My Favorite Movies Of The 21st Century (So Far), 2001-2016

The BBC has asked actual film critics to weigh in with a list of “The Best Films of The 21st Century” and while I am not an actual film critic, I thought it was a fun opportunity to look back on the films that have endured for me since 2001… this is a very personal list and the only thing it reflects is my own connection to certain films that I cannot get out of my head…


Mulholand drive

4 Months 3 Weeks 2 Days 2








there will be blood

Résonance Personnelle (Alpha)






Flight Of The Red Balloon



Summer Hours


What Time Is It There


These pictures of Nico wandering alone on the farm reminded me of a Tarkovsky film…While I could never recreate those incredible images, I was happy to find my son in such beautiful surroundings, completely without any self-consciousness about the camera…

The BRM’s Greatest Hits | My Top Ten Cinematic Experiences of 2010: #1 QUEER and Patti Smith at Sarasota

In celebration of the past seven years of my indieWIRE blog and my migration to a new home here on my own, I will be posting a few Greatest Hits, my favorite posts from the indieWIRE era. Some may be painful, many bear the marks of years worth of growth on my end, but I hope they still have some value. Enjoy!

News today from The Playlist that Steve Buscemi and Oren Moverman’s Queer may be shooting this summer with Guy Pearce, Kelly Macdonald and Ben Foster. I worked with Steve and Oren on a staged reading of this screenplay at the 2010 Sarasota Film Festival; it was a great night and ranked as my favorite moment of 2010. So happy this incredible project is moving forward. Here are my memories from the event…

The original date of publication was January 3, 2011.


Obligatory Repetitive Introduction
In the past, in lieu of ranking movies and being held hostage by the dissonance between the film release calendar and my own experience of the ebb and flow of filmgoing, I have listed my favorite cinematic experiences of the year. I want to get back to that; as the way in which I get to watch movies and talk about them continues to diversify, as the idea of cinematic experience expands to multiple devices, formats, cities, communities, I think this list is here to stay. The age of the theatrical release calendar is dead for me; we’re living in a new time, where the movies can be found in every area of life, from online conversations to your home entertainment system,he back of a car seat to a projection screen at a restaurant, your phone to a portable tablet. So, I am going back to my old model, probably for good; over the next ten days, I’ll be posting my Top 10 Cinematic Experiences of 2010. Not necessarily films (although sometimes), these are the experiences that defined my year in film culture. Subjectivity alert!

1. Queer and Patti Smith at Sarasota

Our Queer Program (designed by Rachel Dengiz, Olive Productions)

Is it self serving to make the number one cinematic experience of my year an event that I worked on? I hope not; working on the Sarasota Film Festival is what defines my career, it is the most meaningful contribution I make to cinema (take that for what it is worth) and I spend countless hours working and fretting over the details of the event. And, even more than all of that, this year was incredibly special; I was privileged to work with Steve Buscemi, Oren Moverman, Wren Arthur and the team at Olive Productions to present a staged reading of Queer, Moverman’s adaptation of the early novels of William S. Burroughs. The cast? Buscemi directed and performed as Burroughs, Stanley Tucci read stage directions and played a couple of small roles, Ben Foster played Allerton, the object of Burrough’s desire, Lisa Joyce was Burrough’s wife Joan, and John Ventimiglia performed as various denizens of the expat bar scene in Mexico. The location? A small, 130 seat black box theater on the edge of downtown Sarasota. Before the reading began? Patti Smith walked on stage to say a few words of remembrance for Burroughs, and her honest, heartfelt tribute to the writer set the stage for a great evening.

Queer at Sarasota: (L to R): Stanley Tucci, Lisa Joyce, Steve Buscemi, Ben Foster, John Ventimiglia (photo by Mollie Grady)

It was an event I was extremely proud to have helped organize and it was a flawless reading; the crowd was riveted by the story and performances and everyone seemed to really enjoy the experience. How could they not? It’s not every day you get to see that group of people on stage together, debuting a new work. And yet, in the grand scheme of the festival world, it didn’t really make any waves, which might be for the best; Sarasota continues to fly a little bit under the radar which is at once frustrating for me and probably for the best. The festival continues to be very special to me, and the intimacy we can achieve is only possible by keeping things, well, special. The up-close and personal experience of Queer was bested the following night when Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye serenaded the attendees at our festival’s President’s Dinner by strolling table to table and singing Beneath The Southern Cross. Everyone was awestruck, a feeling that carried over to the Late Night Party, where Patti and Lenny played a 70 minute acoustic set in a very small room, with a less than desirable sound system, and blew the crowd away.

Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye at The Sarasota Film Festival (photo by Mollie Grady)

Sarasota remains the cinematic love of my life. The program is a pure collaboration between Holly Herrick and me and that relationship remains, my family aside, one of the most important in my life. I love my job, I love my colleagues, I love the work, I am proud of the results. It never gets old. My relationships and passions are what makes it all worth doing. I’m honored to be able to work on what I love; it is a luxury I never take for granted. Onward to 2011.

You Shoulda’ Been There: Patti Smith at The Sarasota Film Festival

#10 Twitter! Argh!
#9 Jury Duty
#8 Otherwise Unavailable
#7 The Social Network at NYFF
#6 The Home Consumer, Finally
#5 And Everything Is Going Fine… At Slamdance
#4. Post Mortem at The New York Film Festival
#3. Greenberg at Burns Court
#2. Blue Valentine at Sundance

Memory Lane

Best Of The Decade
Top 10 of 2009
Top 10 of 2008
Top 10 of 2007
Top 10 of 2006
Top 10 of 2005
Top 10 of 2004

Welcome To My New Home

Tonight, I received an email from my friends at indieWIRE alerting me that my blog of seven years, The Back Row Manifesto, was being discontinued as a part of an upgrade of the indieWIRE blogging network. Fair enough; it’s rarely updated, draws low readership because of the infrequency of its publication, it is not really a part of the new indieWIRE blog community hierarchy (which is focused on news gathering and reportage) and it’s not, nor has it ever been, a professional blog. I’ve never made a single dollar blogging (not that I’m proud of that *ha*) but when indieWIRE allowed me to launch a blog back in 2004, that was never the point. Things change and that’s how it should be. I am forever grateful to indieWIRE for giving me a platform for all of those years. Not only was it a fair decision to discontinue the original Back Row Manifesto, but beyond that, indieWIRE has promised to archive the blog, which, incredibly generous.

So, before I go any further, a huge THANK YOU to everyone at indieWIRE for having me. It was an honor to be a microscopic piece of the family for all these years and I wish the site nothing but continued success.

As for me, well, for some reason, I’ve decided to keep it going here at my own domain, using WordPress. So far, so good; I feel much more free here, able to say whatever I want without worrying so much about the industry taking much notice. It’s also a very simple design, vertical, a nice template to focus on images and words, a literal clean slate. To get started, I’m going to replicate my favorite pieces and a few recent posts from the indieWIRE version of the blog on here, in the hopes it will give me a good foundation for the future and let me figure out how to execute my preferences using this platform. Think of it as a “Greatest Hits” collection to help christen the new place. One a day for the next couple of weeks… stay tuned.

I hope that I can continue to write about the films that move me, talk to the artists who inspire me, and share my passion for the cinema with those who will follow me here. I hope to make the new place as homey as the old place, but I also hope I can grow here as well. So, update your bookmarks; this is my new home. Time to unpack and get myself situated…