Obviously I didn't see every movie released this year, no matter how hard I may or may not have tried, so my list is confined by the films I actually did see. Feel free to disagree with me, as my top ten is probably different from yours... but without any further ado I present to you, My Top Ten of 2010:
Snubs: Not much can be said about these films other than they were not quite good enough to make my list. Great films, but just not the best of the best.
- Scott Pilgrim
- Get Low
- How to Train Your Dragon
- The Ghost Writer
- The Kids are Alright
- # 10. True Grit- The latest Cohen brothers piece of work. 'True Grit' suffers from poor pacing, writing that is not up to par with former Cohen projects and an ending (however similar to the novel) that does not adequately finish the story. What saves the film is its star power: Bridges, Steinfield, Brolin, Barry Pepper and even Damon give tremendous performances. This film has no 'wow' factor and offers little besides the name 'Cohen' on the movie poster. The picturesque locals, decent direction and wonderful acting are no match for the swiss cheese of a script and overall lack of polarity.
- # 9. Winter's Bone- The sleeper hit of the award season, 'Winter's Bone' is one of the more mesmerizing character studies of the year. Jennifer Lawrence give a really underrated performance as Ree, the absolutely facinating protagonist who struggles to keep her family together. What makes this particular film great is the script (winner of best script at Sundance) and how poetic and allegorical it was. A chilling and emotional tale that I would best describe as western, 'Winter's Bone' is a film, not packed with action sequences but tense enough to grip its audience and keep them interested until the very end.
- # 8. Inception- One of the most significant films of the last 20 years if it can usher in an era of intelligent, yet entertaining popcorn films. This spectacle, spawned from the 17 year-old mind of Christopher Nolan, is not only beautiful to watch, it is a creative exposition the likes of which Hollywood has never seen nor comprehend. However its brilliance lies more in the direction of Nolan and the strong story than the actual execution of the script and the acting of the films premier players. What was an interesting idea was ultimately overshadowed by its own ambiguousness and inability to answer many of the bigger questions it poses. A great film by any measurable means, 'Inception' is an exciting mystery that doesn't satisfy.
- # 7. The Fighter- A tense, emotional, and realistic portrayal of life in the slums of Boston. 'The Fighter' benefits from excellent acting, understated direction and a realism that could only come from an intense understanding of the characters and their environment. What pushes this film out of my top ten is the overall level of cliche this film exhibits. Not unlike any other boxing film before it, 'The Fighter' provides the audience with cinema's ultimate underdog and the film's ending, just like Ewan McGreggor's junk, has been on screen too many times before.
- # 6. The King's Speech- My favorite to win Best Picture this coming Sunday (although not totally deserving), 'The King's Speech is a virtual duplicate of 'The Fighter' albeit featuring worse direction and less cliche. Which apparently adds up to a higher ranking on my prestigious list. The script and the acting are both excellent and result in one of the better films of the season. Quite honestly Roland Emmerich probably could have directed this film and it still would have been OK, but what Tom Hooper does is admirable- though I'm not sure he was more deserving than Christopher Nolan for an Oscar nod. The film's cliche is more subdued than 'The Fighter' (although those of you who point out that the films tagline is "Find Your Voice" have a valid opposition). This is one of those film's that I enjoy after the first viewing but would probably never want to watch again- which is why its at 6 and not 3, 2, or 1.
- # 5. 127 Hours- When I first had the pleasure of seeing this film I was blown away by the performance of James Franco. 2 month's ago I did not want to wake up after the Oscars on Monday knowing that Franco didn't have an Oscar. After seeing King's Speech my mind has changed, but it doesn't change the fact that this performance is Oscar winning material. Danny Boyle does a fantastic job with a very unusual film and creates an atmosphere of powerful emotion and empathy for Franco's character Aron Ralston, despite the fact that we all know how it was going to end for him. Clearly one of the best films of the year, but ultimately too indie to be in real consideration for Best Picture.
- # 4. The Town- Wait, a Ben Affleck film in the top ten? Let alone even in the top five? Yes. Yes it is. 'The Town' is probably the most unexpected sleeper hit of the year (Social Network right there for number 2) that practically shocked life back into Affleck's fluctuating career. Much like 'Inception,' this film combines action with substance and great directing- Ben Affleck will win a directing Oscar at some point in his career. What separates this film from others this year is the dramatic, suspenseful scenes that offer the best white knuckle moments of 2010. Jeremy Renner is great, Ben Affleck is underrated, the story is kept fresh despite its cliched genre, this film has unfortunately been dismissed by much of the cinema world but it is easily the best heist film of the year, an one of the better all around films. Plus it has THE BEST trailer ever:
- # 3. Twilight Saga: Eclipse- JUST KIDDING.
- # 3. The Social Network- The rightful winner of 2010's Best Picture, 'The Social Network' is a movie that defines this year, if not the current generation of teens and young adults. Combining the best direction of the year with the best screenplay of the year (even if it is not original), the film features one of the most interesting, if not despicable, characters in all of cinema. Years later we will all be looking back at this film seeing how it launched the careers of Jesse Eisenberg (even though he was already known), Justin Timberlake (a future perennial EGOT threat), Andrew Garfield, Armie Hammer and Rooney Mara. I do not want to live in an America where this film doesn't win Best Picture, but I would be okay if any of the below films pulled a 'Crash' and came out of nowhere and stole the show.
- # 2. Black Swan- Ok, I wrote the screenplay for 'Black Swan' (not really) and someone needs to produce it. How good does this pitch sound to a production company?-- "Here's the deal, it is a reworking of the famous ballet of the same name. It is a psychological thriller that blends fact and fiction, reality and fantasy, and follows main character Nina Sayers as she transforms from white swan to black swan, slowly loosing grip on her life and drifting dangerously into a projection of her fantasy. Oh, and there is a super hot lesbian scene. If you're into that sort of thing..."-- Ok so maybe it didn't go like that, but would that not be a great conversation? 'Black Swan' is fantastic, it is tense, well acted, well directed and ambiguous- blurring the lines of reality. What seperates this blurred reality from 'Inception' is the closure that 'Black Swan' offers. We learn what is real and what is not, and knowledge is power.
- # 1. Toy Story 3- What other film this year made audiences laugh, cry, recall childhood memories, cry, entertain, cry and get us thinking? Joaquin Phoenix's documentary, which could have easily been here (sarcasm...) and 'Toy Story 3.' Besides being the end to one of the greatest 'trilogies' ever, TS3 asks and answers the big questions in life. Despite what will, and can, be said about 'Inception,' TS3 was THE EVENT FILM of 2010, racking in about a billion dollars foreign and domestic. Featuring impressive animation, the same great voice acting, nice direction and tear-jerking storytelling, this film succeeds on all levels and, based on formula, is the best film of the year. Because the Academy cannot create a precedent for animated films winning Best Picture Oscar gold, otherwise the acting profession would suffer, TS3 will not be rewarded as highly as it deserves. However, that is what's great about the Oscar's and lists like this, there is never a definitive answer.