Midweek Update

Image assistant Nicole Geoffroy, assistant director Marilyn Watelet, Delphine Seyrig, script girl Danae Maroulacou, Chantal Akerman, and makeup artist Eliane Marcus during the making of Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975)

We social media–savvy news junkies tend to shelve breaking stories after a day or two, but some call for sustained deliberation, while others sustain themselves, rolling on in wave after wave for weeks on end. With fresh notes on the Sight and Sound poll and pointers to the latest best-of-2022 lists, today’s Daily is essentially a brief update on Monday’s.

There were 1,639 ballots cast in this year’s critics’ poll, and the New Yorker’s Richard Brody observes that the “wider reach of this year’s edition more or less guaranteed that the hundred films on the list would represent a wider range of world cinema; the surprise isn’t that this year’s list is different, but that, for the most part, it’s so similar to that of 2012.” Even so, lifting Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975) to the top spot—up from #36 in 2012—is “a gauntlet thrown down by the Sight and Sound voters to the filmmakers of today, a dare to make movies with no regard for the box office, for trends, for popular appeal, to create films that risk being outside the present day because they already belong to the future of the art.”

Jeanne Dielman “sought to redefine everything that makes a film a film,” writes Jessica Winter in the New Yorker: “how it establishes tension and tempo, how it defines or disregards plot, whom it chooses as a protagonist. One can watch Jeanne Dielman and wait for something to happen, but it already is.” Winter points out that the film “appeared in the same year as Laura Mulvey’s watershed essay ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,’ which defined the controlling ‘male gaze’ of the movies and permanently altered the lens through which generations of filmgoers and directors saw women onscreen.” Jeanne Dielman knocked “the ultimate male-gaze movie by the ultimate male-gaze director,” Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958), down from #1 to #2.

Mulvey herself seemed surprised by the “sudden shake-up” last week, but then wrote for Sight and Sound that “Akerman’s unwavering and completely luminous adherence to a female perspective (not, that is, via the character, Jeanne Dielman, but embedded in the film itself and its director’s vision) combined with her uncompromising and completely coherent cinema to produce a film that was both feminist and cinematically radical. One might say that it felt as though there was a before and an after Jeanne Dielman, just as there had once been a before and after Citizen Kane.

Prospect books and culture editor Peter Hoskin writes about the deliberations that go into creating a ballot to send in. At Cineuropa, Vladan Petković is glad to see the broader representation of women filmmakers and other previously underrepresented groups but would like to see more documentaries, short films, and animated features in 2032. “What about underrepresented forms and genres?” he asks.

At the Reveal, Scott Tobias asks that we “never use the word ‘stodgy’ to describe the films that have anchored this list for decades.” Jean Renoir’s The Rules of the Game (1939) “opened to such public outrage that it faced a drastic re-edit and a government ban.” Yasujiro Ozu’s Tokyo Story (1953) and Carl Theodor Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) “both tossed out the conventions of the 180-degree plane that establishes the way we are typically grounded in space. Time should not lead us to crude revisions in what we understand as radical advances in the form, just because these older films have carved a path for others to follow more smoothly.”

Best of 2022

Top tens from New York Times critics Manohla Dargis and A. O. Scott are out, and for Dargis, EO is the best film of 2022. At eighty-four, Jerzy Skolimowski “has made one of the rare movies that speak to life’s most essential questions, and he’s done so with the ecstatic vision and fearlessness of a cinematic genius who seems as if he’s just getting started.” Scott’s #1 is Jordan Peele’s Nope, “a genre joyride and a philosophical puzzle. And it has plenty to say—about labor, family, race, grief and (yes) movies—in a visual language that feels at once familiar and radically new.”

The NYT’s Salamishah Tillet felt “drawn to entertainment that took me out of our real world to another realm” this year. She writes about eleven “otherworldly movies, TV series, actors, and plays that brought me joy and centeredness amid the chaos,” including Gina Prince-Bythewood’s The Woman King and Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert’s Everything Everywhere All at Once.

Hollywood Reporter critics Jon Frosch, Lovia Gyarkye, and David Rooney discuss their favorite performances of the year, and in Chicago, Ray Pride has put together a voluminous package for Newcity—profiles of fifty movers and shakers working in the city’s film community and industry. On the Ringer’s Big Picture podcast, Adam Nayman and Chris Ryan join hosts Sean Fennessey and Amanda Dobbins to discuss their five favorite films of 2022—and the Sight and Sound poll.

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