For the first time in a long time (perhaps ever), the Cannes Film Festival – and its elite, typically inscrutable jury – awarded its top three prizes to the best three films of the year, irrepressibly bleak though they were. In other news, the Coen brothers offered their blackest comedy yet; sci-fi, horror, and animation got a much-needed boost; and British and foreign filmmakers alike played in the sandbox and came out screaming, in a year that had quality and variety for everyone to enjoy.
Ajami; Coraline; The Cove; Crazy Heart; District 9; Drag Me to Hell; Fantastic Mr. Fox; 500 Days of Summer; Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench; Hadewijch; Inglourious Basterds; Last Train Home; Lebanon; Ponyo; The Secret of Kells; Séraphine; Sugar; Thirst; Up; Up in the Air; Vincere
Top 10 Films
“I hope your kids have bad influences and develop bad personalities. I wish this with all my heart.”
My review of Dogtooth, here.
9. In the Loop
8. An Education
7. White Material
“I will marshal all the media forces of darkness to hound you to an assisted suicide.” “Action is character. If we never did anything, we wouldn’t be anybody.” “Extreme blondness brings bad luck.”
My review of In the Loop, here.
My review of An Education, here.
My review of White Material, here.
5. Bright Star
4. A Serious Man
“I did a terrible thing.” “When I don’t hear from him, it’s as if I’ve died, as if the air is sucked out from my lungs.” “We’re gonna be fine.”
My review of Mother, here.
My review of Bright Star, here.
My review of A Serious Man, here.
3. Fish Tank
2. The White Ribbon
1. A Prophet
“But you don’t know nothing, so why should I listen?” “White, as you all know, is the color of innocence.” “I work for no one. I work for myself.”
My review of Fish Tank, here.
My review of The White Ribbon, here.
My review of A Prophet, here.
A & S Year-End Awards
Picture: Martine Cassinelli and Antonin Dedet, “A Prophet” (runner-up: Nick Laws and Kees Kasander, “Fish Tank”)
Director: Jacques Audiard, “A Prophet” (runner-up: Michael Haneke, “The White Ribbon”)
Actor: Tahar Rahim, “A Prophet” (runner-up: Michael Stuhlberg, “A Serious Man”)
Actress: Abbie Cornish, “Bright Star” (runners-up: Isabelle Huppert, “White Material”; Kim Hye-ja, “Mother”)
Supporting Actor: Michael Fassbender, “Fish Tank” (runner-up: Niels Arestrup, “A Prophet”)
Supporting Actress: Kierston Wareing, “Fish Tank” (runner-up: Rosamund Pike, “An Education”)
Original Screenplay: Joel and Ethan Coen, “A Serious Man” (runner-up: Andrea Arnold, “Fish Tank”)
Adapted Screenplay: Jane Campion, “Bright Star” (runners-up: Armando Iannucci, Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, and Tony Roche, “In the Loop”; Nick Hornby, “An Education”)
Editing: Juliette Welfling, “A Prophet” (runner-up: Sae-kyoung Moon, “Mother”)
Cinematography: Christian Berger, “The White Ribbon” (runner-up: Greig Fraser, “Bright Star”)
Score or Soundtrack: Mark Bradshaw, “Bright Star” (runner-up: Paul Englishby, “An Education”)
Foreign Language Film: Michael Haneke, “The White Ribbon” (runners-up: Bong Joon-ho, “Mother”; Claire Denis, “White Material”)
Documentary: Louie Psihoyos, “The Cove” (runner-up: N/A)
Most Promising Filmmaker: Yorgos Lanthimos, “Dogtooth” (runner-up: Armando Iannucci, “In the Loop”)
Breakout Performance: Carey Mulligan, “An Education” (runner-up: Katie Jarvis, “Fish Tank”)
Spotlight Award: Maria-Victoria Dragus and Leonard Proxauf, “The White Ribbon” (runner-up: Christos Stergioglou and Anna Kalaitzidou, “Dogtooth”)
2010 Most Anticipated
Next year appears loaded with tons of cinematic riches: Abbas Kiarostami (“Ten”), Kelly Reichardt (“Wendy and Lucy”), David Fincher (“Zodiac”), Danny Boyle (“28 Days Later”), and Darren Aronofsky (“The Wrestler”) have upcoming projects, while documentarians and independent auteurs, from Charles Ferguson and Werner Herzog to Mike Leigh and Lisa Cholodenko, always hold nothing but promise.
An out-of-left-field possibility is “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives”, a memory-infused supernatural travelogue from writer-director Apichatpong Weerasethakul (“Syndromes and a Century”). At the very least, it’s guaranteed to be a unique experience.