Wednesday, January 5, 2011


In case anybody cares—& I certainly don’t blame you if you don’t—here’s my Top Ten movie list for 2010:

The Secret in Their Eyes


The Town

The King’s Speech

Four Lions

The Fighter

Shutter Island

True Grit

The Kids Are All Right

The Social Network

I’m not sure if The Secret in Their Eyes really counts for 2010, since it won the Foreign Language Film Oscar last year (it was nominated by Phoenix Film Critics Society this year, however). It was, in any case, the best movie I saw in 2010. Other movies I sort of enjoyed this past year included Best Worst Movie, Cropsey, Despicable Me, Machete, Please Give, La Mission, The Switch, Piranha 3D, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, City Island, Black Swan, Casino Jack, Strongman, The Human Centipede (First Sequence), It’s Kind of a Funny Story, Easy A, Fair Game, Inception, Greenberg, Devil, Morning Glory, The Karate Kid, Unstoppable, Cyrus, Iron Man 2, Get Low, Splice, Alice in Wonderland & even Jonah Hex, a little.

This year, for the first time, I for some reason also kept track of the books I read; here is that list, in the order I read them (not including magazine & newspaper articles, reviews, essays, blogs, short stories, comic books etc. etc):

The Werewolf of Paris by Guy Endore

Cryptozoic! by Brian Aldiss

Louis Lambert by Honore de Balzac

The Spy Who Loved Me by Ian Fleming

Maps & Legends by Michael Chabon

Mr. Majestyk by Elmore Leonard

November by David Mamet

The Snake by Mickey Spillane

Letters of a Peruvian Lady by Francoise de Graffigny

Beatrice & Virgil by Yann Martel

Maximum Bob by Elmore Leonard

Blockade Billy by Stephen King

That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo

LaBrava by Elmore Leonard

Wieland by Charles Brockden Brown

The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole

Of All the Bloody Cheek by Frank McAuliffe

Curtain by Agatha Christie

Hallowe’en Party by Agatha Christie

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

If I Were You by L. Ron Hubbard

A Diet of Treacle by Lawrence Block

The Sebastopol Sketches by Leo Tolstoy

I feel the urge to add that the L. Ron Hubbard book is NOT a Scientology text; it’s one of his innumerable pulp tales from before his religious-leader days. It was fairly entertaining, too, though Hubbard’s style is appalling (the slim volume is padded out with a short story called “The Last Drop” which Hubbard wrote in collaboration with L. Sprague De Camp; it’s slightly better-written, perhaps through De Camp’s input).

Unlike the movies, the booklist is offered with no qualitative judgment, beyond my having finished the books.


  1. It's good to see the love for THE SECRET IN THEIR EYES. People seem to be forgetting it. Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to see it in theaters (I don't get a chance to make it up to Camelview as much as I did pre-kids) but it knocked me out when I caught up with it on DVD. A cinematic face melter. Plus, that shot that starts in the air above the soccer stadium and continues throughout the chase is a jaw dropper. It's not gratuitous either, style for style's sake, it fits thematically with the story. I loved it.

    The reading list cracks me up a bit. I remember with your New Times reviews it felt as if you had read everything. The one that stands out is the review of I SHOT ANDY WARHOL. You begin with some words about the Scum Manifesto and I remember thinking, "Jesus, he's even read that!"

  2. Yes, that aerial shot of the soccer stadium in Secret was a stunner, & you're right, it wasn't gratuitous. I loved that film for many reasons, not the least of which is that it was one of the very few films I've ever seen that truly got revenge truly, spitefully, horribly, satisfyingly right. Don't be too impressed, by the way, by reading of The Scum Manifesto. As I recall, I learned of that book shortly before the movie came out, & hastily ordered & read it, precisely to sound well-read. Glad to know my vain ploy worked!

  3. L. Ron Hubbard never "collaborated" with anyone. He was an unabashed Plagiarizer. He was barely tolerated by his contemporaries, like De Camp, Derleth, and Howard. He would notoriously "borrow" worlds, lands, and even characters from the serialized works of his piers. He even had the audacity to bring the reoccurring characters from other authors into his short stories just to kill them off. I suppose he thought it was funny. In De Camps letters and memoirs he has nothing good to say about Hubbard. jw

  4. Well, from what I can find online he did indeed collaborate with De Camp at least that once, in Astonishing Tales in 1941; maybe that's when De Camp developed a low opinion of him. De Camp was certainly a better writer than Hubbard; Hubbard's prose was the sort that gave pulp a bad name. I didn't know about the plagiarism charges, but I admit it isn't hard to believe.