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2010: The 20 Best Films of the Year

2010 was a year fueled by powerful performances. What ultimately helped me decide which was my favorite movie of the year was the fact the most of the competitors were films that I liked mostly because of the amazing performances by their casts, but not necessarily the full package.

20. The Crazies

The Crazies represents how rational people in a small town might handle a zombie apocalypse. The characters never do anything thats blatantly stupid and any risks they take are necessary ones. This remake got pretty good reviews at the time of it's theatrical release but I was still skeptical and hence was very pleasantly surprised when it was as good as it was.

19. Dinner For Schmucks

Dinner for Schmucks is one of the most unrealistic movies of the year and it's chock full of characters that would never exist in real life. That doesn't mean it isn't one of the funniest movies of the year, though. The chemistry between Rudd and Carell is perfect and there are some scenes in it with the two of them that made me laugh so hard I couldn't breathe.

18. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World  is tailor-made for people suffering from attention deficit disorder in that there are no (or very few) scene transitions, it's very colorful and there's always something cool to grab your attention that pops onto the screen every couple of seconds. It's frenetic fun; visually exciting, aurally engrossing and intellectually numbing.

17. The Town

Ben Affleck is doing a great job as a director. This wasn't as good as his directorial debut (Gone Baby Gone), but both of his movies have made my top 20, so I guess that's saying something. It's actually gotten to the point where I kinda can't wait for him to direct another movie.

16. Easy A

Strangely, I actually really liked Easy A. It's seemingly geared towards teenage girls, but was still really entertaining. The writer very cleverly transformed very R-rated material into content that is PG-13 appropriate.

15. True Grit

I really don't enjoy westerns, but True Grit has enough really good portrayals of very interesting characters to keep me interested. That along with some great writing and directing from the Coen brothers puts this western at number 15.

14. The Kids Are Alright

Besides the stellar performances from the entire cast, The Kids Are Alright has an original, quirky storyline, great dialogue, and an intriguing look into the concept of family without ever exploiting its subject matter. As long as you have an open mind, this fresh look at the contemporary family unit has the perfect mixture of wit, charm, intelligence and earnest.

13. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

This is a dark, scary, depressing movie. Due to the nature of the story, it's lost some of it's charm, but from a technical standpoint, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 is the best in the series so far.

12. Iron Man 2

As a stand alone movie it's great. As a sequel? It's less great, but still OK. I feel like instead of Iron Man 2, it should have been called Iron Man Again. As entertaining, well written, acted and directed it was, Iron Man 2 doesn't do anything to move the characters or the story forward. It really didn't need to be made and so as a sequel, it leaves a lot to be desired. That doesn't mean you won't have a blast watching it. Iron Man 2 is highly entertaining.

11. The King's Speech

While The King's Speech may not be for everyone, the story is wonderful and the relationship between Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush is what propels the movie forward. The ability of the film makers to elevate the "buddy cop" genre and make a british period piece is what ultimately lands The King's Speech in my top 20 films of the year.

10. The Fighter

The Fighter is a success because of Christian Bale with really strong support from Amy Adams and Melissa Leo. The movie was well made, but the writing and direction were just average and Mark Wahlberg was only at his best (which isn't necessarily a compliment), but Bale, Adams, and Leo were exceptional.

9. Winter's Bone

Winter's Bone brought me into a world that I'd heard about, but then quickly dismissed as an exaggeration of how it used to be. This is an eye opening film about poverty in our country and it belongs to actors Jennifer Lawrence and John Hawkes. Lawrence is able to convey hope in a world that seems to have none and Hawkes embodies exactly how I would envision what a mountain man drug dealer would be. Winter's Bone relies almost entirely on the skill of it's cast, and the cast delivers.

8. Unstoppable

I'm just as surprised as you are that Unstoppable made it into my top 10 films of the year. The fact is, I was pleasantly surprised by Unstoppable. The movie is short, which is good. The very opening scene sets the plot in motion (pun intended) and it rolls along (pun intended again) for 98 minutes without ever letting up. Unstoppable is pure popcorn fun. It's easily forgettable, but definitely worth the trip (PUN).

7. Kick-Ass

It's in the title. Kick-Ass is kick-ass... it's just violent, vulgar fun.

6. Toy Story 3

The Toy Story trilogy has had messages ranging from friendship and family, to jealousy, to loss and moving on. Pixar has made family friendly films with mature themes and no pop-culture references. They have never sacrificed the integrity of the characters or the story and for these reasons, the Toy Story films are truly timeless. The end of Toy Story 3 is so overwhelmingly heartwarming, that even the most cynical viewers will be brought to tears. What a perfect way to say goodbye.

5. Black Swan

Black Swan is a horror movie for snobs. It's very slowly paced, but is sufficiently creepy. The entire cast is perfect and Darren Aronofsky's direction is spot on. If dark psychological thrillers that mess with your head as much as it messes with the characters is your thing, do not wait another day to see Black Swan.

4. How To Train Your Dragon 3D

From the first time I saw the trailer for How To Train Your Dragon, I knew I was going to love it. The scene where Hiccup is testing Toothless's boundaries and they become friends was so heartwarming I almost threw up. The animation is beautiful, the story is exciting, and friendship is refreshing.

3. The Social Network

The Social Network is essentially a Rock n Roll movie for a nerds. It's stylish, clever, and well written, directed and acted. The characters are all intelligent fast talking and quirky; thanks to both the talented cast, the amazing writer and director and, presumably the actual people they are based on.

2. 127 Hours

This is my version of a horror movie. Supernatural shit doesn't scare me; it may make me jump, but rarely frightens me to my core. What happens in 127 Hours represents one of my biggest fears. I'm claustrophobic, but there's more to it than just being in a confined space. It's being stuck and being alone. It's hopelessness that scares me. In the hands of such an electric director as Danny Boyle, my fears have come to glorious life.

1. Inception

There are no words to describe the epic nature of Inception, the closest I can get would be with "Brilliant", or "Mind-blowing", or "Astounding". Inception is one of the most extraordinary pieces of film making to hit the screen in... forever(?). The fact that anyone could put something like Inception together in a way that is even remotely coherent, is staggering. The writing and direction are unbelievably good. The acting is stellar all around; there isn't a single weak link in the cast. The visual and sound effects seamlessly bring you in the world of the dreams, and the orchestral score is emotive and exciting. The action sequences will keep you on the edge of your seat and the love story is absolutely heart-breaking.


Anonymous said...

When you compare your reviews amongst your top 20, you become quite a hypocrite if you ask me.

Mike said...

How so?

Anonymous said...

Let's see for example, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 -- you throw it basically under the bus the entire review and you say the film making of it was great. Those two cases are totally different, and for a movie you only complain, bitch and moan about should not be in your top 20.

Mike said...

I had some issues with it, but it was technically well made and I'm a fan of the series. It's not like I put it in my top 5 and then blasted it. It's number 13. I liked it, but it was flawed.

Anonymous said...