News of the Sight & Sound best films of 2010 list trickled out last week in an abridged, 63 critic version (which is still essential reading, as it's more comprehensive, with a total of 23 films represented), but today the full, 85 contributors list hit the web, and it's another intriguing list of American independent standouts and a slew of world art-house fair. What's interesting about S&S is that they don't put release date qualifications on their picks-- these are simply the best films these particular writers saw in 2010, regardless of festival exclusivity. Meaning, there are many great films here that won't be released in the States until 2011. For example, my favorite film of the year (and the single best film I've seen in the last three years or so), Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, is still making the festival rounds before it's American bow next Spring. Same goes for Jean Luc-Godard's dizzyingly realized Film Socialisme, Lee Chang-dong's supremely affecting Poetry, and a few others such as Nostalgia for Light, which I haven't had the opportunity to see.
Without these release date boundaries, however, films have a tendency to either make a weaker showing than they probably could/should, and/or show up on lists in consecutive years, which is what A Prophet manged to do this year, after topping this poll in 2009. Which is to say that I'm fairly confident that a film such as Abbas Kiarstami's latest, the elliptically brilliant Certified Copy, will make a stronger showing here next year (along with, presumably, Kelly Reichardt's hugely acclaimed Meek's Cutoff, which I also haven't yet seen). Anyway, technicalities aside, this is sure to once again be one of the more competent lists out there, as it includes contributions from a majority of writers still at the vanguard of modern film criticism, including Amy Taubin, Jonathan Rosenbaum, Tony Rayns, Kent Jones, Nick James, and Michael Atkinson, among others. Check out the Top 12 after the cut, and be sure to click over to full poll, to see individual writer's picks and their thoughts on some of the other cinematic highlights of 2010. Good show Sight & Sound.
1. The Social Network
2. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
3. Another Year
5. The Arbor
6. = Winter’s Bone
I Am Love
8. =The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu
Nostalgia for the Light