Top 10 for 2010 – a year in Film

I think this is the fourth time I’ve done a list like this, and every year I enjoy the preparation more and more. In 2010, I think it would be safe to say I saw more than 100 movies. I owe a big thanks to Netflix for that, as well as the Green Hills 16 and The Belcourt.

When I think back on the year in film for 2010, I have to say that this past year was an excellent year at the movies. True to form, I’ll list my honorable mentions for last year followed by my own personal top ten. This year, I’m also including an overrated category. As always, please know that these were my favorite films from 2010. That doesn’t mean these were the absolute best films; it simply means I really like them for how they made me feel or what they made me think about.

Before I go any further, these are the following movies I didn’t get a chance to see or haven’t seen yet: Carlos, Marwencol, Somewhere, The Ghost Writer, The American, Made in Dagenham, Of Gods & Men, In a Better World, Greenberg, Catfish, Barney’s Version.

So, here we go… First up, the honorable mentions:

• 127 Hours – This ‘inspired-by-a-true-story’ film about Aron Ralston is awesome. Danny Boyle and James Franco turn what is a truly amazing story into a great film. How do you tell the story a man trapped by a boulder? Exactly the way Boyle did here: flashbacks, re-created video Ralston shot of himself, etc. See it.

• A Prophet – The Belcourt may do the best job of bringing foreign film to Middle Tennessee. This was no exception. A young man endures prison by teaming up with a dangerous crew. It’s a riveting look into crime on the inside and outside.

• Animal Kingdom – I love crime stories and family stories. Blend them together with a performance by Jackie Weaver and this was an excellent movie. It didn’t do enough to merit top ten because the characters weren’t well developed in my eyes. Still, her performance was chilling. Check it out if you can find it at a Redbox or you have Netflix.

• Black Swan – This move may have created more buzz than all but two films in 2010. Natalie Portman was great. Darren Aronofsky did a spectacular job. Mila Kunis and Vincent Cassel were great too. It’s a gorgeous film and tells a captivating story. It’s not top ten for me because I just didn’t care enough about anyone in the movie. The infamous scene between the two women will probably be enough to keep away most conservative folks.

• Blue Valentine – I wanted to love this movie, but I didn’t. I couldn’t get over not knowing what happened to the couple in between the start and finish. Ryan Gosling was awesome, and his performance would’ve earned him an Oscar nomination in other years, but the field was too strong this year. Michelle Williams was great too. Not recommended for the conservative for language and sexuality.

• The Book of Eli – This movie was a little absurd with the Tarantino-esque violence and blood. The story was good and could have been told much more consistently. Look out for that “M-Night” ending.

• Biutiful – Javier Bardem’s Oscar-nominated role is a tough watch. Not for everyone, but this story is more depressive than any other movie I watched from last year. He was incredible though, so you might want to see it.

• Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky – This was a great look into the lives of the fashion queen and the composer. Mads Mikkelsen is one of my favorite foreign actors and he was awesome in this. The sets, the music, the costumes; they were all incredible. It’s awesome.

• Countdown to Zero – This documentary discusses the concerns of nuclear proliferation around the world. Super interesting, and I love documentaries. It didn’t have a huge slant, which I appreciate more than most.

• Date Night – I won’t apologize for thinking that this movie was fun. Best line: “Claw, you’re welcome.”

• Easy A – It’s easy to say I liked this for a few reasons; the  main one is that Emma Stone is fun to watch. She’s consistently good in her movies, something most young actresses cannot say.

• Exit Through the Gift Shop – The documentary (maybe?) about street art and it’s explosion onto the scene. Most likely it’s a performance art piece that will eventually prove that stolen art is the better art.

• The Fighter – Guess what? Christian Bale is a really great actor. I think he was good in this one, along with a cast of many. It’s a feel good film of sorts. Imagine a “The Sandlot” for grown-ups.

• Hereafter – Clint Eastwood’s annual Oscar-bait didn’t quite have it this year, but we sometimes need a reminder that he still makes great film. Damon was fun to watch, and I forget how much I love Bryce Dallas Howard until she’s in a new movie. Good rent.

• Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows: Part I – Are you kidding? Harry Potter movies keep getting better, and that’s good because they’re almost over. This was a great lead-in to the final film. It’s more a road movie than anything else, setting up the last 3 hours with style. See it before July.

• I am Love – Not seen by many, but I would compare it to Tom Ford’s “A Single Man” from last year. It’s gorgeous. Read about it first; you might not like the story and where it goes.

• The Illusionist (the animated French one, not the magic one) – This was awesome. An animated film the likes of which I hadn’t seen in a long, long time. It’s a throwback to Jacques Tati, and it’s done so well.

• Inside Job – The financial crisis documentary won the Oscar, and may have deserved it. I think Hollywood is still angry about Kevin Bacon losing so much money to Bernie Madoff… Anyway, good enough to see for sure.

• The Lottery – Education made for a hot topic in documentaries in 2011. This was a great representation of how Charter schools are both saving and destroying our current system.

• North Face – Not for everyone for a few reasons. First, it’s in German. Second, it’s about climbing the North Face of the Swiss Alps. Third, it gets a bit gruesome. Finally, it’s  yet another pre-WWII film about Nazi’s. All that said, I enjoyed it enough.

• Rabbit Hole – This movie was as depressing as Biutiful, but I loved it. I appreciate taking real-life situations and making them FEEL real. Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart were incredible as young parents dealing with a tragic loss. Not for all, but awesome for me.

• Restrepo – A war documentary named for a young man killed in Afghanistan defending a remote outpost in the mountains. These aren’t for anyone, but if you’re interested in seeing what life is like living in the mountains as an American solider and can handle the language, this is a good one to see.

• Shutter Island – Dicaprio and Scorcese; what more do you need? Hard to ignore how good it was. Also, Mark Ruffalo had a huge year and this was a great role for him.

• The Town – Ben Affleck will always be my favorite actor that probably shouldn’t have been. He’s great at playing himself, and he’s even better behind the camera. This was a good movie, it lacked the oomph for Oscar buzz.

Now, my favorites and why they were my top ten in no particular order:

• The Academy Award Nominated Best Live Action Shorts – There were five short films nominated in this category, and they were all really good. The film that won the Oscar was my least favorite, but across the board I was really impressed. Netflix these if you can.

• Toy Story 3 – I loved it. Leave it to the genius folks at Pixar to completely floor the audience with this story. If you have a cold heart, you won’t like it. Still, I thought it was a perfect movie.

• Winter’s Bone – Jennifer Lawrence. She made a huge splash in Hollywood with this one. Yet another depressive film, but it is another great story about hard life and making the most of it.

• The King’s Speech – Colin Firth dominated the awards shows this year and with good reason. He earned it playing this role and I found this was easily the most liked film among my friends from 2011. Do see it.

• The Social Network – My favorite film of 2010. I love Aaron Sorkin, so this was a perfect fit for me. Quick, snarky, witty, brutally honest is how I like my dialogue and Sorkin owned it.

• True Grit – Bridges/Damon/Stenifeld were awesome in this Coen Brothers film. I love the Coen Brothers work, and this was no exception. Easy to watch, easy to enjoy.

• The Millennium Trilogy – Stieg Larsson’s 3-part series is awesome. It’s really not for everyone, but I loved it. It’s instant-watch on Netflix. Beware, there are some violent/brutal scenes in these films.

• Inception – Christopher Nolan is the new hollywood dream story. Write a movie, shoot it, get noticed, and eventually get handed the keys to the castle. He owns Hollywood box offices right now. It may have received mixed reviews, but I thought it was awesome.

• The Kids are Alright – Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo and more made this movie a fun watch. How do alternative families operate? Well, this film makes it seem like things aren’t all that different. It really is great.

• Waiting for Superman – Heartbreaking. Children await word on what they believe could be their eventual ticket out of an education system that leaves them to fend for themselves. My pick for Best Documentary.

• It’s Kind of a Funny Story – A surprise pick I only saw a week ago, but it spoke to me. Life is overwhelming most of the time. Sometimes it’s nice to know others see it that way too.

Finally, my overrated movies from 2010. Sorry I’m not sorry.

• Scott Pilgrim v. the World – I didn’t get it. But that’s not so strange for someone that didn’t grow up reading comic books or graphic novels, nor did I play tons of video games that didn’t involve some form of professional sports or global domination. I can see why a lot of people would have found it fun. I’m not one of those. It was completely lost on me.

• Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps – I am in mad love with Carey Mulligan. In a stroke of luck, I met her early in 2011 at a party detailed here. When I told her I’d seen all of her work, and in doing so named this film, the look on her face was priceless. Carey, I felt the same way about it. However, you were good. The movie was not. Skip it if you like.

• Dinner for Schmucks – Awful. Just awful.

• Tron: Legacy – I get that it was a technological marvel, much like Avatar. You know what? The story was awful, and the acting wasn’t exactly worthy of anything more than a Razzie. The only saving grace was the soundtrack from Daft Punk. Pass.


3 responses to “Top 10 for 2010 – a year in Film”

  1. Pax Wiemers says :

    Love the picks, Wessage. You continue to prove that the student has overtaken the master!

    I haven’t done a top ten, but several of yours and mine would be the same. Best of last year was definitely The Social Network. It should have won the Oscar, even though The King’s Speech was a feel-good film with great acting. Speech has sharp dialogue and is the more timely story. As for other similarities – Inception, True Grit, Toy Story 3, and best doc of the year in Waiting for Superman would be in my top 10 too. I liked 127 Hours better than you, I guess. I also really, really LOVED Animal Kingdom. It’s the best crime film I’ve seen in awhile. It’s cinematography, the realness of the crooked family dynamics, the stellar acting, and the haunting mood and score really floored me. It’s in my top 5 for sure, maybe even higher.

    Good stuff. Thanks for making me think about my own favorites. Let’s do the NIFF in a couple weeks!

    • Pax Wiemers says :

      Sorry. “Speech” is not the more timely story with sharp dialogue. I meant to refer to The Social Network with that comment. Maybe that’s what happened at the Oscars too!

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