Sight & Sound names ‘Social Network’ best of 2010

Posted by · 8:38 am · November 28th, 2010

It’s been five years since an American film topped the annual poll of venerable British film mag Sight & Sound, and even longer since a major studio picture took the honor. So congratulations are in order to “The Social Network,” which received the most votes across the selection of 85 international critics invited to submit their top five films of 2010, following in the footsteps of “Brokeback Mountain,” “Hidden,” “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days,” “Hunger” and “A Prophet.” (The last-named film appears again in this year’s list, thanks to the votes of critics who came to it later.)

That David Fincher’s film should have won out in a poll traditionally dominated by world arthouse cinema suggests it could well be the most-favored title in next month’s avalanche of US critics’ awards, positioning it as the discerning voter’s alternative to more milquetoast bait in the Oscar race. “The King’s Speech,” of course, doesn’t even come near the magazine’s Top 12 (usually a Top 10, extended due to ties); indeed, of all films even remotely in the Oscar conversation, only “Another Year” and “Winter’s Bone” (surfacing in some interesting places, that one) feature.

The list is currently only available in print, the magazine having landed on my doorstep yesterday, but will be online — together with all 85 contributors’ individual lists — from December 7. The panel is a diverse one, ranging from Kenneth Turan to Amy Taubin to Tim Robey to Armond White, so it makes for a fascinating read. White’s list, by the way, is surprising in its lack of perversity: well-received arthouse fare like “Another Year” and “Wild Grass” dominates, with no “Next Day Air” equivalent in sight.

The Sight & Sound Top 12:

1. “The Social Network” (David Fincher)
2. “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives” (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
3. “Another Year” (Mike Leigh)
4. “Carlos” (Olivier Assayas)
5. “The Arbor” (Clio Barnard)
6. “Winter’s Bone” (Debra Granik)
6. (tied) “I Am Love” (Luca Guadagnino)
8. “The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu” (Andrei Ujica)
8. (tied) “Film Socialisme” (Jean-Luc Godard)
8. (tied) “Nostalgia for the Light” (Patricio Guzman)
8. (tied) “Poetry” (Lee Chang-dong)
8. (tied) “A Prophet” (Jacques Audiard)

[Photo: Columbia Pictures]

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50 responses so far

  • 1 11-28-2010 at 8:41 am

    JJ1 said...

    Good for TSN and I Am Love (wasn’t crazy about the movie, but Tilda rocked).

  • 2 11-28-2010 at 8:51 am

    Liz said...

    “Film Socialisme”? Wow. Even the most hardy moviegoers I know were completely baffled. Could this just be an instance of people voting for Godard because he’s Godard?

  • 3 11-28-2010 at 9:10 am

    Marshall1 said...

    Oh wow, Poetry! One of the best this year, and certainly one of the best performances by an actress this year!

  • 4 11-28-2010 at 9:17 am

    James Stewart said...

    Guy, last year there were six films in the list of S&S in your Top 10 (White Material, A Prophet, The Hurt Locker, 35 Shots of Rum, Antichrist, Bright Star)
    How many movies on this list of 2010’s on your Top 10? (Only the n°)

  • 5 11-28-2010 at 9:20 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    I haven’t even settled on my list yet, so I couldn’t say even if I wanted to. But it’ll be significantly less than six.

  • 6 11-28-2010 at 9:24 am

    MJS said...

    I hate the way publications like this feel the need to jump the gun on lists like this, it’s not even December yet. Maybe next year they’ll be releasing their list in July.

  • 7 11-28-2010 at 9:43 am

    Lanz said...

    Where’s Black Swan? Is its absence not baffling?

  • 8 11-28-2010 at 9:49 am

    James D. said...

    Hooray for I Am Love!

    The Social Network is not even in my top five so far, but it is respectable enough, I suppose. And dammit, I need to see Carlos.

  • 9 11-28-2010 at 10:22 am

    Danny King said...

    I’m sorry, but I just don’t understand the praise for “Uncle Boonmee.” It’s interesting cinematically, sure, but the story carries very little emotional or philosophical weight.

  • 10 11-28-2010 at 10:28 am

    Guy Lodge said...


  • 11 11-28-2010 at 11:15 am

    DylanS said...

    This is a good start for TSN. This is definetly reassuring my faith that it will at the end of the day win BP.

  • 12 11-28-2010 at 11:23 am

    Dominik said...

    All in all a very good list, and the abovementioned previous year´s winners are quite impressive.
    “The Social Network” and “Another Year” will very likely end up in my Top 5 of the year also.

  • 13 11-28-2010 at 11:36 am

    Ibad said...

    I love the films I’ve seen in this list (top three, Poetry) and I really wanna see Carlos.

  • 14 11-28-2010 at 12:08 pm

    John said...

    How do they have a best of list when all the 2010 films haven’t even been released? This seems too premature to me.

  • 15 11-28-2010 at 12:20 pm

    Michael W. said...

    I have a feeling it could be this years big winner at most of the critics awards for film, director and screenplay.

    So I really have to see it again before too long. I quite liked it the first time but it will probably not make my top 10 of the year. I have to see if I’m missing something.

  • 16 11-28-2010 at 12:36 pm

    Lance McCallion said...

    I loved The Social Network, but putting it above Uncle Boonmee? No chance.

    Also disappointed not to see Certified Copy on the list, though perhaps it wasn’t widely enough seen. And Poetry is lovely, but Hahaha is the far superior Korean title this year in nearly every category.

  • 17 11-28-2010 at 12:49 pm

    Andrew M said...

    Good for TSN. It will most defiantly be in my top 5 at the end of the year. If the critics keep it up, then it could win BP.

  • 18 11-28-2010 at 12:50 pm

    red_wine said...

    TSN really might begin a charge of slaying the top 3 categories at critics awards (picture, director, screenplay) even acting wins at many outlets. This will be followed by guild honors.

    Eventually it will get down to this, last time when there were such unanimously acclaimed films winning all the critics awards (Mulholland and Sideways), they were both weird little movies staring no insiders and not made by any insiders. With Social Network, the Academy will not have any problem, its made by a big studio, by a star director and is very commercial, accessible and a hit too, they will readily bestow their top prize on it.

    Guy you say films like Wild Grass dominate, yet why did it not make the Top 10?

    I am happy for the inclusion of Carlos, I Am Love and A Prophet which I’d surely include in my Top 10.

  • 19 11-28-2010 at 12:54 pm

    red_wine said...

    Now that Lance mentions it I am shocked that Certified Copy did not make it, that movie is critically beloved and what a great movie it is!

    Guy also did any of these titles have many mentions – Certified Copy, Dogtooth, The Ghost Writer, Kids Are All Right, Toy Story 3, 127 Hours, Inception and The King’s Speech?

  • 20 11-28-2010 at 1:32 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    “Guy you say films like Wild Grass dominate, yet why did it not make the Top 10?”

    I was referring to Armond White’s list, not the collective.

    Incidentally, Nick James’s editorial reveals that five films tied for 13th place: Aurora, Enter the Void, The Illusionist, Meek’s Cutoff and Toy Story 3.

  • 21 11-28-2010 at 1:33 pm

    Jordan Cronk said...

    “Certified Copy” did actually make the list– Guy only has the top 10 here. The top 23 is posted over at Mubi. I’m sure that and “Meek’s Cutoff” will be on next year’s list too– similar to “A Prophet”– once more people see it.

    1.The Social Network
    2.Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
    3.Another Year
    5.The Arbor
    6= I Am Love
    Winter’s Bone
    8=The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu
    Film Socialisme
    Nostalgia for the Light
    A Prophet
    13= Certified Copy
    Meek’s Cutoff
    15= Dogtooth
    Enter the Void
    Mysteries of Lisbon
    Of Gods and Men
    Exit Through the Gift Shop
    Four Times
    The Ghost Writer
    Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow

  • 22 11-28-2010 at 1:40 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    I see there’s some discontinuity between the chart that Jordan posted from Mubi and the info I just posted about 13th place. The Mubi list is compiled using only the 63 lists printed in the magazine — 85 critics were polled, and all their lists will be online.

  • 23 11-28-2010 at 2:33 pm

    red_wine said...

    Thanks Guy, my bad. Didn’t see White’s name.

    Mubi’s list does indeed seems to be incompletely assembled according to Guy’s info.

  • 24 11-28-2010 at 2:43 pm

    Speaking English said...

    Good choice, S&S. My pick as well… so far.

  • 25 11-28-2010 at 3:01 pm

    Graysmith said...

    Seems a bit premature to release it already, unless their year goes from November to November. While it’s highly unlikely that something like True Grit would make the cut, it’s still odd that it didn’t even get a shot at it.

  • 26 11-28-2010 at 3:17 pm

    GlenH said...

    I was literally shaking as I walked out of Uncle Boonmee so I have to disagree on it carrying very little emotional weight. I found the juxtaposition of a man reaching the end of his life with his past life and lives coming back to haunt him remarkably moving.

    If nothing else surely that last scene in the cave – with Boonmee’s last life literally leaking out of him – is an emotional stunner?

    But what do I know – I found Certified Copy to be intellectually heady but emotionally remote.

  • 27 11-28-2010 at 3:51 pm

    Silencio said...

    I forgot about Uncle Boonmee. Did you and/or Kris see it?

  • 28 11-28-2010 at 4:21 pm

    Angry Shark said...

    Could you please post Armond White’s list?

  • 29 11-28-2010 at 5:06 pm

    James D. said...

    True Grit is probably coming out in the U.K. next year. Could that be why it was not deemed necessary to see?

  • 30 11-28-2010 at 5:39 pm

    Lance McCallion said...

    Ah, the extended list makes more sense then. Thanks for pointing it out Jordan. Really excited about Meek’s Cutoff next year.

  • 31 11-28-2010 at 6:40 pm

    via collins said...

    “But what do I know – I found Certified Copy to be intellectually heady but emotionally remote.”

    That is such a beautiful description of the film. It drove me batty with its construct until my heart entered the deal at the very end of the film. It’s still gonna be in my best for the year.

    When I watched “I Am Love” I found it a thrilling, but ultimately hollow experience. There’s just a ton to admire and enjoy, but I don’t think the parts make a great film at all. But I want Italian cinema to get better and better. And it does. Look out for “The Double Hour” in February US release.

    “The Illusionist” has been cultivating a strong place in my heart all year. I can’t wait to see it again.

  • 32 11-28-2010 at 6:50 pm

    Lance McCallion said...

    Ahh, see I thought Certified Copy handled some extremely complex emotional ideas all throughout, not in an especially overt way of course, but entirely intertwined with the formal and intellectual discourse. Yet even still, I’m surprised more haven’t found the final sequence of the film to be extraordinarily emotional. Easily one of the most powerful moments I’ve seen in a recent film.

    Overall it’s my second favorite film of the year, just behind White Material.

  • 33 11-28-2010 at 7:40 pm

    via collins said...

    we’re on the same page there Lance, it was the final sequence that completely suckered me. In the best possible way!

  • 34 11-28-2010 at 9:30 pm

    GlenH said...

    @Lance and via collins
    I have heard a lot of people say that about the final sequence. For some reason I just wasn’t invested enough in the idea of them as a couple. Definitely a film I’ll have to re-watch.

  • 35 11-28-2010 at 9:33 pm

    Fitz said...

    No Black Swan appearance? I would’ve thought for sure that ‘Swan’ would have cracked the top ten.

  • 36 11-28-2010 at 10:51 pm

    red_wine said...

    Certified Copy is definitely moving but most of all its a triumph for Juliet Binoche. I haven’t seen enough of her career to call it a career peak but I’ll assume it is some of her best work and a candidate for the performance of the year. As if anybody needed reminding, Certified Copy reminds us that Binoche is one of the truly great actors of out time.

  • 37 11-29-2010 at 12:33 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Silencio: I saw it at Cannes and reviewed it here.

    Angry Shark: He voted for Wild Grass, Another Year, Vincere, Mother and Child and Life During Wartime.

  • 38 11-29-2010 at 2:22 am

    Mark said...

    Black Swan, The King’s Speech, The Fighter, True Grit etc don’t open here in the UK until next year, hence their absence from the S&S list…

  • 39 11-29-2010 at 6:25 am

    Lanz said...

    But films like Film Socialisme, Poetry and The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu haven’t commercially opened here in the UK either, having only played LFF. I don’t expect The King’s Speech on this list but I’m shocked by the absence of Black Swan, which played at LFF with these three other films and which these critics have seen in other fests.

  • 40 11-29-2010 at 8:29 am

    Keil Shults said...

    I’ve got Armond’s list for 2012:

    1. Lincoln
    2. Robopocalypse
    3. Indiana Jones and the Truth Behind Facebook
    4. A.I. – Director’s Cut
    5. The Noah Baumbach Memorial Service (courtesy of CNN)

  • 41 11-29-2010 at 8:42 am

    Patrick said...

    The recognition for “Film Socialisme” is a breakthrough moment for senile filmmaking.

  • 42 11-29-2010 at 10:30 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Mark: The list is not restricted to films that received a UK theatrical release in 2010. A number of festival titles due for release next year made the cut.