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Korean films and my 2010 favorites

By Dennis Clemente

Two films from Korea appear in this list (I am not Korean), because they deserve all the highest praises. Korea is where the most inventive and dynamic filmmaking is happening, certainly not for its pyrotechnics although it can give Hollywood a run for its money in that department, too, but for all the daring themes and subjects it explores with a sure, confident hand.

Some movies in the list were released earlier from their country of origin, but only released in the States in 2010. “Secret Sunshine” was released in South Korea in 2007, but released in the States last year. “The Secret in Her Eyes” of Argentina also came out in 2009 but was released in the States in 2010.

Here are my favorites (in no particular order).

1. Mother (Korea). Bong Joon-ho’s rich, complex psychological thriller shows us how far a mother will go to prove her son’s innocence.

2. Secret Sunshine (Korea). Raw, ferocious depiction of religion’s role in our lives and the madness it engenders on the most downtrodden.

3. Carlos (France). Socio-politico buffs will find this movie a richly detailed biopic of the notorious Carlos the Jackal.

4. Fish Tank (UK). Gripping story of a young woman’s slow maturity and its disastrous consequences. Engrossing socio-realistic drama.

5. The Secret In Her Eyes (Argentina). Obsessions—of the love and murderous variety--go hand in hand in this elegiac whodunit.

6. Toy Story 3 (US). Animation is where Hollywood is investing in good storytelling (four years?), which is why this movie is in this list.

7. Dogtooth (Greece). The most disturbing movie to date is about the dangers of blind obedience. Oscar-nominated for 2010. Not for everyone.

8. The Social Network (US). Greed, power, ambition. No, it's not Wall Street but the Internet. It's a writer's movie, with fast-paced dialogue that crackles.

9. Catfish (US). This documentary is the first authentic depiction of the lies that we seem to ignore or disregard online. It’s the real Facebook movie.

10. Exit Through the Gift Shop (UK). Street art thrives in daring, anonymous public statements, but what if someone betrayed the art form? And in doing so, left more unanswered questions.

Note. Korea's Castaway on The Moon should be on the top of this list, ahead of everyone else, if it was commercially released in the U.S.