Was it a good year, or a bad one? Sometimes that assessment just depends on what I saw last. Sometimes the majority of the holiday/awards movies can be dispiriting, but then sometimes the summer movies can be very exciting. One thing I have discovered is that after a few years go by, some of my most passionate picks tend to fade away in favor of other movies that just keeping hanging on. For example, at the end of 2004, I selected Martin Scorsese's The Aviator as one of the best films of the year, but I have never been struck by the urge to see it again. Two other films that did not make my list, Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 2 and Edgar Wright's Shaun of the Dead have since risen in stature and have given me many more hours of enjoyment.
This is generally how I choose my list of favorites, with one eye on the future, even if there's no way to be sure. One of my favorite small movies this year, Jane Campion's Bright Star, will live on my heart. I even managed to see it twice. I usually hate costume movies, but I found this one uncommonly low-key and passionate and poetic. I often like to see the films of Claire Denis more than once, and I have not yet had that pleasure with her great 35 Shots of Rum. Agnes Varda's The Beaches of Agnes was the year's best documentary, and a fascinating personal project, but it has not been calling to me for a second viewing. And Nina Paley's fascinating animated/musical/essay film Sita Sings the Blues is also something that I may revisit. The year's best film, Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker, will be a permanent addition to my DVD collection.