The Best Films of 2010

Wed, Jan 05, 2011


Before a new year of film screenings begin, our film/video staff looks back on their favorite films that played in Columbus during 2010. While The Social Network (included on one of the lists below) and Inception (included on none of the lists below) were the most acclaimed films in mainstream critical circles, one film was our staff's consensus choice for film of the year: Olivier Assayas' epic 5.5 hour Carlos. If you missed our November screening of the full-length version, hang in there. We plan to bring it back as one of the highlights of our Fall 2011 season.

Many of the best films to show in Columbus we're only able to show at the Wexner Center for one or two nights and aren't reviewed by local critics. Film magazines like Film Comment or Cinema Scope or Sight & Sound are great places to get the advance word on upcoming films. Those will tip you off as to what films on our schedule you might want to prioritize. (For example, White Material – showing at the Wex on January 21-22 is currently on the cover of Film Comment and Alamar - showing on January 27 – is ending up on countless top ten lists.) And becoming a fan of the Wexner Center Film/Video page on Facebook is a great way to get early information on upcoming screenings.

We'd love to hear what your favorite films of 2010 were, whether they were films you saw at the Wexner Center or elsewhere. Leave us a comment below and we'll randomly pick two people to win a pair of tickets to any upcoming regularly priced film screening!

Dave Filipi, Film/Video Director

Top 10 – Narrative:

  1. Carlos (Olivier Assayas) – the 330 minute version

  2. The Social Network (David Fincher)

  3. Vincere (Marco Bellochio)

  4. Shutter Island (Martin Scorsese)

  5. The Maid (Sebastían Silva)

  6. Police, Adjective (Corneliu Porumboiu)

  7. Four Lions (Chris Morris)

  8. The Army of Crime (Robert Guédiguian)

  9. Mother (Boon Joon-ho)

  10. Bronson (Nicolas Winding Refn)

Worst Film I Paid to See This Year: Knight and Day (James Mangold)

Nicest Studio Surprise: Day & Night (Teddy Newton) – the short before Toy Story 3

Top 10 – Documentaries:

  1. Clouzot's "Inferno" (Serge Bromberg & Ruxandra Medrea)

  2. Utopia in Four Movements (Sam Green)

  3. Restrepo (Sebastian Junger, Tim Heatherington)

  4. Sweetgrass (Illisa Barbash & Lucien Castaing-Taylor)

  5. Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer (Alex Gibney) (TV in Columbus)

  6. The Oath (Laura Poitras)

  7. Boxing Gym (Frederick Wiseman)

  8. Enemies of the People (Thet Sambath & Rob Lemkin)

  9. The Most Dangerous Man in America (Judith Ehrlich & Rick Goldsmith)

  10. The Red Chapel (Mads Brügger)

Favorite Repertory Releases/Restorations (in alphabetical order):

  • Breathless (Jean-Luc Godard, 1960)

  • Le combat dans l'île (Alain Cavalier, 1962)

  • Five Easy Pieces (Bob Rafelson, 1970)

  • Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Howard Hawks, 1953)

  • Metropolis (Fritz Lang, 1927)

  • Mr. Hulot's Holiday (1953)

  • Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (Albert Lewin, 1951)

  • The Red Shoes (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1948)

  • Robert Breer Restorations

  • La signora di tutti (Max Olphüls, 1934)

It's no coincidence that all of these opened at the Wexner Center except for Breathless which screened as part of Wex @ Gateway.

Mike Olenick, Film/Video Studio Editor

In alphabetical order:

  • Carlos (Olivier Assayas, 330 minute version)

  • Dogtooth (Yorgos Lanthimos)

  • In Comparison (Harun Farocki)

  • Jackass 3D (Jeff Tremaine, if only for the opening and closing scenes in 3D)

  • Mother (Bong Joon-Ho)

  • Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (Albert Lewin)

  • Ricky (François Ozon)

  • Sweetgrass (Lucien Castaing-Taylor & Ilsa Barbash)

  • Trees of Syntax, Leaves of Axis (Daïchi Saïto)

  • Wild Grass (Alain Resnais)

I also saw a few films that have yet to be released in Columbus that I hope make it here in the coming year, including: Meek's Cutoff (Kelly Reichardt), The Big Picture (Eric Lartigau), The Four Times (Michelangelo Frammartino), Coming Attractions (Peter Tscherkassky), Oki's Movie (Hong Sang-soo), The Housemaid (Sang-soo Im), and Potiche (François Ozon).

Chris Stults, Film/Video Associate Curator

The bad news is that 2010 wasn't a great year for films released commercially in the US. The good news is that 2011 will be a much better year. I've already seen four or five films scheduled to be released next year that would trump all but a few of the films on this year's list. That said, there were more good films released this year than this list of 20 would accommodate. And the shorts list is not a marginalized addendum. In my mind, those films are equal – if not superior – to the features listed below.


  1. Carlos (Olivier Assayas, France/Germany) [330 minute version]

  2. Shutter Island (Martin Scorsese, US)

  3. Wild Grass (Alain Resnais, France/Italy)

  4. The Sun (Alexander Sokurov, Russia/Italy/Switzerland/France)

  5. Dogtooth (Yorgos Lanthimos, Greece)

  6. How Do You Know (James L. Brooks, US)

  7. Spring Fever (Lou Ye, China/France)

  8. The Oath (Laura Poitras, US)

  9. In Comparison (Harun Farocki, Austria/Germany)

  10. Father of My Children (Mia Hansen-Løve, France/Germany)

  11. A Letter to Elia (Martin Scorsese, US) [TV]

  12. Lourdes (Jessica Hausner, Austria/France/Germany)

  13. Ricky (François Ozon, France/Italy)

  14. The Other Guys (Adam McKay, US)

  15. Everyone Else (Maren Ade, Germany)

  16. The Exploding Girl (Bradley Rust Gray, US)

  17. Bluebeard (Catherine Breillat, France)

  18. Unstoppable (Tony Scott, US)

  19. Winter's Bone (Deborah Granik, US)

  20. How to Train Your Dragon (Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders, US)


  1. Prolix Satori (Lewis Klahr, US) [program of seven shorts]

  2. Trees of Syntax, Leaves of Axis (Daïchi Saïto, Canada)

  3. Ghost Algebra (Janie Geiser, US)

  4. Ah! Liberty (Ben Rivers, UK)

  5. Precarious Garden (Ernie Gehr, US)

  6. dwarfs the sea (Stephanie Barber, US)

  7. horizon line (Katherin McInnis, US)

  8. Trains Are For Dreaming (Jennifer Reeves, US)

  9. DRIVE THRU (Gretchen Skogerson, US)

  10. for them ending (Jonathan Schwartz, US)

Best "new to me" screenings of 2010: La signora di tutti (Max Olphuls), The Movie Orgy (Joe Dante) and The Ladies Man (Jerry Lewis).