Saturday, January 8, 2011

Top 10 Filipino films of 2010

Making a short-list of the top local films is a breeze the past few years. A major reason is the proliferation of good films churned out and exhibited by the triumvirate of Cinemalaya, Cinemanila, and Cinema One Originals. The hard part is trimming the list down to only ten films. The trio can easily fill in the top 10 slots but, in year 2010, a couple of slots ended up in the hands of a Cultural Center of the Philippines-produced epic and a Star Cinema(!)-produced animation film.

Here are some of the more memorable local films I’ve seen in 2010:

AmBisyon 2010 - is a public service project of cable channel ANC. The anthology consists of 20 short films aimed at helping the electorate get a glimpse of the pressing issues of the country. The quality varies but the film is worth viewing for the few gems. Some of the best short features include Brillante Mendoza's captivating music video Ayos Ka, Jon Red's lovely PSG, Jerrold Tarog's competent Faculty, Henry Frejas' hilarious Hanapbuhay, and the heartbreaking Wag Kang Titingin (Pam Miras), winner of the Best Short Feature award at the Cinemalaya 2010 competitions

Ang Damgo ni Eleuteria – a fascinating one-take film about a lanky mail-order bride from the Cebu island of Olango. The actors portraying the father, Merle, and the recruiter are excellent acting finds

Ang Paglilitis ni Andres Bonifacio - Mario O'Hara weaved his magic and creativity on this faithful recreation of the trial of the founder of the Katipunan. Theatrical elements bring home the message that the trial is a moro-moro. Angeli Kanapi steals scenes as Ibong Adarna and narrator

Donor - Viewing the film is like attending a concise master filmmaking class by Mark Meily. The movie tells the relevant story of a Filipina donor working around a law prohibiting kidney transplants to foreigners

Emir - The impressive musical epic, about a Filipina nanny working in a palatial home in the Middle East, is a showcase for the country's talented singers, songwriters, and dancers

Kano: An American and His Harem – Apocalypse Now on a smaller, personal scale. An American soldier, scarred by child abuse and the Vietnam war, wreaks havoc on a village in the Philippines. A prime example of excellent documentaries churned out by local female filmmakers (eg. MonsterJimenez and Ditsi Carolino)

Layang Bilanggo - The Cinema One Originals 2010 best picture has a glaring fault in its clunky prison infighting segment but made up for it with an elegiac view of senior citizens cooped up in a retirement home. It was this film that I remembered most during the Christmas season and not the other Bing Lao-influenced (and overrated) film Sampaguita. It is true that sometimes senior citizens impede on our shopping and travel plans but it is during this season of merrymaking that they desperately yearn for some attention. The holiday season coincides with the closing of another year. The elders want a bit of assurance that they are still loved and needed. They dread the coming year for it may see them in a retirement home, hospital bed, or in a coffin. The film captures perfectly the anxiety, the regrets, and the reminiscing of past glory by the elderly

Limbunan – a beautiful film about a young lady caught up in a web of religious and family traditions. I see the girl's betrothal to a 'good' man as similar to being handed over to a 'good' religion by the elders

RPG Metanoia – a thrilling movie that plays a lot like a video game. The story tells the importance of experiencing life outside the world of video games and social networking sites. The jaw-dropping animation is light years away from that of Dayo and Urduja. This is the best Metro Manila Film Festival movie in years so try to catch it while it is still showing in some theaters

Sheika - Fe GingGing Hyde gives a stunning performance as a Tausug mother using her wiles to save her children from the evil ones. This film further enhances Arnel Mardoquio's reputation as an excellent regional filmmaker


  1. Hi Nel, I made a compilation of lists of 2010 top Pinoy films and I included yours. I posted it in our blog here:

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