Our final guest top ten (yes I’m buying time for my own list by posting the others’ first) comes from my long time friend Monika Volsing, a lady who represents all things style and culture in the North. Incidentally, it is she that reawakened my interest in animation a few years back with an impromptu viewing of The Iron Giant over fine slices of Leeds pizza and beer for which I think I still owe her money.
1. The Fall – Tarsem Singh
So beautiful, it made my heart hurt. What can I say? Singh’s only other accolade is The Cell, which was visually stimulating but a bit rubbish apart from that. The Fall looks amazing, and the relationship between Lee Pace’s character and the little Romanian actress Catinca Untaru is heartbreaking and naturalistic.
2. The Dark Knight – Christopher Nolan
The darkness was all consuming. Heath Ledger’s death just upped the hype. But it satisfied on so many levels. My favourite scene is probably the Joker’s pencil/eye/table disappearing trick. Still not sure about the funny gruff Batman voice though, Christian.
3. In Bruges – Martin McDonagh
I don’t like Colin Farrell but he was bloody funny in this. I love a good hitman film but to turn it into a black comedy in Belgium was genius. I got the impression Ralph Fiennes had modeled himself on Ben Kingsley in Sexy Beast though.
4. No Country for Old Men – Coen Brothers
Javier Bardem and the bowl haircut won it for me but you can’t beat a bit of Tommy Lee either. Another Coen Bros steamroller. The menace and the violence made me so nervous throughout, I felt on the verge of a severe panic attack but it was worth it.
5. There Will Be Blood – Paul Thomas Anderson
15 minutes of silence at the beginning. “I drink your milkshake!” Daniel Day Lewis at his maniacal best with a killer soundtrack (care of Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood). Again, it was the menace that got me, a historical and hysterical masterpiece from PT Anderson.
6. Persepolis – Marjane Satrapi & Vincent Paronnaud
A cartoon that documents the experience of a girl growing up during the Iranian Revolution and shows us a side of Iran we in the UK may never have realised existed. Completely enthralling and enchanting. Feeling Marjane Satrapi’s love of her family and country is inspirational and moving.
7. Juno – Jason Reitman
Wise cracking and funny, I thought I would hate this. I thought it might be like Dawson’s Creek (except the characters were slightly more like people from Napoleon Dynamite, and they actually had sex and got pregnant), i.e. when the characters are way too clever by half and you all scream at the screen, “I never talked like that when I was a teenager!” But it was just adorable, simple, cute and low-budget. Writer Cody’s portrayal of the parents as supportive was refreshing and director Reitman (and, of course, the actors themselves) made this believable.
8. Sex and the City – Michael Patrick King
I’m not justifying this. I’m a woman. I love it. The ladies rock. In fact, their characters are better in the film. They seem to have thrown off many of their more annoying character traits. And I just love it, so there, don’t make me over-analyse it.
9. Day Watch – Timur Bekmambetov
It’s a Russian vampire movie. What’s not to like? The excitement is constant. There is a brilliant lesbian shower scene. And the gore keeps on coming. The Russians myths wound into the tale are brilliant. But you should have watched Night Watch first before attempting Day Watch. Director Bekmambetov keeps the action pounding, while the actors draw you into an irresistible twilight world.
10. Wall-E – Andrew Stanton
How did they do it? Pixar make a film about protecting the environment, a cartoon ostensibly directed at kids, and it’s sweet and funny and exciting. I loved it. I particularly loved EVE although she scared me too. It made me cry. A great satirical look at the future and humankind, like 2001: A Space Odyssey, but more touching.
Monika Volsing likes to review things, hence her involvement here. She is also very judgmental, which is why she works in the legal system. Apart from reviewing and judging things, she likes making compilations. She possesses many irritating idiosyncrasies, which are reflected in her strange lists.