Top 10 movies of the year

16:36, December 29, 2010      

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The year has seen Chinese cinema mature with films that have not just performed well but pushed the boundaries in terms of plot and execution. Raymond Zhou picks the top 10.

Chinese cinema is expected to pass a milestone in 2010. Its gross box-office revenue is likely to be more than 10 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) for the first time (counting just the mainland). That's roughly the same as the US box office in dollar terms. If you factor in the currency disparity, per-capita, consumption and the ancillary market such as television and DVD rights, it is still minuscule, but hints at the vast potential that has been tapped into seriously only in the past five years.In terms of the quality of offerings, Chinese cinema has always been the target of public ridicule. Simply put, it is an industry people love to hate and yet cannot stop talking about. This year, diversity has taken reign and big-budget period dramas with their all-too-familiar sequences of kungfu fighting have given way to a rich crop of genres, some hard to categorize. Whatever your taste, you will find something to your fancy. The following are 10 feature films our editors consider worth recommending.

Let the Bullets Fly

This is a year when China's triumvirate of top filmmakers (Zhang Yimou, Chen Kaige and Feng Xiaogang) all had new releases, but were upstaged by someone who calls himself "an amateur".

Jiang Wen is an actor-turned-director and has made only four full-length features since 1994. But the scarcity of his output correlates with high quality.

His new movie (pictured above), set in the early 20th century, is a fast-paced heist movie. Well, "heist" could be a misnomer because the coveted object is the position of a county magistrate and all the loot it comes with. It also has the feel of a western when scenes move outside the county town.

Jiang has a sense of humor that's not just black, but pitch dark. Many of the lines have layers of meaning, which may yield contradictory interpretations. His subtle use of anachronism and the symbolic meaning of many scenes and props have become an object of cinephile obsession. All actors are perfectly cast.
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