Anyway, now that spot of complaining is done, we can rejoice in a pretty good year at the movies. I am not sure if there are any 'classics' on my list that will truly stand the test of time, but all are great films in their own right. Christopher Nolan's Inception and David Fincher's The Social Network were tremendous, thought-provoking films cranked out by the big studios. But the Indies were also solid with Black Swan, 127 Hours, and The Town ringing in the fall. Here are my faves:
Top Ten of 2010
#1: Black Swan
- Darren Aronofsky's twisted and surreal tale of a ballerina's (Natalie Portman) descent into madness is the best film of the year. Beautifully photographed by Matthew Libatique, who should win the Oscar for cinematography, Black Swan grabs you from the first frame and takes you on a mesmerizing, highly disturbing ride. The finale, with its sweeping score and choreography, is magnificently unnerving. This film will also see multiple award nominations for its excellent cast (Mila Kunis, Barbara Hershey, Vincent Cassel) and screenwriters (Andres Heinz, Mark Heyman).
- Christopher Nolan is on an epic roll. His follow up to The Dark Knight, Inception, is the most complex studio film I've seen in years. This mega-budget action thriller about a gang that steals and plants thoughts into your subconscious will have you guessing to the last second. The labyrinthine plot is so well conceived and executed; even the simplest audience member is riveted. Nolan's editor, fellow Aussie and longtime Hollywood stalwart - Lee Smith, will win every editing prize come award season. His work on Inception is remarkable, really one of the best edited films of all time.
- Facebook and its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, have become icons of the modern world; a classic example of pure capitalist success. But the road to five hundred million friends and billions of dollars leaves quite a few casualties in its wake. Leave it to two Hollywood greats, Aaron Sorkin (writer) and David Fincher (director), to artfully depict this tale of genius, betrayal, and greed. A crisp two hours fueled by an awesome Nine Inch Nails soundtrack, The Social Network is the parable for the social media age.
#4: 127 Hours
- James Franco delivers his career best performance in Danny Boyle's 127 Hours. Franco stars as Aron Ralston, an extreme hiker who finds himself in a horrific life or death situation. This unbelievable true story is not for the squeamish, but elevates your spirit as you are captivated by one man's indomitable will to survive.
#5: The Town
- Ben Affleck steps into the elite cadre of writers and filmmakers with his gripping crime drama, The Town. Affleck and Jeremy Renner star as bank robbers in Charlestown, Massachusetts. Career criminals, these men take different paths to escape the poverty and abuse of their childhoods. Gritty and realistic, The Town is my dark horse pick for Best Picture; a far superior film to The Departed.
- Finally, DreamWorks trumps Pixar for the best animated film of 2010. How to Train Your Dragon is the fantastic tale of Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), a Viking's son who discovers the fire breathing creatures he's been taught to fear and hate are entirely misunderstood. Funny and very entertaining, this film stealthily teaches quite a few valuable life lessons.
#7: The Fighter
- Christian Bale steals the show as the rail-thin, crack-addicted, failed boxer - Dicky Eklund in David O. Russell's The Fighter. Marky Mark Wahlberg stars as Mickey Ward in this true story of a down and out boxer who gets another shot at the big time. Melissa Leo and Amy Adams are also extraordinary as Mickey's meddling mother and girlfriend.
#8: Toy Story 3
- Pixar has never been off my favorite films list and the streak continues. While How to Train Your Dragon is a better children's movie, Toy Story 3 is really meant for parents and teenagers. When Andy grows up and is off to college; Woody, Buzz and the gang are faced with the realities of growing up. Their quest for purpose is poignant and touching. Pixar is on a quest for tears and succeeding every time.
#9: The Ghost Writer
- Roman Polanski's personal issues continue to dominate the news, but he very quietly directed another excellent film this year. Ewan McGregor stars as a ghost writer hired to pen the memoirs of a Tony Blair-esque British politician (Pierce Brosnan). But foolishly gets involved with his wife (Olivia Williams) and discovers a conspiracy that could shake the world.
#10: Waiting for Superman
- A broken public school system that fosters mediocrity, racial inequity, and the tenure of teachers is the crux of this compelling documentary by Davis Guggenheim. The probable winner of this year's documentary Oscar, Waiting for Superman is a must-see for everyone in America with a thought on how to better teach our children.
The Worst Film of 2010
- Writer/Director M. Night Shyamalan has fallen off the good filmmaker tree and hit every branch on his way down to the roots of sucking. He does a double dose of awful in 2010 with the massively disappointing The Last Airbender, and as writer/producer of Devil. Fans of the cartoon, Avatar - The Last Airbender, should have brought airsick bags into the theater to sit through the movie. Shyamalan shot out of the gate like a rocket with The Sixth Sense, but has been spectacularly awful in recent years. I hope/pray he can get it together and make a decent film again, but his work in 2010 has been dreadful.
- Matthew Libatique - Black Swan
- Lee Smith - Inception
- Trent Reznor - The Social Network
- Eric Barba / Quantum FX - Tron: Legacy
Best Animated Film
- Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders - How to Train Your Dragon