)
Fei Cheng (Ghost Town, Zhao Dayong, 2008)

DENNIS LIM

Dennis Lim, the editor of Moving Image Source, writes for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Cinema Scope, and other publications.

To Die Like a ManTop 10 films that premiered in 2009
The Limits of Control (Jim Jarmusch, 2009)
Morrer como um homem (To Die Like a Man, João Pedro Rodrigues, 2009)
Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009)
Alle Anderen (Everyone Else, Maren Ade, 2009)
Trash Humpers (Harmony Korine, 2009)
Politist, adj. (Police, Adjective, Corneliu Porumboiu, 2009)
Les Herbes folles (Wild Grass, Alain Resnais, 2009)
Alamar (To the Sea, Pedro Gonzalez-Rubio, 2009)
Hadewijch (Bruno Dumont, 2009)
36 vues du Pic Saint Loup (All Around a Mountain, Jacques Rivette, 2009)

J.B. MABE

A professional archivist-librarian based in Chicago who makes some films and programs some screenings as unprofessionally as possible.

1.
nothing is over nothing (Jonathan Schwartz, 2008)
Utah (Kyle Canterbury, 2009)
When Worlds Collude (Fred Worden, 2008)
4.
Trypps #6 (Malobi)
Let Each One Go Where He May (Ben Russell, 2009)
6.
Dialogues (Owen Land, 2009)
Film for Invisible Ink, Case No. 142: Abbreviation for Dead Winter
[Diminished By 1,794] (David Gatten, 2008)
8.
Alternity (Van McElwee, 2008)
Light Speed (Karen Johannesen, 2007)
Honorable Mention and The Citizens (Kevin Jerome Everson, 2009)
The Parable of the Tulip Painter and the Fly (Charlotte Pryce, 2008)

Old work seen for the first time
Scenes from under Childhood, Section 4 (Stan Brakhage, 1970)
White Heart (Daniel Barnett, 1975)
Verboten! (Sam Fuller, 1958)
Summer Solstice (Hollis Frampton, 1974)
The Smell of Death (Bruce Wood, 1977)
Same Day Nice Biscotts (Luther Price, 2005)
No Sir, Orison! (Owen Land, 1975)
The Kiss (John Smith and Ian Bourn, 1999)
Window (Ken Jacobs, 1964)
Ingredients (Thomas Gosser, 1999)

Yearly reconsideration of my all time favourites
Hart of London (Jack Chambers, 1970)
Precarious Garden (Ernie Gehr, 2004)
Fl. Oz (Julie Murray, 2003)
DELIQUIUM (Julie Murray, 2003)
31/75 Asyl (Kurt Kren, 1975)
Water Sark (Joyce Wieland, 1965)
Dripping Water (Joyce Wieland, 1969)
Reason Over Passion (Joyce Wieland, 1969)
Magic Kingdom (Jim Trainor, 2002)
Arabic 2 (Stan Brakhage, 1980)
Stan’s Window and Work in Progress (Stan Brakhage, 2003)
Scenes from Under Childhood, Section 4 (Stan Brakhage, 1970)
Wold Shadow (Stan Brakhage, 1972)
Six O’clock News (Ross McElwee, 1996)
Bang (Robert Breer, 1986)
LMNO (Robert Breer, 1978)
Lachrymae (Brian Frye, 2000)
White Heart (Daniel Barnett, 1975)
Notebook (Marie Menken, 1940-62)

MIGUEL MARÍAS

A film critic since 1966, a former director of the Spanish Film Archive and the author of books on Manuel Mur Oti and Leo McCarey.

A) Great recent (since 2004) films seen for the first time in 2009
IndepenciaIndependencia (Raya Martin, 2009), Historias extraordinarias (Extraordinary Tales, Mariano Llinás, 2008), Two Lovers (James Gray, 2008), Vincere (Marco Bellocchio, 2009), Ne Change Rien (Pedro Costa, 2009), Un lac (Philippe Grandrieux, 2008), Morrer Como Um Homem (Die Like A Man, João Pedro Rodrigues, 2009), A Religiosa Portuguesa/La Religieuse portugaise (The Portuguese Nun, Eugène Green, 2009), O Quinto Imperio: Ontem como hoje (The Fifth Empire; Yesterday as today, Manoel de Oliveira, 2004), Invictus (Clint Eastwood, 2009), Yuki and Nina (Suwa Nabuhiro and Hippolyte Girardot, 2009), Singularidades de uma Rapariga Loira (Eccentricities of a Blonde Hair Girl, Manoel de Oliveira, 2009), Yumurta (Semíh Kaplanoğlu, 2007), ‘Merde’ (Leos Carax, segment in Tokyo!, 2008), Bellamy (Claude Chabrol, 2008), Jal aljido mothamyeonseo (Like You Knew It All, Hong Sang-soo, 2008 La Danse: Le ballet de l’Opéra de Paris (La Danse: The Paris Ballet Opera, Fred Wiseman, 2009), Yihe yuan (Summer Palace, Lou Ye, 2006), Orae-doen jeongwon (The Old Garden, Im Sang-soo, 2006), Le Voyage en Arménie (Robert Guédiguian, 2006), ‘Koma’ (Kawase Naomi, segment in Visitors, 2009), Niupi er (Oxhide II, Liu Jia Yin, 2009), La Fille du RER (The Girl on the Train, André Téchiné, 2009), Jogo de Cena (Scene Playing, Eduardo Coutinho, 2007), Lost in the Mountains (Hong Sang-soo, segment in Visitors, 2009), Tetro (Francis Ford Coppola, 2009), A Caça ao Coelho com Pau (The Rabbit Hunters, Pedro Costa, 2008), Phantoms of Nabua (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2009)

B) Great older (made before 2004) films first seen in 2009
Never Fear (Ida Lupino, 1949), Roue de cendres (Wheel of Ashes, Peter Emanuel Goldman, 1968), À Flor do Mar (The Sea Flower, João César Monteiro, 1986), Five (Arch Oboler, 1951), Le Coeur et l’argent (Louis Feuillade and Léonce Perret, 1912), Un homme qui dort (A Sleeping Man, Bernard Queysanne, 1974), Niemandsland (No Man’s Land/Hell on Earth, Victor Trivas, 1931), The Gorgon (Terence Fisher, 1964), L’orribile segreto del Dottor Hichcock (Raptus/The Secret of Dr. Hichcock/The Terror of Dr. Hichcock, Riccardo Freda, 1962), Il Cristo proibito (Forbidden Christ, Curzio Malaparte, 1951), Caltiki – il mostro immortale (Caltiki, the Undying Monster/Catiki, the Immortal Monster, Riccardo Freda and Mario Bava, 1959), Erreur tragique (Louis Feuillade, 1912), The Female of the Species – A Psychological Tragedy, (D. W. Griffith, 1912), Margie (Henry King, 1946), Monte Cristo (Henri Fescourt, 1928-9), Brève traversée (Brief Crossing, Catherine Breillat, 2001), Le lait de la tendresse humaine (The Milk of Human Tenderness, Dominique Cabrera, 2001), 36 Chowringhee Lane (Aparna Sen, 1981), Numéro Zéro (Jean Eustache, 1971), Absence of the Good (John Flynn, 1999), Edifício Master (Master Building, Eduardo Coutinho, 2002), Don Cesare di Bazan (Riccardo Freda, 1942), Gamperaliya (Changes in the Village, Lester James Peries, 1963), Protection (John Flynn, 2001), Brumes de Automne – un poème cinégraphique (Dimitri Kirsanoff, 1928), Sans titre (Leos Carax, 1997), Ich möchte kein Mann sein (I Don’t Want to Be a Man, Ernst Lubitsch, 1918), Cause For Alarm (Tay Garnett, 1950/1)

C) Very good recent (since 2004) films seen for the first time in 2009
Guest-Otoño (Guest-Autumn, unedited print, José Luis Guerín, 2007-09), 36 vues du Pic Saint Loup (Around a Small Mountain, Jacques Rivette, 2009), Le Silence de Lorna (The Silence of Lorna, Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne, 2008), Bashing (Kobayashi Masahir, 2005), Diary of the Dead/George A. Romero’s “Diary of the Dead” (George A. Romero, 2007), Nachmittag (Mid-day, Angela Schanelec, 2006), Marseille (Angela Schanelec, 2004), Z32 (Avi Mogrebi, 2008), Octobre – le Dieu Mozart V (Pierre Léon, 2005), Jerichow (Christian Petzold, 2008), Sing kung chok tse yee:Ngor nut mai sun, ngor mai chi gung (True Women for Sale, Herman Yau, 2008), Evening’s Civil Twilight in Empires of Tin (Jem Cohen, 2007/8), Lady Jane (Robert Guédiguian, 2007), Cloverfield (Matt Reeves, 2007), Er shi si cheng ji (24 City, Jia Zhang-ke, 2008), Serbis (Service, Brillante Ma. Mendoza, 2008), Rambo 4 (Sylvester Stallone, 2007), Ahasin Wetei (Between Two Worlds, Vimukthi Jayasundara, 2009), Whatever Works (Woody Allen, 2009), De la guerre (On War, Bertrand Bonello, 2007), Staub (Dust, Hartmut Bitomsky, 2007), Jean-Pierre Léaud lit “Les Doigts dans la tête” par François Truffaut (Jacques Doillon, 2004), Guillaume et les Sortilèges (Pierre Léon, 2007), RR (James Benning, 2007/8), Ciel éteint! (Sky’s Black Out!, F.-J. Ossang, 2008), Vladivostok! (F.-J.Ossang, 2008), Danke (Pierre Léon, 2008), L’Idiot (Pierre Léon, 2008), Gabbla (Inland, Tariq Teguia, 2008), Ne Change Rien (short version, Pedro Costa, 2005), Walang Alaala ang mga Paru-paro (Butterflies Have No Memories, Lav Diaz, 2009), Una semana solos (A Week Alone, Celina Murga, 2008), Videomappings:Aida, Palestine (Till Roestens, 2008), Ma bulle (My Bubble, Anne Benhaïem, 2007), Série Noire (Jean-Claude Rousseau, 2009), Trance 7 (José Luis Torres Leiva, 2008), ‘Mobile Men’(Apichatpong Weerasethakul, segment in Stories of Human Rights, , 2008), Black Breakfast (Jia Zhangke, segment in Stories of Human Rights, , 2008), Eíforiia (Euphoria, Ivan Vírípaiev, 2005), Film Ist. A Girl and A Gun (Gustav Deutsch, 2009), California Company Town (Lee Anne Schmitt, 2008), ‘Jibaku’ (Sean S. Cunningham, segment in Trapped Ashes, 2006), ‘The Girl with Golden Breasts’ (Ken Russell, segment in Trapped Ashes, 2006), ‘Stanley’s Girlfriend’ (Monte Hellman, segment in Trapped Ashes, 2006), Material (Thomas Heise, 2009)

D) Very good older (before 2004) films first seen in 2009
Une dame vraiment bien (Louis Feuillade, 1908), Le Nain (Louis Feuillade, 1912), L’Agonie de Byzance (Louis Feuillade, 1913), Jen (Affair, Yoshida Yoshishige, 1967), Junyo no horomeki (Affair in the Snow, Yoshida Yoshishige, 1968), 2/Duo (Suwa Nobuhir, 1997), Phase IV (Saul Bass, 1973), Yuppi Du (Adriano Celentano, 1974), Lo squartatore di New York, (The New York Ripper, Lucio Fulci, 1982), Le porte del silenzio (Door to Silence, Lucio Fulci, 1991), Martin (George A. Romero, 1976), Messalina Venere imperatrice (Messalina, Vittorio Cottafavi, 1960), Chanson d’Ar-mor (Jean Epstein, 1934), Koridorius (The Corridor, Sharunas Bartas, 1994), En kärleks historia (A Swedish Love Story, Roy Andersson, 1970), Plus qu’hier, moins que demain (Laurent Achard, 1998), L’Étonnement (The Astonishment, Pierre Léon, 2001), Le Dieu Mozart II (Pierre Léon, 1998), Quaresma (Lent, José Álvaro Morais, 2003), This Above All (Anatole Litvak, 1942), 4 mosche di velluto grigio (Four Flies on Gray Velvet, Dario Argento, 1971), The Mad Songs of Fernanda Hussein (John Gianvito, 2001), O Bobo (The Joker, José Álvaro Morais, 1987), 11×14 (James Benning, 1977), Sadkó (Alieksandr Ptushko, 1952), Segreti di stato (State Secrets, Paolo Benvenuti, 2003), Baxter, Véra Baxter (Marguerite Duras, 1976), Deseret (James Benning, 1995), Taiheiyo hitori-botchi (Alone on the Pacific, Ichikawa Kon, 1963), Mizu de kakareta monogatari (Tale Written on Water, Yoshida Yoshishige, 1965), Mein langsames Leben (My Slow-Moving Life, Angela Schanelec, 2001), Bardelys the Magnificent (King Vidor, 1926), Sex is Comedy (Catherine Breillat, 2002), Chapaiev (Georgií and Sergeí Vasíliev, 1934), Spoorloos (L’Homme que voulait savoir/The Vanishing, George Sluizer, 1988), Cap Canaille (Jean-Henri Roger and Juliet Berto, 1982), Hon to onna (Flame and Woman, Yoshida Yoshishige, 1967), Manhattan Baby (Lucio Fulci, 1982), Retour à Kotelnitch (Emmanuel Carrère, 2003), The Raid (Hugo Fregonese, 1954), La Hantise (Louis Feuillade, 1912), La Tare (Louis Feuillade, 1911), Monte Cristo (Emmet J. Flynn, 1922), Landscape Suicide (James Benning, 1986), Romantici a Venezia (Luciano Emmer, 1948), Le Trust ou Les Batailles de l’argent (Louis Feuillade, 1911), La Nativité (Louis Feuillade, 1910), Peixe Lua (Moonfish, José Álvaro Morais, 2000), Il grande silenzio (The Great Silence, Sergio Corbucci, 1968), Marco Polo (Hugo Fregonese;colab.Piero Pierotti, 1960), Goo naam gwa neui (Needing You..., Johnnie To and Wai Ka Fai, 2000), B’Yerushalaim (In Jerusalem, David Perlov, 1963), Fangs of The Wild (William F. Claxton, 1954), Invaders from Mars (William Cameron Menzies, 1953), Claire Denis La Vagabonde (Sébastien Lifshitz, 1995), Bullets or Ballots (William Keighley, 1936), Inferno (Roy Ward Baker, 1953), I coltelli del vendicatore (Knives of the Avenger, Mario Bava, 1966), Les Aventures de Robert Macaire (Jean Epstein, 1925), Things To Come/H.G. Wells’ “Things To Come” (William Cameron Menzies, 1936), Jean-Luc Godard at The Dick Cavett Show (Richard Romagnola, 1980), Falkenau, the Impossible/Falkenau, vision de l’impossible (Emil Weiss/Samuel Fuller, 1988/1945), A Travelling is a Moral Affair/Un travelling est une affaire de morale (Yann Lardeau and Emil Weiss, 1986), Un uomo solo – Incontro con Riccardo Freda (de Archivio della memoria: Ritratti italiani N.2, Mimmo Calopresti, 1998), The Legacy (Richard Marquand, 1978), La Vampire nue (The Naked Vampire, Jean Rollin, 1969), The Thief (Russell Rouse, 1952), The Siege (Edward Zwick, 1998)

E) Great films rediscovered, reappraised or confirmed as such
Der Tiger von Eschnapur-Das indische Grabmal (Fritz Lang, 1958), Le Testament du Docteur Cordelier (Jean Renoir, 1959/61), 7 Women (John Ford, 1965), They Live By Night (Nicholas Ray, 1947/8), U samogo siniego moria (By the Bluest Sea, Boris Barnet;col.S. Mardanov, 1935), Die 1000 Augen des Dr. Mabuse (Fritz Lang, 1960), How Green Was My Valley (John Ford, 1941), They Died with Their Boots On” (Raoul Walsh, 1941), -Only Angels Have Wings (Howard Hawks, 1939), Le Petit Théâtre de Jean Renoir (Jean Renoir, 1969), La Petite Marchande d’allumettes (Jean Renoir, 1928), The Story of Dr. Wassell (Cecil B. DeMille, 1944), The Ten Commandments (Cecil B. DeMille, 1956), The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1947), Johnny Guitar (Nicholas Ray, 1954), Tsuki wa noborinu (The Moon Has Risen, Tanaka Kinuy, 1955), Ruby Gentry (King Vidor, 1952), Cet Obscur Objet du Désir (That Obscure Object of Desire, Luis Buñuel, 1977), Notorious (Alfred Hitchcock, 1946), Smilin’ Through (Frank Borzage, 1941), Today We Live (Howard Hawks, 1933), Quatre Nuits d’un rêveur (Four Nights of a Dreamer, Robert Bresson, 1971), Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (Fritz Lang, 1956), Rio Bravo (Howard Hawks, 1958), Tea and Sympathy (Vincente Minnelli, 1956), Heaven Can Wait (Ernst Lubitsch, 1943), Ghare-Baire (The Home and the World, Satyajit Ray, 1984), Mes petites amoureuses (Jean Eustache, 1975), Merry-Go-Round (Jacques Rivette, 1979), History Is Made At Night (Frank Borzage, 1937), The Bells of St. Mary’s (Leo McCarey, 1945), Colorado Territory (Raoul Walsh, 1949), Dance, Girl, Dance (Dorothy Arzner, 1940), Christopher Strong (Dorothy Arzner, 1933), Mannequin (Frank Borzage, 1937), Wild River (Elia Kazan, 1960), Mietiél (The Snowstorm, Vladimir P. Basov, 1964), Heaven’s Gate (Michael Cimino, 1980), Les Passagers (Jean-Claude Guiguet, 1999), Le Mirage (Jean-Claude Guiguet, 1992), Elle a passé tant de temps sous les sunlights… (Philippe Garrel, 1984/5), Blaise Pascal (Roberto Rossellini, 1971), Soft and Hard (Jean-Luc Godard and Anne-Marie Miéville, 1985), Pickup On South Street (Samuel Fuller, 1953), The Affairs of Anatol (Cecil B.DeMille, 1921), Två människor (Two People, Carl Th. Dreyer, 1944), La Maman et la Putain (Mother and the Whore, Jean Eustache, 1973), Holy Matrimony (John M. Stahl, 1943), House of Bamboo (Samuel Fuller, 1955), The Shining Hour (Frank Borzage, 1938), Husbands (John Cassavetes, 1970), While the City Sleeps (Fritz Lang, 1956), Le Gai Savoir (Jean-Luc Godard, 1968), The Vagabond (Charles Chaplin, 1916), The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds (Paul Newman, 1972), La Belle Noiseuse (Jacques Rivette, 1991), La Belle Noiseuse-Divertimento (Jacques Rivette, 1991), Green Light (Frank Borzage, 1936), Great Day in the Morning (Jacques Tourneur, 1956), die Antigone des Sophokles nach der Hölderlinschen Ubertragung für die Bühne bearbeitet von Brecht 1948(Shurkamp Verlag (Antigone, Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub, 1991), Geschichtsunterricht (History Lessons, Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub, 1972), Cheyenne Autumn (John Ford, 1964), Zastava Ilícha/Mne dvadsát let (The Gate of Lenin/I Am Twenty) (Marlen Jusiev/Khutsiev/Huciev, 1962//5//90), Shockproof (Douglas Sirk, 1949), Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe (Jean Renoir, 1959), True Heart Susie (David W. Griffith, 1919), Cleopatra (Cecil B. DeMille, 1934), L’Aigle à deux têtes (Jean Cocteau, 1947), Sergeant Rutledge (John Ford, 1960), Gunman’s Walk (Phil Karlson, 1958), The Tall Target (Anthony Mann, 1951), The Prowler (Joseph Losey, 1950), Time without pity (Joseph Losey, 1957), The Big Night (Joseph Losey, 1951), Il Grido (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1957), Invasión (Hugo Santiago, 1969), Rysopis (Identification Marks: None, Jerzy Skolimowski, 1964), Walkover (Jerzy Skolimowski, 1965), Pushover (Richard Quine, 1954), Kansas City Confidential (Phil Karlson, 1952), Deutschland bleiche Mutter (Germany, Pale Mother, (Helma Sanders-Brahms, 1979), Remember the Night (Mitchell Leisen, 1939), China 9 Liberty 37 (Monte Hellman, 1978), The Uninvited (Lewis Allen, 1944), Second Honeymoon (Walter Lang, 1937), Love Is News (Tay Garnett, 1937), Le Pont des Arts (Eugène Green, 2004), No Name on the Bullet (Jack Arnold, 1959), Man Hunt (Fritz Lang, 1941), Love Among the Ruins (George Cukor, 1975), The Road to Yesterday (Cecil B. DeMille, 1925), North West Mounted Police (Cecil B. DeMille, 1940), Lettre à Freddy Buache à propos d’un court-métrage sur la ville de Lausanne (Jean-Luc Godard, 1982), Scénario du film “Passion” (Jean-Luc Godard, 1982), Way Of A Gaucho (Jacques Tourneur, 1952), Design for Living (Ernst Lubitsch, 1933), Harry and Son (Paul Newman, 1984), For Ever Mozart (Jean-Luc Godard, 1996), Trois Ponts sur la rivière (Three Bridges Across the River, Jean-Claude Biette, 1998/9), Young Romance (George Melford, 1915), The Sea Wolf (Michael Curtiz, 1941), Trauma/Dario Argento’s “Trauma” (Dario Argento, 1993), Rien sur Robert (Nothing on Robert, Pascal Bonitzer, 1998), New Rose Hotel (Abel Ferrara, 1998), Mary (Abel Ferrara, 2005), The Walls of Jericho (John M. Stahl, 1948), Hospital General (Carlos Arévalo, 1956), Panic in the Streets (Elia Kazan, 1950), The Rising of the Moon (John Ford, 1956), Odete (Two Drifters, João Pedro Rodrigues, 2005), Gli occhi, la bocca (The Eyes, the Mouth, Marco Bellocchio, 1982), Garden of Evil (Henry Hathaway, 1954), The Solid Gold Cadillac (Richard Quine, 1956), Le Théâtre des Matières (Jean-Claude Biette, 1977), Toutes les nuits (Night After Night, Eugène Green, 2000), To Each His Own (Mitchell Leisen, 1946), In einem Jahr mit 13 Monden (In a Year With Thirteen Moons, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1978), Le Deuxième Souffle (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1966), Du côté d’Orouët (Jacques Rozier, 1969-70//73//96), 5th Ave Girl (Gregory LaCava, 1939), India Matri Bhumi (Roberto Rossellini, 1957-8), Tri pesni o Leninye (Three Songs of Lenin, Dziga Vertov, 1934), Le Caporal épinglé (The Elusive Corporal, Jean Renoir, 1962), La ragazza in vetrina (The Girl in the Shop Window, Luciano Emmer, 1960), Best Seller (John Flynn, 1987), In nome del popolo italiano (In Name of the Italian People, Dino Risi, 1971), Liliom (Frank Borzage, 1930), Compulsion (Richard Fleischer, 1959), Die Gezeichneten (Love One Another, Carl Th. Dreyer, 1921), India Song (Marguerite Duras, 1974), Twilight’s Last Gleaming (Robert Aldrich, 1977), Slávnií málií (ex-Novgorodchi) (A Brave Guy, B.Barnet, 1942/3//92), Rio Conchos (Gordon Douglas, 1964), Sometimes A Great Nation (Paul Newman and Richard Colla, 1971), “it” (Clarence G. Badger;col.Josef von Sternberg, 1927), Shchiedroie lieto (A Generous Summer, Boris Barnet, 1950), Rachel, Rachel (Paul Newman, 1968), Suez (Allan Dwan, 1938), Harry Black (Hugo Fregonese, 1958), The Damned (These are The Damned, Joseph Losey, 1961/3), Faubourg St Martin (Jean-Claude Guiguet, 1986), JLG/JLG : Autoportrait de décembre (Jean-Luc Godard, 1994), Oktiábr (October, Sergei M. Eisenstein and Gregori Alieksandrov, 1928), Jacquot de Nantes (Agnès Varda, 1991)

F) Very good films rediscovered, re-appraised, confirmed or slightly less appreciated than before
The Enchanted Cottage (John Cromwell, 1945), His Butler’s Sister (Frank Borzage, 1943), Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (Allan Dwan, 1938), Ici Et Ailleurs (Jean-Luc Godard and Anne-Marie Miéville;col. Jean-Pierre Gorin, 1970/4-5), Accattone (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1961), Phenomena (Dario Argento, 1984), Tenebræ (Tenebre, Dario Argento, 1982), The Gauntlet (Clint Eastwood, 1977), Stella Maris (Marshall A. Neilan, 1917), Suspiria (Dario Argento, 1977), Parrish (Delmer Daves, 1960), Les Signes (Signs, Eugène Green, 2006), The Idol Dancer (David W. Griffith, 1919), Sadie Thompson (Raoul Walsh, 1927), The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (Terence Fisher, 1959), Tobacco Road (John Ford, 1941), Gentleman’s Agreement (Elia Kazan, 1947), Calabuch (Luis García Berlanga, 1956), Barravento (Glauber Rocha, 1960), Iguana (Monte Hellman, 1988), Man in the Shadow (Jack Arnold, 1957), Gli invasori (Erik the Conqueror (Mario Bava, 1961), Bob le flambeur (Bob the Gambler, Jean-Pierre Melville, 1955), Martha (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1974), The Honey Pot (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1967), La maschera del demonio (The Mask of Satan/Black Sunday, Mario Bava, 1960), El pisito (The Flat, Isidoro Martínez Ferry and Marco Ferreri, 1958), Northwest Passage (King Vidor, 1939), Darby’s Rangers (William A. Wellman, 1957), The Black Book/ Reign of Terror (Anthony Mann, 1949), The Amazing Mr.X / The Spiritualist (Bernard Vorhaus, 1948), Le Cercle rouge (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1970), The Stalking Moon (Robert Mulligan, 1968), Les Doigts dans la tête (Head in Hands, Jaques Doillon, 1974), You Were Never Lovelier (William A. Seiter, 1942), Carrément à l’ouest (Jacques Doillon, 2001), Michel Strogoff (Carmine Gallone, 1956), Quatorze juillet (René Clair, 1933), The Garment Jungle (Robert Aldrich;finished and signed by Vincent Sherman, 1957), Ossos (Bones, Pedro Costa, 1997), Casa de Lava (Pedro Costa, 1994), O Sangue (The Blood, Pedro Costa, 1989), The House of Mirth (Terence Davies, 2000), Carmen (Ernst Lubitsch, 1918), Many Rivers to Cross (Roy Rowland, 1954), The Music Box (James Parrott, 1932), Blowing Wild (Hugo Fregonese, 1953), Stranded (Frank Borzage, 1935), The Moon Is Blue (Otto Preminger, 1953), The More The Merrier (George Stevens, 1943), Don’t Bother To Knock (Roy Ward Baker, 1952), Clara’s Heart (Robert Mulligan, 1988), Le Monde vivant (The Living World, Eugène Green, 2003), Storia di Piera (The Story of Piera, Marco Ferreri, 1983), La fe del volcán (The Volcano’s Faith, Ana Poliak, 2001), Footsteps in the Fog (Arthur Lubin, 1955), Marked Woman (Lloyd Bacon, 1937), Les Belles Manières (Jean-Claude Guiguet, 1978), Tam Tam (Adolfo Arrieta, 1975/6), Trust (Hal Hartley, 1990), Good Neighbor Sam (David Swift, 1964), The Entity (Sidney J. Furie, 1981), Farewell To The King (John Milius, 1988), Regeneration (Raoul Walsh, 1915), No abras nunca esa puerta (Carlos Hugo Christensen, 1951), Cat Chaser (Abel Ferrara, 1988), Wild Rovers (Blake Edwards, 1971), Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (Michael Cimino, 1974), Contactos (Contacts, Paulino Viota, 1970).

DAVID MELVILLE

Writer, lecturer and critic, Edinburgh, UK.

I spend most of my free time watching obscure old movies (the older and more obscure the better) so being asked about new films is always a bit of a shock. Still, here are five that made an impression…

Cheri (Stephen Frears, 2009)
Easily the most unfashionable film of the year, this tale of an ageing Belle Epoque courtesan has style, wit, taste and elegance – plus a career-best performance by the exquisite Michelle Pfeiffer.

Das weisse Band – Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte (The White Ribbon, Michael Haneke, 2009)
This hypnotically grim fairytale traces the roots of Nazism to a group of disturbed children in a pre-World War I German village. The only Haneke film I have not hated.

Antichrist (Lars von Trier, 2009)
A more visceral, more Gothic adult fairytale – like Hansel and Gretel with hardcore sex, genital mutilation and talking foxes. There is no witch lurking in these woods; we bring her with us.

Coraline (Henry Selick, 2009)
Perhaps the darkest “kiddie” film since The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T. (Roy Rowland, 1953). An eerie journey through animated parallel worlds, it reminds you what a scary place childhood can be.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (David Fincher, 2008)
The most visually gifted filmmaker working today, Fincher transforms a hackneyed Hollywood script into a dazzling magic-realist fable.

Most overrated film
Los abrazos rotos (Broken Embraces, Pedro Almodóvar, 2009)

Rediscoveries
On DVD: Model Shop (Jacques Demy, 1968) and Benjamin, ou Les mémoires d’un puceau (Michel Deville, 1968)
In the cinema: Mouse Heaven (Kenneth Anger, 1992). The film Disney tried to ban, at a rare screening in Dundee with the Grand High Wizard in attendance.

OLAF MÖLLER

A cinéphile, writer, translator and curator based in Cologne, Germany.

2009 feels lost in a haze, a swirl of places and images and sounds, constant movement, with rest meaning work: writing/programming all the time. Too much death too close by, family, close friends, distant acquaintances, too much sorrow and mourning – too big a disgust with the circus some of these deaths, their aftermaths were turned into by too many. I’m scared of googling some of the names, I was told that pictures of their dead bodies, or CCTV-footage of them jumping to their end are on the net. I’m wondering what things have come to.

How do we handle the power of our luck? This is the last sentence of Romuald Karmakar’s Villalobos synopsis. A haunting question, and totally to the point.

Red CliffAt least, right now, I’m wondering what to make of my happiness of 2009: discovering the dark brilliance of Alberto Lattuada in Pesaro and the versatile genius of Peter Solan in Uherské Hradiště (which might have been the nicest festival experience of the year: small Czech town, about 5000 accredited, average age about 22, 23, 24 years, masses of fine films from the Visegrad Group-countries, stuff one doesn’t get to see too often these days); meeting Vlatko Filipović, Vefik Hadžismajlović, and finally the great Nikos Papatakis; the sight of Panna Rittikrai on stage in Udine, looking around awkwardly, later talking about how his films were always popular with country folks, proudly; sharing the excitement of just having seen Dnevnye zvezdy (Stars of the Day, Igor [Industrij] Talankin, 1966/68) and Optimističeskaja tragedija (Optimistic Tragedy, Samson Samsonov, 1963) with some friends in Berlin, in the cold, right in front of the International – all sensing: that one made contact with a beauty maybe not yet lost; sitting in the cinema in Trieste, Prigionieri del male (Revelation, Mario Costa, 1955) and Storia di una monaca di clausura (Story of a Cloistered Nun, Domenico Paolella, 1973) begin, and moment by moment it becomes apparent that I’m going to see something amazing, out of the blue – we are not that many in that venue, but both times we share that sense of wonder, that glimpse of cinema’s vastness.

2008 as well, uncommented, so as to not break the chain, each year shall be accounted for. Besides, earlier this year a friend sent me a link to some blog where one of the participants said that he can’t wait to read the 2008-lists of Christoph Huber and me. This is for you. Enjoy.
Still: How do we handle the power of our luck?

Olaf Möller’s fifteen friends 2009
(Rugby, for once, while waiting for Invictus)

Team manager team (films of the year)
Survival of the Dead (George Romero, 2009)
Corneille – Brecht (Jean-Marie Straub, Cornelia Geiser, 2009)

Team (line-up in strictly alphabetical order)
Alle Anderen (Everyone Else, Maren Ade, 2009)
Bahoz / Fırtına (The Storm, Kazım Öz, 2008)
Chi bi (Red Cliff [2-part-version], Wu Yusen [John Woo], 2008/09)
Contact High (Michael Glawogger, 2009)
Crnci (The Blacks, Zvonimir Jurić and Goran Dević, 2009)
The Hole (Joe Dante, 2009)
Material (Thomas Heise, 2009)
Nanjing! Nanjing! (City of Life and Death, Lu Chuan, 2009)
Ong Bak 2 (Panna Rittikrai and Tony Jaa Panom, 2008)
Stara Škola Kapitalizma (Old School of Capitalism, Želimir Žilnik, 2009) Totó (Peter Schreiner, 2009)
Valhalla Rising (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2009)
Vapour Trail (Clark) (John Gianvito, 2009)
Villalobos (Romuald Karmakar, 2009)
White Material (Claire Denis, 2009)

Substitutes
Aadmi Ki Aurat Aur Anya Kahaniya (A Man’s Woman and Other Stories, Amit Dutta, 2009), Ahasin Wetei (Between Two Worlds, Vimukthi Jayasundara, 2009), Aniceto (Leonardo Favio, 2008), Command Performance (Dolph Lundgren, 2009), Gulaal (Anurag Kashyap, 2009), Helsinki, ikuisesti (Helsinki, Forever, Peter von Bagh, 2008), Here (Ho Tzu Nyen, 2009), Hotel Courbet (Tinto Brass, 2009), Independencia (Raya Martin, 2009), Joachim Gatti (Jean-Marie Straub, 2009), Kei hei hup (Metallic Attraction: Kungfu Cyborg, Jeff Lau Jan Wai, 2009), Kynodontas (Dogtooth, Yorgos Lanthimos, 2009), Lola (Giulio Questi, 2009), Missä on missä (Where is Where ?, Eija-Liisa Ahtila, 2009), Mongsil (Lee Ji-sang, 2009), Morrer como um homem (To Die Like a Man, João Pedro Rodrigues, 2009), Mudanza (Pere Portabella, 2009), Nočni pogovori z mojco (Nighttime with Mojca, Vlado Škafar), Now Showing (Raya Martin, 2008), Pink (Rudolf Thome, 2009), Public Enemies (Michael Mann, 2009), Ramses (Romuald Karmakar, 2009), Sense of Architecture (Heinz Emigholz, 2005-09), Tau chut (The First 7th Night, Herman Yau Lai To, 2009), Trilogia: il pensiero, lo sguardo, la parola (Luciano Emmer, 2008), Das Vaterspiel (Kill Daddy Goodnight, Michael Glawogger, 2009), Walang Alaala ang mga Paru-paro (Butterflies Have No Memory, Lav Diaz, 2009), Where the Wild Things Are (Spike Jonze, 2009), Yi ngoi (Accident, Cheang Pou Soi, 2009).

Extended team
Ai no mukidashi (Love Exposure, Sion Sono, 2008), The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (Werner Herzog, 2009), Blutsfreundschaft (Initiation, Peter Kern, 2009), Day Tingnga ti Misteryo ti Kristo Negro (The Middle Mystery of Kristo Negro, Khavn, 2009), Delhi – 6 (Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, 2009), Ehky ya Scheherazade (Scheherazade Tell Me a Story, Yousry Nasrallah, 2009), L’Encerclement – La Démocratie dans les rets du Néo-Libéralisme (Encirclement – Neo-Liberalism Esnares Democracy, Richard Brouillette, 2009), Fei cheng wu rao (If You Are the One, Feng Xiaogang, 2008), Fig Trees (John Greyson, 2009), FILM IST. a girl and a gun (Gustav Deutsch, 2009), Generasi biru (The Blue Generation, Garin Nugroho, John De Rantau and Dosy Omar, 2009), Gogal (Exhausted, Kim Gok, 2008), Hayat var (My Only Sunshine, Reha Erdem, 2008), In the Electric Mist (Bertrand Tavernier, 2009), Irokoishi – Hōrō-hen. Kabukichō zetchō taiketsu!! (Tajiri Yūji, 2008), Jangarh Film – Ek (Amit Dutta, 2008), Juan Baybayin Story (Green Rocking Chair, Roxlee, 2008), Der Knochenmann (The Boneman, Wolfgang Murnberger, 2009), Next Attraction (Raya Martin, 2008), Oogverblindend (Dazzle, Cyrus Frisch, 2009), The Road (John Hillcoat, 2009), Sahman (Border, Harutyun Khachatryan, 2008), Sawan baan na (Agrarian Utopia, Uruphong Raksasad, 2009), Shedding Details (Gerhard Friedl and Laura Horelli, 2009), Le streghe, femmes entre elles (Jean-Marie Straub, 2009), Takut: Faces of Fear (Rako Prijanto, Riri Riza, Ray Nayoan, Robby Ertanto, Raditya Sidharta, Kimo Stamboel and Timothy Tjahjanto [= The Mo Brothers], 2008), Tin Shui Wai dik yat yu ye (The Way We Are, Ann Hui On Wah, 2009), Tri (Film Three, Goran Dević), Trilogy: Kettle’s Yard (Jayne Parker, 2008), Tung moon (Rebellion, Herman Yau Lai To, 2009), Wahed – Sefr (One – Zero, Kamla Abu Zekri, 2009), Yemen Travelogue. Days at Shibam and Seiyun (Michael Pilz, 2008), Zum Vergleich (In Comparison, Harun Farocki, 2009), Zwei Projekte von Friedrich Kiesler (Two Projects by Friedrich KieslerI, Heinz Emigholz, 2009)

Olaf Möller’s fifteen veterans 2009

Team manager team (revelations of the year)
Pervorossijane (The First Russians, Aleksandr Ivanov, 1967)
Zapomnite ih litsa (Remember Their Faces, Ivan Mutanov, 1930)

First team (line-up in strictly alphabetical order)
Anna (Alberto Lattuada, 1951)
Cinema Justice (Timothy Agoglio Carey [and Steve deJarnatt], 1972)
The Ghost Ship (Mark Robson, 1943)
Ginrin (Silver Ring aka Bicycle of Dream, Matsumoto Toshio, Higuchi Gen’ichirō and Yabe Masao, 1955)
I girovaghi (The Wanderers, Hugo Fregonese, 1956)
Hop Jan (Heave Ho!, Vlatko Filipović, 1967)
Gli invisibili (The Invisibles, Pasquale Squitieri, 1988)
Kým sa skonči táto noc (Before Tonight Is Over, Peter Solan, 1965)
I nostri sogni (Our Dreams, Vittorio Cottafavi, 1943)
Once Upon a Honeymoon (Leo McCarey, 1942)
Optimističeskaja tragedija (Optimistic Tragedy, Samson Samsonov, 1963)
Prigionieri del male (Revelation, Mario Costa, 1955)
Salinma (A Bloodthirsty Killer; 1965; d: Lee Yong-min)
Storia di una monaca di clausura (Story of a Cloistered Nun, Domenico Paolella, 1973)

Substitutes
Accidenti alla guerra!… (Giorgio Simonelli, 1948), Un amore a Roma (Love in Rome, Dino Risi, 1960), Anni facili (Easy Years, Luigi Zampa, 1953), Araya (Margot Benacerraf, 1959), L’Assommoir (Albert Capellani, 1909), Beatrice Cenci (Riccardo Freda, 1956), Bedlam (Mark Robson, 1946), Blue Film no onna (Blue Film Woman, Mukai Kan, 1969), Boxer a smrt (The Boxer and Death, Peter Solan, 1963), Buk dau sing: Siu linh (Social Worker: Boy, Ann Hui On Wah, 1976), Cenerentola e il Signor Bonaventura (Princess Cinderella, Sergio Tofano, 1941), Ceux du maquis (Office Français d’Information Cinématographique), Chasing the Blues (JD Chambers and Jack Ellitt, 1947), Cheongchun-ui sibjalo (Turning Point of the Youngsters, Ahn Jong-hwa, 1934), Un Corderie (Société Pathé Frères), The Country Doctor (David Wark Griffith), Croix de Lorraine en Italie (François Villiers, 1944), Đaci Pješaci (Vefik Hadžismajlović, 1966), Dafnis kai Chloe (Laskos Orestis, 1931), The Dawn Guard (Roy Boulting, 1941), Il delitto di Giovanni Episcopo (Alberto Lattuada, 1947), De son appartement (Jean-Claude Rousseau, 2007), Les Deux timides (René Clair, 1928), Dnevnye zvezdy (Stars of the Day, Igor [Industrij] Talankin, 1966/68), I dolci inganni (Alberto Lattuada, 1960), Eureka (Nicolás Echevarria, 1974), Les Feux de la mer (Jean Epstein, 1948), I fotografia (The Photograph, Nikos Papatakis, 1987), Funshutsu kigan: 15-sai no baishunfu (Gushing Prayer: A Fifteen Year Old Prostitute, Adachi Masao, 1971), A Gentleman of Paris (Harry d’Abbadie d’Arrast, 1927), Giuseppe w Warszawie (Giuseppe in Warsaw, Stanisław Lenartowicz, 1964), Good Sam (Leo McCarey, 1948), His Nibs (Gregory La Cava, 1921), ICAC. Wai hui loi hai (The ICAC Series: Homeward Bound, Ann Hui On Wah, 1977), Isle of the Dead (Mark Robson, 1945), Kinopravda no. 18 – Probeg kinoapparata v napravlenii sovetskoi deistvitelnosti 299 metrov 14 min. 50 sek. (Dziga Vertov, 1924), Krizno obdobje (Franci Slak, 1981), Laughter (Harry d’Abbadie d’Arrast, 1930), Lazybones (Frank Borzage, 1925), Little Friend (Berthold Viertel, 1934), Lung Fung Pau (#6) (Ann Hui On Wah), Mireille (Henri Cain, 1909), The Movie Orgy – Ultimate Version (Joe Dante [and Jon Davison], 1968), Il mulino del Po (The Mill on the Po, Alberto Lattuada, 1949), Nepokorennje (The Unconquered, Mark Donskoi, 1945), The Niagara in Winter Dress (Vitagraph Company of America, 1909), Om ad Po (Giulio Questi, 1958), The Passing of the Third Floor Back (Berthold Viertel, 1935), Pastor Hall (Roy Boulting, 1940), Penjači (Ranko Stanišić, 1978), Pociąg (Night Train, Jerzy Kawalerowicz, 1959), Quel fantasma di mio marito (Camillo Mastrocinque, 1950), Radio giornale no. 5 (Giorgio Simonelli, 1933), The Robber Symphony (Friedrich Feher, 1936), Sanjari (Vefik Hadžismajlović, 1971), Santa Brigida (Roberto Rossellini, 1952), Satan Never Sleeps (Leo McCarey, 1962), Lo sconosciuto di San Marino (Michał Waszyński [and Vittorio Cottafavi], 1948), Shiroi nagai sen no kiroku (Record of a Long White Line, Matsumoto Toshio, 1960), Si ji san ha: Kiu (Below the Lion Rock: The Bridge, Ann Hui On Wah, 1978), Slnko v sieti (The Sun in the Net, Štefan Uher, 1962), Soleil éteint (Guy Gilles, 1958), La spiaggia (The Boarder, Alberto Lattuada, 1954), La steppa (Alberto Lattuada, 1962), Stoopnocracy (Dave Fleischer, 1933), Tatlo, Dalawa, Isa (Three, Two, One, Lino Brocka, 1974), Tempo lavorativo (Tinto Brass, 1964), Tempo libero (Tinto Brass, 1964), Thunder Rock (Roy Boulting, 1942), Tušenie (Peter Solan, 1982), U zavjetrini vremena (Vlatko Filipović, 1965), Ugljari (Vefik Hadžismajlović, 1973), Viaggio di nozze (Guilio Questi, 1961), Villes et cimetières arabes (Alexandre Promio, 1909), La viacchia (The Lovemakers, Mauro Bolognini, 1961), When the Pie Was Opened (Len Lye, 1941), Zbyszek (Jan Laskowski, 1969), Zgodba, ki je ni (On the Run, Matjaž Klopčič, 1967)

Extended team
Abdul the Damned (Karl Grune, 1935), Adolf und Marlene (Ulli Lommel, 1977), [Amateuraufnahmen Wien, Frühjahr 1938] [Anonym], L’amica (Alberto Lattuada, 1969), L’Archipel des amours (Jean-Claude Biette, Cécile Clairval, Jacques Davila, Michel Delahaye, Jacques Fresnais, Gérard Frot-Coutaz, Jean-Claude Guiguet, Marie-Claude Treilhou, Paul Vecchiali, 1983), Autour de Brazzaville (François Villiers and Germain Krull, 1946), Avamposto (Giulio Questi, 1959), Der Baader Cup (Doris Kuhn and Christian Lyra), Il bandito (The Bandit, Alberto Lattuada, 1946), Bank Holiday (Carol Reed, 1938), Barão Olavo, o Horrível (Julio Bressane, 1970), Beatrice Cenci (Lucio Fulci, 1969), Car of Dreams (Graham Cutts and Austin Melford, 1935), Carski dan (Milutin Kosovac, 1969), Dreaming Lips (Paul Czinner, 1937), Đurđa (Mirza Idrizović, 1978), En Camargue – Course de taureaux à Saintes Maries (Société Pathé Frères, 1909), L’Enfant prodigue (Georges Berr, 1909), Evergreen (Victor Saville, 1934), Le farò da padre… (I’ll Take Her Like a Father, Alberto Lattuada, 1974), La Fée des grèves (Louis Feuillade, 1909), I figli delle macerie (Amedeo Catellazzi, 1948), Il figlio del corsaro rosso (Primo Zeglio, 1959), [Garmisch-Partenkirchen] [Anonym], Die Geburt der Venus (The Birth of Venus, Moucle Blackout, 1972), Giacomo l’idealista (Giacomo the Idealist, Alberto Lattuada, 1943), Granitsa (Border, Mihail Dubson, 1935), Jak być kochaną (How To Be Loved, Wojciech Jerzy Has, 1962), Jedan dan Rajka Maksima (Zlatko Lavanić, 1976), Jowita (Janusz Morgenstern, 1967), Kasabe (Mirza Idrizović, 1977), Leon Drey (Evgeni Bauer, 1915), Lettere di una novizia (Alberto Lattuada, 1960), The Magic Canvas (John Halas and Joy Batchelor, 1948), Massmediologija na Balkana (DR. Br.1) (Vuk Babić, 1989), A Megfagyott gymerk (Balogh Béla [and Géza von Bolváry], 1921), Misija Ismeta Kozice (Petar Lubojev, 1977), Missione Wiesenthal (Vittorio Cottafavi, 1967), La monaca di Monza (Raffaello Pacini, 1947), Nada (Midhat Mutapčić, 1970), No Resting Place (Paul Rotha, 1951), Occupe-toi d’Amélie! (Claude Autant-Lara, 1949), Porcelaines tendres (Emile Cohl, 1909), The Queen of Spades (Thorold Dickinson, 1949), Redskin (Victor Schertzinger, 1929), Le Retour d’Ulysse (André Calmettes and Charles Le Bargy, 1909), Le Roman de l’écuyère (Camille de Morlhon, 1910), The Romantic Englishwoman (Joseph Losey, 1975), Selfportrait (Maria Lassnig, 1971), Sicilia illustrata (Arturo Ambrosio, 1907), Sky over Holland (John Fernhout, 1967), Stage Struck (Allan Dwan, 1925), Stanarsko pravo lagumasa Safera (The Tenancy Rights of Safar the Miner, Petar Ljubojev, 1974), Success Is the Best Revenge (Jerzy Skolimoswki, 1984), Una (Miloš Miša Radivojević, 1984), Venga a prendere il caffè… da noi (The Man Who Came For Coffee Alberto Lattuada, 1970), Vlčie diery (The Wolves’ Lairs, Paľo Bielik, 1948)

Olaf Möller’s eleven friends 2008

Team manager (film of the year)
Yûheisha / Terrorist (Prisoner/Terrorist, Adachi Masao, 2007)

Team (line-up in strictly alphabetical order)
Dikoe pole (Wild Field, Mihail Kalatozišvili, 2008)
Encarnação do Demônio (Embodiment of Evil, José Mojica Marins, 2008)
The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow, 2008)
Inju, la bête dans l’ombre (Inju, the Beast in the Shadow, Barbet Schroeder, 2008)
Itinéraire de Jean Bricard (Danièle Huillet & Jean-Marie Straub, 2008)
Maynila sa mga Pangil ng Dilim (Manila in the Fangs of Darkness, Khavn, 2008)
Melancholia (Lav Diaz, 2008)
Nuit de chien (Tonight, Werner Schroeter, 2008)
Letter to a Child (Otroci, Vlado Škafar, 2009)
Sipudo 3: Gyeonu. Tibet-eseo, jemang maega (Ten Oxherding Pictures #3: Viewing the Ox. In Tibet, the Mournful Song of the Sister Long Lost, Lee Jisang, 2007)
Valkyrie (Brian Singer, 2008)

Substitutes
Bumažnyj soldat (Paper Soldier, Aleksej Aleksejevič German, 2008), Caiyou riji (Crude Oil, Wang Bing, 2008), Cztery noce z Anną (Four Nights with Anna, Jerzy Skolimowski, 2008), Changeling (Clint Eastwood, 2008), Er shi si cheng ji (24 City, Jia Zhangke, 2008), A Erva do Rato (The Rat Herb, Julio Bressane, 2008), La Frontière de l’aube (Frontier of Dawn, Philippe Garrel, 2008), Le genou d’Artémide (Jean-Marie Straub, 2008), Grand Torino (Clint Eastwood, 2008), Jerichow (Christian Petzold, 2008), Mosaik Mécanique (Notes on Film 03) (Norbert Pfaffenbichler, 2007), Obcan Havel (Citizen Havel, Pavel Koutecký & Miroslav Janek, 2008), Predstavleniye (Revue, Sergej Loznica, 2008), Le Premier venu (Just Anybody, Jacques Doillon, 2008), Sipudo 4: Duku. Du mogwa (Ten Oxherding Pictures #4: Catching the Ox. Two Chinese Quinces, Lee Jisang, 2007), The Sky Crawlers (Oshii Mamoru, 2008), Tasogare (The Tender Throbbing Twilight, Imaoka Shinji, 2008), Vegas: Based on a True Story (Amir Naderi, 2008), Ha’Vidooyim Shel Roee Rosen (The Confessions of Roee Rosen, Roee Rosen, 2008)

Extended team
Altar (Rico Maria Ilarde, 2007), A prima vista (Michael Pilz, 2008), Aquele Querido Mês de Agosto (Our Beloved Month of August, Miguel Gomes, 2008), autistic disco (Hans Steinbichler, 2007), BirdWatchers – La terra degli uomini rossi (Marco Bechis, 2008), CSNY/Déjà vu (Bernard Shakey, 2008), Diorthosi (Correction, Thanos Anastopoulos, 2007), L’Exil et le royaume (Andreï Schtakleff & Jonathan Le Fourn, 2008), Genenet el asmak (The Acquarium, Yousry Nasrallah, 2008), Gomorra (Gomorrah, Matteo Garrone, 2008), Hanshin hangi (Takefuji Kayo, 2008), Heidelberg (Norman Richter, 2008), Los Herederos (The Inheritors, Eugenio Polgovsky, 2008), In Paraguay (Ross McElwee, 2008), Kimi no tomodachi (Kimi’s Friend, Hiroki Ryūichi, 2008), Loos ornamental (Heinz Emigholz, 2008), Puccini e la fanciulla (Puccini and the Girl, Paolo Benvenuti, 2008), Reflections (Ho Tzu Nyen, 2007), Vinyan (Fabrice du Welz, 2008), Women (Huang Wenhai, 2008), Yasukuni (Li​ Ying, 2008)

Olaf Möller’s eleven veterans 2008

Team manager (revelations of the year)
Guishu zhuang (Locust Tree Village, Wang Ping, 1962)
Saša (Aleksandra Hohlova, 1930)

First team (line-up in strictly alphabetical order)
Arcana (Giulio Questi, 1972)
Chuyn t tế (A Story of Kindness, Trần Văn Thủy, 1985-87)
Il cielo é rosso (The Sky Is Red, Claudio Gora, 1950)
Expurgation (Tom Concer, 1980)
Gost’ (The Guest, Gerbert Rappapport, 1939)
Now, You Can Do Anything (Fred Worden & Chris Langdon, 1973)
Pit Stop (Jack Hill, 1969)
Lo Tafhidenu / The Illegals (Meyer Levin, 1948)
Una donna ha ucciso (A Woman Has Killed, Vittorio Cottafavi, 1952)
Xiao hua (Little Flower, Huang Jianzhong & Zhang Zheng, 1979)
Yuppi Du (Adriano Celentano, 1975)

Substitutes
L’Atlantide (Edgar G. Ulmer, 1961), Att döda ett barn (To Kill a Child, Gösta Werner, 1953), Bachelor Mother (Garson Kanin, 1939), Boevoj Kinosbornik # 12 (Vera Stroeva [Syn bojca], Gerbert Rappaport [Van’ka], 1942), Break of Day (Leopold Lahola, 1952-53), Čertovo koleso (Leonid Trauberg & Grigorij Kozincev, 1926), La città dolente (Mario Bonnard [& Enrico Moretti], 1949), D – Non diversi giorni si pensa splendessero alle prime origine del nascente mondo o che avessero temperatura diversa (Anna Lajolo & Guido Lombardi, 1970), Densité Optique I (Patrice Kirchhofer, 1977), La fantarca (Vittorio Cottafavi, 1968), Fedra (Manuel Mur Oti, 1956), Fiamma che non si spegne (Vittorio Cottafavi, 1949), The Flower of Pain (John Gianvito, 1983), Gamperaliya (Lester James Peries, 1964), Genbaku no ko (Children of Hiroshima, Shindō Kaneto, 1952), Goha (Jacques Baratier, 1958), Gone in 60 Seconds (H. B. Halicki, 1974), Il grido della terra (Duilio Coletti, 1949), Hickey & Boggs (Robert Culp, 1972), House: After Five Years of Living (Charles & Ray Eames, 1955), Jiokhwa (Flower in Hell, Sin Sang-ok, 1958), Judea. Semana Santa entre los Coras (Nicolás Echevarría, 1973), Junye Partizanyj. Boevoj Kinosbornik (Lev Kulešov & Aleksandra Hohlova [Učitel’nica Kartašova], Igor’ Savčenko [Levko], 1942), Kampen om tungtvannet (Titus Vibe-Müller & Jean Dréville, 1948), Kettō Takadanobaba (Makino Masahiro & Inagaki Hiroshi, 1937), Kljatva Timura (Lev Kulešov, 1942), The Life and Death of 9413 – A Hollywood Extra (Robert Florey & Slavko Vorkapić, 1928), Lizzies of the Field (Del Lord, 1924), Nel gorgo del peccato (Vittorio Cottafavi, 1954), Oggi a Berlino (Piero Vivarelli, 1962), 1:42.08 (George Lucas, 1966), L’orfanella di Messina (Giovanni Vitrotti, 1909), Power Slide (Marran Gosov, 1966), Pretty Ladies (Monta Bell, 1925), Rosalie et ses meubles fidèles (Roméo Bosetti, 1911), Le Sarrasin en Bretagne (Société Pathé Frères, 1908), Saturn Cycle (David Wilson, 1974), Smog (Franco Rossi, 1962), Susuz Yaz (Metin Erksan, 1964), Throbs (Fred Worden, 1972), Tilly, the Tomboy, Visits the Poor (Lewin Fitzhamon, 1910), Time of the Locust (Peter Gessner, 1966), Trasferimento di modulazione (Pierfrancesco Bargellini, 1969), Tre storie proibite (Augusto Genina, 1952), Tutto è musica (Domenico Modugno, 1963), L’ultimo pugno di terra (Fiorenzo Serra, 1965), Una vita violenta (Paolo Heusch & Brunello Rondi, 1962), Le vergini di Roma (Vittorio Cottafavi & Carlo Ludovico Bragaglia, 1961), Vida en sombras (Life in Shadows, Lorenzo Llobet Gràcia, 1948), Was Frauen Träumen (What Women Dream, Géza von Bolváry, 1933), The Wormwood Star (Curtis Harrington, 1956), Zone Moment (Stan Brakhage, 1956)

Extended team
Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned (Michael Apted, 1998), Antonio e Cleopatra (Vittorio Cottafavi, 1965), L’aqua miracolosa (Eleuterio Rodolfi, 1914), Breakaway (Bruce Connor, 1966), Bunker Hill 1956 (Kent Mackenzie, c1956), By the Sea (Pat O’Neill & Robert Abel, 1963), Caccia all’orso (Giorgio Ferroni, 1959), Chi se ne intende…: Ercole e la regina di Tebe (Attilio Vassallo, 1969), A Child Is Born (Lloyd Bacon, 1939), Ciao ciao (Adamo Vergine, 1967), A Cold Draft (Lis Rhodes, 1988), Coming Down (Pat O’Neill, 1968), Cunégonde reçoit sa famille (Lux Compagnie Cinématographique de France, 1912), Dead Reckoning (David Wilson, 1980), Désordre (Jacques Baratier, 1949), Un dittico e un intervento (60 metri per il 31 marzo Versus Her) (Massimo Bacigalupo, 1968), Dusty and Sweets McGee (Floyd Mutrux, 1971), Dva-Bul’di-Dva (Lev Kulešov & Nina Agadžanova, 1929), Eames Lounge Chair (Ray & Charles Eames), Eden miseria (Jacques Baratier, 1967), Ein breira (Józef Lejtes, 1949), The Emperor (George Lucas, 1967), Fragments of Seeking (Curtis Harrington, 1946), Gorizont (Lev Kulešov, 1932), The Gypsy Cried (Chris Langdon, 1972), The Hebrew Fugitive (Lubin Manufacturing Company, 1908), Hollywood Boulevard (Robert Florey, 1936), Jimi (Marran Gosov, 1970), Die Kapitulation (Martin Müller, 1967), Der lange Marsch (Marran Gosov, 1970), Last Summer Won’t Happen (Peter Gessner & Thomas Hurwitz, 1968), Una lettera all’alba (Giorgio Bianchi, 1948), Maria Zef (Vittorio Cottafavi, 1981), Mill Hunk Herald (Tony Buba, 1980), Mural efímero (Raúl Kamffer, 1968), Muscle Beach (Joseph Strick & Irving Lerner, 1948), My s Urala (Lev Kulešov & Aleksandra Hohlova, 1943), Nach langen Jahren ein Wiedersehen mit meinem Bruder aus Bulgarien während einer kurzen Zwischenlandung in München (Marran Gosov, 1973), Night Train to Munich (Carol Reed, 1940), Number, Please? (Fred C. Newmeyer & Hal Roach, 1920), La Perle (Léonce Perret, 1912), Prologue SUIVI DE Piège (Jacques Baratier, 1968), Rapsodia (Nino & Toni Pagot, 1960), Rosalie n’a pas le cholèra (Roméo Bosetti, 1911), Sabine 18 (Marran Gosov, 1967), The Savage Eye (Ben Maddow & Sidney Meyers & Joseph Strick [& Irving Lerner], 1959), Schritte (Marran Gosov), Schwarzer Zwieback (Gerbert Rappaport, 1971), Sculpture moderne (Segundo de Chomón, 1908), Senza padre (Emilio Ghione, 1926), sfaĩra 1985-1895 (Ivan Ladislav Galeta, 1984), Shutdown (Tony Buba, 1975), S.W.L.A. (Rob Thompson, 1971), Theodora Goes Wild (Richard Boleslawski, 1936), The Towers (William Hale, 1952), unc. (Bruce Lane, 1966), Venice Pier (Gary Beydler 1976), Venusville (Fred Worden & Chris Langdon, 1973), Vous intèressez-vous à la chose? (Jacques Baratier, 1974), Xiao xiang mingliu (A Narrow Lane Celebrity, Cong Lianwen, 1985), Zinnsoldat (Martin Müller, 1968), Zoot Suit (Luis Valdez, 1981), Zuckerbrot und Peitsche (Marran Gosov, 1968)

RICHARD MOORE

Executive Director of the Melbourne International Film Festival.

Kasi az gorbehaye irani khabar nadareh (No One Knows About Persian Cats, Bahman Ghobadi, 2009)
Samson and Delilah (Warwick Thornton, 2009)
Das weisse Band – Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte (The White Ribbon, Michael Haneke, 2009)
Nanjing! Nanjing! (City of Life and Death, Lu Chuan, 2009)
Bronson (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2009)
De helaasheid der dingen (The Misfortunates, Felix von Groenngen, 2009)
Aruitemo aruitemo (Still Walking, Kore-eda Hirokazu, 2008)
Petition: The Court of the Complainants (Zhao Liang, 2009)
Zift (Javor Gardev, 2008)
Ai no mukidashi (Love Exposure, Sion Sono, 2008)

BILL MOUSOULIS

Australian independent filmmaker now based in Europe and founding editor of Senses of Cinema.

Best films of the year
1. Das weisse Band – Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte (The White Ribbon, Michael Haneke, 2009)
2. Ne Change Rien (Pedro Costa, 2009)
3. Hadewijch (Bruno Dumont, 2009)
4. Imburnal (Sewer, Sherad Anthony Sanchez, 2008)
5. Multitude Studies (Richard Tuohy, 2009)
6. Politist, adj. (Police, Adjective, Corneliu Porumboiu, 2009)
7. Beeswax (Andrew Bujalski, 2009)
8. Frozen Butterflies (Mark Lipkin, 2008)
9. To Telefteo Tragoudi tou Elvis (Elvis’ Last Song, Vassilis Raisis, 2009)
10. Kynodontas (Dogtooth, Yorgos Lanthimos, 2009)

(Re)discoveries of the year
1. Zdravi ljudi za razonodu (Litany of Happy People, Karpo Godina, 1969-71)
2. Drugovi i Drugarice (Friends, Slobodan Mičić, 1985)
3. Ljubomir Šimunić
4. Tweet’s Ladies of Pasadena (Timothy Carey, 1970)
5. Macunaíma (Joaquim Pedro de Andrade, 1969)
6. Big Risk (Mark Zenner, 1978)
7. Ta Matoklada sou Lampoun (Your Shining Eyelashes, Costas Ferris, 1961)
8. Kedd (Tuesday, Márk Novák, 1963)
9. Szilveszter (New Year’s Eve, Elemér Ragályi, 1974)
10. Greek popular films of the ‘60s and ‘70s

THURE MUNKHOLM

Thure Munkholm is head of programme at CPH PIX, Copenhagen. Former editor of the independent, Danish film magazine Mifune. He still writes on film on a regular basis.

The best 30 films of 2009 (in alphabetical order)
Amer (Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani, 2009)
The Anchorage (Anders Edström and C.W. Winter, 2009)
The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (Werner Herzog, 2009)
Beeswax (Andrew Bujalski, 2009)
Bu Neng Mei You Ni (No Puedo Vivir Sin Ti, Leon Dai, 2008)
Futoko (The Dark Harbour, Naito Takatsugu, 2009)
Hadewijch (Bruno Dumont, 2009)
Helen (Joe Lawlor and Christine Molloy, 2008)
Histoiras extraordinarias (Extraordinary Stories, Mariano Llinás, 2008)
L’Impossible (The Impossible, Sylvain George, 2009)
Katalin Varga (Peter Strickland, 2009)
Katalin Varga Home Movies (Peter Strickland, 2009)
Kid Icarus (Mike Ott)
Kinatay (Brillante Mendoza, 2009)
Kynodontas (Dogtooth, Giorgos Lanthimos, 2009)
Letter to a Child (Otroci, Vlado Škafar, 2009)
Lunch Break (Sharon Lockhart, 2008)
Man tänker sitt (Burrowing, Henrik Hellström andFredrik Wenzel, 2008)
Morrer como um homem (To Die Like a Man, João Pedro Rodrigues, 2009)
Ne Change Rien (Pedro Costa, 2009)
Next Attraction (Raya Martin, 2008)
Panique au village (A Town Called Panic, Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar, 2009)
Parque vía (Enrique Rivero, 2008)
Politist, adj. (Police, Adjective, Corneliu Porumboiu, 2009)
A Religiosa Portuguesa/La Religieuse portugaise (The Portuguese Nun, Eugène Green, 2009)
Le Roi de l’évaison (The King of Escape, Alain Guiraudie, 2009)
La Terre de la folie (The Land of Madness, Luc Moullet, 2009)
Trash Humpers (Harmony Korine, 2009)
Das weisse Band – Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte (The White Ribbon, Michael Haneke, 2009)
Ønskebørn (Out of Love, Birgitte Stæremose, 2009)

PETER NAGELS

A Melbourne-based cinéphile.

Comedy, action and the sublime in the cinema
Bright Star (Jane Campion, 2009)
Ai no mukidashi (Love Exposure, Sion Sono, 2008)
Død snø (Dead Snow, Tommy Wirkola, 2009)
Inglorious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009)
Los abrazos rotos (Broken Embraces, Pedro Almodóvar, 2009)
Whatever Works (Woody Allen, 2009)
Låt den rätte komma in (Let the Right One In, Tomas Alfredson, 2008)
Star Trek (J J Abrams, 2009)
35 rhums (35 Shots of Rum, Claire Denis, 2008)
En la ciudad de Sylvia (In the City of Sylvia, José Luis Guerín, 2007)
Samson and Delilah (Warwick Thornton, 2009)
Ghost Town (David Koepp, 2008)

And a couple of DVDs
La Prise de pouvoir par Louis XIV (The Taking of Power by Louis XIV, Roberto Rossellini, 1966)
Pierrot le fou (Jean Luc Godard, 1965)(Blu-Ray)

JAMES NAREMORE

Author of several books on film, including More Than Night: Film Noir in its Contexts (1998) and On Kubrick (2007).

This list is somewhat premature. I’m still hoping to see a number of significant films that have been released late in the year in the US, or shown only at festivals.
1. Politist, adj. (Police, Adjective, Corneliu Porumboiu, 2009)
2. Tulpan (Sergei Dvortsevoy, 2008)
3. The Hurt Locker (Katherine Bigalow, 2008)
4. 35 rhums (35 Shots of Rum, Claire Denis, 2008)
5. Sita Sings the Blues (Nina Paley, 2008)
6. L’Enfer d’Henri-Georges Clouzot (Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Inferno, Serge Bromberg, 2009)
7. Ne Change Rien (Pedro Costa, 2009)
8. Me and Orson Welles (Richard Linklater, 2009)
9. Singularidades de uma Rapariga Loura (Eccentricities of a Blond Hair Girl, Manoel De Oliveira, 2009)
10. District 9 (Neill Blomkamp, 2009)

JAMES L. NEIBAUR

An American film historian and author of eight books, including Chaplin at Essanay (2008), The Jerry Lewis Films (1995), and the forthcoming The Fall of Buster Keaton.

Best (listed alphabetically)
Some of these films were late 2008 releases, but were not readily available in the United States until after 2009

Adventureland (Greg Mottola, 2009)
(500) Days of Summer (Marc Webb, 2009)
Entre les murs (The Class, Laurent Cantet, 2008)
The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow, 2009)
Inglorious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009)
Me and Orson Welles (Richard Linklater, 2008)
Pirate Radio (Richard Curtis, 2009)
Tyson (James Toback, 2008)
Whatever Works (Woody Allen, 2009)

Worst
Funny People (Judd Apatow, 2009)
Potentially interesting portrait of a self-absorbed actor with a good cast turns out to be a disjointed mish-mash of unrelated scenes and jagged character development. A mess.

Public Enemies (Michael Mann, 2009)
Mann takes the story of perhaps the most charismatic figure in 20th century crime and turns out a dull collection of pops and flashes that is rife with factual errors.

Best on DVD
Becoming Charley Chase (VCI)
Four disc collection covering the silent era comedian’s early work at Keystone, including his first experiences as a director, as well as his initial collaborations with Leo McCarey at the Hal Roach Studios

Douglas Fairbanks: A Modern Musketeer (Flicker Alley)
The features Fairbanks made before settling into his swashbuckling niche were all fast-paced comedies with ample stunt work, and some of the most overlooked and entertaining films of the silent era.

The Exiles (Milestone)
University of Southern California filmmaker Kent Mackenzie’s 1961 film in which he documents the everyday lives of a Native American couple. Recently named to the National Film Registry.

Forbidden Hollywood Volume 3 (Warner Home Video)
Pre-code gems of American cinema, this time spotlighting director William A. Wellman with such films as Other Men’s Women (1932), Heroes For Sale (1933), and Wild Boys of the Road (1933).

The General (KINO, blue ray edition)
Beautiful restoration of Buster Keaton’s 1926 masterpiece, enhancing its status as one of the five-or-so greatest films in cinema’s history.

CYRIL NEYRAT

Cyril Neyrat is a french film critic who currently lives in Rome, working on a book on Carmelo Bene and on a film about an Italian lake.

Ne Change RienThe best films I saw for the first time in 2009 (alphabetical order)
American Dreams (1984), Deseret (1995), RR (2007) (James Benning)
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (Werner Herzog, 2009)
The Beast Notes (Keja Ho Kramer, 2009)
Day of the Outlaw (André de Toth, 1959)
Escape to Burma (Allan Dwan, 1955)
Female of the Species (DW Griffith, 1912)
Les Herbes folles (Wild Grass, Alain Resnais, 2009)
Hadewijch (Bruno Dumont, 2009)
Gabbla (Inland, Tariq Teguia, 2009)
Maniquerville (Pierre Creton, 2009)
Otello (da Shakespeare a Laforgue) (Carmelo Bene, 1974)
Ne Change Rien (Pedro Costa, 2009)
Série Noire (Jean-Claude Rousseau, 2009)
Le Streghe – Femmes entre elles (Jean-Marie Straub, 2009)
Simone Barbès ou la vertu (Marie-Claude Treilhou, 1979)
Le Temps des grâces (Dominique Marchais, 2009)
Willow Springs (Werner Schroeter, 1973)
Yuki et Nina (Yuki and Nina, Nobuhiro Suwa and Hippolyte Girardot, 2009)

and

Primitive, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, exhibition/installation at the Musée d’art moderne de la ville de Paris.

SARAH NICHOLS

 

Sarah Nichols is a poet and cinephile living and writing in Connecticut.

I don’t go to the cinema much, and this year was no exception. Most of what I see is on DVD, and indeed, the most indelible images this year came to me from the past: the mauling of a black man, in the shadow of a stained-glass window of Saint Francis, patron saint of animals, by the white German shepherd of Samuel Fuller’s White Dog (1982). Fuller gives us what racism is: a snarling beast protective of its territory. A radical film that I hope will eventually get its full due.

Ingmar Bergman gave me Viskningar och Rop (Cries and Whispers, 1972). The stranglehold of love that plays out like a tableau vivant of Edvard Munch’s Death in the Sickroom. As a caregiver and a sister, it is almost impossible to watch. And yet I did, feeling what tragedy is supposed to provide: catharsis.

What I actually saw in the theatre this year was a great disappointment, and I include in this the postponement of Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island (2010), supposed to be released in October, but pushed back to February. The saturated starkness of the digital cinematography used in Michael Mann’s Public Enemies (2009) could not save it from tedium. Nothing roiled underneath these men, the way that hunger, the pursuit and obsession did in the men of Heat (Michael Mann, 1995). I felt no threat from Johnny Depp; no menace emanated from him the way that it did from De Niro as he walked across a parking lot in Los Angeles without a word.

Lone Scherfig’s An Education (2009) attempted to show me the initiation of a young woman into sex and a life beyond the suffocation of her bourgeois existence. But where was the cordite charge? There was no danger, no sense of the free fall that such initiations bring. It was by no means “bad”, only pleasant and safe and over-praised. A lesson in mediocrity.

Even these, though, with their “certain tendencies” will not keep me away. I am always tense with the pleasures of the unseen.

DARRAGH O’DONOGHUE

An archivist in Dublin.

Films of the year
Los abrazos rotos (Broken Embraces, Pedro Almodóvar, 2009)
Perhaps to make up for over-rating Volver (2006), audiences and critics largely under-valued Almodóvar’s most rigorously beautiful film since Carne trémula (Live Flesh, 1997). It’s his Monsieur Verdoux [Charles Chaplin, 1947].
Barbe Bleue (Bluebeard, Catherine Breillat, 2009)
Rachel Getting Married (Jonathan Demme, 2008)
Wake up Sid (Ayan Mukherjee, 2009)
Ajab Prem ki ghazab kahani (Rajkumar Santoshi, 2009)
One problem facing the commercial Hindi cinema is the homogeneity of its rising actors. Ranbir Kapoor set himself apart from his peers in 2009, his sleepy charm belying prodigious skills as both romantic comedian and slapstick acrobat.
Das weisse Band: Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte (The White Ribbon, Michael Haneke, 2009).
To adapt Gabriel García Marquez on Borges: Haneke is a director I cannot stand, and yet I love the violin he makes use of for expressing himself.

Best actress
The late Johanna Sällström in Wallander (Kjell-Åke Andersson et al, 2005-2006; broadcast on BBC4 in 2009), guiding a well-made TV policier into almost unwatchable psychological depths. Her co-stars – Krister Henriksson (who, unsurprisingly, starred in Bergman-scripted Trolösa [Liv Ullmann, 2000]) and Ola Rapace – were equally, extraordinarily intense. We lost a great, great actress.

Best actor
Amitabh Bachchan in Paa (R. Balki, 2009). The set-up was potentially tacky: Amitabh plays the progeria-suffering son of his own real-life son, Abishek. The result, however, is Amitabh’s most limber and moving performance in years; with his too-famous face buried beneath Mekon-like prosthetics, his eyes and body are free to articulate, delight and as they did in the 1970s, moving way beyond the clichés of American ‘disease’ movies.

Best DVD
The Joy of Sex Education (British Film Institute, 2009). Not least for the rediscovery of popular scientist Mary Field. More please!

Best revival
L’Enfer d’Henri-Georges Clouzot (Serge Bromberg and Ruxandra Medrea, 2009)

Had Clouzot’s ill-fated film been finished, it would have been the high-brow equivalent of Sidney J. Furie’s awful 1960s genre pieces (e.g. The Ipcress file [1965] or The Appaloosa [1966]). What makes the project immortal is the colour testing on Romy Schneider, obsessive explorations of director, actress and light to rank with Griffith/Gish, Sternberg/Dietrich and Godard/Karina.

Best TV
Dollhouse (Joss Whedon et al, 2009)
As with Firefly (Joss Whedon et al, 2002-2003), dismissed by knee-jerk idiots. As with Firefly, an instant, endlessly fascinating, and unfailingly entertaining masterpiece. Unlike Firefly, given a stay of execution. Hooray!

Worst movie
Avatar (James Cameron, 2009), obviously; though Nine (Rob Marshall, 2009) was pretty lame too.

Luddite moan of 2009
The dismaying replacement of film revivals with noisily-heralded digital ‘restorations’. This is an old, probably King Canute-like complaint; but one that needs constant reiteration: the digital presentation of celluloid classics, whatever its economic and other practical virtues, is, to adapt Werner Herzog, an ‘abomination’, giving a vastly inferior, over-lit image, unable to cope with lateral movement, and just plain wrong. Les vacances de M. Hulot (Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday, Jacques Tati, 1953) was just one masterpiece so ruined for me in 2009. Stop. This. Now. They won’t.

Postscript
With no Senses of Cinema World Poll last year, I didn’t get the chance to acclaim Baz Luhrmann’s Australia (2008), which, derided today, will be pronounced a masterpiece in future decades. Don’t let your grandkids have all the fun!

JOHN ORR

John Orr is Professor Emeritus at Edinburgh University. Among his books are Hitchcock and 20th Century Cinema (Wallflower Press 2005) and Romantics and Modernists in British Cinema, to be published by Edinburgh University Press in 2010. He is currently writing a book on Ingmar Bergman and European Cinema.

This is my top ten list in order of preference:
1. Das weisse Band – Eine Deutsche Kinderschichte (The White Ribbon, Michael Haneke, 2009)
2. 35 rhums (35 Shots of Rum, Claire Denis, 2008)
3. The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow 2008)
4. Un Lac (A Lake, Philippe Grandrieux 2008)
5. Politist, adj. (Police, Adjective, Corneliu Pormboin 2009)
6. Fish Tank (Andrea Arnold 2007) UK
7. Elle s’appelle Sabine (Her Name is Sabine, Sandrine Bonnaire 2007)
8. Un Prophète (A Prophet, Jacques Audiard 2009)
9. J’ai tue ma mere (I Killed My Mother, Xavier Dolan 2009) Canada
10. Le pere de mes enfants (The Father of my Children, Mia-Hansen Love 2009)

VOLKER PANTENBURG

Volker Pantenburg writes for new filmkritik and lives in Berlin.

15 discoveries (cinema, museum, festival, DVD, torrent)

+/- [the infinite between 0 and 1] (Ryoji Ikeda, 2009) – Numbers, coordinates, calculations. So cold, it feels warm again.

Adventureland (Gregg Mottola, 2009) – Sad but true: Films like Adventureland or Observe and Report no longer have a regular cinema release in Berlin. It’s 2009, and the distributors force you to resort to the nearest filesharing-platform in an act of pure cinephile self-defence.

Castro Street (Bruce Baillie, 1966) – It’s not original to say so, but it can do no harm to repeat it wherever you are: Bruce Baillie is a genius.

Erfolglose Künstler (Unsuccessful Artists, José van der Schoot, 1996) – I had been craving to see this documentary on “unsuccessful artists” in mid-nineties Berlin for years, and it’s even better than all the advance praise made me hope for. One of the countless gems yet to be discovered by DVD companies.

Freaks and Geeks (Paul Feig, 1999/2000) – If you happen to be a human being, you’ll start missing Lindsay, Sam, Billy, Daniel, Nick, Neal, Ken and the others immediately at the end of the last episode. I wish my high school had had a guidance counsellor like Jeff Russo.

Hello Dolly (Gene Kelly, USA 1969) – Part of the 70mm retrospective of the Berlinale. Makes me feel even more empathic with WALL-E, who plays his good old VHS-copy over and over again. “Put on your sunday clothes, there’s lots of world out there.”

Kuća na pijesku (The House on the Sand, Ivan Martinac, 1984-85) – Enigmatic and crystal-clear.

Les Herbes folles (Wild Grass, Alain Resnais, 2009) – No need to praise this one. Everybody who has seen it knows it’s special. If there is a point where WTF-I-do-what-I-want-no-matter-what-anarchy becomes indistinguishable from formal rigour: that’s where Resnais is.

Love is a Many-Splendored Thing (Henry King, 1955) – I watched this in summer, when I could no longer resist a good friend’s enthusiastic recommendations of Henry King. I watched it again in December in hommage to Jennifer Jones, who had just died. My favourite line of dialogue in 2009 comes from this movie: “Let us now have tea and speak of absurdities.”

Michael Hamburger (Tacita Dean, 2007) – In the midst of all the negligence and ignorance that you become used to in galleries and museums dealing with moving images, the small Tacita Dean show in Berlin’s Villa Oppenheim was a great relief. Michael Hamburger and his apples.

My Childhood (Bill Douglas, 1972) – The way the small boy pours hot water into a cup, empties it onto the table, crosses the room and puts the warm cup into the hands of his old grandmother.

The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow, 2008) – Complementary viewing to Harun Farocki’s Immersion (2009) and his current project on “Serious games”.

The Present (Robert Frank, 1996) – Alexander Horwath chose The Present to commemorate Alexis Tioseco and Nika Bohinc, murdered in Manila on September 1st. Shown at the wonderful Film Mutations Festival in Zagreb.

Villalobos (Romuald Karmakar, 2009) – Viennale, Gartenbaukino. I had to get my plane and missed the last 10 minutes, but they cannot have spoiled this film.

Wilhelm Noack oHG (Simon Starling, 2009)
The Venice Biennial was not very rewarding. This piece is.

JIT PHOKAEW

A Bangkok-based cinéphile.

Favourite foreign films
1. I Forgot the Title (Christelle Lheureux, 2009)
2. Ebolusyon ng isang pamilyang Pilipino (Evolution of a Filipino Family, Lav Diaz, 2004)
3. Castro (Alejo Moguillansky, 2009)
4. Jonas qui aura 25 ans en l’an 2000 (Jonah Who Will Be 25 in the Year 2000, Alain Tanner, 1976)
5. Les autres filles (Other Girls, Caroline Vignal, 2000)
6. Le monde vivant (The Living World, Eugène Green, 2003)
7. Green Rocking Chair (Roxlee, 2008)
8. Edinstvenata lyubovna istoriya, koyato Hemingway ne opisa (A Farewell to Hemingway, Svetoslav Ovtcharov, 2008)
9. Ôkoku (The Kingdom, Katsu Kanai, 1973)
10. Kagadanan sa banwaan ning mga Engkanto (Death in the Land of Encantos, Lav Diaz, 2007)
11. Om Shanti Om (Farah Khan, 2007)
12. Horsemen (Jonas Åkerlund, 2009)
13. Un lac (A Lake, Philippe Grandrieux, 2008)
14. The Wet Season (Brigid McCaffrey, Ben Russell, 2008)
15. Imburnal (Sherad Anthony Sanchez, 2008)
16. Kolekcioniere (The Collectress, Kristina Buozyte, 2008)
17. Élise ou la vrai vie (Elise, or Real Life, Michel Drach, 1970)
18. It’s a Free World… (Ken Loach, 2007)
19. Xunzhao zhimei gengdeng (The Search, Pema Tseden, 2009)
20. Jerichow (Christian Petzold, 2008)
21. Todos mienten (They All Lie, Matías Piñeiro, 2009)
22. Sérieux comme le plaisir (Serious as Pleasure, Robert Benayoun, 1975)
23. L’abbuffata (The Feast, Mimmo Calopresti, 2007)
24. Flooding in the Time of Drought (Sherman Ong, 2009)
25. Gulabi Talkies (Girish Kasaravalli, 2008)
26. Tren de Sombras (Train of Shadows, José Luis Guerín, 1997)
27. Izobrazhaya zhertvu (Playing the Victim, Kirill Serebrennikov, 2006)
28. Certifiably Jonathan (Jim Pasternak, 2008)
29. Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (Werner Herzog, 2009)
30. Yûnagi no machi sakura no kuni (Yunagi City, Sakura Country, Kiyoshi Sasabe, 2007)

Favourite Thai films
1. Konglew tee lung jark gai (Bodily Fluid Is So Revolutionary, Ratchapoom Boonbunchachoke, 2009)
2. Chang mun chun mai care (M.L. Bhandevanop Devakul, 1986)
3. Teppajao barn bangpoon (The God of Bangpoon Village, Pagorn Promwituck, 1980)
4. Mueng kortarn kee glag concrete (Permpol Choei-aroon, 1978)
5. Fun kote kote (Dreamaholic, Ping Lumpraploeng, 2009)
6. Kon grab ma (My Teacher Eats Biscuits, Ing K., 1996)
7. Tar chon (Fireball, Thanakorn Pongsuwan, 2009)
8. There (Rajjakorn Potito, 2008)
9. See bon tanon (Colours on the Streets, Weerapong Wimuktalop, 2009)
10. Colour of Our Hearts (Supamok Silarak, 2009)

Favourite foreign short films
1. Ang magpakailanman (Eternity, Raymond Red, 1982)
2. L’autre rive (Etant Donnes, 1986)
3. The Retrochronological Transfer of Information (Tad Ermitaño, 1996)
4. Kempinski (Neil Beloufa, 2007)
5. Block B (Chris Chong Chan Fui, 2008)
6. The Last Bus (Maria Hengge, 2008)
7. After the Empire (Elodie Pong, 2008)
8. Oracle (Sebastian Diaz Morales, 2007)
9. Reconsidering “The New Industrial Parks Near Irvine, California” by Lewis Baltz, 1974 (Mario Pfeiffer, 2009)
10. Eine Nacht. Ein Leben (One Night, One Life, Oliver Hermann, 1999)

Favourite Thai short films
1. Katragum sawat pralard narnfar tumhai kon hai tua pai (Politically Lawyer and Narrative Cinema, Chaloemkiat Saeyong, 2009)
2. Karnniran (Issara Boonprasit, 2008)
3. Thom (Suphisara Kittikunarak, 2009)
4. Maturos (Sweetheart Garden, Tanatchai Bandasak, 2009)
5. Ruk lub (Kriangkrai Watananiyom, Amornchai Sirirat, 2009)
6. Kwam nai jai (My Mine, Woratouch Wattanagune, 2009)
7. Nang sun see cow/sure sang tian (The White Short Film/The Candle Light, Prap Boonpan, 2009)
8. Bot gawee kong bangrao (Resistant Poem, Prap Boonpan, 2009)
9. Rueng numnao kong praew (Read Me!, Janenarong Sirimaha, 2008)
10. Maemod (The Witch, Alwa Ritsila, Phatamon Chitarachinda, 2009)
11. Pooying tee pua hai nai won tee 14 mesayon (Women in Democracy, Authawut Boonyuang, 2009)
12. Passion Sonata (Suphisara Kittikunarak, 2009)
13. Barn nai saita kong mae, por lae oreo nai bangkrung (House in the Views of Mom, Dad, and Sometimes Oreo) (Thakoon Khempunya, 2009)
14. Payu peesuea (The Butterfly Effect, Wiwat Lertwiwatwongsa, 2009)
15. A Letter to Uncle Boonmee (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2009)
16. Whispering Ghosts (Taiki Sakpisit, 2008)
17. In the Pool of Still Water, There Is a Yearning for the Torrential Flow of the Big River (Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook, 2009)
18. Dek dance (Romrawin Chumjin, 2009)
19. Kuen Nueng (One Night, Zart Tancharoen, 2008)
20. Paraparumpulianpulian (Awkward Ancient Tale, Pawara Chatchawanprecha, 2009)

Favourite documentaries
1. S-21, la machine de mort Khmère rouge (S21: the Khmer Rouge Killing Machine (Rithy Panh, 2003)
2. Otroci (Letter to a Child, Vlado Skafar, 2009)
3. The Sari Soldiers (Julie Bridgham, 2008)
4. Chantal Akerman par Chantal Akerman (Chantal Akerman, 1997)
5. Redemption (Sabrina Wulff, 2009)
6. Le cas Pinochet (The Pinochet Case, Patricio Guzmán, 2001)
7. Gibellina – Il terremoto (Gibellina – The Earthquake, Joerg Burger, 2007)
8. Un virus dans la ville (A Virus in the City, Cédric Venail, 2008)
9. Shanghai, Waiting for Paradise (Sylvie Levey, 2008)
10. Bad Boys Cellule 425 (Bad Boys. Cell 425, Janusz Mrozowski, 2009)
11. Madame L’Eau (Madam Water, Jean Rouch, 1993)
12. Inside Out (Supakit Seksuwan, 2009)
13. Prachachon tuen (Illegal Citizens, Weerasak Suyala, 2009)
14. Ruedu gebgiao (Harvest Season, Pisut Srimork, 2009)
15. The Artist’s Fate (Wilaiwan Praejaroen, 2009)

Favourite animations
1. The Hangman (Les Goldman, Paul Julian, 1964)
2. The Brief Life Span of Fire: Act 2 Scene 2: Suring and the Kuk-ok (Auraeus Solito, 1995)
3. Little Life (Rungkarn Kaewsuwan, 2009)
4. Sood plai tang chun lae ter (Destination, Mokhaphon Sanghirun, 2008)
5. M: Small Architectures and Brief Nebulas (Félix Dufour-Laperrière, 2009)
6. 6 Days Goodbye Poems of Ophelia (Jo Wonder, 2009)
7. Jom (Sink, Pittaya Werasakwong, 2009)
8. What Is My Art? (Thodsapon Thiptinnakorn, 2009)
9. Jaoying ta lumyai (Longan-eyed Princess, Chanokporn Chutikamoltham, 2009)
10. Elevator (Hwang Na-young, Lee Gyeong-ji, Yoon In-hwa, 2009)

Favourite video installations
1. Whiplash Neuron B (Amemiya Yosuke, 2009)
2. Lime at the Bottom of the Lake (Izumi Taro, 2006)
3. Zoom (Alfred Banze, year unknown)
4. Moving Cameras—October 27 (Prateep Suthathongthai, 2008)
5. “Wall” on “Wall” (Chol Janeprapaphan, 2008)

ANDREA PICARD

Andréa Picard is a Toronto-based writer and curator. She is programmer at TIFF Cinematheque (née Cinematheque Ontario) and curates Wavelengths, the Toronto International Film Festival’s avant-garde programme. In addition to contributing to various artist monographs, magazines and journals, she writes a quarterly “Film/Art” column for Cinema Scope magazine.

Top ten for 2009
1. Le streghe, femmes entre elles (Jean-Marie Straub, 2009) + L’Itinéraire de Jean Bricard (Danièle Huillet + Jean-Marie Straub, 2008)
2. La mujer sin cabeza (The Headless Woman, Lucrecia Martel, 2008)
3. Politist, adj. (Police, Adjective, Corneliu Porumboiu, 2009)
4. Singularidades de uma Rapariga Loura (Eccentricities of a Blond Hair Girl, Manoel de Oliveira, 2009)
5. Niu pi II (Oxhide II, Liu Jiayin, 2009)
6. Alle Anderen (Everyone Else, Maren Ade, 2009)
7. Zum Vergleich (In Comparison, Harun Farocki, 2009)
8. A Letter to Uncle Boonmee + Phantoms of Nabua (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2009)
9. Liverpool (Lisandro Alonso, 2008)
10. Irène (Alain Cavalier, 2009)

Plus one for laughter, Jal aljido Mothamyeonseo (Like You Know It All, Hong Sang-soo, 2009) and one for tears, Merce Cunningham performs STILLNESS (in three movements) (Tacita Dean, 6 x 16mm, 2008).

RICHARD PORTON

Richard Porton is one of the editors of Cineaste in New York and the editor of Dekalog 3: On Film Festivals (Wallflower Press, 2009).

One of the most peculiar aspects of end-of-year lists involves how non-fiction cinema is typically ghettoised within a separate category. Since documentaries are now often among the most worthwhile films available to viewers, I hope you’ll indulge me if I submit a list that, while not exclusively non-fiction, is primarily composed of documentaries. Even some of my fictional choices (e.g. Police, Adjective and Segreti di Stato) possess distinctively documentary-like qualities.

(in no particular order)

1. Politist, adj. (Police, Adjective, Corneliu Porumboiu, 2009)
2.  Forbidden Lie$ (Anna Broinowski, released in Australia in 2007, it was distributed in the U.S. in 2009)
3. Imburnal (Sewer, Sherad Anthony Sanchez, 2008)
4. Segreti di Stato (Secret File, Paolo Benvenuti, 2003; viewed at International Film Festival Rotterdam)
5. Tony Conrad DreaMinimalist (Marie Losier, 2008)
6. L’enfer d’Henri-Georges Clouzot (Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Inferno, Serge Bromberg and Ruxandra Medrea, 2009)
7. La Danse: Le ballet de l’Opéra de Paris (La Danse: The Paris Ballet Opera, Fred Wiseman, 2009)
8. Les Plages d’Agnès (The Beaches of Agnès, Agnès Varda, 2008)
9. Rachel (Simone Bitton, 2009)
10. Jal aljido Mothamyeonseo (Like You Know It All, Hong Sang-Soo, 2009)

Most overrated film: The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow, 2009)

BERENICE REYNAUD

Bérénice Reynaud is the author of New Chinas/New Cinemas (1999) and Hou Hsiao-hsien’s A City of Sadness (2002). She teaches at the California Institute of the Arts.

MotherThirty films that made me believe in cinema (in alphabetical order)
35 rhums (35 Shots of Rum, Claire Denis, 2008)
Er Shi Si Cheng Ji (24 City, Jia Zhangke, 2008)
Los Abrazos Rotos (Broken Embraces, Pedro Almodóvar, 2009)
Aruitemo aruitemo (Still Walking, Kore-eda Hirokazu, 2008)
Black Dynamite (Scott Sanders, 2009)
Les bureaux de Dieu (God’s Offices, Claire Simon, 2008)
Chloé (Atom Egoyan, 2009)
Darbareye Elly (About Elly, Asghar Farhadi, 2009)
Dernier Maquis (Adhen, Rabah Ameur-Zaïmeche, 2008)
La Fille du RER (The Girl on the Train, André Téchiné, 2009)
The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow, 2008)
Madeo (Mother, Bong Joon-Ho, 2009)
Morrer como um homem (To Die Like a Man, João Pedro Rodrigues, 2009)
La mujer sin piano (The Woman Without Piano, Javier Robello, 2009)
Lunch Break (Sharon Lockhart, 2008)
Nanjing! Nanjing! (City of Life and Death, Lu Chuan, 2009)
Niu pi II (Oxhide II, Liu Jiayin, 2009)
Les Plages d’Agnès (The Beaches of Agnès, Agnès Varda, 2008)
Politist, adj. (Police, Adjective, Corneliu Porumboiu, 2009)
Precious: Based On the Novel Push By Sapphire (Lee Daniels, 2009)
Le Silence de Lorna (Lorna’s Silence, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 2008)
A Serious Man (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2009)
La teta asustada (The Milk of Sorrow, Claudia Llosa, 2009)
Tianshuiwei de ya yu wu (Night and Fog, Ann Hui, 2009)
Unmade Beds (Alexis dos Santos, 2009)
Das weisse Band – Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte (The White Ribbon, Michael Haneke, 2009)
When It Was Blue (Jennifer Reeves, 2008)
Sham moh (At the End of Daybreak, Ho Yuhang, 2009)
Xunzhao zhimei gengdeng (The Search, Pema Tseden, 2009)
Yasukuni (Li Ying, 2008)

MARCOS RIBAS DE FARIA

Marcos Ribas de Faria is a Brazilian critic who writes for the website web4fun. He also wrote for the magazines Filme e Cultura and Guia de Filmes, where he was assistant-editor, and was the film critic for the magazines Opinião, Jornal do Brasil, O Jornal and Última Hora, and for the web No.com.

It was a difficult choice but I decided to list the 10 best. And I chose only the movies that were commercially shown in our theatres during 2009.

1. Un conte de Noël (A Christmas Tale, Arnaud Despleschin, 2008)
2. Entre les murs (The Class, Laurent Cantet, 2008)
3. Two Lovers (James Gray, 2008)
4. La frontière de l’aube (Frontier of Dawn, Philippe Garrel, 2008)
5. Public Enemies (Michael Mann, 2009)
6. L’Heure d’été (Summer Hours, Olivier Assayas, 2008)
7. Actrices (Actresses, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, 2007)
8. Lat dem rätte komma in (Let the Right One In, Tomas Alfredson, 2008)
9. La belle personne (The Beautiful Person, Christophe Honoré, 2008)
10. (500) Days of Summer (Mark Webb, 2009)

PETER RIST

Peter Rist is a Professor in Film Studies at Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He has finished serving his third term as the Chair of the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema and is enjoying his sabbatical leave. He is writing a book on South American Cinema and is working on an exchange project with CAFA in Beijing.

Once again, I found that I needed to travel outside of Montreal to see the most interesting new films, although, increasingly, I find that the Toronto International Film Festival is not the best venue. Their programmers have the pick of everything that is available après Cannes, but none of my top three films this year were shown there. Liu Jiayin has emerged as being one of the three most original and exciting new film directors of the last decade, along with “Joe” Weerasethakul and Lucrecia Martel, and her 2nd scope, digital film with her family, is both a great film and a brilliant feat of small scale engineering. Shirin is another digital work, which not only shows us that it is impossible to make a film of an Iranian classic (“Kosrow and Shirin”) in today’s Iran, but, that perhaps, no visual spectacle can do justice to the “poetry” of the work. As for Martel’s La mujer sin cabeza (incorrectly translated as “The Headless Woman”), it also (like Oxhide II) cleverly uses a widescreen frame to limit rather than extend the viewer’s experience of the central character’s world, while clearly demonstrating that the servants (and the men in her life) do everything that madame wants and needs to keep her out of trouble.

2008 and 2009 were very good years for Latin American films, I think. Tony Manero is arguably the greatest Chilean film since The Jackal of Nahueltoro, and features a far less likeable character (whose behaviour is allegorically compared to Pinochet’s) than the murderous “jackal”. Both Liverpool (2008), directed by Lisandro Alonso and Claudia Llosa’s Fausta: la teta asustada (The Milk of Sorrow, 2009) narrowly missed making my list, while José Padhila’s documentary, Garapa (which I’ve included) provides a brutally frank look inside the living conditions of Brazil’s nordeste sub-proletariat. Cinema Novo was never this grim. (And, the roadshow edition of Stephen Soderbergh’s Che [2008] might have been my pick for best US film of the year.) The Berlin festival’s competition was arguably stronger than Cannes’ this year, and along with Llosa’s winning film, I was also taken with Asghar Farhadi’s Darbareye Elly (About Elly), Annette K. Olesen’s Lille Soldat (Little Soldier), and, two films that place in my top ten, Maren Ade’s Alle Anderen (Everyone Else), and Andrzeij Wajda’s best film in over 25 years, a beautiful homage to his late cinematographer, Tatarak (Sweet Rush). It was also a good year (even in Montreal) for Korean films, with a number of strong, and relatively original new films showing in the Fantasia festival, including Ddongpari (Breathless, Yang Ik-June, 2008), and a retrospective at the Cinémathèque Québecoise (CQ) devoted to Jeon Soo-il, including the award-winning Geomen tangyi sonyeo oi (With a Girl of Black Soil, 2007). In addition, Hong sang-soo has made something of a comeback with Jal aljido Mothamyeonseo (Like You Know It All, 2009). Also on view at the CQ in November was an amazing performance by animator Pierre Hébert and experimental filmmaker/projectionist Karl Lemieux, who was actually scratching and painting on filmstrips while he was projecting them! Lemieux is a member of a Montreal experimental film collective, Double Negative, who are definitely an interesting group to watch in the future.

So, I have compiled a list of 12 films (one per month). I saw three of them for the first time at the Hong Kong International Film Festival, three at the Vancouver International Film Festival, one at Festivalissimo in Montreal, two at the World Film Festival, and, another two in release in my home town, and one at home on DVD.

Niu pi II (Oxhide II, Liu Jiayin, 2009)
La mujer sin cabeza (The Headless Woman, Lucrecia Martel, 2008)
Shirin (Abbas Kiarostami, 2008)
Garapa (José Padilha, 2009)
Tatarak (Sweet Rush, Andrzej Wajda, 2009)
Tony Manero (Pablo Larrain, 2008)
Sawan baan na (Agrarian Utopia, Uruphong Raksasad, 2009)
Hunger (Steve McQueen, 2008)
Aruitemo aruitemo (Still Walking, Kore-eda Hirokazu, 2008)
Tôkyô sonata Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2008)
Alle Anderen (Everyone Else, Maren Ade, 2009)
Guangban (Sun Spots, Yang Heng, 2009)

BEN RUSSELL

Ben Russell is a Chicago-based artist, curator, and friend to animals. His current interest lies in the burgeoning field of psychedelic ethnography. His most recent film is titled Let Each One Go Where He May and features two Saramaccan brothers, ten 10:00 steadicam shots, and a death ritual involving a drag witch and a clown mask.

2009: On rainbows, beards, camels, and heartstrings

Bethlehem (Peggy Ahwesh, 2009) – Quick cut magic and pathos, a series of razor incisions made to reveal the emotional world of awe and sorrow that rotates ’round us all. We don’t know what our heart feels ’till we feel it.

I Know Where I’m Going (Ben Rivers, 2009) – From my favourite Englishman comes another widescreen 16mm film about the male hermits of the British Isles, only this time in colour! Featuring: the glory of oblivion beards, horses pulling trees, bee scientists, and doom journeys into that Great Beyond.

My Tears Are Dry (Laida Lertxundi, 2009) – A loose remake of a Bruce Bailie film I never understood till now. This is the role of translation, of generational shifts – to create a work that expands the original text by inscribing a new surface upon it: guitar, pan up, end credits. Thanks, Laida!

Sweetgrass (Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Ilisa Barbash, 2009) – Ethno-fiction of the most compelling sort. Time is collapsed, expanded, hollered at from the tops of mountains and on the pads of tuckered-out dog feet. Damn those sheep! Those motherfucking cocksucking sheep!

Trash Humpers (Harmony Korine, 2009) – I always thought that HK was a bit of a motherfucker, but this film is really good in spite of (or, better yet, because of) its maker. Puerile, sweet, affecting, refreshingly mature, somehow about the joys and terrors of fatherhood. Korine’s best work yet (with possible exception to those Letterman interviews). The way he slowly becomes a part of the film, lets the film become him, is stunning. Korine’s faux-VHS is the best surface to be applied to 35mm since Korine’s MiniDV.

Trees of Syntax, Leaves of Axis (Daichi Saito, 2009) – Thank the lords I was high as a kite when I saw this, or my sense of time would’ve been lost forever. The editing of this film is INCREDIBLE: Henry Flynt violin strobe redux, synaesthesia re-enactment, trees and trees and wowowow! The best recovery project those Visual Music cats could ever hope for.

Tulpan (Sergei Dvortsevoy, 2009) – OMG, those jeep tits! That jealous camel! SD has such a gift for letting serendipity make the world dance…

Up (3D) (Pete Docter and Bob Peterson, 2009) – An entirely new way of seeing. This is what folks are getting on about when they talk about the possibilities of 3D. I felt like that little girl with the rainbow lights crossing over her both times I saw this film, got stoned the second time in a vain attempt at making the frame stop so I could just hang out in that misty background. Oh, sigh!

We Began By Measuring Distance (Basma Al-Sharif, 2009) – Formally structured, politically astute, a heart-wrenching conflation of all things at once. A treatise on the emotional history of the Israel-Palestine conflict, sort of. This is the possibility of a new politic in art.

Where the Wild Things Are (Spoke Jonze, 2009) – Catherine Keener’s end-sleep-smile might say it all, but with that slow-motion dog in the mix, how could she respond any other way?

DAN SALLITT

Dan Sallitt is a filmmaker and film writer living in New York. His blog, Thanks for the Use of the Hall, is at: http://sallitt.blogspot.com.

1. Le Père de mes enfants (The Father of My Children, Mia Hansen-Løve, 2009)
2. Barbe Bleue (Bluebeard, Catherine Breillat, 2009)
3. Visage (Face, Tsai Ming-Liang, 2009)
4. La Donation (The Legacy, Bernard Émond, 2009)
5. The Exploding Girl (Bradley Rust Gray, 2009)
6. Ahasin Wetei (Between Two Worlds, Vimukthi Jayasundara, 2009)
7. She, a Chinese (Guo Xiaolu, 2009)
8. Los abrazos rotos (Broken Embraces, Pedro Almodovar, 2009)
9. Alexander the Last (Joe Swanberg, 2009)
10. Life During Wartime (Todd Solondz, 2009)
11. Huacho (Alejandro Fernández Almendras, 2009)
12. Xunzhao zhimei gengdeng (The Search, Pema Tseden, 2009)
13. Paradise (Michael Almereyda, 2009)
14. Barking Water (Sterlin Harjo, 2009)
15. Les Derniers jours du monde (Happy End, Arnaud and Jean-Marie Larrieu, 2009)
16. Crackie (Sherry White, 2009)
17. Beeswax (Andrew Bujalski, 2009)
18. Sham moh (At the End of Daybreak, Ho Yuhang, 2009)
19. Bena (Niv Klainer, 2009)
20. London River (Rachid Bouchareb, 2009)

All the films above had their world premieres in 2009. This list will most likely change quite a lot as 2009 films make their way to New York over the course of the next year. Just for fun, here is my 2008 list:

1. Bam gua nat (Night and Day, Hong Sang-soo, 2008)
2. Sita Sings the Blues (Nina Paley, 2008)
3. Ballast (Lance Hammer, 2008)
4. Una semana solos (A Week Alone, Celina Murga, 2008)
5. Gururi no koto (All Around Us, Ryosuke Hashiguchi, 2008)
6. Stella (Sylvie Verheyde, 2008)
7. Nights and Weekends (Joe Swanberg and Greta Gerwig, 2008)
8. Pranzo di ferragosto (Mid-August Lunch, Gianni Di Gregorio, 2008)
9. Boogie (Radu Muntean, 2008)
10. Cztery noce z Anna (Four Nights with Anna, Jerzy Skolimowski, 2008)
11. Gomorra (Gomorrah, Matteo Garrone, 2008)
12. Me and Orson Welles (Richard Linklater, 2008)
13. Je veux voir (I Want to See, Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, 2008)
14. The Wackness (Jonathan Levine, 2008)
15. Chelsea on the Rocks (Abel Ferrara, 2008)
16. 40 días (40 Days, Juan Carlos Martín, 2008)

HOWARD SCHUMANN

Freelance writer living in Vancouver, BC.

Favourites of 2009
1. Sin Nombré (Joji Fukanaga, 2009)
2. 35 rhums (35 Shots of Rum, Claire Denis, 2008)*
3. Two Lovers (James Gray, 2008)*
4. The Limits of Control (Jim Jarmusch, 2009)
5. Goodbye Solo (Rhamin Bahrani, 2009)
6. Le Silence du Lorna (Lorna’s Silence, Dardenne Brothers, 2008)*
7. Un prophète (A Prophet, Jacques Audiard, 2009)
8. Das weisse Band – Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte (The White Ribbon, Michael Haneke, 2009)
9. Munyurangabo (Lee Isaac Chung, 2007)
10. La mujer sin cabeza (The Headless Woman, Lucrecia Martel, 2009)
11. Politist, adj. (Police, Adjective, Corneliu Porumboiu, 2009)
12. In the Loop (Armando Iannucci, 2009)
13. Otroci (Letter to a Child, Vlado Skafar, 2009)
14. The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow, 2009)
15. Unmistaken Child (Nati Baratz, 2008)*
16. Madeo (Mother, Bong Joon-ho, 2009)
17. Barbe Bleue (Bluebeard, Catherine Breillat, 2009)
18. Urutora mirakuru rabu sutôrî (Bare Essence of Life, Satoko Yokohama, 2009)
19. Moon (Duncan Jones, 2009)
20. Okuribito (Departures, Yojiro Takita, 2008)*

(*These films were not released in Canada until 2009)

Most disappointing films of 2009
Taking Woodstock (Ang Lee, 2009)
Amreeka (Cherien Dabis, 2009)
A Serious Man (Joel and Ethan Cohen, 2009)
Bright Star (Jane Campion, 2009)
The Soloist (Joe Wright, 2009)
The Brothers Bloom (Rian Johnson, 2009)
Where the Wild Things Are (Spike Jonze, 2009)

DAVID SCHWARTZ

Chief Curator, Museum of the Moving Image, New York City.

It was a great year for grey-haired masters; Alain Resnais’ Les Herbes folles (Wild Grass) was a youthful masterpiece, Jacques Rivette’s 36 vues du Pic Saint Loup (Around a Small Mountain) (the most wonderfully austere circus film ever), and best of all, Jim Jarmusch’s sublime The Limits of Control. And speaking of Gray…James Gray’s Two Lovers was one of the most touching movie-movies of the year (and one of the best live-action films in what turned out to be an amazing year for animation, led by Henry Selick’s Coraline, Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox, James Cameron’s Avatar (which should be eligible for Best Animated Feature), and what was dollar for dollar the most entertaining movie of the year, Panique au village (A Town Called Panic, Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar). Also, honourable mention to the riveting, emotionally absorbing backstage documentary Every Little Step, about the creation and casting of A Chorus Line.

This was also a big year for top ten lists; thanks to the internet, the ratio of top-ten lists to films being released is way out of hand. So I’m submitting a list of my ten favorite thematic retrospectives, from cinémathèques and museums around the world. Here’s to clever programmers!

The Late Film
(Brooklyn Academy of Music, 30 April-21 May, 2009)
As proven by Resnais, Rivette, et. al (see above), great directors often create their most assured and interesting works towards the end of their careers. A great series programmed by Miriam Bale and Jake Perlin included Jean-Luc Godard’s King Lear, Jerry Lewis’s Cracking Up, Robert Altman’s The Company, and much more.

The Coen Brothers in Context
(Cinematheque Royale de Belgique, 9 September-28 October, 2009)
A fascinating twist on the director retrospective: each Coen brothers movie is paired with a source of inspiration. For example, Barton Fink with In a Lonely Place, The Big Lebowski with The Big Sleep, and No Country for Old Men with Bring me the Head of Alfredo Garcia.

Hotels and Motels
(Fimmuseum Munchen, 5 July-2 August, 2009)
The title says it all. Grand Hotel, The Bellboy, Psycho, The Chelsea Girls, The Shining….etc., etc. Great idea!

The Unquiet American
(Austrian Film Museum, 7 October-5 November, 2009)
Jonathan Rosenbaum’s brilliant series looking at a wide range of comedies, from Frank Tashlin to Jack Smith, as transgressive critiques of American society.

Brit Noir
(Film Forum, 7 August-3 September, 2009)
44 films. The Brits did pretty well with this all-American genre: The Third Man, It Always Rains on Sunday, The Criminal…and more!

Living in the ‘70s: Counter Culture Remixes French Cinema
(Queensland Art Gallery, 18-29 November, 2009)
Small, elegant show offering a sharp perspective on post-New Wave 1970s French cinema, including India Song, Sauve qui peut (la vie), and Le retour d’Afrique.

1939 Redux: Digging Deeper into “Hollywood’s Greatest Year”
(UCLA Film and TV Archive, 1 November-14 December, 2009)
Not a bad year indeed when Only Angels Have Wings, Five Came Back, and Idiot’s Delight are among its “minor” works.

Live Film! Jack Smith!
(Arsenal, Berlin, 28 October-1 November, 2009)
A wildly ambitious blend of performances, screenings, installations, concerts, and talks, highlight by Mario Montez’s coming-out-of-“retirement” appearance, this spectacular event was worthy of its larger-than-life subject.

Sexploitation
(BFI Southbank, London, 1-14 October, 2009)
The print quality may not have been the best, but the BFI goes for the gusto with rare archival screenings of I, Marquis de Sade, Thigh of Satin, and Venus in Furs.

Into the Vortex: Female Voice in Film
(Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, 15 July- 16 August, 2009)
Brilliantly conceived series of Hollywood films from the 1940s “that deploy a woman’s voice in complex ways, making the viewer aware of the consciousness and deeply felt internality of the female characters even as we appreciate the trap of gorgeous surfaces,” such as A Letter to Three Wives, All This and Heaven Too, and No Man of Her Own.

MARK SPRATT

Mark Spratt is a lifelong cinephile who has worked extensively in the cinema industry and has been a distributor of foreign language, “arthouse” and classic movies in Australia for 20 years.

I’ve chosen a top 12 – all new titles seen for the first time this year. I could easily have chosen an equally good list of newly seen retrospective titles.

In no particular order:

35 rhumsLes plages d’Agnès (The Beaches of Agnès, Agnès Varda, 2008)
Watchmen (Zack Snyder, 2009)
Mary and Max (Adam Elliot, 2009)
35 rhums (35 Shots of Rum, Claire Denis, 2008)
La mujer sin cabeza (The Headless Woman, Lucrecia Martel, 2008)
Samson and Delilah (Warwick Thornton, 2009)
Un Prophète (A Prophet, Jacques Audiard, 2009)
Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009
Das weisse Band – Eine Deutsche Kinderschichte (The White Ribbon, Michael Haneke, 2009)
The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow, 2008)
J’ai tue ma mère (I Killed My Mother, Xavier Dolan, 2009)
La nana (The Maid, Sebastian Silva, 2009)

BRAD STEVENS

Author of Monte Hellman: His Life and Films (McFarland, 2003) and Abel Ferrara: The Moral Vision (FAB Press, 2004). He contributes regularly to Sight and Sound and Video Watchdog.

Best new (or newish) films seen in 2009
1. Transe (Trance, Teresa Villaverde, 2006)
2. 35 rhums (35 Shots of Rum, Claire Denis, 2008)
3. La Fille coupée en deux (The Girl Cut in Two, Claude Chabrol, 2006)
4. Chi bi (Red Cliff, John Woo, 2008)
5. Miracle at St. Anna (Spike Lee, 2008)
6. My Son’s Wedding to My Sister-in-law (Jim McBride, 2008)
7. La Frontiere de l’aube (Philippe Garrel, 2007)
8. Giallo (Dario Argento, 2008)
9. Changeling (Clint Eastwood, 2008)
10. Adam Resurrected (Paul Schrader, 2008)
11. Takeshis’ (Kitano Takeshi, 2005)
12. Kantoku – Banzai! (Glory to the Filmmaker, Kitano Takeshi, 2007)
13. Riviera (Anna Villacéque, 2005)
14. A Perfect Day (Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, 2005)
15. Il Divo (Paolo Sorrentino, 2008)
16. Vicki Cristina Barcelona (Woody Allen, 2008)

Retrospective discoveries
1. Yoshiwara (Max Ophuls, 1937), Komedie om Geld (Max Ophuls, 1936), Sans Lendemain (Without Tomorrow, Max Ophuls, 1939) and Divine (Max Ophuls, 1935)
2. Yuki fujin ezu (Portrait of Madame Yuki, Mizoguchi Kenji, 1950), Joyu Sumako no koi (The Love of the Actress Sumako, Mizoguchi Kenji, 1947) and Taki no shiraito (Mizoguchi Kenji, 1933)
3. Onna ga kaidan wo agaru toki (When a Woman Ascends the Stairs, Naruse Mikio, 1960)
4. Hook, Line and Sinker (Jerry Lewis [uncredited] and George Marshall, 1968)
5. Maidstone (Norman Mailer, 1970)
6. Mother Machree (John Ford, 1928, surviving fragment)
7. Le cinque giornate (The Five Days, Dario Argento, 1973)
8. La Noce/Svadba (The Wedding, Pavel Lungin, 2000)
9. La Petite Lili (Claude Miller, 2003)
10. Dieu seul me voit (Bruno Podalydes, 1998)

RICHARD SUCHENSKI

Ph.D. candidate in Film Studies and History of Art at Yale University. As of fall 2010, he will be Assistant Professor of Film and Electronic Arts at Bard College.

Conditions: I restricted myself exclusively to films that were first screened publicly somewhere in the world in 2009.

Top Ten:
36 vues du Pic Saint Loup (Around a Small Mountain, Jacques Rivette, 2009)
Les Herbes folles (Wild Grass, Alain Resnais, 2009)
Le streghe, femmes entre elles (Jean-Marie Straub, 2009)
Das weisse Band – Eine Deutsche Kinderschichte (The White Ribbon, Michael Haneke, 2009)
Antichrist (Lars von Trier, 2009)
White Material (Claire Denis, 2009)
Vincere (Marco Bellocchio, 2009)
Villa Amalia (Benoît Jacquot, 2009)
Politist, adj. (Police, Adjective, Corneliu Porumboiu, 2009)
Singularidades de uma Rapariga Loura (Eccentricities of a Blond Hair Girl, Manoel de Oliveira, 2009)

Runners-up (alphabetical):
A Letter to Uncle Boonmee (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2009)
Alle Anderen (Everyone Else, Maren Ade, 2009)
The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans and My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done? (Werner Herzog, 2009) [Diptych]
Bright Star (Jane Campion, 2009)
The Fantastic Mr. Fox (Wes Anderson, 2009)
The Limits of Control (Jim Jarmusch, 2009)
Journal and Remarks (David Gatten, 2009)
La Danse: Le ballet de l’Opéra de Paris (La Danse: The Paris Ballet Opera, Fred Wiseman, 2009)
Ne Change Rien (Pedro Costa, 2009)
Zum Vergleich (In Comparison, Harun Farocki, 2009)

GERWIN TAMSMA

Gerwin Tamsma is programmer for the International Film Festival Rotterdam.

In alphabetical order
Ahasin Wetei (Between Two Worlds, Vimukthi Jayasundara, 2009)
De helaasheid der dingen (The Misfortunates, Felix van Groeningen, 2009
Hoe-ori ba-ram (Eighteen, Jang Kun-Jae, 2009)
Politist, adj. (Police, adjective, Cornelio Porumboiu, 2009)
Püha Tõnu kiusamine (The Temptation of St Tony, Veiko Öunpuu, 2009)
Petition: The Court of the Complainants (Zhao Liang, 2009)
Singularidades de uma Rapariga Loura (Eccentricities of a Blond Hair Girl, Manoel de Oliveira, 2009)
Trash Humpers (Harmony Korine, 2009)
Valhalla Rising (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2009)

and if I may, a special mention for:
La maman et la putain (The Mother and the Whore, Jean Eustache, 1973)

I am not very suitable for this game of top 10s and best films of the year.

I would be a pushover if somebody for instance argues The White Ribbon is a far superior film to any of these. Much as I admire Haneke’s film, it doesn’t mean I prefer it to these films above. Some of the films above have obvious limitations, but sometimes that is exactly what makes them interesting, beautiful, or even important to me. And if you ask me again next week, I would deliver a different list.

IGNATIY VISHNEVETSKY

Critic.

11 best US theatrical releases
1. Two Lovers (James Gray, 2008)
2. Public Enemies (Michael Mann, 2009)
3. Spread (David Mackenzie, 2009)
4. Taking of Pelham 123 (Tony Scott, 2009)
5. Armored (Nimrod Antal, 2009)
6. 35 rhums (35 Shots of Rum, Claire Denis, 2008)
7. The Informant! (Steven Soderbergh, 2009)
8. Goodbye Solo (Ramin Bahrani, 2008)
9. Munyurangabo (Lee Isaac Chung, 2007)
10. The Limits of Control (Jim Jarmusch, 2009)
11. Er shi si cheng ji (24 City, Jia Zhangke, 2008)

Special mentions
1. Merde, Leos Carax’s segment in Tokyo! (Michel Gondry / Leos Carax / Bong Joon-ho, 2008)
2. The closing credits of State of Play (Kevin Macdonald, 2009)
3. The first hour or so of Tetro (Francis Ford Coppola, 2009)

12th place and alternates
Bam gua nat (Night and Day, Hong Sang-soo, 2008)
The Box (Richard Kelly, 2009)
Chelsea on the Rocks (Abel Ferrara, 2008)
Crank 2: High Voltage (Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, 2009)
Fighting (Dito Montiel, 2009)
Gamer (Mark Neveldine / Brian Taylor, 2009)
La frontière de l’aube (The Frontier of Dawn, Philippe Garrel, 2008)
L’Heure d’été (Summer Hours, Olivier Assayas, 2008)
The International (Tom Tykwer, 2009)
Invictus (Clint Eastwood, 2009)
Me and Orson Welles (Richard Linklater, 2008)

ROBERT VON DASSANOWSKY

Professor of Film and German, and Director of the Film Studies Program at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. He is a critic and historian of Central European film, and works as an independent producer.

Ten best of 2009 (in no particular order)
Das weisse Band – Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte (The White Ribbon, Michael Haneke, 2009)
Cooking History (Péter Kerekes, 2009)
Hunger (Steve McQueen, 2008)
The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow, 2008)
Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009)
District 9 (Neill Blomkamp, 2009)
Ein Augenblick Freiheit (For a Moment, Freedom, Arash T. Riahi, 2009)
Nine (Rob Marshall, 2009)
The Glass House (Hamid Rahmanian, 2008)
An Education (Lone Scherfig, 2009)

Also notable:
Film Ist. a girl & a gun (Film Is. a girl & a gun, Gustav Deutsch, 2009); Popiełuszko. Wolność jest w nas (Popieluszko, Freedom is Within Us, Rafal Wieczynski, 2009); Ink, (Jamin Winans, 2009); Food, Inc. (Robert Kenner, 2009)

VIRGINIA WRIGHT WEXMAN

Virginia Wright Wexman is Professor Emerita of English and Art History at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is the author of A History of Film (now in its seventh edition) and other books on cinema. Her website on film festivals (www.filmfestivaltourism.com) welcomes comments.

Best of the Fests 2009
I attended nine film festivals last year: Sundance, Wisconsin (Madison), TriBeCa (New York City), Cinema Ritrovato (Bologna), CineCon (Los Angeles), Vancouver, Chicago, AFI FEST (Los Angeles), and Dubai. Following are some of the highlights:

Movies

Best new international films
1. Politist, adj. (Police, Adjective, Corneliu Porumboiu, 2009) (Chicago)
2. Un Prophète (A Prophet, Jacques Audiard, 2009) (Dubai)
3. Vincere (Marco Bellocchio, 2009) (Chicago)
4. Üc Mayum (Three Monkeys, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2008) (Wisconsin)
5. Sin Nombre (Cary Fukunaga, 2009) (Sundance).
6. Darbareye Elly (About Elly, Asghar Farhadi, 2009) (AFI FEST)
7. Revanche (Götz Spielmann, 2008) (Wisconsin)
8. El traspatio (Backyard, Carlos Carrera, 2009) (Vancouver)
9. Madeo (Mother, Bong Joon-ho, 2009) (Chicago)
10.La Nana (The Maid, Sebastian Silva, 2009) (Sundance)

Best revivals/restorations
1. Easy Living (Mitchell Leisen, 1937) (CineCon)
2. Al Momia (Sahdi Abdul Salam, 1969) (Bologna)
3. Long Pants (Frank Capra, 1927) (Bologna)

Festival Awards

Best Retrospective: Early Capra (Bologna)

Best Fest Venue: Egyptian (CineCon)

Most Overhyped: TriBeCa

Best Outdoor Screenings: Bologna (Piazza Maggiore)

Most Insufferable Visiting Filmmaker: C. W. Winter (The Anchorage, 2009) (Vancouver)

Best Introductions: AFI FEST (Robert Koehler)

Best Program Notes: Bologna, CineCon

Best Website: AFI FEST (disclosure: I contributed)

Best Fest Promo Reels: Vancouver, Wisconsin, TriBeCa, AFI FEST

Best Performance by a Two Year-Old: Asia Crippa (La Pivellina, Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel) (Vancouver)

Most Beautiful Surroundings: Sundance, Vancouver

Unexpected Pleasures:

1. Knockout performances by Rod Steiger (Giu’ la testa/Duck, You Sucker, Sergio Leone, 1971) and Beulah Bondi (Make Way for Tomorrow [Leo McCarey, 1937], Track of the Cat [William Wellman, 1954]) (Bologna)

2. George Raft dancing in a puffy shirt in Rumba ((Marion Gehring, 1935) (CineCon)

3. The sounds of a monster movie heard as we watched its rapt audience in Gigante [Adrián Biniez, 2009] (Vancouver)

4. The energetic reaction of the many Iranians in the audience to the portrayal of their country’s harsh treatment of Afghani guest workers in Heiran (Shallzeh Arefpour, 2009) (Dubai).

A note on formatting: When I last submitted a list of this sort to Senses of Cinema’s World Poll in 2007, I intentionally omitted the names of directors in parentheses, instead choosing to incorporate names of important collaborators (as far as I was able to ascertain these) within brief descriptions of each film. The editors “corrected” my formatting decision to conform to their usual practice, so I have followed their style for my 2009 list. However, it is worth noting that I formatted my 2007 list in the way I did to avoid marginalising the contributions of screenwriters, actors, et. al., which the practice of automatically identifying every film with its director alone promotes. For example, most of the films on my list this year undoubtedly owe their brilliance to the creativity of their directors. However, it is arguable that the virtues of Easy Living owe much more to its screenwriter Preston Sturges than to its director Mitchell Leisen. A similar case could be made for Long Pants, whose star Harry Langdon engaged in a full-out battle in the trade press of the day to claim credit for the film (Capra’s victory in this struggle over credit marked the beginning of the end of Langdon’s career).

DEANE WILLIAMS

Deane Williams is Associate Professor in Film and Television Studies, Monash University, Melbourne. He is author of Australian Post-War Documentary Film: An Arc of Mirrors (2008) and (with Brian McFarlane) Michael Winterbottom (2009).

A LakeTen films I loved this year
Too Late Blues (John Cassavetes, 1961)
35 rhums (35 Shots of Rum, Claire Denis, 2008)
Fish Tank (Andrea Arnold, 2009)
Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone, 1968) – new 35mm print.
Un lac (A Lake, Philippe Grandrieux, 2008)
Les Plages d’Agnès (The Beaches of Agnes, Agnès Varda, 2008)
En construcción (Under Construction, José Luis Guerín, 2001)
Old Joy (Kelly Reichardt, 2006)
Samson and Delilah (Warwick Thornton, 2009)
Blessed (Ana Kokkinos, 2009)

BARBARA WURM

Barbara Wurm teaches film studies at the Slavic Seminar of the University in Basel and works as a freelance curator and critic. Her latest publications include Digital Formalism. Die kalkulierten Bilder des Dziga Vertov (2009).

Preliminary note: During this amazing year 2009, I maybe saw half of the films I wanted to see, due to the travel reductions I had to make (no Rotterdam, no Bologna, no Venice, no Pordenone). Babies don’t like travelling so much, neither do they enjoy attending endless film sessions in black boxes… But I made it to the Berlinale and the Diagonale, to Oberhausen, Moscow, and St. Petersburg, to Izola, Leipzig, and the Viennale. And: being based somewhere in between Vienna/Berlin is also not the worst of preconditions if you want to feel the senses of cinema …

Reviews
Optimističeskaja tragedija (Optimistic Tragedy, Samson Samsonov, 1963)
Vidas Secas (Barren Lives, Nelson Pereira dos Santos, 1963) and the great retrospective Revolutions from the Off at the Zeughauskino Berlin
Araya (Araya, Margot Benacerraf, 1959)
Langsamer Sommer (Slow Summer, John Cook, 1976)
Pervorossiyanye (Pervorossiyanye, Aleksandr Ivanov, 1968) and the great Socialist Avant-Gardizm, Part 2 retrospective at the Moscow International Film Festival
Odinnadcatyj (The Eleventh Year, Dziga Vertov, 1928)
Un uomo a metà (Half a Man, Vittorio De Seta, 1966) and the great retrospective Pier Paolo Pasolini and Italian Cinema of the 60s at the Austrian Filmmuseum
Pechki-lavochki (Happy Go Lucky, Vasiliy Shukshin, 1973)
Stanarsko pravo lagumaša Safera (The Tenancy Rights of Safer the Miner, Petar Ljuboev, 1974) and the great Sarajevo Documentary School retrospective at the Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen
Maynila: Sa mga kuko ng liwanag (Manila in the Claws of Neon, Lino Brocka, 1975) and the great Lino Brocka retrospective at the Viennale

Views
Material (Material, Thomas Heise, 2009)
Morrer como um homem (To Die Like a Man, João Pedro Rodrigues, 2009)
Generasi biru (The Blue Generation, Garin Nugroho, John De Rantau, Dosy Omar, 2009)
A Letter to Uncle Boonmee (A Letter to Uncle Boonmee, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2009)
Melodiya dlya sharmanki (Melody for a Street Organ, Kira Muratova, 2009)
Zum Vergleich (By Comparison, Harun Farocki, 2009)
Alle Anderen (Everyone Else, Maren Ade, 2009)
Palata N°6 (Ward No. 6, Aleksandr Gornovsky and Karen Shakhnazarov, 2009)
Sawan baan na (Agrarian Utopia, Uruphong Raksasad, 2009)
Das Vaterspiel (Kill Daddy Good Night, Michael Glawogger, 2009)

NEIL YOUNG

Neil Young is a film critic/reviewer, festival programmer and filmmaker based in Sunderland, UK.

Condolences (Ying Liang, 2009) short
Tanczacy Jastrzab (The Dancing Hawk, Grzegorz Królikiewicz, 1977) seen at Berlinale (retrospective After Winter Comes Spring’, February 2009
District 9 (Neill Blomkamp, 2009)
Joan Does Dynasty (Joan Braderman, 1986) short – seen at Viennale (retrospective parallel program The Unquiet American), October 2009
Palmes d’or (Siegfried A Fruhauf, 2009) short
René (Helena Třeštíková, 2008) seen at Crossing Europe film festival (Linz, Austria) April 2009
Revolutionary Road (Sam Mendes, 2008) UK release 2009
The Wrestler (Darren Aronofsky, 2008) UK release 2009