The Ten Best Movies of 2010!
I can understand why some people may think 2010 has been an underwhelming year at the movies. To be sure, the first half of the year was ROUGH. The early part of the summer, filled with movies that were either underwhelming (IRON MAN 2, ROBIN HOOD, PRINCE OF PERSIA) or just plain awful (LAST AIRBENDER, A-TEAM, etc.) led many to think the whole year would be a write-off. Luckily, a few great films came out in the latter half of the summer, and the year was rescued to a degree.
For me, 2010 was actually a pretty damn good year of movie going, but Iíve been ridiculously fortunate in that I was able to attend the Sundance, Fantasia, and Toronto film festivals, so I was able to see a lot of great films that either flew under the radar (THE KILLER INSIDE ME, ANIMAL KINGDOM, THE LOVED ONES, MESRINE), or havenít opened yet (SUBMARINE being a big stand-out).
The following is a list of my top 10, including a few honorable mentions.
Hereís a film that completely flew under my radar. It played Sundance, but I missed it, only to catch up with it when it got an arthouse release earlier this year. This is a brilliant film, although I hesitate to call it a documentary as Iím not sure itís completely true. Banksy, the street artist is indeed a real (anonymous) guy, but Mr. Brainwash? To anyone whoís seen the film, doesnít he seem like the perfect comedic creation? From his exaggerated, Clouseau-esque accent, to his mutton-chop sideburns and rockiní handlebar mustache, this guy was, for lack of a better word, the shit. His climatic piece of art-world flim-flam is perhaps the most damning critique of pseudo-intellectualism Iíve ever seen. Interestingly, I wasnít sure this would end up on my Top 10 until having a good chat about it on the JoBlo Podcast with the great Johnny Moreno. Hearing him talk about this made me revisit it, and damn if this isnít a brilliant piece of work.
Now here is a film of our time. Naturally, one wouldnít think the subject of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism would be a subject rife for satire, but FOUR LIONS pulls it off in a film that's comparable to DR. STRANGELOVE OR HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB. A film astounding in its rarity as it manages to be both thought provoking and bloody hilarious.
A film I raved about at TIFF, and one thatís likely to clean up at the Oscars in February. I stand by my statement that Colin Firth is a lock for Best Actor as the stuttering King George VI. Itís a tremendous performance in a charming, life-affirming film. If you enjoy films like DEAD POETS SOCIETY, CHARIOTS OF FIRE or anything else that's more about lifting your spirits than impressing you with razzle-dazzle, THE KINGíS SPEECH is the film for you.
I love this film and it features four of my favorite performances of the year. As Dickie Eklund, Christian Bale seems a lock for Best Supporting Actor, which seems more than fair. Mark Wahlberg and Amy Adams have been been horribly underrated (and perhaps overshadowed by Bale) for brilliant performances as well. And for my money, Melissa Leo makes for the most frightening villain of the year as Micky and Dickieís manipulative (but loving) mother. (Also they use Whitesnake on the soundtrack man!)
Like REQUIEM FOR A DREAM, BLACK SWAN is a nightmare come to life. Natalie Portman gives what might be the performance of the year as a ballerina succumbing to madness and I was riveted by her presence on screen. Just as important as Portman's turn is the superb work from Darren Aronofsky behind the camera, who proves once again why heís one of the most important voices in contemporary cinema.
Probably my favorite film out of Sundance, this is a rich Australian crime saga thatís absolutely brilliant. One of my proudest moments of working at JoBlo.com was to hear that the site ran a screening for this film at Comic-Con. If you missed this in theatres, you need to pick this up on DVD/Blu-ray. It's more evidence of the incredible new-wave of Australian Cinema, featuring other gems like RED HILL, THE SQUARE, THE LOVED ONES, and THE PROPOSITION, that, for my money, is one of the most exciting trends to come along in awhile. It's no coincidence that Joel Edgerton, on the basis of this, and THE SQUARE was tapped for the lead of the big Universal prequel of THE THING.
Duh, itís awesome. What else can be said about the Popcorn Movie of the Year at this point. One of the few films to come out this year I went to see twice, the spectacle makes it a blast but the brains of the flick make it essential. Proof positive that summer action films can be smart and donít have to pander to their audience. If Christopher Nolan doesn't land an Oscar nomination for best director, it'll be an oversight of guargantuan proportions. What I love about Nolan is the epic scope he brings to his films, with INCEPTION pushing the envelope even more than the similarly brilliant THE DARK KNIGHT. Upon leaving the snaek preview, I overheard someone say, "I feel like Christopher Nolan's just had sex with my brain". Indeed.
Another no-brainer and David Fincherís finest work since FIGHT CLUB. Similar to that, this follows another group of dissatisfied men, these being the college boys behind Facebook, although thatís not really what the movie is about. Itís probably as much about Facebook as CITIZEN KANE was about newspapers. Itís about greed and ego and it's essential viewing. If this doesnít pick up a few Oscars, itíll be a tragedy. I also hope that star Jesse Eisenberg isn't ignored for his layered turn as Mark Zuckerberg, which maybe be one of the most skilled, and disciplined performances of the year.
OK, so technically this is three movies (THE YEAR OF OUR LORD 1974, 1980, 1983) but so what? This is my list and I make the rules! Sadly, I was not able to see these films on the big screen but I caught up with them on DVD and thank God I did. Of the three, 1974 has to be my favorite due to the incredible performance from star Andrew Garfield. Itís no coincidence that the top two films both feature Garfield in leading roles as this guyís riding a wave similar to the one Edward Norton did in the late nineties. All three parts are a fascinating, if depressing, story about evil. This is the type of evil thatís very real; where good men stand by and do nothing in the interest of self-preservation, while the most heroic tend to be those on the fringe. Itís no wonder that the real heroes of this film series turn out to be an egocentric, muckraking young journalist, an alcoholic barrister, a crooked cop, and a male prostitute. THE RED RIDING TRILOGY is a brilliant series of films, and the crowning cinematic achievement of 2010.
Runners Up: TRUE GRIT, THE KILLER INSIDE ME, THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT, TOY STORY 3, THE TOWN, RED, WHITE & BLUE, THE LOVED ONES, BLUE VALENTINE, CARLOS, 127 HOURS, CATFISH, WINTER'S BONE and CYRUS. I should also make note of SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD. While I gave it a decidedly mixed review, it holds up amazingly well through repeat viewings. I still have some issues with it, but I don't think anyone can deny that it's one of the best directed films of the year. Edgar Wright's the real deal. I imagine that somewhere in the VERY near future, he's going to make something legend- "wait for it"- ary.
|Extra Tidbit:||As for WORST OF, I'd say COP OUT, THE A-TEAM, LITTLE FOCKERS, THE LAST AIRBENDER, PASSION PLAY, and the Katherine Heigl double threat: KILLERS and LIFE OR SOMETHING LIKE IT.|