Thursday, January 13, 2011

LeapBackBlog 2010 Film Awards – Part 3: Directors

Film in 2010 was fantastic, full of great performances, great directing and great work behind the camera (or in post-production). More so than the last few years, 2010 had a greater number of excellent films, which made choosing the best films, performances, directors, and technical achievements very difficult. The LeapBackBlog Film Awards are comprised of what I think were the best and most interesting films, the strongest performances (taking into consideration who the actor is and what else they have done, and 2010 features a lot of amazing breakthrough performances), the narrative style that drew me in (best directing), and exquisite craftsmanship (best technical achievements). But really, these are lists of my favorites from the year.


With Black Swan, Aronofsky has created a film that seduces its audience, luring them in and then scaring them half to death with thrills. His work, his style, his vision produce such an interesting visual world in which the camera floats dancing as if another character in the narrative, while the narrative lies and is completely dishonest yet enthralls and garners authentic emotion. It is a very compelling and difficult achievement.

Coming off is Oscar victories for Slumdog Millionaire, Boyle had a tall task living up to the expectations of his next project. He chose the cinematically difficult story of Aron Ralston – an outdoorsman whose arm gets trapped under a rock in the middle of nowhere, having to go to extreme measures to survive. Most of 127 Hours takes place in a tiny confined space, yet the brilliance of Boyle’s energy and kinetic, even manic style makes the film seem larger in scope than it is. This is a film few directors could make (let alone make well), and to do so with such flare and narrative style only solidifies Boyle as the auteur his fans know and love.

The Social Network every easily could have been a terrible film, boring and riddled with shallow unlikable characters, but it is not. Why? Fincher is a master of unlikeable protagonists and scene structure. The opening scene in the film featuring Jesse Eisenberg and Rooney Mara is pure genius (my favorite individual scene of the year). It plays a bit like a prologue for the rest of the film both setting up the character of Zuckerberg and his journey. In this scene alone, Fincher exhibits his gift for storytelling in the visual medium of film.

Nolan is quickly becoming a household name and god to film fans. Since 2005 with Batman Begins, has there been a filmmaker with a better critical and commercial track record? With Inception, Nolan took the insanely high expectations following The Dark Knight into his latest film and still blew everyone’s mind. The sheer scope of the film is immense; the writing must have been daunting; and still Nolan delivers a fantastic narrative filled with great performances, action and drama. Nolan’s cinematic mastery for making great cinema that is wholly entertaining to a broader audience (i.e. not just appealing to film fans, but to more casual movie-goers too) is unmatched.

Romanek’s work on Never Let Me Go, an aesthetically brilliant film, is top-notch. He tells the story of friendship and love dashed by tragedy and haunting heartbreak so subtly, that many viewers simply just disregarded the film. But for those willing to engage the film and let it take hold, it is a beautiful piece. Essentially, Romanek takes what has been called an “un-filmable” novel and produces a unique dystopian film that stays with its viewers reminding them of the fragility and importance of life and its moments.

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