Thursday, June 05, 2008

Addicts 2007: Best Film and Director

I have to say that I hardly ever match my favourite five pictures and directors in a given year. But this time, it's happened. I simply could not see past the achievements of these five films, despite how much I loved Juno, Black Snake Moan, Sunshine, There Will Be Blood, Lust Caution and the rest...

Best Film & Best Director

& Joe Wright

If films were purely judged on their visuality Atonement would be leaps and bounds above the rest, but as it stands it takes a healthy position in my top ten. Cecilia and Robbie's romance crucially works because it feels so complete, despite their periods of separation and the tragic events that end their relationship. I once saw an act in which two dancers stood on either side of a glass partition, each mirroring the actions of the other. I like to think of Cecilia and Robbie in this way: physically isolated but emotionally united. The way in which their romance is handled in Atonement - tentatively, lusciously, and at times consigned to the back burner for Briony's intense character study, is a brave move, and makes the story feel all a more subtle and poignant one.

I Don't Want To Sleep Alone
& Ming-liang Tsai

I find it incredible that there is such a miniscule amount of dialogue in Tsai's stunning film. He uses so much of the filmmaking pallette (through colour, light, composition) to create a calm and reflective mood, and a portrait that holds your gaze with its simple beauty. I Dont Want To Sleep Alone is a film about interaction, and it details (without drawing attention to itself) the ways in which it's possible to access the thoughts and feelings of another without probing inquisition. In this way its technique, and interaction with the audience, is indicative of the films inhabitants: quiet, patient, knowing, natural. Actions speak louder than words.

I'm Not There
& Todd Haynes

I've said so much about it already, so I'll keep this fairly brief. Haynes' film is one of the best biopics I've ever seen because it bucks the 'biopic' trend so radically. It doesn't pretend to know everything about its subject, juggling ideas of Dylan as a badboy, a recluse, an activist, with tremendous energy and dynamism. A triumph.

A Mighty Heart
& Michael Winterbottom

Lingering flashbacks of Daniel Pearl can perhaps be compared to the sentimentality with which Rachel Weisz's murdered political dynamo is captured in 2005's problematic The Constant Gardener. Usually, I don't like a film to constantly remind me how important its subject is, but with A Mighty Heart, there was a point where I abandoned the idea of it as a reconstruction of anything. It's amazing that the intensity and immersion that the film provides remains firmly on the right side of the overkill barrier, and that you can't begrudge the filmmakers for whisking us into a situation that only dark minds could tolerate or desire to be in the first place, because it's so god damn interesting.

& John Carney

I cried at the end of Once.

I cried at the end of The Bucket List too, so that's hardly an indication of how good a film is, but I'd like to think that there's an obvious difference as to why I cried at the end of each film. While sucre was ever-present in the latter, Once never cheapens itself, or even purports that its characters are dissatisfied at what happens in the film. Hell, it's a HAPPY film. But I felt like I knew the characters so well through their behaviour, and significantly the music that they create, that I just didn't want to leave them. For the principle characters to lay so much of their souls down on the table for eighty minutes and then turn around and filter into the distance ambiguous unknowns isn't something we expect from a film. Harsh, but undoubtedly realistic, their existence can be likened to music itself: ephemeral and precious.

Winner: Once (1)
Runner Up: I'm Not There (2)
A Mighty Heart (3)
I Don't Want To Sleep Alone (4)
Atonement (5)

Rest of Top Ten...

4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days (6)
Lust, Caution (7)
Sunshine (8)
Black Snake Moan (9)
Into the Wild (10)

Winner: Ming-liang Tsai
Runner Up: Michael Winterbottom

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