Critics' 10 Best Lists

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Postby Okri » Thu Jan 06, 2011 10:26 pm

How is one both ignorant and overcultured?

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Postby Sabin » Thu Jan 06, 2011 3:53 pm

http://www.thelmagazine.com/gyrobas....yPage=2

The L Magazine cites 2. The Social Network, 1. Everyone Else. Don't really know them but good taste is good taste.
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

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Postby Sabin » Thu Jan 06, 2011 2:38 pm

City Island, Another Year, AND Wild Grass > The Social Network. Snarky troll. He's already on his way to turning True Grit into The Hurt Locker.

City Island > The Social Network
Gotta have at the Facebook movie once again, if only to counter the fallacious consensus that no other movie dealt with the Internet phenomenon. Ray De Felitta's emotionally large family comedy and Andy Garcia's warm comeback performanceepitomized timeless, noncyber interfacing.

?

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World > Inception
Edgar Wright finds a funny, sexy, visually exciting way to illustrate the mind while Christopher Nolan bends the frameand fanboysinto mindlessness.

!
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

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Postby Big Magilla » Thu Jan 06, 2011 10:59 am

I actually liked this one. I found myself agreeing with him in several of his assertions. Nice to see the love for City Island; Mother and Child and Ondine.
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Postby Sonic Youth » Thu Jan 06, 2011 10:13 am

Without looking, let me guess. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps > The Social Network?

ETA: Yeah, I guess that was too obvious a guess.




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Postby anonymous1980 » Thu Jan 06, 2011 10:03 am

Armond White's annual BETTER THAN list.

Not as hilarious as the past ones with only Jonah Hex as the one true WTF-is-he-thinking pick. His repeated diss of The Social Network is predictable though.




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Postby Sabin » Wed Dec 22, 2010 7:12 pm

...sigh...

I usually edit his reviews but as he seems to be moving more towards writing criticism (he covered Toronto this year for InRO), I'm moving away from it. His deadlines caught up with him and he ran out of time for the bottom five. I think there's a better way to describe in ILYPM maybe the funniest reveal of thee year than THAT. He's an incredibly promising film critic who I hope finds the work he deserves.

(rain Bard · Posted on Dec. 22 2010,5:37)
Sabin, re: your comments on the latter poll. It's a critics poll, not an awards group (slight differences - the main other one being lack of official communication between voters). Not sure there's even something physical for Banksy to 'pick up'.

You're right. I just mean in general when there is a physical award, who is he going to send?


(Greg @ Dec. 22 2010,6:08)
(Sabin @ Dec. 21 2010,2:21)
Of all the fucking people to call it the best movie of the year...

(Armond White, from his indieWire poll)
ANNUAL CRITICS SURVEY 2010 »
Best Film »
1) Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

I don't know what is more scary. You turning into Armond White, or me turning into Peter Travers.

The answer is yes.




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"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

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Postby Greg » Wed Dec 22, 2010 7:08 pm

Sabin wrote:Of all the fucking people to call it the best movie of the year...

(Armond White, from his indieWire poll)


ANNUAL CRITICS SURVEY 2010 »
Best Film »
1) Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

I don't know what is more scary. You turning into Armond White, or me turning into Peter Travers.
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Ronald Reagan, corrected

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Postby rain Bard » Wed Dec 22, 2010 6:37 pm

flipp525 wrote:
Precious Doll wrote:4. “Meek’s Cutoff,” director: Kelly Reichardt

Why wasn't this given an Oscar qualifying release? I heard Michelle Williams' supporting performance was dynamite. Might've even gotten her into two categories this cycle (alongside her lead work in Blue Valentine).

Meek's Cutoff is an unlikely Oscar vehicle, and in particular, Michelle Williams's performance is even more marginally Awards-friendly as that in Wendy & Lucy.

I'm not sure why Film Comment lists 'undistributed' films which, like Meek's Cutoff, Uncle Boonmee, etc., have distribution but which are being held until 2011. The Village Voice poll 'undistributed' list is only films with no current release planned.

Sabin, re: your comments on the latter poll. It's a critics poll, not an awards group (slight differences - the main other one being lack of official communication between voters). Not sure there's even something physical for Banksy to 'pick up'. These decentralized polls tend to give pretty free reign to their participants in terms of deciding who is lead or supporting; I'm suspect if Village Voice Media tried to make votes for Manville conform to one category or another, then critics would get angry enough to defect to the indiewire poll, for example. Critics generally don't get paid, or (unlike members of critics groups) get screener privileges, for participating in these polls, so other than the few VVM employees in the poll, they participate for the prestige and the independence afforded.

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Postby Damien » Wed Dec 22, 2010 4:00 pm

ITALIANO wrote:I like your friend Andrew Alex.

I do, too.
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Postby dws1982 » Wed Dec 22, 2010 3:27 pm

flipp525 wrote:
Sabin wrote:Jim Carrey reaming another man in the ass.

What does this mean, exactly? Is he trying to say "rimming" and came up with "reaming" instead?

A reamer is a tool used to widen a hole. So...

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Postby ITALIANO » Wed Dec 22, 2010 1:56 pm

I like your friend Andrew Alex.

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Postby flipp525 » Wed Dec 22, 2010 1:51 pm

Sabin wrote:Jim Carrey reaming another man in the ass.

What does this mean, exactly? Is he trying to say "rimming" and came up with "reaming" instead?
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Postby Sabin » Wed Dec 22, 2010 1:26 pm

My writing partner Andrew Alex Dowd has his Top Ten List up at http://www.inreviewonline.com/inrevie....9.html. He's becoming quite an impressive critic in my estimation. Do check him out.


Feature by A.A. Dowd: The ballots have been cast, the votes have been tallied and the results are in: "The Social Network" is the supreme cinematic achievement of 2010. That, anyway, appears to be the overwhelming consensus among those who make a living declaring such things. Color me dismayed though scarcely surprised. Nothing against the movie, per say—David Fincher's biopic, about Mark Zuckerberg and the founding of Facebook, is a slick and witty entertainment, if hardly the era-defining manifesto it's been championed as. What irks me is the unanimity of its support, an excessive showering of accolades that speaks less to the film's (real but modest) charms and more to the way that mainstream movie culture continues to shrink with each passing year. (It certainly wouldn't take 127 hours to get through the scant few flicks most "established" critics have rallied around this season.) Which is not to say, of course, that the ten pictures cited after this cranky preamble are exclusively left-field selections. They're just pricklier ones, less concerned with catharsis of the zeitgeist, more with private purgatories. Who has time to please (or soothe or unite) crowds when you're staving off a 21st-century meltdown? These filmmakers, they picked at their own wounds, as if the only way to face this scary new millennium was to go inward—to dreams and nightmares, to memories, to the truth in a film lovers' subjective history. (It was, to be sure, a great year for genre pastiche and re-appropriation.) To that end, the best movie of 2010 was not the one about the roots and perils of post-modern interconnectedness. It was the one about what happens when no one's looking.




TOP TEN FILMS


10. Shutter Island / Martin Scorsese. How can anyone who truly loves cinema, in all its sonic and visual possibilities, not get a certain hit of pure joy from "Shutter Island"? Okay, so it's basically dumb as a box of rocks: a shaggy-dog story with a twist you could predict not just from the onset of the film, but after reading a simple description of its plot. Transcending its hoary, exceedingly obvious narrative architecture, this primo pulp exercise affords Martin Scorsese, ever the playful aesthete and giddy genre aficionado, the opportunity to indulge in some of his most gloriously opulent imagery. From its opening frames, wherein a mighty vessel emerges from the thick and billowy fog of Boston Harbor, "Shutter Island" has begun to blur the line between the real and the unreal, between immaculate period detail and classic Hollywood affectation. Bad dreams commingle with faulty memories, while personal phobias—of steep plummets, of squealing vermin, of stormy weather—are inflated to grotesque proportions. In a role awfully similar to the one he coasts through in "Inception," Leonardo DiCaprio simmers and contracts with queasy conviction, grounding the film’s phantasmagoric fantasies in a wealth of genuine feeling. Okay, it'll take you minutes to guess the ending. Wait and see how long it takes you to shake off the rest of the thing.


09. I Love You Philip Morris / Glenn Ficarra & John Requa. While critics spent most of the past year fawning over "The Kids Are All Right," an agreeable portrait of gay marriage, this braver and much funnier queer romance sat in release date purgatory for months, finally opening, to little fanfare, a few weeks ago. No small wonder they polled a little differently: the former wines and dines with a charming, sitcom-dysfunctional lesbian couple, while the latter basically commences its hijinks with a big reveal of Jim Carrey reaming another man in the ass. Politically incorrect to its kinky core, "I Love You, Phillip Morris" is a rebel from the waist down. In damn near the performance of his career—it's this, "Eternal Sunshine" or the stupid-brilliant "Dumb and Dumber"—Carrey comes close to realizing the transgressive aims of Sascha Baron Cohen's "Brüno": to break down the closet doors in plain daylight, to push an out-and-proud (and sexually active) gay extrovert into mainstream multiplexes everywhere. The film itself is a zippy Hollywood farce with a disarmingly sweet, unapologetically sincere love story at its center. And it culminates with an uproariously daring third act twist, one that shatters Tinseltown's enduring insistence that onscreen gay romance end in death, disease or heartache. If but all sly political missives could be this gut-bust hilarious.


08. Wild Grass / Alain Resnais. Time makes fools of us all, even those of us that qualify as bona fide master filmmakers. For every old pro sinking gracefully into his august years there's a creaky old coot diminishing his legacy with each bloodless new picture. So thank God for Alain Resanis: at 88, the New Wave stalwart is as bat-shit crazy as ever—and, more pointedly, as crazily inspired. His latest isn't a house-of-mirrors abstraction like "Last Year At Marienbad," but it runs on the same fever dream logic, the sense that the picture could collapse in on itself at any moment without sacrificing its jagged emotional center. "Wild Grass" has more dadaist non-sequiturs than an Adult Swim marathon: a murderous past that's alluded to and then never mentioned again; a movie-within-a-movie that's conveyed entirely in an expository text cutaway; and the biggest what-the-fuck ending in recent memory. The method to all this madness is an improbable, hilariously sardonic critique of genre convention. With a mere tweaking of mood, Resnais demonstrates how behavior we find charming in romantic comedies is, if you look closely enough, not really so different than the disturbingly obsessive advances of a lovesick stalker. No offense to this living legend, but he certainly knows his crazies.


07. Rabbit Hole / John Cameron Mitchell. I can't fathom how exactly this bittersweet eulogy, set in the gauzy aftermath of unspeakable tragedy, has failed to garner attention from either audiences or awards groups. It's the rare American drama that feels "middlebrow" in all the right ways—an accessible portrait of parental grief, with a warmly honest interest in extending coping-method condolences. Leaving his funky-fresh affectations at the door, "Shortbus" director John Cameron Mitchell digs deep into David Lindsay-Abaire's celebrated play, emerging from the darkness with a pointedly un-stagey interpretation. Preciously low on histrionic theatrics, "Rabbit Hole" lingers on quiet and inherently cinematic gestures of grieving and recovery, with Mitchell demonstrating a patiently observational interest in daily routines, and in the tempests of emotion bubbling almost imperceptibly beneath their placid, wordless surfaces. Nicole Kidman, in one of her great, unglamorous performances, constricts with existential rage, while Aaron Eckhart sinks deeper into the middle-aged melancholy that's made him such a convincingly damaged leading-man. It's Diane Wiest, though, as an elderly mother slowed by the dull throb of a more distant loss, who carries the weight of the film's cleansing catharsis. By the end, you'll want to shoulder the burden of her feeling, and let the film's empathy echo in your bones.


06. Winter’s Bone / Debra Granik. The best American indie of the year was also the one that evoked a mythic notion of America, one colored both in regional specificity and a noirish breed of Southern Gothic fantasy. An internet critic recently complained about praising Debra Granik's crackling genre piece, about a wise-beyond-her-years teen (breakout star Jennifer Lawrence) searching for her on-the-lam father, solely through the prism of its distinctively desolate locales. Really, though, come on: it's impossible to extol the virtues of "Winter's Bone" without getting lost in the film's sprawling, decaying backwoods oasis. The era is vaguely undefined, but that's because this corner of the U.S. of A—an isolated, half-imagined stretch of the Ozarks, all meth labs and dilapidated houses—is a proverbial Land That Time Forgot. It's also a closed society as richly drawn and hermetically sealed as a Jane Austen novel. And as Lawrence's stubborn heroine ventures deeper into it, her every inquiry violating its unspoken, rigidly-upheld code of conduct, Granik extends her impeccable eye and ear for local culture to the stylized pitter patter of the native populace. There's more life in the margins of this picture—in the faces and voices of its actors, principles and bit players alike—than most movies manage at their energized peaks. I'll call that an extension of its "sense of place," and weather whatever charges of auto-criticism that come my way.


05. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World / Edgar Wright. It's not much of a love story, mostly because Michael Cera's titular combatant is too naggingly narcissistic to transmit swooning desire, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead is a Manic Pixie Dream Cipher too detached to inspire head-over-heels devotion. No matter—the real romance here is between writer-director Edgar Wright and his world of "disreputable" interests: trash rock, splash-panel comic books and 90s video games. Not quite a Zucker-Brothers parodist, not exactly a Tarantino fanboy, Wright is instead the superhero mash-up artist of our wildest pop-culture dreams. Like his hyper-literate characters, he's so plugged into his obsessions that his movies obliterate the line between satire and reverence. Here, he savages hipster culture—its postures and attitudes, as well as its dubious dating practices—with the same thinly-veiled affection that underlined his expert riffs on zombie onslaughts and braindead shoot-'em-ups. "Scott Pilgrim," though, is next-level good, the kind of eccentric pop-art triumph that Hollywood rarely bankrolls anymore. Wright's brand of comedy is embedded in his aesthetic mastery—his lightning-quick timing, his masterful grasp of composition and movement—and he stages Scott's epic showdowns with the manic flair of a Vincent Minnelli musical number. Is it high art? Let's put it this way: it elevates low art to transcendent new heights.


04. White Material / Claire Denis. Only a filmmaker as consistently challenging as Claire Denis could make a movie this loaded with sadness and outrage and ethereal beauty, and then get accused of playing to the cheap seats. A political drama in the same way that "Trouble Every Day" is a horror movie, "White Material" finds Denis diving yet again into the war-ravaged Africa of her childhood, this time like a trauma patient sifting through repressed memories. Just as she did in last year's superb "Home," Isabelle Huppert sleepwalks through as a half-mad matriarch clinging stubbornly to her property. The movie seems to exist in her ambivalent headspace—it unfolds in a haze of oblivious entitlement, its visions of violence relegated to the peripheral. Like some wandering symbol of colonial arrogance, Huppert very gradually awakens to the nightmare around her. The horror of it slinks in like an alarm in the night, shattering the dream space: warning signs blink faintly in the foliage, assassins creep through tall grass, and throats are cut with the quiet of the wind. If this is Denis going "conventional" on us, let's hear it for convention—and for a filmmaker so in control of her bewitching craft even "minor" efforts feel staggeringly major.


03. Amer / Héléne Cattet & Bruno Forzani. It starts with an eye, pupil and retina stretched to magnificent widescreen and then multiplied into leering quadrants. This, we're told from the onset, will be a movie about looking. And more than any movie in memory, "Amer" embodies, with its every voyeuristic glance, the late Robin Wood's mythic male gaze incarnate. Except that these malevolent stares are met and mirrored with eyes of relentless curiosity—and the "Final Girl" is both subject and chief perpetrator of the film's unblinking fetishism. To call this gloriously inventive giallo tribute a "horror film" would be misleading. That would imply a sense of build and release that directors Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani willfully eschew. These quick studies pilfer the playbooks of Italian horror maestros Dario Argento and Mario Bava, straining out all extraneous traces of perfunctory plot and character, reducing a whole genre to pure, ecstatic formalism. (Forget "Black Swan": here was a kaleidoscopic death trip, co-mingling desire and dread, that resurrected the phantom specter of "Repulsion.") Technique for technique's sake? Absolutely. Also: the most boldly experimental "narrative" film I saw in 2010.


02. Everyone Else / Maren Ade. The annals of cinema history are littered with broken hearts and shattered unions; filmmakers like Ingmar Bergman, Woody Allen and Eric Rohmer made whole, healthy careers out of tracing the rise and fall of not-so-healthy relationships. Yet I'm not sure I've ever seen a break-up movie as surgically precise as this one—every scene plays like a carefully constructed thesis on the way affection can wilt into petty resentment as the weeks, months and years tick by. "Everyone Else" is nothing if not exhaustive in its romantic autopsy, but it's rarely exhausting, mostly because writer-director Marden Ade sets her battle of the sexes on rocky, foreign terrain, during an aimlessly scenic vacation from hell. She's got the freewheeling playfulness of Cassavetes, and two superb actors—moody, lanky Lars Eidinger and damaged wild child Birgit Minichmayr—to breathe life into her mismatched combative types. Timeless in its vision of curdling l'amour fou, "Everyone Else" is also sneakily timely. These aging bohemians aren't just waking up to their fundamental incompatibility; they're waking up to the long-delayed burden of adulthood, to a 21st century where starving-artist affectation gives way to bourgeoise complacency almost overnight. How they lean into or away from that impending sea change defines the fault line in their ailing affair.


01. Dogtooth / Yorgos Lanthimos. It's tempting for us critics, when singling out the great movies of a given year—the ones that crept their way into our hearts and minds, that lingered in our subconscious, that returned to us in our dreams—to grasp for parallels. Those who champion "The Social Network" as the high-point of 2010 do so, at least in part, because of what it supposedly has to say about how we live, about each day spent in the here and now of this brand-new century. So what exactly does "Dogtooth" have to say about all that? What insight can you gain into 21st-century living by diving headfirst into this screaming-mad nightmare? A twisted cautionary fable about a deranged couple raising their grown children in Pavlovian captivity, "Dogtooth" takes allegorical aim at all forms of social conditioning, at the way not just our families, but our governments, our religions and our media fundamentally shape who we are. Yet the film operates on such a primal, alien wavelength—unfolding like singular science fiction, its tone wavering from dreamy to coldly clinical to vaguely menacing, often within the space of a single scene—that it eludes tidy topical allusion. Yorgos Langthimos, merciless master at the helm, has the exacting aesthetic prowess of cinema's great scolds. But he also has a wickedly-pronounced, pitch-black sense of humor. That's the ultimate provocation here—staging this madness as comedy, staring down its atrocities of infernal, parental manipulation with a bloody, broken-toothed grin of triumph. Actually, I can think of nothing more aptly 2010 than that.




TOP FIVE PERFORMANCES


It was a landmark year for women in film. Not only were several of 2010's strongest pictures directed by ladies, many featured breakout performances by a master class of actresses, young and old. Here were just five of many eye-opening turns: As the titular mother of "Mother," Hye-ja Kim invested procedural proceedings with maternal rage and compassion—hers the year's most compelling performative invention. While critics celebrated her cozier work in "The Kids Are All Right," Julianne Moore rendered palpable the hot-house passions and mid-life malaise of a suspicious housewife in "Chloe." Just as she did in the final moments of "Summer Hours," French ingenue Alice de Lencquesaing grappled with loss and change, navigating a painful pilgrimage into sudden adulthood in “The Father of My Children.” Katie Jarvis located a prickly poignancy in the coming-of-age cliches of "Fish Tank." And with very slight modulations of tone and expression, Sylvie Testud traced a disabled young woman's overnight transformation from humble wallflower into self-involved starlet in "Lourdes."
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

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Postby Sabin » Wed Dec 22, 2010 1:19 pm

Village Voice's Poll


BEST FILM
The Social Network 314/52
Carlos 247/36
Winter's Bone 194/34
The Ghost Writer 163/27
Everyone Else 143/26
Dogtooth 128/20
Black Swan 118/19
Wild Grass 115/18
Mother 115/21
Toy Story 3 109/17

BEST ACTOR
Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network 87/38
Edgar Ramirez, Carlos 68/31
Colin Firth, The King's Speech 29/14
Ryan Gosling, Blue Valentine 22/12
Ronald Bronstein, Daddy Longlegs 21/10

BEST ACTRESS
Jennifer Lawrence, Winter's Bone 50/25
Natalie Portman, Black Swan 45/23
Kim Hye-ja, Mother 35/18
Tilda Swinton, I Am Love 33/19
Jeon Do-yeon, Secret Sunshine 32/13

SUPPORTING ACTOR
John Hawkes, Winter's Bone 48/20
Christian Bale, The Fighter 36/16
Andrew Garfield, The Social Network 28/14
Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right 24/12
Pierce Brosnan, The Ghost Writer 23/11


SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom 44/21
Dale Dickey, Winter's Bone 26/11
Olivia Williams, The Ghost Writer 26/12
Greta Gerwig, Greenberg 24/9
Mila Kunis, Black Swan 19/8

FIRST FEATURE
Exit Through the Gift Shop 14
Animal Kingdom 8
Night Catches Us 7
Amer 5
Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench 4
Alamar 4


DOCUMENTARY
Exit Through the Gift Shop 13
Sweetgrass 9
The Oath 9
Inside Job 7
Boxing Gym 7

WORST FILM
The Last Airbender 4
Inception 4
Hereafter 3
Life During Wartime 2
Catfish 2
Black Swan 2
For Colored Girls 2
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger 2
The Wolfman 2
Love and Other Drugs 2
Somewhere 2


UNDISTRIBUTED FILM
Film Socialisme 34 17
The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu 21 8
Mysteries of Lisbon 19 9
Black Venus 16 8
The White Meadows 15 6


DIRECTOR
Olivier Assayas, Carlos 13
David Fincher, The Social Network 11
Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan 6
Roman Polanski, The Ghost Writer 5
Gaspar Noe, Enter the Void 5


ANIMATED FEATURE
Toy Story 3 33
The Illusionist 11
Despicable Me 5
My Dog Tulip 5
Idiots and Angels 3


SCREENPLAY
Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network 25
Maren Ade, Everyone Else 5
Robert Harris and Roman Polanski, The Ghost Writer 5
Todd Solondz, Life During Wartime 4
Olivier Assayas and Dan Franck, Carlos 4
Noah Baumbach, Greenberg 4
Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini, Winter's Bone 4
Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg, The Kids Are All Right 4
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver


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