PRINT December 2009

Film: Best of 2009

John Waters

Ulrich Seidl, Import Export, 2007, still from a color film in 16 mm and 35 mm, 141 minutes.


1 Import Export (Ulrich Seidl) The most sorrowful movie of the year is also the best. The miserable lives of Ukrainian immigrants in Vienna make this agonizing but brilliantly directed opus the cinematic equivalent of slitting your wrists. A new genre? Depression porn? Hey, I got off.

2 Antichrist (Lars von Trier) If Ingmar Bergman had committed suicide, gone to hell, and come back to earth to direct an exploitation/art film for drive-ins, this is the movie he would have made.

Trailer for Armando Iannucci, In the Loop, 2009.

3 In the Loop (Armando Iannucci) A smart, mean, foulmouthed British satire about the struggle for global power that asks the all-important question: How do you debate the invasion of Iraq if your gums start to bleed in the middle of your presentation?

4 World’s Greatest Dad (Bobcat Goldthwait) Why, oh why, wasn’t this blackest of comedies a hit? Appallingly rude, decidedly family unfriendly, this autoerotic-suicide tale of a hateful son and his clueless father left the viewer gasping in surprise.

Larry Charles, Brüno, 2009, color film in 35 mm, 81 minutes. Production still. Brüno (Sacha Baron Cohen).

5 Brüno (Larry Charles) Don’t listen to the critics—it’s better than Borat. Imagine a hetero teen couple in a mall on a first date somewhere in Middle America watching Sacha Baron Cohen pantomime every known gay male sex act, ending in a joyous “facial.” Sometimes audiences get what they deserve.

6 Lorna’s Silence (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne) How do these great art films get financed? European socialism, that’s how, and I’m glad the taxpayers abroad put up the dough for this Tracking Shots“R”Us masterpiece. Only the Dardenne brothers could get away with not showing the dramatic action that climaxes the whole movie. Just think if they had to test-screen this film in America!

7 Broken Embraces (Pedro Almodóvar) There was some grumbling from Cannes that this wasn’t one of Pedro’s best, but boy were those rumors wrong. It’s a beaut! A relentlessly intelligent melodrama filled with so many dizzying plot points that you’ll experience vertigo.

8 The Baader Meinhof Complex (Uli Edel) Now here were some kids who knew how to cause trouble! Hmmm . . . What should we do today? Stop the Olympics or blow up a commercial airplane? These radicals made the Weathermen look like pussies.

9 Whatever Works (Woody Allen) Gerontophilia never seemed so appealing. This time, Woody goes a little gay and lives to tell about it with lovely, comic success. I am so mad I don’t have this director’s career.

10 The Headless Woman (Lucrecia Martel) Bleached hair, hit-and-run accidents, in-laws with hepatitis? Huh? I didn’t get it, but I sure did love it!

John Waters’s new book, Role Models, will be published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in June 2010.