The Hurt Locker – Teza – Süt (Milk) – Melancholia – Shirin – The Wrestler – The Burning Plain

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Jurors: Wim Wenders (president), Yuri Arabov, Valeria Golino, Douglas Gordon, John Landis, Lucrecia Martel, Johnnie To

Golden Lion:The Wrestler, USA, dir. Darren Aronofsky
Special Jury Prize:Teza, Ethiopia, dir. Haile Gerima
Best Director:Paper Soldier, Russia, dir. Aleksei German
Best Actress:The Other, Dominique Blanc
Best Actor:Giovanni's Father, Silvia Orlando
Marcello Mastroianni Award:The Burning Plain, Jennifer Lawrence
Best Screenplay:Teza, Haile Gerima
Technical Contribution:Paper Soldier, Alisher Khamidkhodjaev & Maksim Drozdov (cinematography)
FIPRESCI Prize:Gabbla (Inland), Algeria/France, dir. Tariq Teguia
SIGNIS Award:The Hurt Locker, USA, dir. Kathryn Bigelow
Venice Horizons Award:Melancholia, Philippines, dir. Laz Diaz
Future Film Festival Digital Award:Ponyo, Japan, dir. Hayao Miyazaki

Competition Films I Have Seen:
Ranked in order of preference
My Golden Lion:
The Hurt Locker (USA, dir. Kathryn Bigelow) - Combines ethical disquiet with bracing adrenaline, embodied by two expertly played leads. Marvel of technique and of risky, vivid realism.

The Wrestler (USA, dir. Darren Aronofsky) - Clearly mimicking Dardennes but punched up with gutsy power of its own. Rourke a miracle. Grace notes throughout. Finale soars on emotion.

Rachel Getting Married (USA, dir. Jonathan Demme) - Demme at last feels unhaunted by 90s fling with big budgets. Blends friskiness of 80s work with Mike Leigh's incisive scabbiness.

Ponyo (Japan, dir. Hayao Miyazaki) - Hurrah for the art of hand-drawn animation but Ponyo's lines and palettes are off-puttingly weak. Story less dreamlike than muddled.

Jerichow (Germany, dir. Christian Petzold) - Postman rings for umpteenth time. Despite glimmers of German-Turkish racial critique, this replay lacks urgency and weakens as it goes.

The Burning Plain (USA/Mexico, dir. Guillermo Arriaga) - After major stride of Melquiades Estrada, Arriaga indulges worst tendencies of vague storytelling, overplotting.

Sidebar Films I Have Seen:
Ranked in order of preference
Burn After Reading (USA, dirs. Joel and Ethan Coen) - Coens cut loose, spilling black blood everywhere while earning lots of laughs. Precision-cut. Gems across cast.

35 Shots of Rum (France, dir. Claire Denis) - Fair to say Denis' tribute to Ozu might be too sedate, even for him? Still very moving. Last shot really seals it.

Goodbye Solo (USA, dir. Ramin Bahrani) - Thought I'd seen all the cross-racial odd-couple dramedies I could stand but this one is savory and beautifully acted.

Valentino: The Last Emperor (USA, dir. Matt Tyrnauer) - Limited, but proffers a vivid impression of the man and his monomaniacal focus on glamor at all costs.

Un lac (France, dir. Philippe Grandrieux) - C'mon. Latest naked emperor of the Walter Reade crowd confuses exaggerated sound and dire underlighting with formal bravura.

Competition Films I'm Curious to See:
Ranked in order of interest; more on this year's lineup here (opens in a new window)
Teza, Ethiopia, dir. Haile Gerima
Süt (Milk), Turkey, dir. Semih Kaplanoglu
Gabbla (Inland), Algeria/France, dir. Tarik Teguia
This Night, Portugal/Germany, dir. Werner Schroeter
Paper Soldier, Russia, dir. Aleksey German
The Other, France, dir. Patrick-Mario Bernard & Pierre Trividic
Inju: The Beast in the Shadow, France/Japan, dir. Barbet Schroeder
The Sky Crawlers, Japan, dir. Mamoru Oshii
A Perfect Day, Italy, dir. Ferzan Ozpetek
Achilles and the Tortoise, Japan, dir. Takeshi Kitano

Sidebar Films I'm Curious to See:
Listed alphabetically
The Beaches of Agnès, France, dir. Agnès Varda
Below Sea Level, Italy, dir. Gianfranco Rosi
In Paraguay, USA, dir. Ross McElwee
Melancholia, Philippines, dir. Lav Diaz
Mid-August Lunch, Italy, dir. Gianna Di Gregorio
Parc, France, dir. Arnaud Des Pallières
Shirin, Iran, dir. Abbas Kiarostami
Vinyan, France, dir. Fabrice Du Welz

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