Counting down to our Year in Review issue, we present our picks in a variety of genres, wrapping up on December 27 with the year's worst movies.
This time tomorrow: the year's best SF/fantasy film.
Beneath the Blindfold
Beneath the Blindfold Directed by Kartemquin Films proteges Kathy Berger and Ines Sommer, this locally produced documentary makes a virtue of simplicity, allowing its subjects—four victims of government-sanctioned torture—to tell their stories free of emotionally manipulative or sensationalizing technique. It’s far more persuasive than a more "complex" looking movie would be; indeed the onscreen confessions can be almost too much to bear. But the unflinching approach encourages the spectator to confront the hard facts maturely, something most mainstream U.S. news outlets fail to do in their reporting on torture. —Ben Sachs
The Invisible War
The Invisible War In a year when Republican politicians couldn’t stop talking about rape, Kirby Dick’s muckraking documentary exposed one kind of rape no one wants to mention: the epidemic of sexual assault against women in the U.S. military. Dick’s film prompted Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to change the military policy of company commanders investigating rapes inside their own units, which has depressed prosecutions; in 2010 an estimated 19,000 assaults led to only 244 convictions. This was a great year for political docs: The Ambassador, Detropia, Putin’s Kiss, This Is Not a Film, You’ve Been Trumped, and one more I’m saving for my top ten list. —J.R. Jones
This Is Not a Film
This Is Not a Film Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi bravely directed this inspired video diary while awaiting the result of his appeal of a six-year prison sentence and 20-year ban on filmmaking, a prosecution handed down to him by the Iranian government for his alleged "intention to commit crimes against the country’s national security and propaganda against the Islamic Republic." Funny, moving, and formally dazzling, the film is a vital document of one man’s refusal to squelch his artistic ambitions in the face of injustice. —Drew Hunt