Best Films of the First Half

There are many reasons to be excited about the newly expanded field of ten best picture Oscar nominees. Among them is the distinct possibility that some films released in the first half of the year might actually get some best picture love. Imagine that! First half releases usually get little in the way of awards recognition.

This year has already seen some very quality films, though my picks are maybe not on the radar (or even available to see) for most people. Alas, they are great films that you should try to see, and chances are some of them will make my top ten list come December (my top two picks from last year’s midyear list ended up making the year-end list).

5) The Brothers Bloom – (from my review): “The Brothers Bloom is a film that is from start to finish adamantly unreal. It exists in a magical story world where heiresses can juggle chainsaws and con men spend their time playing shuffleboard on 1920s-style yachts. But it’s also a film in which people are shown loving each other, laughing, and doing a Bolero dance under the moonlight. It’s a film with beautiful oceans, sunsets, and epiphanies. That is, it’s a film with a good deal of truth.”

4) Goodbye Solo – (from my review): “It’s a film of remarkable restraint and subtle suggestion, where so many “points” aren’t hammered home as much as they are delicately positioned for us to coax them into place. It’s a rare film in the way that it knocks you down without ever having to so much as blow in your direction.”

3) Silent Light – Carlos Reygadas’ masterful, elemental, and largely silent film about Mennonite infidelity in Northern Mexico is one of the most stunning, surprising films I’ve seen in a long time.

2) Munyurangabo – A film about the effects of genocide, tragedy, and war… but also about friendship and renewal and the life-giving purity of nature. It’s tender, mysterious, quiet, and one of the best films about Africa I’ve ever seen.

1) Summer Hours – (from my review): “Summer Hours is about the beauty and meaning of objects. It raises interesting, profound questions about why we treasure certain things and what gives a vase or desk or painting “value.” … But the film is also about life, and how it is so much more than objects and mementos and the bric-a-brac of our everyday accumulations. It’s about the hours we spend with our families, running around on a summer evening in a forest or field, sipping wine or eating quiche. It’s about the love and passion and sadness we share.”

6 responses to “Best Films of the First Half

  1. No After Last Season?

  2. No Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen?

  3. I was halfway serious about After Last Season. No other film has made me think as much about filmmaking, the nature of art, and the interrelationship of medium and message nearly as much in the last several years. To quote myself from another website where I talked about it: It’s the closest thing, I think, that cinema will ever come to outsider art– it’s like the filmmakers have never seen a movie before. Despite how poorly made it is, how terrible the composition and editing and acting and costuming and sets (especially the sets), it develops its own sort of organic beauty particularly because it’s so poorly made. I say this with zero irony– I didn’t enjoy the film ironically, I enjoyed the film. It’s terrible and incomprehensible at times and has no idea what it’s doing, but the roughness and incompetence of the film build into their own sort of rhythm and energy that I don’t think I can quite accurately describe. I don’t doubt for a moment that none of this was on purpose: the filmmakers very much wanted to tell a particular story about some med students and evoke a few emotions and philosophical thoughts, and all of those completely missed the mark. After Last Season was, to me, fascinating and thought-provoking for reasons entirely accidental, which contributes to the fascination.

  4. Thank you, Tim. Sorry for being so flippant, all.

  5. Doug,

    No harm, no foul. I wasn’t bothered by your flippancy, I just noticed that my own original comment was pretty easy to take as flippant, so I thought I’d clarify.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s