Friday, January 14, 2011

My top ten best films of 2010

 As a forewarning, I am an odd duck.  I generally love a film not just for an incredible script, inspired direction or nuanced acting, but because it hits a spot in me that triggers emotions of youth, wonderment and nostalgia.  Also, if a movie has a very clear goal and attains it perfectly, I delight in that.  Especially with genre films.  The movie could be terrible when viewed outside the genre, but as a genre disciple I will dig it.  You have been warned.

  My ten in no particular order.

1.  Black Swan--Natalie Portman and Darren Aronofsky are both always a sure bet. A complete head trip all the way through that I couldn't stop thinking about.  This was also the first film I ever really thought of Mila Kunis as a serious actress.  Plus, even the guy who thinks ballet is for sissies is going to enjoy a few key scenes between the two actresses that given the psychopathic undertones take all the lust right out of them.

2.  Winters Bone--Yeah, I know, nepotism at its best.  But in spite of the fact that several of my friends and I got to work on this one, it was a pretty powerful film that captured the true essence of life in some of the outlying communities not all that far from home if you live anywhere near the Ozarks.  Plus, John Hawkes was incredible.  He should get best supporting actor simply for the scene in the the beat up truck between the cop and himself.  One look in a mirror and I was terrified of the man.

3.  Toy story 3--As I mentioned to a friend earlier today, this was a kids movie that every adult was pulled into and wept during (at least a little).  At one point near the end I found myself tearing up for the fate of one of the toys and said to myself, 'This is stupid, why am I crying, he is just a toy!'.
   And then I shook my head again and realized that toy or not, the whole thing was just a cartoon.  But the quality of storytelling was so profound that those toys, animated or otherwise, were completely real to me while I was watching the film.

4.  Inception-- A complete head trip.  I never had any inkling where the film was going, although I did have a suspicion where it was going to end up and I enjoyed it anyway. Yes, Chris Nolan, you made me enjoy a film enough I didn't even care that it had Leo in the starring role. Bravo.

5.  True Grit-- Admittedly, when I first watched this movie I didn't care for it a great deal.  Mainly, I felt it had been over hyped.  I was expecting epic and felt it delivered simply very well. However, the more I ruminated on it, the more it appealed to me.  The acting was top notch, it was a really well done western (which are hard to come by) and never once did I question the reality of the movie.  Plus, it had the Dude cross referenced with John Wayne which is pretty cool.

Okay, here is where a few of you will start to close your browser tab. Remember when I said I like a film that sets a goal and nails it?  Well, here ya go.

6.  Scott Pilgrim--I hate Micheal Cera...loathe him.  Sure, in real life he is probably an alright guy, but his general character is a sniveling little underdog that isn't charming enough to overcome my immediate distaste for him.
   But in spite of that, this movie was fricking amazing.  Right from the 8 bit Universal logo at the beginning I was hooked.  People were flying thru the air with pixelated swords and random sound effects appeared as text on screen, but I never once doubted the world this movie took place in.  Everything from the sound design, to the script, to the special effects all melded together perfectly to create a razor blade edge of cinematic enjoyment.

7.  Tron Legacy-- This movie was gorgeous.  True, having a heavy duty nerd component and being a childhood fan of the original helps the enjoyment factor on this a great deal.  However, the art direction alone puts this one on my top ten.  The Grid was an incredible reality, realized in minuscule detail.  It felt epic and I wanted an identity disk just as bad as I did when I was a kid watching the original on vhs.

8.  Legend of the Guardians--Firstly, I love Zack Snyder as a director and thought he did a brilliant job with this.  Secondly, this is the only movie to date that I have seen that felt like it used the 3D gimmick and made it a useful tool within the narrative of the film.  The mid air battles, flying thru canyons, were all gorgeous and made me happy that they were in 3D.  Even last years top flick, Avatar, seemed like the 3D was used to only half of its possibility.

9.  Easy A--I can count on one hand the number of people who didn't like John Hughes films and I am pretty sure they were all Commies.  Okay, not really, but they weren't the type of people I would go out and get a cup with.  This movie set out to be a throwback of the 80's feel good teen movies of my youth and nailed it without it being a remake or beating you over the head with references to them.  The script was great, the acting perfect and Emma Stone somehow manages to be goofy and gorgeous at the same time.

10. Bitchslap--This one...well, this one most people will hate or look at the cover art and discount my opinions forever more.  Honestly, this movie was terrible...but I loved it anyway.  As I said at the beginning, I love movies with two things.  No, not that...pervert.  I dig genre films that keep all the rules of the genre and still make something original and I love movies that set a goal and hit it on the head.  This movie was designed to be a sex-ploitation film in the vein of Russ Meyer and honestly if it wasn't for the (bad) digital effects it would be unrecognizable from Faster Pussycat, Kill Kill. It combines strong female girl power style characters and makes them into pulp fiction stereotypes at the same time. It has guest appearances from Zoe Bell, Kevin Sorbo, Lucy Lawless and her Xena squeeze Renee O Conner (as nuns no less).  Again, it was terrible, but I loved every ridiculous second of it.

Honorable mentions:
1.  Red--Bruce Willis steps out of a cop car while it is in an uncontrolled spin and empties his 9mm FTW.
2.  Defendor--Woody Harrelson is a schizophrenic superhero and it made me cry.
3.  Micmacs--From the director of Amelie.  French and beautiful tale of revenge and ex-circus freaks.
4. Secret of Kells--Beautiful 2D animation about the power of the perfect line.
5.  Harry Brown--Micheal Caine, terrifying no matter how old he gets.
6. The Good, the Bad, the Weird---If Serge Leon was Manchurian this is the movie he would have made.

Movies that made me throw up a little.

1.  The Kids are Alright---This movie was boring.  The script was mundane and the acting was okay. The reason its gotten the exposure it has is because its about a lesbian couple with kids.   Honestly, the best character was Mark Ruffalo and he was the villain simply because he was the outsider brought into the whole ordeal by this modern families issues.  Annette Benning did nothing to deserve all of the awards she is being nominated for other than get a butch hair cut and kiss Julianne Moore.  Ms. Moore at least had some nuances to her performance but can't catch an Oscar nod for anything. After watching this movie I could imagine an early discussion between the two writers.
  "So this is just a movie about a husband and wife and their kids from another dude? And then the kids contact the other dude when they are about to go to college?"
  "Yeah, its slice of life."
  "Thats kinda boring.  We need to spice it up a bit."
  "How bout we make them lesbians.  At least people will go see it in hopes of seeing two women kiss."
  "I dunno, that sounds like a lot of work to change a name and make the lesbian angle a really integral part of the story.'
  " Nah, Nick can be a girl name too...we can just put in a throwaway line about it being short for Nicole, add     an Academy-safe sex scene or two and make them say lesbian here or there when we shoot it. We can even have her wear the dude wardrobe and scrubs we already bought."
 "Sweet...let the funding start rolling in."

2. Death at a Funeral--The original British movie was incredible.  Why Hollywood feels that British comedy translates to black comedy simply by adding stereotypical phrases they saw on House Party 2 confounds me.

3.  Little Fockers--This movie was number one in the nation for two weeks. America, this is why we can't have good films, you keep funding these steaming piles.

Movies that had I gotten to seen them may have altered my top ten list. 
This is one of the few times living in Springfield, Mo isn't the ideal situation.  Catching these super indies on the big screen is impossible or Netflix is held hostage by Blockbuster for a month after the titles come out on Dvd.

1. The Kings Speech
2. Buried
3. Paperman
4. The Social Network
5. 127 Hours
6. The Town
7. Biutiful

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