October 14, 2020

Modern Masters: 2020 List

I should have published this in March, when this amazing list of the Greatest Films of the 21st Century was updated. Anyway, here is my annual list of Top 10 Directors with the most impressive filmography this century. This ranking considers the number of movies each director has in Top 1000 as well as the respective ranks of their movies. 

There are three names who have been a part of the top ten in one or more of the previous years. Christopher Nolan is currently at #11. With this year's 'Tenet' he may regain his position in the top ten next year, as he is only six points behind Wes Anderson. 
Hou Hsiao-Hsien is at #14. He hasn't had a release since 2015's 'The Assassin' and there is no word on his next, 'Shulan River', that was supposed to be out this year. Steven Spielberg has come down to #19. So it is unlikely for Spielberg to find a spot in the top ten anytime soon. At #12 we have Alfonso Cuaron. His next is a series/show and we do not when it will be out.

Let us check out this year's rank-holders now:

10. Wes Anderson (51-year old American filmmaker): Down to #10 from #5, Wes Anderson is only 117 points behind his last year's score. This means the ranking of his films has not changed significantly. Only other filmmakers have surged ahead. His next film 'The French Dispatch' is likely to debut at Cannes 2021.

9. Paul Thomas Anderson (50-year old American filmmaker): He is down by one position. His next, yet untitled film that stars Bradley Cooper is expected to be out in 2021. Also, he is only 68 points behind Haneke and 71 points behind the Coen Brothers. Hence, we can expect him to climb up in the next year's rankings with very few changes in the overall list of top 1000.

8. Michael Haneke (78-year old Austrian filmmaker): Losing six ranks, and out of the top two for the first time since I started publishing these rankings, this looks like a big fall, although the rankings of his movies are intact. His last film 'Happy End' (2017) has failed to make it to the top 1000 and it looks Haneke's presence in the top ten will be over sooner than we expected.

7. The Coen Brothers (65 and 63-year old American filmmakers): Down four ranks, the Coen Brothers are only 74 points behind their last year's score. This means the rankings of their films have hardly changed. 'Macbeth' directed by Joel Coen will be out in 2021. There is no news of Ethan's next.

6. Apichatpong Weerasethakul (50-year old Thai filmmaker): After the decade's best lists were published, 'Cemetery of Splendour' moved up more than 300 ranks on the Top 1000 list. This has single-handedly caused Weerasethakul's increase in points, although his rank is static. His next is 'Memoria' starring Tilda Swinton and comes out in 2021.

5. Quentin Tarantino (57-year old American filmmaker): With the entry of 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' (2019) at #132, Tarantino has scored close to 670 points more than last year, thus leaping from #11 to #5 this year. Although there is no announcement of his next, it looks like Tarantino will stay in the top ten for some time now.

4. Jia Zhangke (50-year old Chinese filmmaker): The entry of 'Ash is Purest White' has caused a 300-point increase in Zhangke's score and has ensured that he holds on to his rank. His latest work is a documentary, 'Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns Blue', that screened at Berlin this year. Whether it makes it to the Top 1000 next March or not may cause a change in Zhangke's score and rank.

3. Richard Linklater (60-year old American filmmaker): After staying at the top for two years, Linklater is down to rank #3. But the rankings of his movies has hardly changed. This only means that the top two names this year have surged ahead with the help of their latest releases. His next, 'Apollo 10 1/2', comes out in 2021. There are three other projects that have been announced with him at the helm.

2. Claire Denis (74-year old French filmmaker): The entry of 'High Life' and the improved ranking of 'Let the Sunshine In' has resulted in an 841-point increase in Denis' score. So far she stayed among #8 to #10. But now she is at #2. This, and the topper of this year's list, proves how dynamic this list is. Her next is 'The Stars at Noon' starring Robert Pattinson and it comes out next year.

1. Martin Scorsese (77-year old American filmmaker): 'The Irishman' entered the list at #125 and gained 989 points in the total score. This is what a massively acclaimed film can do to a director's filmography. This also ensures Scorsese's position in the top ten for the next few years. His next, 'Killers of the Flower Moon', starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro, comes out in 2021.

With the Coronavirus pandemic massively impacting shoots and releases this year, we do not expect many new movies to enter the Top 1000 ranking next year. But that does not mean the rankings will stay mostly static. The difference in scores for various filmmakers is negligible and just a few changes in the Top 1000 may greatly change the rankings. What we can be sure of is that the list I publish in 2022 will be very interesting. Two years can be a long time and greatly affect a list as dynamic as this. For that, and for more great movies to arrive, we will have to wait.

February 09, 2020

Top 10 at Oscars 2020

With less than 24 hours to go before the Oscar Awards ceremony to begin, here is my annual post on the ten movies which have earned most nominations this year. 

If you have watched these ten movies, the ceremony will make more sense to you than otherwise. I have watched all of these except one, which I plan to catch today.
  • 1917 by Sam Mendes (10 nominations, for Best Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Score, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Cinematography, Production Design, Makeup and Hair, VFX).  I strongly feel that '1917' will win more awards than any other film. And I'm fine with that, as long as it does not win Best Picture. Chances are high for it to win Best Director, Sound awards, Cinematography, and Production Design.
  • Ford V Ferrari by James Mangold (4 nominations, Best Picture, Film Editing, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing). It has a good chance of walking away with 1-2 awards, despite only four nominations.
  • The Irishman by Martin Scorsese (10 nominations, Best Picture, Director, two Supporting Actors, Adapted Screenplay, Production Design, Cinematography, Costume, Editing, VFX). Despite ten nominations, it is entirely possible that the film does not win any awards on the final day. Joe Pesci has an outside chance. Also, editing, may be. But that's it.
  • Jojo Rabbit by Taika Waititi (6 nominations, for Best Picture, Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actress, Editing, Production Design, Costume). Do not be surprised if 'Jojo Rabbit' wins for Adapted Screenplay. But anything more than that will be difficult.
  • Joker by Todd Phillips (11 nominations, for Best Picture, Director, Actor, Adapted Screenplay, Score, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Cinematography, Editing, Costume, Makeup and Hair) With 11 nominations, 'Joker' leads this list. Winning for Actor and Score is somewhat easy to predict now. But it is unlikely that it will win more.
  • Little Women by Greta Gerwig (6 nominations, for Best Picture, Actress, Supporting Actress, Adapted Screenplay, Costume, Score) The film has collected awards in many categories at different award functions. I'm not sure if that will translate at the Oscars. But the possibility of winning for Costume Design is the highest. And Adapted Screenplay, perhaps.
  • Marriage Story by Noah Baumbach (6 nominations, for Best Picture, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actress, Original Screenplay, Score) It looks like Laura Dern will win her first Oscar for this movie. But apart from that, it is unlikely that 'Marriage Story' will win any. I'd be very pleased if it does. It is one of my favourite movies on this list.
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood by Quentin Tarantino (10 nominations, for Best Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Production Design, Cinematography, Costume) Brad Pitt is almost certain to win the trophy. But the film may also win for Production Design, Screenplay and even Best Picture.
  • Parasite by Bong Joon-ho (6 nominations, for Best Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Production Design, Editing, International Feature Film) It is almost certain to win in the last category. But it has strong chances in other categories as well, going by its BAFTA and WGA win for Best Original Screenplay, the ACE award for Editing, the Art Directors Guild Award for Production Design (Contemporary), and several critics association award for Best Picture and Director. If it wins best picture, which I think it should, 'Parasite' will be the first foreign-language film to do it. 
  • The Two Popes by Fernando Meirelles (3 nominations, for Best Actor, Supporting Actor, Adapted Screenplay). The film is on Netflix. It is unlikely it will win in any of these categories, but the performances are really good.

February 08, 2020

Cinema 2019: Top Modern Foreign-Language Films

These are the top ten foreign-language movies from the last five years that I saw in 2019:

Bacurau (2019/ Brazil/ Kleber Mendonca Filho and Juliano Dornelles)
Capernaum (2018/ Lebanon/ Nadine Labaki)
Deerskin (2019/ France/ Quentin Dupieux)
Honeyland (2019/ North Macedonia/ Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov)
It Must Be Heaven (2019/ Palestine/ Elia Suleiman)
I Lost My Body (2019/ France/ Jeremy Clapin)
Keep an Eye Out (2018/ France/ Quentin Dupieux)
Midnight Traveller (2019/ Qatar-UK-Canada-USA/ Hassan Fazili)
Les miserables (2019/ France/ Ladj Ly)
Pain & Glory (2019/ Spain/ Pedro Almodovar)

Discovering the cinema of Quentin Dupieux has been a highlight of the year. Two of his movies feature in this list and I have not watched more. I definitely want to watch 'Rubber' (2010), 'Wrong' (2012), 'Wrong Cops' (2013) and 'Reality' (2014).

Cinema 2019: Top Foreign-Language Classics

These are the top ten foreign-language classics I watched in 2019. All of these were made available to me by MUBI. I wasn't aware of these titles before I watched and loved them. This shows how important MUBI is for a film-buff.
  • Cabaret Balkan (1998/ Serbia/ Goran Paskaljevic). This filmmaker is still making films. I must look more into his filmography.
  • Europa Europa (1990/ Germany-France-Poland/ Agnieszka Holland). Need to watch 'In Darkness' (2011) and 'Spoor' (2017) by the same director.
  • Fantastic Planet (1973/ France/ Rene Laloux)
  • Home (2008/ Switzerland/ Ursula Meier). 'Strong Shoulders' (2003) and Sister (2012) are some of the movies I look forward to watching.
  • A Hundred and One Nights (1994/ France/ Agnes Varda)
  • Jacquot de Nantes (1991/ France/ Agnes Varda)
  • King of Devil's Island (2010/ France-Norway/ Marius Holst). How will I find these films by the same filmmaker? 'Cross My Heart and Hope to Die' (1994), Dragonflies (2001), and Mirush (2007).
  • Natural Sciences (2004/ Argentina/ Mattias Lucchesi)
  • Philanthropy (2002/ Romania/ Nae Caranfil)
  • Quai des Orfevres (1947/ France/ Henri-Georges Clouzot)

Cinema 2019: Top Modern English-Language Films

These are the top ten English-language films from the last five years which I watched in 2019:

   American Honey (2016)

   The Favourite (2018)
   Ford V Ferrari (2019)
   Free Solo (2018)
   The Irishman (2019)
   Joker (2019)
   Marriage Story (2019)
   Sorry to Bother You (2018)
   Toy Story 4 (2019)
   Us (2019)

Cinema 2019: Top English-Language Classics

These are the top ten English-language classics I watched in 2019.
  • (500) Days of Summer (2009)
  • 8 Mile (2002)
  • Away from Her (2006)
  • Buried (2010)
  • The Driver (1978)
  • Election (1999)
  • Hot Fuzz (2007)
  • The Shop Around the Corner (1940): Must Watch Before You Die #51
  • Toy Story 1, 2, 3 (1995-2010)
  • Vera Drake (2004)

January 25, 2020

MAMI 2019

This was my tenth year at MAMI 2019. I've attended every edition of the festival since 2009, except in 2017 when I was busy prepping for 'Chintu Ka Birthday'. With 28 movies this time, I have completed 298 features in all these editions of the festival.

These are the films I watched at MAMI 2019, in alphabetical order, with my favourite ten marked in bold.

  • Aamis (2019)
  • Ad Astra (2019)
  • Alien (Rewatch) (1979)
  • Bacurau (2019)
  • The Beach Bum (2019)
  • Bitter Chestnut (2019)
  • Buoyancy (2019)
  • The Cremator (1969)
  • The Dead Don't Die (2019)
  • Deerskin (2019)
  • A Dog and His Man (2019)
  • Greener Grass (2019)
  • Honeyland (2019)
  • Les miserables (2019)
  • It Must Be Paradise (2019)
  • Land of Ashes (2019)
  • The Lighthouse (2019)
  • The Lodge (2019)
  • Midnight Family (2019)
  • Midnight Traveller (2019)
  • Pain and Glory (2019)
  • Sole (2019)
  • System Crasher (2019)
  • Varda by Agnes (2019)
  • Vitalina Varela (2019)
  • The Whistlers (2019)
  • The Wild Goose Lake (2019)
  • You Will Die At 20 (2019)