The Fifties for 2010: Best Director
(...although, if I can just add a little ado, can I say how exciting it is to see this list filled with five filmmakers ranging from their early 30s to their early 40s, none of whom has more than three features under her or his belt, two of whom got their first solo directing credits for these films, and three of whom are women? And I promise, I arrived at this list before considering any of that. It's a new day!)
Maren Ade for Everyone Else, since she proves the term "actor's director" needn't imply inattention to visuals and structurebut still, get a load of those performances;
Jessica Hausner for Lourdes, because she hovers between spoofing her subject and seeming spooked and humbled by it, while maintaining pristine, enigmatic formal control;
Giorgos Lanthimos for Dogtooth, for evoking more about petty tyranny and ignorant complicity by refusing to be literal, allowing himself humor, and trusting his originality;
Kimberly Reed for Prodigal Sons, for an 80-minute master class in imposing clear, forceful, and moving arcs onto complex and wholly intimate material, without losing nuances; and
Lee Unkrich for Toy Story 3, a playroom Preston Sturges who spins a rich central story about love and betrayal, couched amid sublime comic supports, pristinely concluded.
Extremely honorable mentions to Jacques Audiard for bringing his trademark blend of gritty realism and lightning verve to the prison tale A Prophet; to Bong Joon-ho for justifying Mother's wilder excesses by crystallizing his tones and intents so purely when it counts most; and to Andrea Arnold for sustaining the promise of Red Road in Fish Tank, which mirrors the Audiard in its blend of scrappy entrapment and fablic embellishments, and draws an ensemble of performances to die for. Those three runners-up would be full-time ballot contenders in a whole lotta years. I guess this year is shaping up okay? The only catch: Toy Story 3 is the only legitimately new film of 2010 anywhere among these eight.
Further honorable mentions to Roman Polanski for The Ghost Writer, Noah Baumbach for Greenberg, Mia Hansen-Løve for The Father of My Children, David Michôd for Animal Kingdom, and Frédéric Mermoud for Accomplices. The first, second, and fourth actually did bow on the world stage this yearalbeit very early, at Sundance and Berlin!so that's something.