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the film of the year: “la danse”

the film of the year: "la danse"

To me, the best movies aren’t just movies, they are experiences. In the case of my own top ten, these are the films that really mattered to me, the ones that I watched and pondered, discussed and shared with others and then often re-watched. This year, these ten stuck with me.

The best film of 2009 (as published yesterday at indieWIRE):
“La Danse: The Paris Opera Ballet”, directed by Frederick Wiseman

My defining cinematic experience of 2009 was re-discovering Frederick Wiseman at New York’s Film Forum and then at IDFA in Amsterdam. Watching and contemplating his latest film, “La Danse,” I became fascinated by the idea that Wiseman’s films grow so organically. A day spent in a place that intrigues him eventually leads to 100+ hours of observational 16mm footage that Wiseman then assembles over the course of a year. “La Danse” is an exceptional observational window into a fascinating world of creativity, endurance and beauty. More on the Wiseman and his movies in a column I wrote last month.

Nine other films have an extra special place in my cinematic heart this year and round out my top ten of 2009 (followed by 15 more special mentions). Each film on my top 10 list is particularly important to me for reasons that are too lengthy to detail in the limited space here. New Years resolutions: 1) Write more about the other nine films on my list. 2) See as many Wiseman films as possible on a big screen at MoMA during their year-long retrospective that begins this month and continues through December 31, 2010.

Happy New Year!

The 10 best films of 2009:
“The Beaches of Agnes”, directed by Agnes Varda
“Los Abrazos Rotos” (Broken Embraces), directed by Pedro Almodovar
“Frontier of Dawn”, directed by Philippe Garrel
“Fados”, directed by Carlos Saura
“Voy A Explotar” (I’m Gonna Explode), directed by Gerardo Naranjo
“La Danse: The Paris Opera Ballet”, directed by Frederick Wiseman
“A Single Man”, directed by Tom Ford
“Still Walking”, directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda
“Summer Hours”, directed by Olivier Assayas
“Throw Down Your Heart”, directed by Sascha Paladino

15 special mentions:
“Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans”
“In a Dream”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“The Limits of Control”
“Medicine For Melancholy”
“Police, Adjective”
“Precious: Based On the Novel Push By Sapphire”
“Rembrandt’s J’Accuse”
“A Serious Man”
“Sin Nombre”
“Sleep Dealer”

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