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The Best Films of 2010 
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Post Re: The Best Films of 2010
I usually don't finalize a Top 10 until about a year later (once I've seen everything I wanted to see after it comes out on video (if it wasn't released in my area), so I only just finished my Top 10 of '09. :| Still, my rough Top 5 for '10 so far:

1. "Black Swan"
2. "Toy Story 3"
3. "The Fighter"
4. "The Town"
5. "Inception"


Sun Jan 09, 2011 6:15 am
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Post Re: The Best Films of 2010
Robert Holloway wrote:
I have a question:

What drives your choices to place a film in the top 10?

Enjoyment?
Ambition?
Quality?
Buzz?

or something dark and more perverse :-)

Rob


Honestly, it's all of the above. But enjoyment is definitely #1. Or, rather I should entertainment value. If it's not entertaining, then there is no way I can love it.

Actually buzz has nothing to do with it either. If it did, The King's Speech would be #1 of the year (at least as far as critics) but I actually was let down by that movie. Didn't care for it. Found it kind of boring to be honest.

But enjoyment, ambition and quality are definitely key factors to any top 10 IMO.


Tue Jan 11, 2011 7:56 pm
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Post Re: The Best Films of 2010
Updated List -

Second Tier (*** out of ****)

#16. Kick-Ass - A funny, fresh film concerning a teenage loner (Aaron Johnson) who decides to try to become a superhero because, well, if Bruce Wayne could do it with no powers, he can too, right? What sounds like a somewhat lame premise is actually executed pretty well, as director Matthew Vaughn creates a very original film that somehow gets away with satirizing the superhero genre while in turn being one that fits into this respected category nicely. It is definitely controversial (and rightfully so, seeing how vulgar the Chloe Moretz character is), and it is really one of those movies you either like a lot or hate and wonder why people like it. Thanks in large part to the performances (Nicolas Cage is especially brilliant, Johnson gives a breakthrough turn, and Moretz is simply remarkable), as well as the well-captured action sequences, this film is solid entertainment.

#15. The Crazies - An atmospheric, well-shot horror/zombie flick detailing a small town sheriff (Timothy Olyphant), his wife (Radha Mitchell), and a group of other survivors who are trying to stay alive in the wake of an accidental governmental chemical spill that has infected the town's residents into mass murdering psychos. While it seems derivative at times (the zoom-out camera shots seem copied from Enemy of the State), the film gets a lot right. The acting is uniformly solid, the plotting is paced to near-perfection, and there are some unique scenes that stand-out and make this a fun and enjoyable ride. Although definitely flawed (some characters still make dumb decisions and the overall surveillance by the government seems fairly lazy), the setting, characters, and ridiculously ballsy grand finale carry this film, and make it worthwhile in the end.

#14. Unstoppable - A flawed if entertaining and well-acted thriller concerning a rookie engineer (Chris Pine) and a tired old veteran (Denzel Washington) who become the last hopes for stopping an unmanned train which is on course for causing havoc in a small Pennsylvanian town. While this film is mostly predictable and formulaic to a large extent, I have to admit I enjoyed it. Much of this has to go to the fact that Tony Scott's visual flairs and shaky camera work fit this film very well considering the story. Add in a savvy turn by Denzel and a very impressive one from the up and coming Pine, this film succeeds even though you sort of know where it is headed. Scott does a surprisingly good job detailing his characters and even making his film moving periodically, something I for one did not anticipate.

#13. Paranormal Activity 2 - Hand-held camera style sequel to smash hit now details the on-goings of the sister of the lead character in the first film's family, and how the very same demon that has haunted the two of them throughout their lives may be back for more. I loved the first movie a lot, so if you didn't like the first one that much there's a good chance you might despise this movie. I however, still liked this particular sequel. It has more prolonged shots of different views around the house where the story takes place, which in turn amps up the suspense to sometimes unbearable levels. Sure, it's a little thin in the character development department and you can see some stuff coming, but some scenes caused me to genuinely jump, and I absolutely loved the ending - which is something straight out of Hell.


#12. Cyrus - A mature, impressive feature from the Duplass brothers, who tell the story of a emotionally distressed man (John C. Reilly) who meets a great, attractive woman (Marisa Tomei - whose agelessness is baffling) at a party one night. However, once he finds out that his new girlfriend has a creepy, clingy son (Jonah Hill) who is still living with her, the relationship encounters some strain. This film's maturity and honesty is what makes it feel like a fresh of breath air, as it sacrifices some of the cliches of this kind of movie (choosing not to demonize one of the characters, instead showing each one of them as conflicted).


The acting is really remarkable, with Reilly showing that he can put a movie on his back, and Hill turns in his most nuanced, brilliant performance yet. While it has a few problems, notably the underdevelopment of Tomei's character, as well as her ability to completely overlook a creepy aspect of Reilly's character at one particular point, the movie works on many levels. The ending is also something sweet, and one that is impossible not to love. Definitely one of the stronger pictures so far this year, and one that handles its subject matter with meticulous care.


#11. The Town - A somewhat formulaic although undeniably compelling picture concerning four bank-robbers in Boston (headed by Ben Affleck) who continue to do dangerous bank jobs despite being hunted by the FBI (led by Jon Hamm) within the city. This movie has a few problems, namely Blake Lively's character coming somewhat randomly into the picture as she pleases, as well as the fact that the whole reason Affleck chooses to get involved with Hall's character isn't as well-explained as it should be.


With that said, this movie features some of the more terrific chase and bank robbery scenes I can recall. It's uniformly superbly acted, with its director and lead star (Affleck) shining brightest among all. Jeremy Renner has to at least get nominated for "Best Supporting Actor" here as well. Affleck plays his cards right especially at the film's conclusion, when instead of choosing to get sappy and crowd-pleasing he elects for a realistic, fitting conclusion that could not have been better scripted really.


#10. The Ghost Writer - An intelligent, well-conceived political thriller concerning a writer (Ewan McGregor) who is assigned to tighten up and construct the memoirs of the former British Prime Minister (Pierce Brosnan). When the Prime Minister comes under fire after he is rumored to be tied to torturing of terrorists, the writer begins to stumble on to secrets that could have potentially led to his predecessor's death. While it has its share of flaws (including inexcusably horrendous editing at parts and a notable bad performance from Kim Cattrall), when the twists and turns start flying, one really sits back and admires director Roman Polanski's skill in constructing a film such as this.


It has some Hitchcock-ian elements thrown in for good measure which is a definite plus, as well as a fair share of shocks near its conclusion to help tie things together. While not Polanski's most accomplished work (I can't see anything toppling Chinatown), certainly a film that is worth seeing, be it the performances or how the story unfolds, either works.

#9. Winter’s Bone – An involving, methodically paced drama concerning a young girl (Jennifer Lawrence) who looks after her brother and sister and catatonic mother in the Ozark Mountains. After the police visit her house and tell her that she has little time to find her estranged, meth cooking father who has gone missing before the house her family resides in is seized, the girl is put into an even more bleak and unfair situation.

Jennifer Lawrence and John Hawkes (who plays her uncle, and who should absolutely win “Best Supporting Actor” for his turn here) give astounding performances by playing their characters straightforward. It is very much like Frozen River in a lot of ways, and Lawrence is definitely a heroic character that is easy to root for. There are some problems, notably how other supporting characters are developed, but the performances from the leads coupled with an interesting story make this a very well done picture.


#8. Black Swan - A well-done, engaging depiction of the life of a ballerina (Natalie Portman) and the demanding role that drives her to insanity. While the ultimate "mind-boggler" title belongs to David Lynch (who depicts an actress's insanity to perfection in Mulholland Dr.), Aronofsky does a lot of things very well here. It is not the masterpiece many are claiming and it is not a "Top Five" movie, at least for me, but Natalie Portman absolutely deserves an Oscar for her shattering performance. She competently captures her character's weaknesses and paranoid tendencies.


The main problems the movie has is a weird subplot involving Winona Ryder that just flat-out does not work, as well as a forced lesbo sex scene that seems really out of place. There are better films out there concerning the affects the film/theater business has on an actress, but this is still a fine addition to the drama genre. It will undoubtedly be up for "Best Picture" and I will not be surprised if it wins it, but I still think that there are a handful of other candidates more deserving.

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UPDATED 8/26 - Top 100 List *Updated*


Last edited by DunkinDan89 on Tue Jan 11, 2011 8:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Tue Jan 11, 2011 8:43 pm
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Post Re: The Best Films of 2010
1st Tier (***1/2 out of ****):

#7. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World - One of the most original and creative films to hit cinema in quite some time, concerning an indie rocker (Michael Cera) who falls in love with a free spirit (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and must literally fight her seven "evil" exes if he hopes to capture her heart completely. While the ending of the film left me wanting big time, the rest of this movie is constructed rather expertly. The casting is impeccable, especially Winstead and Kieran Culkin (playing Cera's very gay roommate), with Cera turning in his regular nerdy, awkward performance. The visual flairs that are inserted here are simply astonishing, as director Edgar Wright continues to find impressive ways to keep your attention by implementing a variety of colors and sounds. The music keeps this thing rocking throughout, and the fight scenes are extremely entertaining. It is definitely a top film of 2010, and although it stumbles a bit at its ending, the energy this thing has is truly amazing.

#6. Shutter Island - The first very good film of the new decade. Scorsese has done it yet again, taking aspects from horror films of Hitchcock and Kubrick (so many times I thought of The Shining while watching this film) and mixing it into one devilishly wicked and weird movie. It also helps when you have two of the best working actors today (Leonard DiCaprio and the heavily underrated and underused Sir Ben Kingsley) as your leads. This is not just a good film, it is a very good one. It is consistently interesting, thought-provoking, and ultimately soul-crushing considering the final twists that occur in the last twenty minutes or so. Do we need any more evidence to say that Martin Scorsese is without a doubt one of the best film directors ever (the last scene of this film is crucial to understanding it - I can't stress that enough)? Leo especially gives a fine performance, narrowly beating out his one in Blood Diamond - he's never been better.


#5. 127 Hours -
One of the best films of the year so far, anchored entirely by an outstanding turn from James Franco, who is without question one of this generation's most promising young actors. The stylistic and trippy inserts director Danny Boyle includes sometimes hurt the movie, but other times they enhance it and make it much more involving (the amputation scene, in particular).


For the most part, this is excellent film-making, and the point it makes about the importance of human interaction and the fact that it was family that drove Aron Ralston's exit from that claustrophobic cave is what makes it all the more inspirational. James Franco should get nominated for this performance, and I will admit the ending got me a little teary-eyed. When comparing the film to say, Touching the Void, both do a phenomenal job drawing their audience into the story and characters, and offering a compelling conclusion - even if you already know what is going to happen.



#4. Toy Story 3 - A fitting, moving closing chapter in a celebrated animated series. The storyline is tightly paced and the movie's sense of humor is simply dazzling. One of the best films of the new decade so far, with rich voice-over work and an unexpectedly somber finale. Pixar is simply magnificent in the way they make you feel for all kinds of characters - they further extend their unparalleled streak of success with this utter triumph of a film.


#3. The Social Network - A superb, engrossing story concerning the founding of Facebook and how its creator was a unique, frustrated individual whose out-of-control ego helped establish one of the most important tools in today's society. The combination of David Fincher's feel for setting and characters combined with Aaron Sorkin's dark, sometimes funny script is simply golden. Eisenberg absolutely nails his character down - he really should get considered for a Best Actor nomination since he embodies Zuckerberg so well. Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake are also outstanding in supporting parts.


This isn't a perfect, four-star film like many critics nationwide are claiming (due to its second hour's inability to remain as completely hypnotizing as its first half), but it is definitely, without question one of the best films of the year, and also one of the more interesting revenge/betrayal stories seen as of late. The Rashomon-esque backdrop for this entire thing is also just a wonderful decision by Sorkin as well.


#2. Inception - A mind-blowing, revolutionary film concerning dreams and their dimensions, and how one man (DiCaprio) assembles a team together in order to plant an idea in an important businessman's mind (Cillian Murphy), so that he can be granted his wish to return to his home. This is a mostly astonishing picture, one that requires its audience to remain on the edge of their seats throughout its entirety. With so many thoughtless, hollow summer blockbusters coming out nowadays, it's a treat to finally see something of this complexity come out at this time of the year. Leo, as always, turns in a magnificent performance.


The only fault this film has is its lack of character development amongst the supporting parts, which I originally dismissed but now that I think of it - what do we know about Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the film despite him walking all over walls and Tom Hardy's smart-aleckness? These are minor complaints though, since the film does a good job detailing Leo's character. Without question a very good film, and one that is deserving of the massive amount of attention and cash-flow it has received.


#1. True Grit - A beautifully shot, very well plotted Western featuring Jeff Bridges at the top of his game as a beat-up old sharpshooter who is hired by a ambitious, vengeful 14 year old (Hailee Steinfield) who desires her father's killer be tracked and hung for his crime. While it is not the best remake of a Western in recent memory (3:10 to Yuma is a slightly better film), it is the best film of 2010 thanks to very strong performances (Matt Damon turns in yet another terrific one, and Steinfeld's is just downright incredible) and a story that is paced to perfection. It does not have the amount of characters or surprises that makes Unforgiven a masterpiece of the genre, but it is certainly a very well done film that deserves to be seen.

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UPDATED 8/26 - Top 100 List *Updated*


Tue Jan 11, 2011 8:43 pm
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Post Re: The Best Films of 2010
I won't put my last update until I see Peter Weir's The Way Back when it comes out Jan. 21st. Apparently, it does count as a 2010 movie so I need to see it before I can give my final updated top 10.

I also still need to see The Company Men (probably will see it tonight or tomorrow), Blue Valentine, Get Low, Animal Kingdom, Another Year, Solitary Man, Agora, Ondine among other movies.


Tue Jan 11, 2011 8:53 pm
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Post Re: The Best Films of 2010
DunkinDan89 wrote:
While not Polanski's most accomplished work (I can't see anything toppling Chinatown)


.... or "Repulsion." ... or "The Pianist." ...or "Tess." ... or "The Tenant." :P


Wed Jan 12, 2011 7:04 am
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