Making a best of last year list is always a hard thing for me to do (mostly). Some movies do not hold up over time and others can become favorite of mine later on with repeat viewings. I found 2010 a hard year to have a list of 10 movies of the year, in fact I would say there was only 7 or so movies I would consider my favorites of 2010. Sure movies like Iron Man 2 are nice quality entertainment but they just don't fit on what I consider to my top movies.
My rational for choosing the movies on this list were how they effected me when I was seeing them. I believe that if a movie can take hold of you during the time you are watching it and have an immediate effect on you in some way then that is a top movie. I was trying to see what movies made me feel not only for the characters on the screen but could relate to me. Most of the movies on this list also had great production value. Great acting is found in most of them as is a director or producer who had an idea and oversaw every aspect of the movie making it true to their vision.
I know that went on for a while but I just wanted to get out my process, now please enjoy one man's opinions on what he found to be the class of the 2010 movies (that I saw, I am sure there are tons more I could add if only had the time to see every movie that was released in 2010).
10. Best Worst Movie
Director - Micheal Stephenson
Best Worst movie is a documentary about how Troll 2 has becomes the worst movie ever made. Troll 2 has recently began to take on a cult following and the movie shows the main actor from Troll 2 George Hardy and how he embraces his new found fame. As a fan of cult movies this one really appealed to me. I found in fascinating how a movie so bad becomes a cult classic. George Hardy is also a very personable man and watching him interact with his new fame is a joy to watch. I also like how the movie is a love note to bad cinema and how no matter how bad or a good movie is, someone is bound to like it in some way.
9. Exit Through the Gift Shop
Director - Banksy
By this point I am sure you are asking, are you only going to do documentaries this year? This will be the last one on the list, but after you see this movie I think you will understand why it made my list. The movie is about Thierry Guetta a man who likes to film everything that happens in his life. One day he gets into the world of street art (aka grafitti) and starts to film people who make art, but do so in public places. He films all of this with no idea that it will lead into this documentary. Later he meets and befriends the elusive street art legend Banksy. Guetta follows Banksy and they become friends but later on Guetta decides to become his own artist. I really enjoyed being introduced into this world, I have always long admired the street art but seeing how these artists work and create was something that I have never seen before in a movie. Seeing Guetta go from a guy with a camera to putting on his own show in L.A. is riveting, and the ending of the movie leaves the viewer to decide if all had just seen was real or all just another trick from the mastermind of Banksy.
8. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Director - Edgar Wright
Pure fun and eye candy mixed with good story based off a comic book and you get a darn good movie. I am normally an avid comic book fan and in years past you would see a lot of comic book movies on my best of list. Just because there are more comic book movies out than ever before doesn't mean they are always good, I found Scott Pilgrim to be best of the comic book movies released in 2010. The movie is about love and how you have to fight for love, in this instance Scott instantly falls for Ramona and to be with her he has to defeat her 7 evil ex's (like I said, a comic book). You get some good battles and a lot of good comedy which is aimed at guys like me who love 8-bit video games . The movie is very quick and funny, I could watch it a few more times and most likely get jokes I missed the first time, but the jokes why silly are not stupid. The cast is also very good. Overall if you read the comic books ( I have) and watched this movie you would not feel cheated, they took the time and were smart with adapting this, good show!
7. The Fighter
Director - David O. Russell
The Fighter is based off a true story of Mickey and Dicky, two brothers who are bonded by boxing. Mickey (Mark Wahlberg) is a boxer who is trained by his brother Dicky (Christian Bale) who happens to be a former boxer but has turned to drugs. The movie is about the redemption of both men, both in different ways. I found the acting to be top notch throughout the film. I normally dislike Whalberg but found his subdued performance to really work in the film. Christian Bale on the other hand is superb as the drug addict brother. Bale is sure to get some award love from the performance, and I will let you know its warranted. Amy Adams and Melissa Leo are the women who want different things for Mickey and are willing to fight for him, they both give great supporting roles that are vital to the overall conflict of Mickey and DIcky. You also get some good boxing and a story that is not afraid to get dark but also leaves you feeling good about the outcome. I really felt the bond between the brothers and how sometimes you love your family but you have to do what is best for yourself. I can see this being on some best of sports movies list in the future as well, it is really that good.
6. The Social Network
Director - David Fincher
Fincher has long been a favorite director of mine and he gives just another great production here. Jesse Eisenberg give an amazing performance as Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook. A movie about Facebook could have easily gone wrong but with Fincher working off a great Aaron Sorkin script you get a movie that is very well done. Zuckerberg is portrayed as a made genius who gets upset when he gets dumped and decides to get back at his ex by becoming someone who is important. The look and music of the film are just top notch, they really made sure to get the look just right. Besides Eisenberg you get good performances out of Andrew Garfield, who plays Zuckerbergs only real friend who ends up getting hurt by the creation they made together. If I was able to see the movie again I am sure if could have found itself higher on my list and why I did enjoy the movie I was more taken in by certain aspects and not as effected by the movie as others were, still this is great cinema.
5. The King's Speech
Director - Tom Hooper
Easily one of the best true story movies I saw in 2010, The King's Speech happens to be a great story of two men and has what I consider the ensemble acting cast of the last year. You have Colin Firth as King George VI who stammers and seeks the help of Lionel Logue played brilliantly by Geoffrey Rush. I could see both men easily win an Oscar for their performances in the movie. I still have to mention a great supporting role from Helena Bonham Carter as the Queen, she gives heart and compassion to what the men are doing. The movie has its share of laughs (placed in perfect times) yet is also dramatic in the right spots. Tom Hooper is sure to become a household name after directing this movie masterfully. If you like historical movies you also get that thrown into the film, I loved learning about the history of King George VI and found myself wanting to learn more about the real life people after the credits rolled. Firth and Rush really make this movie a must see and their acting works so well together, I really cannot praise the acting in this movie enough.
4. The Town
Director - Ben Affleck
Mr. Affleck is slowly becoming a favorite director of mine, his last film Gone Baby Gone made my top films of 2007 and now his latest film The Town easily makes my list as a top movie of 2010. At one point this movie was much higher on my list but like I said in the intro I have only had the pleasure of seeing The Town once in 2010. Affleck spins a cinematic web about the city of Charlestown, which happens to be renowned for churning out a higher number of robberies then any other place in the United States. Affleck also stars as Doug MacRay a bank robber who is great at what he does. I really do not want to go too much into the story because I fear I could ruin something but needless to say it is a very impressive story and has to do with Doug trying to get out of the robbery business, but of course that is never as easy it would seem. Jeremy Renner gives what could be the best supporting role I saw last year as James, a life long friend of Doug's who has different opinions about loyalty. The movie mixes love, action, and drama in very unique way that I thought really hit on everything it was trying to accomplish. The bank robber scenes are done in a realistic style and they include some great heist scenes, especially the last heist which happens to take place at a historical landmark (at least for me it is). The Town is a great movie and I am glad to see that Affleck produced an even better film after his Gone Baby Gone, I eagerly await to see what he can do next, either way I consider myself to be a supporter.
3. Black Swan
Director - Daren Aronofsky
Black Swan totally captivated me during its 108 minutes. Natalie Portman really gives a tour de force performance as the ballerina Nina who wants nothing more then to be perfect in her role of Swan Lake. Nina is egged on by her director Thomas (Vincet Cassel) to let down her guard and let herself feel the part of the Black Swan. Nina's life is very complicated, she tries to give all her focus on the role but her mother is domineering and controlling of Nina. Lily (Mila Kunis) plays another ballerina who befriends Nina and opens her eyes to the outside world, but is she helping Nina or trying to take her focus away? I will not say too much else but this movie really gets darker as it progresses and I found it to just amazing. Nina lets down her guard and starts to change, but her transformation is more then she is aware. The movie is very tense and you will start to question many things that you see, asking yourself if that really just happened or was it all in Nina's head? If Portman did not give the performance she did I could see this being just another movie, thankfully she had a lot to work with and gives one of the best female performances I saw in 2010. Cassel steals any scene he is in as the director who mixes passion with art, Barbara Hershey gives a very disturbing performance as Nina's mother who tries to keep her daughter perfect, and of course the beautiful Mila Kunis shines as the rebel Lily, it was great to see her expand into a more dramatic role. But without Aronofksky this movie would not work. He is already a much heralded director and shows why with Black Swan. I am sure this movie is not for everyone but I thought it was the perfect mix of great acting, directing, and tense story that made Black Swan a great movie.
Director - Christopher Nolan
What can be said about this movie that has not already been uttered? In case you have not heard of or seen Inception it is a masterpiece by Christopher Nolan the guy who also did my favorite comic book movie of all time (The Dark Knight). The movie is visually breathtaking, they shot a lot of the film on location (as much as they could) and you have a great list of actors who all totally give spot on performances. Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Joesph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Ellen Page, and new comer Tom Hardy are the gang who plan to go into a man's dream and implant an idea, because as the movie says an idea is the most resilient parasite.
The reason I fully enjoyed Inception is because it is very layered and it attempts to take on a massive subject, and does so with great resolve. The dream world has to be set up perfect to make sense and they really make sure that you will understand how we can interact in the dream world. Nolan really made sure everything in perfect order for the movie to work. The rotating hotel hallway is a favorite scene of mine, just amazing visuals. When you get a movie like Inception you get not only good acting and story but amazing visuals and an ending that is totally up the view of what to make of it. I recommend you see this movie more than once, it will take a few viewings to really get everything going on in the world of Inception.
1. Toy Story 3
Director - Lee Unkrich
I have had Pixar movies on my best of lists many times before and every year they seemed to slowly move up on my lists, this year Pixar and Toy Story 3 has landed as my favorite movie of 2010. I also can clearly say that it was never really a contest, no other movie had a bigger emotional effect on me last year.
We are now at the time were animation and voice work can be just as effective as live acting. Toy Story 3 is about letting go of what you once loved and moving on. Andy the boy from the first two movies is off to college, and is now too old to play with his toys. The toys (Woody, Buzz, Ham, and all the rest) are just toys and longed to be with played with. The toys somehow end up being wrongly donated to a day-care, from then on the movie becomes an escape film. The toys want to find their way home to be with the boy who once loved them so. The animation is some of the best you will see, Pixar really outdoes themselves with each new movie and Toy Story 3 hold true to this. Voice acting remains amazing as well. Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusak, Don Rickles, John Ratzenberger and new comers Ned Beatty and Michael Keaton are all just absolutely perfect in their roles. Unkrich was co-director of Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc., and Finding Nemo was ready for his first solo gig and shines in giving the characters heart and soul.
I wish I could go into more detail about the movie it has to be seen. Two scenes in particular had a huge emotional toll on me. One has to do with putting the toys in peril and in that scene I really thought the toys would be lost forever and I just couldn't deal with it. The final scene in the movie was very emotional for me. I guess I have always been into my toys and growing up and moving on was never easy for me. I have given up my toys but it goes deeper then that, giving up your toys means giving up your youth in a sense. I am now a man of 31 and toys are no longer things I play with, but when I did have toys in my life and was a child it was the best time in my life. I played out huge stories with my toys but no longer have the time or will to do so. Andy growing up is representative of what we all have to go through one day, the fun and games stop and we give up idols we once cherished. Yes this movie made me think of all of this and I will be thankful for that forever. Thank you Toy Story 3 for showing me I was not the only one who had to grow up and move on.
Hope you enjoyed the list. As I said before this is just my own personal list, you may have your own ideas and picks and that is what makes movie going so cool. Here's to 2010! Now bring on more cool movies in 2011.