Dogtooth had a relatively small cinema release, so has become something of a grassroots champion, one that made a big impression on those who saw it back in spring. Early birds caught this story of an isolated family and their misinformed way of life when it previewed at Bradford International Film Festival in March—proof that you can trust us to seek out the good stuff!—and the film has just been entered as Greece’s contender for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.
In our survey, each member of staff was asked to list their five favourite new films on general cinema release in 2010, and were also asked to list any films they’re looking forward to for early 2011. Did you see many of our staff’s choices? Do you agree with us, or have we got it all wrong?
Toni Booth, Collections Manager
Ponyo: Miyazaki effortlessly creates another magical world, very nearly reaching the heights of My Neighbour Totoro.
Dogtooth: a perfect mix of unsettling visuals and narrative.
Exit Through the Gift Shop: was I being made a fool of? I didn’t really care as this was smart, entertaining and at times hilarious.
Revanche: a stunning, serious film dealing with adult themes while avoiding the usual melodrama pitfalls.
Hump Day: this one just saw off The Kids are All Right, for its less polished, more awkward and entertainingly juvenile world view.
For 2011: The Great White Silence: very much hoping to be able to see Herbert Ponting’s restored film of the Scott Expedition on the big screen in 2011. Cave of Forgotten Dreams: Herzog’s dramas are always entertaining (Bad Lieutenant), but it’s his documentaries where he really shines.
Sarah Crowther, Internet Gallery Researcher
Enter the Void: hypnotic and mind-bending. Not so much a film as an experience.
Dogtooth: brave and stylised filmmaking. Hilarious and disturbing in equal measure.
Micmacs: fun, quirky and charming. A Gallic delight to warm the cockles.
House of the Devil: a love letter to 80s horror; slow-burning and utterly involving. Extra points for the simultaneous VHS/DVD release.
Alice in Wonderland: a visual feast—as ever—from king of the genre Tim Burton.
Ben Haller, Duty Manager
Inception: a masterpiece in modern suspense cinema that achieved new heights in cinematography. Nolan’s meticulous study into the depth of character was a revelation.
The Town: a captivating reinvention of the heist movie, with stand-out performances from Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively and Pete Postlethwaite. The prison scene with Ben Affleck and Chris Cooper is the best scene I’ve seen all year.
Splice: a haunting look into genetic research which pushes the boundaries of comfort with horrific intent. I was gripped throughout. Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley are brilliant as scientists caught between love, science and reality.
A Single Man: luxurious in style, elegant in process and harrowingly honest in character… Colin Firth’s finest role to date.
Bad Lieutenant: Nic Cage delivers an inspired performance as a corrupt cop weaving his sinister way through the destruction of post-Katrina New Orleans. Magnificent filmmaking!
For 2011: Never Let Me Go, Blue Valentine, The Fighter, Immortals, and Captain America: The First Avenger.
Kathryn Penny, Film Manager
Dogtooth: dark, funny and different—that poor cat!
Winter’s Bone: gripping tale of determination; amazing performance from Jennifer Lawrence.
Inception: great fun and visually stunning—just don’t think about it too much.
Four Lions: I laugh every time I see a Mini Babybel. Great to see the premiere at the Bradford International Film Festival.
For 2011: Animal Kingdom. Intense Australian suburban crime drama—marry me Guy Pearce!
Sven Shaw, Assistant Gallery Developer
The Social Network: utterly compelling, slick interpretation of the events leading to creation of the website that defined an era.
The Arbor: highly original, haunting account of Andrea Dunbar’s life and the family she left behind.
Cemetery Junction: very funny revisitation of the ‘kitchen sink’ genre which keeps the audience guessing.
Greenberg: good characterisation and great performance from the leads in this existentialist black comedy.
Valhalla Rising: slow-paced, atmospheric and immersive Viking drama.
Jen Skinner, Film Education Officer
Toy Story 3: what a rollercoaster ride of emotion! I had to sob silently so that my four-year-old son didn’t notice… definitely the film of the year in terms of personal engagement with the characters.
A Town Called Panic: animated equivalent of popping candy; totally exhilarating and a joy to watch.
Exit Through the Gift Shop: clever and inventive. Really lifted Banksy to another level in my view.
A Prophet: intense, brutal and beautiful.
Dogtooth: I watched this film very early on in the year, at 9am, without knowing anything about it. I think it took me a while to digest it; I knew it was good but it has grown on me so much as the year has gone on and is now my top new film of the year. So powerful, it’s incredible—a breathtaking film.
For 2011: I’m very excited about the new Coen brothers film True Grit and I’ve seen Animal Kingdom which is brilliant.
Tom Vincent, Film Programmer
The Arbor: achieved much in many many ways. The British film of the year was also the most vital talking point on Bradford’s screens.
Still Walking: deep emotional impact that accumulated so subtly—I sometimes forget that films can do this. Ozu would approve, and Kore-eda is a great.
Jackass 3D: Along with Piranha, this strange film, the gayest multiplex movie since Top Gun, is the crass, joyous state of 3D art; no need to pretend otherwise.
The Social Network: Mark Zuckerberg’s overactive brain races his status anxiety and loses by a whisker. Obsession breeds obsession in Fincher’s movies.
I Am Love: the font used in the opening titles told us this was going to be great. Tilda Swinton reclaims melodrama from middlebrow pap.
For 2011: Black Swan (Aronofsky), 13 Assassins (Miike), Animal Kingdom (Michôd), The Descendants (Payne).
Tom Woolley, Curator of New Media
The Social Network: excellent script, punchy dialogue and great acting had me gripped. Also proved that it’s possible to make a compelling film about websites.
Heartbreaker: a smart, stylish and highly enjoyable comedy with another star turn by Romain Duris.
A Single Man: beautifully shot and dripping in style, Tom Ford’s debut perfectly captures those rare moments of clarity. Transcendent and moving.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: a thrilling introduction to Stieg Larsson’s world of corrupt media, computer hacking and twisted family trees.
Ponyo: an enchanting animation that deserves to be seen by as many people as possible.
In 2011: I’m especially looking forward to seeing the film version of Murakami’s Norwegian Wood. From the stills it looks like Anh Hung Tran has captured the mood of the novel and a soundtrack by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood makes it a must-see. Also intrigued to see new documentary Catfish and the forthcoming drama Never Let Me Go—after The Social Network and Red Riding, it’s exciting to see Andrew Garfield’s ascent to stardom.
Neil Young, International Consultant, Bradford International Film Festival
Involuntary: Ruben Östlund’s glacial, brilliant dissection of social boundaries world-premiered in 2008, but was only released in UK cinemas this year—all things Swedish now being apparently very cool thanks to Lisbeth Salander, Kurt Wallander and Let the Right One In.
The Disappearance of Alice Creed
My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done: 2010 proved a banner year for Werner Herzog, with Bad Lieutenant sneaking into multiplexes and his jawdropping making-of-Fitzcarraldo diary Conquest of the Useless finally appearing in English-language paperback.
I Am Love
For 2011: Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan; John Carpenter’s The Ward; Joanna Hogg’s Archipelago; Elliot Lester’s Blitz; and the re-release of Frank Ripploh’s Taxi Zum Klo.