OUTSIDE IN TOKYO JAPANESE
2010 BEST 10 FILMS

Edan Corkill

Seiko Ogura (VALERIA)

Noriko Kaji

Kenichi Eguchi

Teruki Uehara

Best 10 Films Released in Japan in 2010
Edan Corkill
  1. Akunin (Villain) / Lee Sang-il
  2. Golden Slumber / Yoshihiro Nakamura
  3. Sherlock Holmes / Guy Ritchie
  4. The Hurt Locker / Kathryn Bigelow
  5. Kokuhaku (Confessions) / Tetsuya Nakashima
  6. Shutter Island / Martin Scorsese
  7. Inception / Christopher Nolan
  8. Salt / Phillip Noyce
  9. Where the Wild Things Are / Spike Jonze
  10. Up in the Air / Jason Reitman
Director Yoshihiro Nakamura is a master of tying loose ends. In his latest film, Golden Slumber, those loose ends relate to the tangled web of a conspiracy: The prime minister will be assassinated and an innocent man, Aoyagi (Masato Sakai), will be framed for the murder. Nakamura stays with Aoyagi for most of the film, revealing only small snippets of information at a time and thus creating a parallel sense of panicky confusion in both the character and the audience. Then, just as he did with his wonderful "Fish Story" in 2008, he reveals all in a mind-bending but cathartic finale.

I thought "Golden Slumber" was the most entertaining film of the year - and if I could see only one of my best ten films a second time, then it would be the one I'd choose. But, I gave the number one spot to "Akunin," for it had some of the most subtle and evocative characterizations I have seen in film in a while. People often say that Japan is a classless society, but, through careful hints Lee delineates the lives of his main characters within the bounds of their respective social classes, then shows what happens when they try to break out. There is the physical laborer, working double time to support his sick grandparents; the poor girl hoping to marry upwards, and the arrogant university student. Affection and respect move up the scale, but nothing of the sort comes back down. And thus the seeds of tragedy are sown.

The rest of my top ten were what I found the most entertaining of a largely uninspiring bunch. Robert Downey Jr. gets better and better with every self-mocking smart alec he plays (Sherlock Holmes, but also Iron Man II). The Hurt Locker showed something that may be even more devastating than the usual war-flick fodder of soldiers destroyed by war: soldiers thriving on war. The first half and hour of Kokuhaku was stunning, and on its own it would have been a no-brainer for short film of the year, but by the time the full 100 minutes was up, the film had developed into a revenge thriller pitting a grown up against a 13-year-old and that seemed slightly unfair. Inception was wonderfully realized, but, in my mind too complicated for its own good. Shutter Island would have been fantastic, if not for a warning that screened at the beginning of the film (only in Japan?) advising us to expect the unexpected. For two hours I watched Leonardo DiCaprio huff and puff through the motions and the whole time all I could think about was what surprise lay around the next corner. Consequently, what should have been the climax of the year ended up being an anti-climax.

I liked Salt the character and the film, that is. Angelina Jolie has so much spunk that Id happily pay 1,800 yen just to watch her step out of a car. So, when shes jumping out of helicopters and taking on the entire U.S. defense establishment in the process, then I feel Im really getting value for my money. With Spike Jonze's Where the Wild Things Are, the value for money comes in the first half hour or so as we are led from the real world into the imaginary. However, the drama that eventuates once Max (Max Records) gets to the place where the wild things are is certainly not wild it's a little boring. My number ten, Up in the Air, was the quintessential George Clooney vehicle wherein the unfeeling, unloving, businessman whose only pleasure lies in his own highly refined routines suddenly discovers that he has a heart. It was exceptionally well done and it was a joy.

Edan Corkill
After coming to Japan in 1997, worked for the "Nagasawa Art Park Artist-in-Residence Program," the Mori Art Museum Project Office and the Mori Art Museum. Joined The Japan Times in 2007. Currently serves as a staff writer and as the chief of the newspaper's Arts, Entertainment and Features Division. In 1997, completed a BA (Hons.) in Japanese Studies at Sydney University with a thesis on "Ichikawa Kon and the Narration of Film Adaptation."
Best 10 Films Released in Japan in 2010
VALERIA Seiko Ogura
  1. Whip It / Drew Barrymore
  2. Akunin / Lee Sang-Il
  3. (500) Days of Summer / Marc Webb
  4. Vengeance / Johnnie To
  5. Soul Power / Jeffrey Levy-Hinte
  6. Kick-Ass / Matthew Vaughn
  7. The Ghost Writer / Roman Polanski
  8. Inception / Christopher Nolan
  9. Nowhere Boy / Sam Taylor-Wood
  10. Yuki and Nina / Nobuhiro Suwa, Hippolyte Girardot
Best 10 Films Released in Japan in 2010
Noriko Kaji
  1. In The City of Sylvia / Jose Luis guerin
  2. Un conte de Nol / Arnaud Desplechin
  3. Breathless / Yangik-Jun
  4. Never Let Me Go / Mark Romanek
  5. The White Ribbon / Michael Haneke
  6. Eccentricities of a Blond Hair Girl / Manoel de Oliveira
  7. Norwegian Wood / Tran Anh Hung
  8. Inception / Christopher Nolan
  9. An Education / Lone Scherfig
  10. Sherlock Holmes / Guy Ritchie
Best 10 Films Released in Japan in 2010
Kenichi Eguchi
  1. Breathless / Yangik-Jun
  2. Yuki and Nina / Nobuhiro Suwa, Hippolyte Girardot
  3. Frozen River / Courtney Hunt
  4. Ne Change Rien / Pedro Costa
  5. Let the Right One In / Tomas Alfredson
  6. Un conte de Nol / Arnaud Desplechin
  7. The White Ribbon / Michael Haneke
  8. Le Pere de mes enfants / Mia Hansen-Love
  9. El secreto de sus ojos / Juan Jose Campanella
  10. Le Concert / Radu Mihaileanu
Film Socialisme / Jean-Luc Godard
Hadewijch / Bruno Dumont
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus / Terry Gilliam
Best 10 Films Released in Japan in 2010
Teruki Uehara
  1. Film Socialisme / Jean-Luc Godard
  2. The Ghost Writer / Roman Polanski
  3. Un Prophete / Jacques Audiard
  4. Whatever Works / Woody Allen
  5. The White Ribbon / Michael Haneke
  6. Eastern Plays / Kamen Kalev
  7. In The City of Sylvia / Jose Luis guerin
  8. Yuki and Nina / Nobuhiro Suwa, Hippolyte Girardot
  9. Inception / Christopher Nolan
10. Ne change rien / Pedro Costa
 
Roses on Credit / Amos Gitai
Bad Lieutenant / Werner Herzog
Bright Star / Jane Campion
The Girlfriend Experience / Steven Soderbergh
Outrage / Takashi Kitano
Machete / Robert Rodriguez