04 January 2011

A Few Lists, Mostly of Films

The new year is a time of many lists. I have a love/hate relationship with lists; here are a few ones I have recently loved more than hated:

Reverse Shot's List of Best Films of 2010
A lot of "best of the year" lists of movies are terribly similar, and this year they seemed especially so. I like such lists mostly as ways to discover film I haven't heard of, and though by the time I got to Reverse Shot's list, I knew about most of the titles on it, I found the selection refreshingly different from most. (My basic criterion for whether I trusted a critic's listmaking this year was if they included Inception on their list or not. If it was there, I didn't think they'd either seen enough movies or developed enough judgment; if it was absent, I was willing to take a look at what they had to say.) Reverse Shot's list of the 11 films they most hated this year is amusing, but not nearly as valuable as their list of bests.

New Deal Sally: 2010 Top Ten
This may be the best-written top ten list I've read yet this year. I like a lot of the choices, but more than that, the whole thing reads as much like a personal essay as a list.

Matt Zoller Seitz's video essays on the Best Scenes of 2010
Seitz's video essays are always worth watching, and these are no exception -- creative, precise, informative. Any of us might come up with a totally different set of scenes from 2010's films, but few people are as skilled at creating video essays to explicate what they see in a film the way Seitz is.

DVD Beaver's List of the Best DVDs and Blu-Rays of the Year
This is actually a bunch of different people's lists, and then at the end is an aggregated list. DVD Beaver is one of the essential internet sites for me, with hugely valuable comparisons of different home video editions of all sorts of films. They're global, though English-language-focused, in the editions they compare, which is helpful, and these lists are no exception to that.

Finally, a non-film list:

John Sutherland's Top 10 Books About Books
What I most like about this list is that it doesn't go in for cheap shots against academics, and it's also a nice corrective to folks who say that the only people who should write criticism are people who also write novels or poetry or some such thing -- Sontag is the only one on the list who I know to have done so with any seriousness. These are writers whose art is criticism, and though my own pantheon might be somewhat different, or I might choose different samples of their work (for instance, starting with S/Z seems to me a tough way to get to know Barthes) -- but if a reader wanted to get a sense of some of the possibilities serious literary criticism can offer, they could do a lot worse than to take a look at these books.

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