top 10s

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Top Films of 2007: The Members Start to Speak

Every year around this time, Chlotrudis members report in on their Top 10's (or whatever) of the previous year. We're a little behind the press because our Nominating Committee meeting is usually the third week of January, and members try very hard to see as many films from the previous year as possible, so they hold off on their top films until they feel they've seen everything they can.

Member Peg Aloi is the first to send in her Top 10, so here it is!

Peg's Top Ten List for 2007 (not necessarily in order)

  1. THE WIND THAT SHAKES THE BARLEY (Ken Loach's most ambitious and stunning film to date.)
  2. PERFUME: THE STORY OF A MURDERER (Gorgeous, disturbing, epic literary adaptation from Tom Tykwer)
  3. ATONEMENT (Joe Wright's sumptuous adaptation Ian McEwan's smoldering love story. Drop-dead beautiful cinematography, wonderful editing and fine acting)
  4. THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY aka LE SCAPHANDRE ET LE PAPILLON (Julian Schnabel creates half-formed visionscapes of color and light to tell the story of a jet-setting French magazine editor who suffers "locked-in syndrome" after a stroke; ostensibly a world-view via one eye-lid's movement, this film can irrevocably alter any viewer's perception of life, movement, fear, love, memory and regret.)
  5. LADY CHATTERLEY aka LADY CHATTERLEY ET L'HOMME DES BOIS (A satisfyingly erotic adaptation of D. H. Lawrence's novel, first made for French television by Pascale Ferran: authentic, rustic, arousing.)
  6. LA VIE EN ROSE aka LA MÔME (Marion Cotillard is white-hot and astonishing as the hard-living, self-destructive singing sensation Edith Piaf in Olivier Dahan's beautifully-rendered biopic.)
  7. I'M NOT THERE (Todd Haynes' five-chambered non-linear fantasy is huge, lush and eminently watchable, with a playfully surreal approach to what is being called a biopic but is more accurately a wishful memoir: my favorite Dylan is the Richard Gere Dylan.)
  8. GLASTONBURY (Julian Temple directs this freewheeling documentary about England's famous long-running music festival. It’s not England's Woodstock, it's England's attempt to consistently capture a time of passionate, angry innocence.)
  9. FACTORY GIRL (George Hickenlooper directs Sienna Miller as Edie Sedgwick, and her performance is luminous and raw. As a biopic it is sometimes cock-eyed and treacly, but worthwhile, especially considering Guy Pearce's portrayal as the best Andy Warhol ever.)
  10. HOT FUZZ (Every corny cop movie ever made is referenced in this hilarious, brilliant action-horror flick. I can't wait to see what the team of Pegg, Frost and Wright does next, because it isn't likely another genre-based parody will work three times running.)

Honorable Mentions:

THE CASE OF THE GRINNING CAT aka CHATS PERCHÉS(Chris Marker's sweet, funny, quirky documentary, about a painted cat who pops up in neighborhood graffiti and on posters at protest rallies, is a quietly triumphant paean to the underdog, or in this case, undercat.

AFTER THE WEDDING aka EFTER BRÖLLOPE (Director Susanne Bier draws excellent performances from Mads Mikkelsen and Rolf Lassgård; this drama of family secrets and revelations is a roller-coaster of emotion that is thoughtful, depressing and, ultimately, uplifting.)

28 WEEKS LATER (No one expected a sequel to match the intensity and originality of Danny Boyle and Alex Garland's original, but this one works surprisingly well, successfully combining British and American cultural -isms to paint a scarily realistic picture of post-plague, martial-law-ruled London.

The Geometrist's Top 10 & the Scientist's Top 10

I've got a couple more member Top 10 lists from 2006. Yes, I know it's a little late, but some people spent a lot of time seeing films from 2006 in preparation for the Awards Ceremony in March. Since then, the delay has been my fault, so to Julie and Beth, I apologize for the lag time, but I have been busy. So, with no further ado...

The Geometrist's Top 10 + 2!
Julie calls herself the Geometrist because that is what she wants to be when she grow up. Julie really focused on seeing a lot of 2006 movies during the first three months of 2007, and here is the list she comes up with.

  1. Science of Sleep
  2. Brick
  3. Duck Season
  4. Sorry Haters
  5. Volver
  6. C.R.A.Z.Y.
  7. A Scanner Darkly
  8. This Film is Not Yet Rated
  9. Cache
  10. L’Intrus
  11. Shut Up and Sing
  12. 51 Birch Street

Also noteworthy: Little Miss Sunshine, Water, Hardy Candy, Clean, Brothers of the Head, Somersault, Jesus Camp, The Devil and Daniel Johnston, Requiem, New York Doll, Sisters-in-Law, Who Killed the Electric Car and The U.S. Versus John Lennon.

Have not seen but want to see: The Aura, Inland Empire, Short Bus, Half Nelson, Iron Island and 49 Up (this doc series is consistently well done and intriguing-I am up to 28 Up-and I don’t want to jump ahead).

The Scientist's Top 10
Beth Caldwell is the Membership Coordinator for Chlotrudis, and she also waited until she had seen a whole bunch of 2006 nominees in preparation for voting. Beth really is a scientist, studying agression in rats! Here's her Top 10.

  1. La Moustache
  2. Cache
  3. Iron Island
  4. Sisters-in-Law
  5. Requiem
  6. This Film is Not Yet Rated
  7. Duck Season
  8. Mutual Appreciation
  9. The Motel
  10. Sorry, Haters

The Award-Makers Top 10!

The lists keep coming in, this one from Mary McIntire, who does, in fact, create our Chlotrudis Awards. In fact, she's currently hard at work making a batch of awards for our 13th Annual Chlotrudis Awards Ceremony being held on Sunday, March 18, 7 p.m. at the Brattle Theatre.

  1. Volver
  2. The Proposition
  3. Clean
  4. New York Doll
  5. Sorry, Haters
  6. Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
  7. Little Miss Sunshine
  8. Twelve and Holding
  9. Water
  10. Tristram Shandy: A Cock & Bull Story

The Technologist's Top 10

Chlotrudis Technology Coordinator Scot Colford sent his Top 10 in weeks ago, but I overlooked it. My apologies!

Scot says, "Gee, I surprised myself again this year. Three of my top four are French and almost all of them are either 1) mind f**ks or 2) heartwarming tales of socially unacceptable sexuality. Hmm. Heck, number 7 is both! That makes up for number 9 being neither, I guess."

  1. Caché
  2. La Moustache
  3. Hard Candy
  4. The Science of Sleep
  5. Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story
  6. Shortbus
  7. Brothers of the Head
  8. Sorry, Haters
  9. Lonesome Jim
  10. The History Boys

Other films I considered:

Duck Season
Half Nelson
Jesus Camp
Little Miss Sunshine
Old Joy
Requiem
Shut Up and Sing
This Film Is Not Yet Rated

The Reporter's Top 10

Daniel Berman is one of Chlotrudis' newest members. He has a show on Brookline Cable Access that reviews movies. Here is a wrap-up of his 2006 Movie Experience.

A Banner Year for Independent Films 'Ten Best Named', 2006
by Daniel Berman

Well folks, the art-deco movie houses are swarming with all kinds of interesting films to keep at the forefront of your minds. In the scheme of things I have another archival collection of documentaries, experimental animation, and newly discovered feature films to behold.

This year I made my way too the local film festival scene including the Boston Film Festival, Nantucket Film Festival etc. and got too visually in-take some of these documentaries.

As we being the filmic junkies of the smaller movie houses that we witness David Leaf's eye-catching THE U.S. VS. JOHN LENNON to the intriguing THE TRIALS OF DARRYL HUNT. We continue our venture with the highly controversially talked about Kirby Dick's THIS FILM IS NOT YET RATED as we go behind the iron curtain of the MPAA rating system.

In one of the best documentaries to hit the independent film circuit is the U.S. corporate America's electric automobile and its rise and fall. The brilliantly crafted and well-documented film that investigates the question that who is too blames government, consumers, oil manufacturers; it could be even the hydrogen-powered car that brought down these popular vehicles. In Chris Paine's extraordinary and insightful filmic masterpiece with WHO KILLED THE ELECTRIC CAR?

Director Andrew Bujalski (FUNNY HA-HA, 2005) is giving moviegoers another fascinating feature film with his latest social commentary piece with MUTUAL APPRECIATION. Currently, in its experimental stages the newest animated flick called RENAISSANCE is a James Bond in sleek and stylish black and white images.

The original film to use this animation is the philosophical speaking WAKING LIFE 2001 directed by Richard Linklater. RENAISSANCE is a gritty, dark story of a society ruled by one major corporate empire named Avalon. In reminisce of sci-fi classics like METROPOLIS and BLADE RUNNER this is a story about a society on the verge of imploding on itself. In a future that crime is escalating rapidly with little hope of survival of coming out alive.

Sydney Pollack (1975, THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR) directed a visually astonishing bio-picture entitled SKETCHES OF FRANK GEHRY. Pollack takes in the genius of one of the most recognizable, controversial Architects of the twentieth century.

In conclusion, Ric Burns just released a four-hour televised documentary on one of the most important artistic figures in our American culture entitled ANDY WARHOL: A DOCUMENTARY FILM. Burns enthralls us with Warhol's vision in unseen archived video clips and still shots that give light to his work. Years ago WGBH released Ken Burns historical look into America's pastime with "Baseball," and his most recent televised documentary on the world of "Jazz" to "Jack Johnson: Unforgivable Blackness."

`Ten Best Named' Independent Films:

1. The U.S. vs. John Lennon
2. The Trials of Darryl Hunt
3. Renaissance
4. Who Killed the Electric Car?
5. This Film is Not Yet Rated
6. Sketches of Frank Gehry
7. Mutual Appreciation
8. Andy Warhol: A Documentary Film
9. Neil Young: Heart of Gold
10. Who Gets to Call it Art?

Honorable Mentionable(s):

Drawings and War: The Testimony of the Children of Uganda
49 UP
The Cult of the Suicide Bomber
Not a Photograph: The Mission to Burma Story

The Librarian's Top 10

Okay, so this is a little disingenious since many Chlotrudis members are librarians. Still, Jeff Pike is responsible for organizing and loaning our screener library, and he does a terrific job at it. Here is Jeff's list of the Best Movies of 2006.

Jeff says, "Of the movies I watched this year, I liked these the best. A couple aren't Chlotrudis movies, but I still liked them."

Brick (right)
Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story
Look Both Ways
Transamerica
Lonesome Jim
A Prairie Home Companion
Duck Season
Caché
10th District Court
The Intruder
The Death of Mr. Lazarescu
Inland Empire
Jesus Camp
Winter Passing
The Departed
Inside Man
The Proposition

The Educator's Top 10 (Updated!)

Peg Aloi kicks off with a pretty controversial #1 film, then settles in to some Chlotrudis favorites.

  1. THE LIBERTINE -- a gritty, smoky mise-en-scene enshrouds this sweepingly grand but often intimate biopic about one of history's most notorious scoundrels: a whipsmart orator, political firebrand and decadent voluptuary, played by Johnny Depp in one his most exciting performances, and supported by a lightning-bright British cast.
  2. HARD CANDY -- a surprisingly-assured chamber piece which brilliantly exploits what is normally an impossible filmic conceit: a story centered entirely on two actors. Page and Wilson are dynamite.
  3. BROTHERS OF THE HEAD -- haunting, authentic, and clever, with wish-I-wasn't-here intensity in its fake-archival photographic styling (courtesy of the art's newest Michelangelo, Anthony Dod Mantle) and impressively realistic performances by actors who do indeed seem to be in a documentary.
  4. INLAND EMPIRE -- a mesmerizing three-hour tour de force, a brutal, terrifying, incandescent candyland borne of the troubled mind of cinema's greatest post-modern surrealist, and all the more satisfying because it has been so underviewed at this point.
  5. NOTES ON A SCANDAL -- Judi Dench here proves without doubt she is the grande dame of anti-glamour. Her icy, obsessed and ultimately unhinged portrayal of a desperately-lonely spinster school teacher is a stunning foil to Cate Blanchett's smoldering, spoiled, bohemian wanna-be. This is a character-driven thriller that is not the least bit predictable, and utilizes that often-risky literary device of voiceover narration with perfect pitch, which is in and of itself an achievement.
  6. SHORTBUS -- an imperfect but bold and enlightening look at post 9/11 sexuality from the city that invented urban angst. The pieces are more than the sum of its parts, mainly due to a somewhat uneven distribution of acting talent, but filmmaker John Cameron Mitchell has crafted a film well ahead of its time that draws its power from his innovative theatrical sensibility and fine-tuned attention to small moments (such as when TARNATION's Jonathan Caouette slinks through the frame carrying a small stack of hash brownies which he insists "aren't for me.")
  7. A SCANNER DARKLY -- adapting Philip K. Dick to the silver screen is a Herculean task and this hopped-up dreamscape does so with real skill. Rotoscoping is still a fresh-looking animation technique and lends itself beautifully to stories such as this, where paranoia, self-doubt, dreams, nightmares, and unfathomable human evil are the main characters. But the actors also make this work: Robert Downey Jr., Woody Harrelson, even Keanu Reeves manage to imbue this thinking man's stoner-saga with intelligence and subtlety, even when their painted personae are screaming and smashing up entire rooms.
  8. GARCON STUPIDE -- I can't pinpoint any one thing that makes this nomination-worthy, but months after seeing it this French film has stayed with me; the portrayal of a promiscuous, seemingly-sociopathic teenager by newcomer Pierre Chatagny is at its heart, but director Lionel Baier is to be credited for his unusual cinema verite treatment and unabashed depiction of gay sex in contexts that manage to be shocking and banal at once.
  9. THE QUEEN -- Stephen Frears manages to treat this easily-exploitable topic with restraint and artistry (a real feat for a director who often relishes dramatic excess), but Dame Helen Mirren makes the film her own with a spot-on, very human performance of a woman most people view as an automaton with a handbag.
  10. BEOWULF & GRENDEL -- although Chlotrudis favorite Sarah Polley seems miscast in this Scandinavian epic, the jaw-dropping locations and letter-perfect performances by Stellan Skaarsgard and Gerard Butler make this version of one of humankind's oldest stories one worth seeking out.

Gems Worthy of Note: Hand of God, C*R*A*Z*Y (not eligible!)

What I have not seen yet but want to: The Wind That Shakes the Barley