For the past few years, the British cinephile magazine Sight & Sound has polled dozens of video essayists about their favorite videos that have come out. The latest poll recently dropped, with 42 creators collectively naming over a hundred different videos from 2020. If you follow Hyperallergic’s Film & Documentary Newsletter, you’ll have already had some of these essays recommended for you, such as “In Search of a Flat Earth” or “Is the Moon Landing Cinema?”. Now you have a gargantuan list to catch up on! To get you started, here are some of the most-cited videos in the poll.
“Explosive Paradox” by Kevin B. Lee
This video was created for the essay series Once Upon a Screen in the journal Cine-Files, about films which traumatized the various contributors when they saw them as children. Lee discusses seeing Platoon with his family by visiting the site of the movie theater they went to in the ’80s (now a BevMo). Childhood experiences are thus reenacted at their original site, making for a remarkably intense rumination on cinematic violence and racism.
“Forensickness” by Chloé Galibert-Laîné
Galibert-Laîné collects her thoughts on Chris Kennedy’s 2017 film Watching the Detectives, which is about online sleuths performing amateur investigations into the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. This is therefore a video in which she comments on someone else commenting on other people commenting on videographic evidence. (And for a further layer, all of us are in turn watching her watch.) Galibert-Laîné specializes in these kinds of funhouse mirror refractions of contemporary technology and how we engage with it. This essay continually reveals new ideas and provokes many thoughts.
“Feeling and Thought as They Take Form: Early Steadicam Labor, Technology, and Style, 1974-1985” by Katie Bird
Made for the media journal [in]Transition, this essay explores the history of two competing cinematic technologies during the ’70s and ’80s, Steadicam and Panaglide. These were brands of stabilizer mounts, which greatly expanded possibilities for moving cameras when making films. Bird asks the viewer to consider the stabilizer operator as a creative force, and uses this single example as a way to draw out how just one disruption can change the way both an industry and an art form can operate.