OUGHT ’10: A YEAR IN FILM PART 2: THE QUICKENING

As promised, my top 5 of 2010.

BUT BEFORE WE GET TO THAT.

Let’s talk about what didn’t make it. T

My HONORABLE MENTIONS of 2010 are essentially the great popcorn flicks that I couldn’t include in my top 10:

Tron: Legacy

The A-Team

Machete

Machete and A-Team were some genius-level clever action flicks while TRON was just about the best laser light show you could see in theatres.

The worst movie I saw this year?

RED

I honestly had high hopes for RED and I don’t think it did anything for me. Complete waste of talent.

Anyway, my Top 5:

5. The King’s Speech

This is the last new movie I saw in 2010 and I’m glad it was. The King’s Speech is a movie that could’ve gone wrong in a number of ways. There’s a tendency in period pieces to go for poignant and end up with nostalgic melodrama. There’s none of that here. It’s a great look at pre-blitz England filtered through the unlikely friendship of an aristocrat and a common man. It’s the story of a man stepping up and becoming a symbol in a time of crisis. That this is the story of King George VI getting over a speech impediment makes it all the more remarkable. Geoffrey Rush and Colin Firth’s dynamic makes the film but Helena Bonham Carter and Guy Pearce put down some wonderful performances.

4. Black Swan

The scariest movie of the year is an erotic thriller about ballet. If there’s one thing you’ve got to give Darren Arronofsky credit for it’s that he always surprises you and Black Swan was such a welcome surprise. The movie starts out suffocatingly intense and somehow keeps that going for the rest of the film. We throw around the word “Hitchcockian” maybe too often but I’ll be damned if this isn’t that. Portman imbues Nina with a weird mixture of powerlessness and hair-trigger intensity and it makes for the best performance of her career. You have no clue where the film’s going to go ultimately and it goes pretty far.

3. Toy Story 3

Every year, Pixar delivers not just a great movie, they deliver a classic. They create something beautiful and timeless.It’s not too bold to say that Toy Story 3 is the best animated film of the year and one of Pixar’s finest. But much more than that, it’s a powerful emotional experience. It’s rare that a movie marketed to children addresses topics like the inevitability of endings and loss and Toy Story 3 makes them work unbelievably well while remaining as funny and charming as its predecessors. I wept at this movie. How could anyone not? Toy Story 3 was like saying goodbye to childhood friends.

2. Inception

When I hear about James Cameron spending a decade on Avatar, all I can think about is how inexcusable it was for that movie to have been as bad as it ended up being. Christopher Nolan spent about the same amount of time on Inception‘s script and you know what? It SHOWS. As a writer, this movie is something to aspire to. It’s got the tightest, densest script I’ve ever seen and yet all the bits and pieces work. Nolan took the concept of the heist movie, tore it apart and threw a fucking rocket on it. I can’t think of a better science fiction film to come out in the last ten years, let alone this year. It’s the Blade Runner of its era.

1. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

I went back and forth about this one for awhile. Ultimately, I had to give this the #1 slot. The previous movies on this list are all excellent in their own way. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World just about reinvented the wheel. Edgar Wright has created essentially the greatest comic to film adaptation ever. His rapid-fire comic pace and deceptively sharp edits recreate the tone of the source material while including enough original material to keep things interesting. In the hands of a less capable director, the surreality of Scott Pilgrim’s world would’ve been a detriment. Instead, Wright unabashedly makes it work for him. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is simultaneously a super-kinetic martial arts movie, the best video game you’ve ever seen, and a coming of age love story that is no less honest or funny because of its extravagance. Why is this the best movie I saw in 2010? Because it’s got just about everything I love about film.

Oh, and a killer soundtrack, too.

HIVE OF SCUM. 2010 DIDN’T KILL US. 2011 DOESN’T STAND A CHANCE.

-Max

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OUGHT ’10: A YEAR IN A FILM

2010 sure was a year, huh? Stuff happened. Some of it good, some of it lame. But it was definitely a year! And since it was a year, a whole mess of movies came out and I saw a bunch of them. Here’s my top 10 (the first half, atleast).

10. Exit Through The Gift Shop

Exit Through The Gift Shop is the only new documentary I caught this year and it lives up to the hype. This could’ve been a pretty straightforward doc about Banksy but instead it shifts gears about midway through and puts the spotlight on aspiring documentarian Terry Guetta and his overnight success as an LA artist. It was refreshing to see how Banksy and his colleagues react to a buffoon like Terry stumbling into their world and becoming enormously successful despite lacking any sort of talent. More than anything else, it makes a pretty convincing statement about the nature of fame and art.

9. Iron Man 2

I’m just going to say it, Iron Man 2 is the best Marvel movie yet. Why this movie wasn’t received better I will never understand. It’s everything we liked about the first film but bigger. Funnier one-liners, more inventive action sequences, and an even better ensemble cast that features solid-gold performances from Mickey Rourke and Sam Rockwell. What I really love about Iron Man 2 is that it really FEELS like a Marvel comic. The multiple plot threads along with things like Slattery’s Howard Stark and the  other SHIELD elements hint at a larger Marvel Movie-verse and I can’t wait to see how that grows.

8. True Grit

It’s a Coen Brothers movie, so no surprise that it’s one of the best of the year. True Grit is a great western and I think the only reason its not higher on my list is because my appreciation for Coen Bros flicks grows with repeat viewings (The Big Liebowski did nothing for me until about 3 viewings in).  It’s simultaneously a satire of traditional Western tropes (Damon and Bridges are down right Quixotic at points, the fearsome Tom Chaney is we’ll say less than competent) and a reaffirmation of those same standards (Rooster Cogburn, drunken old lout that he is, proves himself the hero 14 year old Mattie builds him up to be).

7. The Fighter

Biopics, especially Sports Biopics, are a funny thing. The Fighter avoids the traps that lesser movies of its kind fall into because, more than a boxing movie, it’s a movie about love and redemption. And portrays those elements in a way that doesn’t feel forced or tacky. Christian Bale’s performance as has-been methhead Ricky  is just about the best thing I’ve seen all year and I would be genuinely surprised if he doesn’t score Best Supporting Actor this year.

6. The Social Network

Talk about a movie I did not expect to like. The Social Network is a biopic that really doesn’t feel like a biopic. Sure, you can chalk that up to however much of the film is fictionalized, but Fincher’s direction,Sorkin’s script and Trent Reznor’s Carpenter-esque score just throw you in and keep you completely engaged. Terrific ensemble cast that really shines (Andrew Garfield and Jesse Eisenberg sell their characters’ doomed friendship so well it’s heartbreaking).  “You better lawyer up, asshole” = quote of the year?

So that’s the first half, hit up The Hive tomorrow for my top 5 and my thoughts on some other, lesser flicks.

HIVE OF SCUM. WE’RE HERE NOW. LET’S DO THIS.

-Max