The Fifties for 2011: Images and Words
Please be advised, by the way, that Tim Robey and Joe Reid have both gifted us their parallel lists, Joe conveniently at the 50-mark as well, and Tim so far past it I wonder if he can remember it. Also, several commenters have got enticing lists to share. Keep reading around!
Stéphanie Weber-Biron for Heartbeats, because even if Dolan borrows most of his ideas, his films move gorgeously between swoony, heightened sensuality and deftly deoxygenated dolors;
Pavel Kostomarov for How I Ended This Summer, because faces and framings evince mystery, tension, and texture, landscape evades cheap pathetic fallacies, and Arctic glow is soft but spooky;
Adriano Goldman for Jane Eyre, because all the bounced light sources serve key themes, and moody lensing has a metaphysical severity that echoes Jane's tough, devout outlook;
Chris Blauvelt for Meek's Cutoff, because the palette's dusty austerity and the inspired boxiness of the Academy framing make these dioramas both antique and transcendent of era; and
Emmanuel Lubezki for The Tree of Life, because as in operatic music, Malick's camera is characterization and worldview, a free-indirect means for exploring souls without being of them.
Honorable mentions in alphabetical order by film title to Peter Zeitlinger for Cave of Forgotten Dreams, an atypically uneven but still exciting Alwin Küchler for Hanna, Kim Hyun Seok for Poetry, Reinhold Vorschneider for The Robber, who would have shared the citation with his hard-working camera operators, and the team of Yukontorn Mingmongkon and Sayombhu Mukdeeprom for Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. Maybe Boonmee should be in for Heartbeats? I'll live with it.
Mike Mills for Beginners, because a long chain of short, taciturn, yet revealing scenes can be harder to write but richer to discover than three acts of heavy dialogue;
Abbas Kiarostami for Certified Copy, because Kiarostami has not previously disclosed a knack for probing reality and illusion with such finesse or such stirring emotional depths;
Moira Buffini for Jane Eyre, because not since the mid-90s glories of Hossein Amini has anyone stayed so true to a landmark novel while so aptly condensing and taking risks;
Lee Chang-dong for Poetry, because a few stock scenes and meandering passages are a worthy tariff for such probing and delicate characterization, such breadth of mystery; and
Alexandru Baciu, Răzvan Rădulescu, and Radu Muntean for Tuesday, After Christmas, because to hold shots so rewardingly and lift performances to such heights, you need to start from an acute anatomy of intimacy and its failures.
Honorable mentions to John Logan, Gore Verbinski, and James Ward Byrkit for Rango. The year's funniest movie so far, The Trip, is too heavily improvised to count here, and apparently too much so to even credit a screenplay.