PRINT December 2010

Film: Best of 2010

Amy Taubin

1 The Social Network (David Fincher) An adrenaline-pumping, coolly analytic, fast-talking look at a young Master of the Universe, obsessed with his start-up and untroubled by questions of loyalty or ethics. Brilliant direction, brilliant storytelling, and a brilliant performance by Jesse Eisenberg. And since the backlash has started, no, it isn’t a sexist movie; it’s a movie that exposes sexism in a culture that likes to think it has moved beyond all that.

2 Film Socialisme (Jean-Luc Godard) Sometimes gloriously beautiful, sometimes achingly personal, and sometimes business as usual. This is Godard’s first entirely digital feature—and, contrary to rumor, he’s already working on another.

3 And Everything Is Going Fine (Steven Soderbergh) Soderbergh’s tribute to the late Spalding Gray takes the form of a final monologue pieced together entirely from existing footage of Gray’s performances. Restrained, personal twice over, and heartbreaking.

4 Prologue to episode three of The Simpsons’ 2010–11 season plus Exit Through the Gift Shop_ (Banksy) Welcome to the movies, Banksy. May you make many more as darkly witty and passionately felt as these.

5 Persecution (Patrice Chéreau) Actor Romain Duris and Chéreau slowly pull out the stops in this jittery psychodrama about a Parisian building contractor on the verge of a paranoid breakdown.

6 Inside Job (Charles Ferguson); Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer (Alex Gibney); and Restrepo (Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger) For clarity, scope, and barely checked rage, Ferguson’s depiction of the world financial meltdown has an edge, but each of the three films reflects on the others by pushing the limits of its own genre of documentary to take the measure of our bleak place today at home and abroad.

7 Last Train Home (Fan Lixin) Essential viewing for anyone who ever thinks about China—in other words, for everyone.

8 Ruhr (James Benning) Steel age meets digital age in a structuralist version of T2. The sense of space in the sound mix is as precise as the image produced by the Red camera.

9 Aurora (Cristi Puiu) Social isolation takes a different form but is even more devastating than in the director’s celebrated Death of Mr. Lazarescu. Puiu cast himself as the antihero in this unsettling narrative that folds in on itself, the first part the mysterious rehearsal for the shocking but inevitable events of the second.

10 Wah Do Dem (Ben Chace and Sam Fleischner) An ingeniously made first feature, smart and lively throughout, and, when the Congos play under a full moon in Jamaica, totally transcendent.

A contributing editor of Film Comment and Sight & Sound and a frequent contributor to Artforum, Amy Taubin is the author of Taxi Driver (BFI, 2000).