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I really enjoy a great movie title. Most titles are functional and appropriate. Maybe they refer to a main character or a plot element. But sometimes they poetically encapsulate a movie’s themes. It’s great to reflect on a title after seeing a movie and find a deeper meaning.

I was initially going to include a quick blurb on my favorite titles of the year in my Top Ten post, but the blurb quickly spun out of control so it needed its own post. Apparently two words is the sweet spot for title length.

3. Fair Game. The provenance of this title is straight-forward as it is a real-life description a Bush political operative gave to Valerie Plame as reason for destroying her career. Her husband was publicly refuting the evidence of WMDs in Iraq so his wife’s work for the CIA was fair game in order undermine him – and, in the process, revealing the classified name of a CIA operative.

So in that regard it’s a good if fairly normal title. I think what makes it special is its pithiness. Plame’s entire career is reduced to a political bargaining chip. The Bush administration is so callously dismissive about someone’s life on its march to war. It really emphasises the immense injustice of the situation.

2. Another Year. To me, the key word here is “another.” The “year” is fairly clear as time time period the film covers. One section per season, the film follows its characters through the ups and downs of a year. “Another” has the perfect connotation: it’s not just a year or any year, but yet another year piled atop all the others. Many years have come before and more are still to come; this one is just a slice of the many that make up a life. It’s perfect for a film about the not-always-pleasant passage of time. It just sounds wary.

1. Lovely, Still. The winner due to punctuation. Jared put this Independent Spirit first screenplay nominee in his top ten. I didn’t like it nearly as much, but it has its moments. I did really enjoy its title. As a tale of burgeoning love between two elderly people, “still lovely” is a nice sentiment that, despite their age, these people and their love are still beautiful. But it’s the comma that packs the punch.

This isn’t a mere platitude. The comma puts a pause between the words and suggests contemplation, as if the speaker thoughtfully adds the “still.” That reflection, that despite the passage of time “lovely” still applies, makes it all the more sincere. Lovely, indeed.

August 2011