So here they are. In all but two cases, I also had some thoughts at the time – click on the titles for those. Happy new year.
1. Archipelago – Joanna Hogg’s exquisitely observed study of a family on holiday in the Scilly Isles is both gloriously witty and completely horrifying. A perfect film.
2. Blue Valentine – two brilliant actors, some fabulous cinematography and a dash of non-linear narrative combine to make this truly moving and memorable film about (ill-fated) love.
3. A Separation – perfectly balanced, thoughtful and humane Iranian drama which gains enormous strength simply by treating its characters (and its audience) with respect.
4. Kill List – a brilliantly stylish, properly disturbing horror film with superb sound design and an ending that simply went for it. Thrilling stuff.
5. Tyrannosaur – Olivia Colman is incredible in this grim, powerful, violent northern tale. Peter Mullan is one of the best actors out there too. I was so transfixed I didn’t even open my packet of nuts.
6. Cave of Forgotten Dreams – not quite up there with Grizzly Man, but still wild and wonderful in the way only Herzog documentaries can be. ‘Stay here’ was the best line of the year.
7. Senna – I’m still not sure what exactly to make ‘last lap’ sequence in this film, but it had me pinned to my seat like nothing I can remember.
8. The Tree of Life – awful in parts, and yet it drew me back to watch a second time. Something about the whole thing – its utter sincerity, its ambition – was overwhelming. This film felt like an event.
9. Animal Kingdom – stylishly realised, calm but compelling Australian crime drama with a memorably demonic grandma at its head.
10. Wuthering Heights – Andrea Arnold’s stab at a classic falls away a bit towards the end. But for the first hour, this is pure filmmaking: stories through images – and what striking, primal, passionate images they are.