2010 was a shitty year for movies. I typically see several hundred movies per year, just about anything and everything of note, but this year I was so busy putting the finishing touches on my novel and then completely consumed for most of November and December with touring the east coast to sign copies of said novel that I had little time for cinema. Returning to normalcy the last couple of weeks with plans to do a cram session on what I’d missed, I realized…I hadn’t missed much at all. There really weren’t many good films this year, only about a dozen quite frankly, and, thus, my list–just like most other critics’ lists–is simply a rearrangement of those dozen or so quality flicks. So it goes…
TOP TEN FILMS OF THE YEAR
Perhaps the only masterpiece of the year and, oh!, is it inspiring. Colin Firth has never been so interesting, or captivating, as King George VI (“Bertie”), the first truly modern king, who had to overcome a lifetime stutter in order to rule the radiowaves during wartime. Surprisingly funny, Geoffrey Rush gives typically great supporting work as Bertie’s unaccredited speech therapist and first ever friend. I was elated leaving the theater and still can’t shake it from my mind. It’s absolutely shameful the pathetic MPAA gave it an R rating (simply due to a few stray “fucks”) because this is the kind of movie that any child with a stammer–heck, any shy, lacking-in-confidence person–could totally find strength in. I know I did.
2. TOY STORY 3
The annual Pixar film is pretty much a lock for my top 10 each year and this one is no exception. Darker and sadder than most other “cartoons,” this is a nice treatise on growing up and losing a little of your childhood. Hopefully Woody won’t serve as Andy’s “ROSEBUD” in some “Toy Story 4″ in a few years, though that’s a pretty good idea I suppose.
3. 127 HOURS
I really didn’t see any way that this story I already knew like the back of my hand could be made into a captivating two hour flick, but damn if director Danny Boyle and James Franco don’t pull it off. Boyle uses great innovation to get “away” from the scene of the boulder-on-his-arm and delivers an exhilarating movie about perseverance and liiiiiving, man.
Another “story we all know,” but with a typically snappy script by Aaron Sorkin, delivered perfectly by Jesse Eisenberg, and filmed in pure “Zodiac” style by David Fincher–making a strong push for America’s best director (I now rank him third behind PT Anderson and Tarantino). I suppose this will ultimately be the movie that “defines” the year, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
I avoided this movie for so long cause it sounded like the classic indie borefest. A young daughter tries to locate her possibly-dead meth cooking father in Hicksville, USA? Sure, but when that young daughter is played startling well by Jennifer Lawrence and the movie features a spot-on script and sumptuous direction…well, damn if this wasn’t a great one that joins the pantheon of other recent “backwoods” classics like “Shotgun Stories” and “All the Real Girls.”
6. BLACK SWAN
Along with the aforementioned Boyle and Fincher, Darren Aronofsky is another genius director in the upper patheon and this is the film where he finally puts his incredible talents all together. Natalie Portman is remarkable, there’s great supporting work from Vincent Cassel and Mila Kunis (!) and, though I’m still not quite sure what occurs in this movie, it’s something a legend like Stanley Kubrick would be damn proud of it in all its dark eeriness.
Surely the best movie ever made about two highly educated, wealthy and urbane lesbians raising children in California. Annette Bening and Julianne Moore are a perfect match as said lesbians and this is a film that is smart, funny, and all heart.
8. A PROPHET
The “French ‘Scarface'” is a mesmerizing picture about a seemingly harmless young Muslim’s indoctrination into a Corsican prison mafia leading to his eventual creation of his own crime syndicate. It also features perhaps the most gruesome murder in movie history. Stream it on Netflix after you’ve put the kids to bed.
I’m not sure if this film is really about anything, but it’s a perfectly taut and tense MacGuffin thriller directed by Roman Polanski. I was never bored for a second, an all-too-large accomplishment in 2010.
10. THE FIGHTER
A friend described this film thusly: “The first half is the best Massachusetts movie ever. The second half was one of the best boxing movies I have ever seen.” He’s not that far off. Christian Bale stakes a claim on “Best Actor in the World” too.
Notables: TRUE GRIT, INCEPTION
1. Colin Firth (“The King’s Speech”)
2. Christian Bale (“The Fighter”)
3. Natalie Portman (“Black Swan”)
4. Jennifer Lawrence (“Winter’s Bone”)
5. Jesse Eisenberg (“The Social Network”)
6. James Franco (“127 Hours”)
7. Geoffrey Rush (“The King’s Speech”)
8. Melissa Leo (“The Fighter”)
9. Hailee Steinfeld (“True Grit”)
10. Jeff Bridges (“True Grit”)
And there you have it. 2010 was such a weak and boring year, there weren’t even a wealth of shitty films to give me a schadenfreudal kick as I made a “worst of the year” list. Nope, it was just a year with a lot of mediocre stuff in the middle.
*The few notable as yet unseen by me: “I Am Love,” “Somewhere,” “Blue Valentine,” “Tangled,” “Cyrus.”
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