Here's the list of my favorite films from 2010. I've kept it down to ten this year (with some honorable mentions as well). Since I received screeners for awards consideration this year, I'm able to give my first proper list without mentioning anything that I missed out on or couldn't see.
I welcome you to put your own lists in the comments section, or just your favorite film of the year. I also welcome you to tell me what you disagree with (I also like to hear what people agree with, as well). Remember that a Top Ten list is absolute opinion and taste and nothing more. I see more and more bashing of these lists each year. I hope your own lists and favorite films are not the same as mine. How miserable would movie conversations be if they were just people all agreeing about how awesome one movie was?
TOP TEN OF 2010
1. Black Swan – I loved nearly every aspect of this film. Aronofsky has made a disturbing classic featuring the best female lead performance of the year from Natalie Portman. I thought it was great how Aronofsky took the pure, beautiful world of ballet and showed its darker, uglier (but still just as beautiful somehow) side. Aronofsky has cemented himself as one of my favorite filmmakers.
2. Inception – Jaw-dropping and utterly impressive. This is what a summer blockbuster should be. It has action, it is deep (insanely, literally deep at times), and it has an amazing cast. Christopher Nolan does a masterful job of staging a ridiculously complicated set up in such a way that it is easy to follow. That feat alone makes it one of the of the year’s best. All of the other elements, like the overpowering score or Tom Hardy’s scene stealing performance, are just a bonus that propels it to my #2 spot.
3. The Social Network – The story behind Facebook is engaging and funny. Aaron Sorkin’s quick witted, rapid fire dialogue screenplay is the best of the year. David Fincher tones down his style a bit to create a grounded, yet still visually interesting film. Jesse Eisenberg leads a great cast in what I found to be the best male lead performance of the year. This is a film that requires multiple viewings to let all of the great dialogue and interesting camerawork to wash over you.
4. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World – A movie made by and for geeks. Many people may have been turned off by the frenetic pace and video game references, but certain types of people (this critic included, obviously) loved the film for those very reasons. Michael Cera breaks out of his wimpy stereotype to play a fun and (dare I say it) badass hero. Director Edgar Wright obviously loved the source material and because of that the end result is a love letter to geeks. I, for one, am thankful.
5. 127 Hours – The most intense film of the year. Great, frantic direction from Danny Boyle keeps what could have been a slow movie very fast paced and interesting. James Franco gives the best performance of his career (of the year, some would argue). The fact that this survival story is based on a real event makes it that much more effective and uplifting. It never received the true wide release it deserved and it is catching some backlash all of a sudden (I’ve noticed it on one or two “most overrated” lists), but I thought it was great and it needs to be seen by more people.
6. Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - New Orleans/My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done – This is my Werner Herzog double feature pick. Bad Lieutenant technically came out in 2009, but I only got to see when it was released on home video this year. My Son, My Son was basically a direct to DVD release. I think it is okay to pair these two up not only because of director Werner Herzog’s involvement, but also because both films deal with insanity. Nicolas Cage goes all out in Bad Lieutenant and the result is funny and ridiculous. Michael Shannon does the same in My Son, though it’s a bit weirder and more disturbing. Both films are very interesting and I loved every minute of both of them.
7. The Fighter – This story of a boxer and his family works because it is funny and real. Mark Wahlberg returns to form in an understated role and Christian Bale is flat out amazing as his crack addict brother (by far my favorite male supporting performance of the year).
8. Shutter Island – This movie was a delight from a directing perspective. Martin Scorsese shows how skillful he is in his depiction of madness in this thriller. The strong visuals and distracting score all piece together a portrait of insanity. Leonardo DiCaprio gives a great performance, but Scorsese is the star of this one.
9. True Grit – The Coen Brothers have made a funny and refreshingly straightforward western. It is not a very deep film, but it is still on par with their best work. It’s light on the action, but that’s okay when you have a cast with the likes of Jeff Bridges in the Rooster Cogburn role and Matt Damon as LeBoeuf. Hailee Steinfeld was a surprising aspect as she gave my favorite female supporting performance of the year.
10. The King’s Speech – This film about a stuttering prince who would be king may seem like awards bait, but it is a very impressive, interesting film. It is all held together by the performances of Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush. Their friendship in the film provides the real backbone of the film and it ends up being quite touching.
Get Him to the Greek - One of the funniest movies of the year; I'm still talking about "furry walls" and "jeffreys."
The American - Tension filled slow burner of a thriller featuring a nice, understated performance from George Clooney.
Robin Hood - This movie received quite a bit of hate from most people, but while some found the historical focus boring, I found it interesting and entertaining. Plus, it's Ridley Scott and I enjoy nearly everything that man directs.
The Town - Affleck made an entertaining film about Boston featuring a good performance from himself and an even better one from Jeremy Renner.
TRON: Legacy - It's great eye and ear candy. I had a lot of fun with this one.
Exit Through the Gift Shop - A thoroughly entertaining "documentary" that gives an interesting look into street art.
Kick-Ass - Ultra violent and funny...and Nicolas Cage. That's enough for me.
Knight and Day - This movie was just a hell of a lot of fun. Totally enjoyable and crazy. Good action and comedy. A nice inoffensive movie you can just sit back and honestly enjoy. Does it deserve awards? No. But it's nice to know movies like this can still get made. Keep it up, Tom Cruise; I don't care what you believe because your movies are still fun to watch.
The Book of Eli - I dug this post-apocalyptic Denzel Washington movie. It had some good action, a cool look to it, and it was a lot of fun.
My Trashy Honorable Mentions-
These movies were not meant to be taken too seriously and I loved 'em for it.
Jackass 3D, Piranha 3D, Machete, and MacGruber
Nothing much to say about these movies (you can always check out my archived reviews of each film), they speak for themselves. Hell, just look at the titles.