Tag Archives: Skeletons

Top 10 2010

This year I’ve seen 125 films; 115 in one of 21 various cinemas and another on screeners and in various video rooms.   I imagine I’ll squeeze in a couple more before 31 December, but unless Tron: Legacy turns out to be much less shite than I anticipate, my top 10 list of the year is pretty much set. 

It might look a bit different if I’d manage to catch everything I wanted, but inevitably one or two of the limited releases slipped through my fingers (Uncle Boonmee and Still Walking being chief among them).  Anyway, the ten have been arrived at without much in the way of deep thought – I’ve basically picked the ones I enjoyed most at the time, and arranged them in an approximate order.  The top five, I think, are essential viewing; the rest maybe less so, but all provide solid entertainment that’s more interesting than average.

Tenth place was a struggle, and I nearly bottled the choice by replacing it with a whole bunch of runner ups.  But in the end, The Illusionist, The Runaways, The Last Exorcism and The Town all had to settle for honourable mentions.  No doubt they’re gutted.

10. Skeletons
A film I very nearly walked out of after about 20 minutes, but thankfully stuck with.  A very peculiar British fantasy comedy drama it’s certainly not for everyone, but edges out the competition by being completely its own thing.

9. The Secret in Their Eyes
One of those films that was greatly enjoyed by an audience you suspect might have shunned it had it not been subtitled.  Never mind, it was melodramatic tosh but I enjoyed it greatly for all that.

8. Dogtooth

7. Monsters
This gets pretty much everything right, starting with a first appearance by a monster that’s as exciting as the one in The Host. After that we spend more time with the two leads than with the aliens, which is fine as they’re both very likeable and they’re traveling through some lovely scenery. Unfortunately I have some issues with the ending; I had been hoping throughout that they wouldn’t go that cynical horror movie route where you think everyones survived and then they haven’t.  But they did. 

6. Inception
My top ten usually has space for the year’s best blockbuster, and this was 2010s.  An original screenplay (well, original in the sense that it’s not based on a comic book or another film – obviously it has its own antecedents), excellent cast and loads of cool visuals make it superior multiplex fodder.

5. Mother
A Bong Joon-Ho film is worth watching pretty much by definition, and if this didn’t seem quite up to his brilliant Memories of Murder it’s only because I now have such high expectations of him. 

4. Four Lions

3. Toy Story 3

And the final two, which could easily switch places:
2. The Social Network

1. Winter’s Bone

The UKFC: What comes next?

Like many others, I was taken by surprise by the coalition government’s announcement about the demise of the UK Film Council. While the UKFC’s funding would certainly have been a likely target for the cost-cutting coalition, the idea that it would be swept away entirely was more of a shock – even to the UKFC themselves.

In the event, the UKFC will be in existence until 2012, albeit gradually winding down, so existing projects and commitments will not be casually brushed aside (like some kind of school building programme). But what happens after that?

The DCMS has said that lottery funding for UK production will continue. However, it has given no indication of how large that funding will be, or how it would be administered (my guess is that it will return to the Lottery itself, who presided over the fund prior to the UKFC’s formation, and gave the green light to films including Billy Elliott and Bend it Like Beckham). Inevitably, this will stall productions that might otherwise have gone ahead, as filmmakers and production companies wait in limbo for some kind of announcement.

Plenty of people have been lining up to dance on the UKFC’s grave. No surprise there: any body which holds the strings of so significant a purse is going to have to turn down a lot of projects, some of which deserved better, and make a lot of enemies. And every time it makes a bad call (Sex Lives of the Potato Men is the one most people bring up) it gives its vocal enemies more ammunition. Even so, there is plenty that the UKFC can be criticised for – the reluctance to fund more personal projects, the failure to develop a new generation of arthouse directors, the generously paid executives, the initiatives allowed to peter out (I’ve had my rant about the Digital Screen Network previously on this blog). But the good work should not be forgotten: whatever one may feel about the creative accounting that allows the UKFC to claim Harry Potter and James Bond movies as British, they have helped to encourage overseas – predominantly Hollywood – productions to come to this country, spending their budget on British crews, cast and locations.

They’ve also made some good choices when it comes to investing in production; commercially oriented films from The Last King of Scotland to The Duchess. The Prints and Advertising Fund is also worthy of praise, a scheme which allowed distributors of arthouse films with wider than usual audience potential (Pan’s Labyrinth, Downfall etc) to apply for funding to increase the number of prints available, taking advantage of critical and/or audience buzz.

That last is significant, because one of the major bugbears I have with the UKFC is that its avowed aim of increasing audiences to what it terms specialised film has repeatedly failed to materialise. It’s fine that Lottery funding should go to things like St Trinian’s or StreetDance – I have no problem with people enjoying shite, at least it’s 100% British shite – but the likes of Fish Tank have been given minimal support.

But the question remains: who is going to administer financial support for film production, and how much will they have to spend? This is significant to me as an exhibitor: a hefty percentage of the films I rely on to bring people to my venue enjoyed UKFC support. Among their upcoming projects which I would anticipate being hits for my business are Tamara Drewe, Another Year, Made in Dagenham and The King’s Speech. Will the supply of films like this dry up after 2012? And what will happen to excellent schemes like First Light?

For the future, I hope that whatever replaces the UKFC looks not just at funding film production but at getting it into cinemas, and getting audiences to come and see it. This means taking on the mantle of distributor as well as producer; working to persuade cinemas to book their product. This body needs to look carefully at each of its films and make judgements about who the audience is, and how best to get the film to them. If you have a mixed slate of (say) Wilderness, The Duchess, and Fish Tank, then you’re looking at three different films with different marketing and distribution needs. A genre piece will work better in the multiplexes; something by Andrea Arnold or Lynn Ramsey will pass through Vue unnoticed, but will flourish in city centre independents like the Picturehouse chain; and The Duchess will have a shot in both markets.

For the more specialised arm of the market, the body needs to offer some excellent financial deals to distributors, some of whom have been severely pissed off by the UKFC’s mishandling of the DSN. They might care to look at the work being done by Soda Pictures and the New British Cinema Quarterly, who are currently touring Skeletons with the support of Q&As from the cast and crew.

Oh, and it would help if the films are good. Did I mention that?