My Top Ten Movies of 2001 - Simon Bell

Having to firmly agree with my erstwhile colleague, 2001 was a particular anus horribilis for British movies once again (and in my opinion not one full of wonderment where Hollywood is concerned).

While these shores were battered with a host of rich and talented projects from The Continent (particularly France) and even from film-making communities as far away as Iran, the UK could muster only two of real note. (One was the bleak but poetic refugee drama The Last Resort from newcomer Pawel Pawlikowski… the other just squeezes into the list below and relies heavily on the sterling central performances of its actors.)

To my shame I didn't manage to see Edward Yang's heralded Taiwanese family chronicle A One and A Two or Jean Luc Godard's return to triumph Eloge De L'Amour. Whilst those that are missing out my Top Ten by a gnat's winkie are: The Piano Teacher, Ghost World, Heist, Battle Royale, Chopper and Chuck and Buck.

So it is with heavy heart that I set about selecting the finest art cinema could offer over the last 12 months.


Title: Sexy Beast (UK)

Dir: Jonathan Glazer

Imaginative, explosive and much-needed refresher of the British gangster flick from a man who gave us THAT Guinness ad.


Title: Blackboards (Iran)

Dir: Samira Makhmalbaf

Teachers desperately search for pupils near the Iraqi border in Kurdistan. Makhmalbaf inflects this intense struggle with moments of very black humour.


Title: Best In Show (USA)

Dir: Christopher Guest

Proving that dogs are indeed the funniest thing ever committed to celluloid in Guest's This Is Spaniel Tap.


Title: The Others (Spain)

Dir: Alejandro Amenabar

Haunting photography with haunting mise en scene while dutifully following the rule: "What is unseen is scary."


Title: Amelie (France)

Dir: Jean Pierre Jeunet

An effervescent and continually inventive comedy bubbling with feelgood fantasy at a time when we all needed it.


Title: Faithless (Sweden)

Dir: Liv Ullmann

Art and technique merge to perfection in this Ingmar Bergman-scripted arthouse film of the highest order.


Title: The Man Who Wasn't There (USA)

Dir: Joel Coen

The Brothers Coen come up trumps again with their masterful hommage to film noir. A measured, somnambulistic turn from Billy Bob Thornton made this essential viewing.


Title: Code Unknown (France)

Dir: Michael Haneke

Several disparate characters live out their troubled Parisian existence in this tightly controlled study of human communication.


Title: Amores Perros (Mexico)

Dir: Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu

Powerful and fast-paced storytelling told with an imagination to put his peers to shame. Ultimately, 153 minutes of pure cinematic majesty. Love IS a bitch.


Title: Apocalypse Now: Redux (USA)

Dir: Francis Ford Coppola

As awe-inspiring as ever, Coppola's war opera got touched up and strengthened with the help of editor Walter Murch to magnificent effect.