Toy Story 3 is a marvel of animation.
The year 2010 will not be remembered as a vintage year for movies, but it was better than most people will ever know. Unless you were in the privileged position to see movies at film festivals around the world, you’d have no idea how many good movies never see the light of day in U.S. theaters. Distributors are running scared, and loath to take chances on foreign films, documentaries, or independent films that, without massive marketing campaigns behind them, routinely get lost in the fog of our mass-media culture.
I looked at movies in a different way this year, for after decades as a critic, I took on a new role as a programmer, in my job as artistic director of the Los Angeles Film Festival. This meant, among other things, that I watched more movies than I ever have before—some of which deserve their obscurity, but many of which were gems that, back in more cinéaste-friendly days, would have been scooped up by buyers and brought to your local art house. Now you’ll be lucky to find them on Netflix.
My new gig also meant that, for the first six months of the year, I didn’t have time to see most of the mainstream commercial releases—and I can’t say I missed much. Hollywood, in heavy recycling mode, was rolling out product like mayonnaise, little of which could hold a candle to the best TV was offering. Unless you have a bottomless appetite for superheroes (or vampires), the nervous masters of the universe who run the big studios are not interested in you as an audience. How they will cope with the public’s inevitable fatigue with these two-dimensional genres is an economic train wreck waiting to happen, and that will be amusing to watch. In the meantime, here are 10 wonderful exceptions to the Hollywood rules: