Some talking points:
- Memories of Murder is definitively the top film of the decade (So much for Time Out saying that Mother is Bong Joon-ho’s first masterpiece). It secured more top-place rankings than any other film, and also had more appearances in critics’ top 10 lists than any other film.
- Bong Joon-ho is the top ranked director, narrowly beating Park Chan-wook, who almost caught up because of the consistently high scores given to films in the Vengeance Trilogy. Other high-scoring directors are Lee Chang-dong, Hong Sang-soo and Im Sang-soo. Perhaps surprisingly, given the buzz caused by some of his films, Kim Ji-woon only comes in at #7
- The one-hit wonder of the decade is Jang Jun-hwan. His film Save the Green Planet is #3 on the list, and the popularity of that single film earned him a #6 ranking on the top directors list. Other directors who leap-frogged him with better scores had their rankings boosted because they have made more films.
- Another honourable mention goes to Jeong Jae-eun for Take Care of My Cat, though unlike Jang Jun-hwan she has made more than one film
- Kim Ki-duk has slipped from being the name on every K-film fan’s lips to being almost an also-ran at #10 on the list. His top ranked film, Spring Summer Autumn Winter only comes in at #19.
- Lee Yoon-ki merits a mention for two quiet films which didn’t create much of a stir on first release but seem to have stood the test of time: This Charming Girl and My Dear Enemy
- Peppermint Candy appears on the list despite being a 1999 film. I’m sure more people would have included it, and it would be higher on the list, if it had been made in 2000.
- The list probably reminds you of some of the films you have already watched and forgot you enjoyed so much. Hur Jin-ho’s One Fine Spring Day, for example, was not on my own long list but should have been. I now remember thinking at the time what a pleasurable experience it was to watch – more so than Hur’s debut Christmas in August.
- Of course, it would be a dedicated film follower who has seen all the films on the list. I’m going to make sure I watch Lee Yoon-ki’s as soon as I can, together with Paju and Invisible Light. Then I’m going to re-watch Take Care of My Cat and Treeless Mountain.
11 critics voted on 62 films and 42 directors. Here are the top 31 films (not a round number, but three films tied at #29)…
…and the top 20 directors:
For those who are interested, the list of voters included, and the methodology used, is attached here. If anyone knows of any top 10 lists that I should have considered, let me know and I might provide an update on this poll. Or suggest your own list below. This isn’t a scientific exercise: it’s just a bit of fun. But I think it’s generated some interesting results.