A dozen keepers from 2007
1. En la Ciudad de Sylvia (José Luis Guerín, Spain). Pure cinema, and perhaps even lovelier than the women it watches and to whom it pays tribute.
2. You and I, Horizontal (Anthony McCall, UK) and Relaxation One and Relaxation Two (Sarah Enid, US). McCall's installation at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art was once-in-a-lifetime-visionary; Yayoi Kusama would be wowed. The 3-D new age relaxation videos that Enid made using equipment from a day job at Zeum are similarly brilliant, on one-hundredth of the budget.
3. Agua (Verónica Chen, Argentina). Chen's poem to male athleticism and study of masculine interiority is breathtakingly immersive, with the best retreating long take of the year. A female answer to Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait on a puny (by comparison) budget detect a similarity with a number two pick? it shows instead of tells. But there is a story there, one that's as shallow as doping in sports and as deep as the pain carried in a body.
4. SpaceDisco One (Damon Packard, US). Heddy Honigmann went to Père-Lachaise, John Gianvito went to dozens of US monuments, and Damon Packard went to Universal City to surreptitiously film a gorgeously genius, prismatic roller-skating-and-ranting sequel to Logan's Run.
5. Useless (Jia Zhangke, China). Jia moves out of his comfort zone in this doc study of the lives and lies behind clothing and fashion, making a lovely but self-critical movie that is my favorite of his efforts to date.
6. Song Kang-ho in Secret Sunshine (Lee Chang-dong, South Korea). Best actor in the world today? In Bong Joon-ho's Memories of Murder and The Host and now Lee's brutal melodrama, Song has played the fool in three entirely different ways.
7. Forever (Heddy Honigmann, Netherlands) and Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind (John Gianvito, US)
8. No Country for Old Men (Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, US) and There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson, US). Todd Haynes on a top 10 list? Nope, he's not there.
9. Foster Child (Brillante Mendoza, Philippines) and It's Only Talk (Ryuichi Hiroki, Japan). It would be great if the Philippines' Khavn de la Cruz, Lav Diaz, and Raya Martin's inventive new wave found a place on US screens, but Mendoza's more mainstream films this year are powerful. Cherry Pie Picache's awe-inspiring performance in Foster Child (compared to the work of Rainer Werner Fassbinder by Tony Rayns, who would know) is matched by Shinobu Terashima's in a movie that reunites her with Vibrator director Hiroki, who continues to reinvent the women's film.
10. Glue (Alexis Dos Santos, Argentina). Best teen movie in a long time, and most authentic in tone and mood sex scenes. Dos Santos's movie flirts with the edges of a new generation's bisexual freedom.
11. Honour of the Knights, a.k.a Quixotic (Albert Serra, Spain). Further proof that Spain's best movies of the moment are all about more than Pedro Almodóvar.
12. Nightmare USA: The Untold Story of the Exploitation Independents (Stephen Thrower, Fab Press). The road to our cemeteries is lined with gore. Where else are you going to find out about The Deadly Spawn? *