Movies: 2010, A Year in Review

By Jordan Magrath

Finally, after about 3 weeks of frantically watching films, I have come up with my year in review for movies.  Time, and mostly resources, have made it impossible for me to see every movie I wanted to.  Among the ones I was unable to see before compiling this list were: Blue Valentine, Biutiful, and The King’s Speech.  I would have loved to watch them but I would have had to wait a few months.  I wanted to get this thing done before the Oscars.  Despite being posted after The Golden Globes, I did actually have this done before.  So, here are the categories I came up with, I hope you enjoy:

BEST DOCUMENTARY

“Exit Through the Gift Shop”

Okay, this is kind of a “gimme” since it was one of the only documentaries I watched, but this movie is stellar.  If anybody knows anything about “Banksy” the most famous, anonymous Graffiti artist, you should definitely see him, as he is the one that directs it.

BEST FOREIGN FILM

“The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”

This Swedish adaptation of the novel is one of the better films of the year.  Although its a hefty 2.5 hours and completed subtitled, it is amazingly suspenseful.  It’s filled with good acting by people you’ve never heard of.  That is sometimes the better way to go.

Noomi Rapace is already becoming a bigger name after her performance

Honorable Mention:
Animal Kingdom

BEST VISUALS

“Scott Pilgrim vs. The World”

I wanted to fit this somewhere in my Top 10 movies, but I just couldn’t.  The reason I loved it, was it’s style.  It’s based (and amazingly similar) on the Scott Pilgrim comics.  If you like comic books, you’ll love what they did with this movie, it’s basically a moving comic book.

Rounding Out the Top 5:
2.) Inception
3.) Kick Ass
4.) Black Swan
5.) The Town
*Please note: I have yet to see “Tron”

BEST SCRIPT

“The Social Network”

I could rave about this movie all day and all night.  Good acting, good story, good director, and etc.  However, the most impressive part was definitely the screen play.  The first 10 minutes of the movie show it’s dialogical awesomeness.

Rounding Out the Top 5:
2.)True Grit
3.) Black Swan
4.) Inception
5.) The Kids Are All Right

BEST INDIE FILM

“Winter’s Bone”

It’s fun seeing Indie films because they usually yield no expectations.  And it’s certainly fresh to see movies that don’t rely heavily on explosions and action.  Winter’s Bone relies on a story, and it has a semi untraditional ending, which I almost always enjoy.

Winter's Bone is probably the least talked about film of the year

Rounding Out the Top 5:
2.) The Kids Are All Right
3.) 127 Hours
4.) Please Give
5.) Greenburg

BEST SCENE

Anti-Gravity Fight Scene – “Inception”

This could possibly be the greatest fight scene of all time.  It’s suspenseful and truly amazing to witness.  Each time I’ve seen it (yes, five times), my heart beats harder and harder.  I kept seeing parts of it in trailers, but didn’t expect it to actually be quite as amazing.  The best part: CG wasn’t used.  It was done with old fashion film making.  Nolan and Co. used mirrors, strings, and a huge rotating hallway to produce it.

Rounding Out the Top 5:
2.) Metamorphosis – Black Swan
3.) Opening Break-Up – The Social Network
4.) Amputation – 127 Hours
5.) Andy’s Goodbye – Toy Story 3

Honorable Mention:
Scott Pilgrim vs. The Twins – Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Climax – Winter’s Bone

BEST PERFORMANCE: ACTRESS

Natalie Portman – “Black Swan”

I’m going out on a limb here when I say that Natalie Portman’s performance was not only the best I’ve seen from a female, but the best I saw of this year.  She shined as both the White and Black Swan.  It was crazy seeing her turn from an innocent dancer to a crazed lunatic.

Natalie Portman was scary good as the Black Swan

Rounding Out the Top 5:
2.) Jennifer Lawrence – Winter’s Bone
3.) Annette Bening – The Kids Are All Right
4.) Noomi Rapace – The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
5.) Nichole Kidman – Rabbit Hole

Honorable Mention:
Julianne Moore (The Kids Are All Right), Elizabeth Keener (Please Give)

BEST PERFORMANCE: ACTOR

Christian Bale – “The Fighter”

Christian Bale went from a burley superhero to a skinny, washed-up drug addict.  Not only did his physique change, but his demeanor and character significantly changed.  He took his new role head on and significantly increased the quality of the film.  He’ll likely win as a “Supporting Actor,” and if I had to choose a “Best Actor,” I’d go with Jesse Eisenburg as Mark Zuckerberg.  He became a different person to portray the cold-hearted genius.

Rounding Out the Top 5:
2.) Jesse Eisenburg – The Social Network
3.) Jeff Bridges – True Grit
4.) James Franco – 127 Hours
5.) Mark Ruffalo – The Kids Are All Right

Honorable Mention:
Ben Stiller (Greenberg), Aaron Eckhart (Rabbit Hole)
*Please note: I have yet to see “The King’s Speech”

BEST FILM (TOP 10)

I’m going to switch up the order here and do it in reverse, mostly to create suspense.  Here, you, go:

Honorable Mention:
Please Give
This is another character-based story, but it is highly underrated and deserves at least one watch.
Exit Through The Gift Shop
I’ve already mentioned this earlier, but this could be my favorite documentary
Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
See it, see it, see it.  Especially comic book fans.  The second watch was actually as enjoyable as the first.
“127 Hours”
I can’t believe I couldn’t fit this into my Top 10.  Danny Boyle turned a good story into a great movie.  It’s inspirational, yet not cliche.
Animal Kingdom
I was sad this couldn’t fit in either.  This Australian crime drama is one of the better ones of the year, and Animal Kingdom is one of the best Foreign films of 2010.

Rounding Out the Top 10:
10.) “The Fighter”
Christian Bale put this movie and his back and carried it.  He’s not the main character, but he might as well have been.  The Fighter ends up being much less about boxing and much more about the influence of a dysfunctional family.  Hollywood has shown some dysfunctional families over the years, but this family seemed “real.”  It’s scary that a family could be like this, and towards the end of the movie, you start to feel bad for them, despite their blaring and obvious imperfections.  I was afraid it’d be a typical sports comeback story, but this one is different enough to work.

9.) “True Grit”
The Coen Brothers certainly have their style.  True Grit fits right into this style.  Sure, it’s dialogue isn’t quite as funny as Fargo.  Sure, the film isn’t quite as thrilling as No Country For Old Men.  However, it still deserves credit.  It’s filled with humor and action.  It’s got good acting.  It’s got a significantly different ending than the original.  And, more importantly, it’s well-rounded.  Matt Damon puts forth a different effort than he usually does, and the unknown Hailee Steinfeld nails her performance despite little experience.  And of course, Jeff Bridges shines.

8.) “The Kids Are All Right”
The Kids Are All Right is special because it relies on it’s characters and their development, rather than special effects.  It’s one of those movies that isn’t necessarily a must-see in theaters, but it is a must-see before you die.  Each and every character is valuable.  Each and every character has a slight to major development over the course of two hours.  By the end, nobody is who they were thought to be.

7.) “Winter’s Bone”
Winter’s Bone is the indie version of True Grit.  It’s script isn’t nearly as good, but the plot is better.  The circumstances aren’t the same as True Grit, but they’re very similar.  The performances are about the same, and it’s not a Western.  Consider this Jennifer Lawrence’s coming out party.  She turns in a gritty performance, and by the end, you’ll be on the edge of your seat.  I’m not sure how it relates to the novel it’s based on, but this is definitely one of the most underrated movies of the year.

6.) “The Town”
The Town sometimes gets unfairly categorized as a mindless crime drama, the ones that all seem to feel the same.  The Town deviates enough from the crime template.  It is a telling sign of the movie, when the best scenes aren’t the ones full of gunfire, explosions, and car chases.  Yes, there are these scenes, but the better parts of the movie don’t actually involve the robbery aspect.  Affleck doesn’t ruin the movie with his acting, and shows he could be a directorial force for the future.  I look forward to his future movies, and credit the success of The Town to him and Jeremy Renner.  He’s slowly becoming one of my favorite actors, and he stands a chance, albeit small, of winning Best Supporting Actor.

5.) “Toy Story 3”

I'm going to miss these toys more than anything else

After perfect reviews in Toy Story and Toy Story 2, I was both excited and scared for 3.  Would it be a letdown to the first two, or would it sum up the story right?  After only 15 minutes, I knew the answer.  For years to come, the Toy Story franchise will be regarded as one of the best trilogies of all time!  Besides maybe (just maybe) Lord of the Rings and the original Star Wars, I can’t think of another trilogy that works so well.  The movie did feel like it was made for our generation, since we were the ones that grew up knowing Woody and Buzz.  I’m glad it continued to relate to us, and not the younger kids who didn’t grow up knowing and loving these toys.

4.) “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”
Dragon Tattoo, as I call it, was the final movie I saw before I wrote this list, and it was almost a “last, but not least,” type of movie.  At 2.5 hours, and subtitled, you have to be in the mood to watch this one.  However, I promise you, at the end you won’t think it was 2.5 hours.  More importantly, you’ll want more.  Good thing is, there is more.  Not only is there a Swedish sequel, but David Fincher and others are remaking (yes, after one year) it, and you can expect it out later this year.  I don’t actually expect the remake to better, but I’ve heard it is going to be significantly different.  The best part of Dragon Tattoo was how exciting and thrilling it became.  I got shivers down my spine at points, and was actually a little terrified at points.

3.) “Black Swan”
At #3, Black Swan is almost underrated.  This movie might turn off some people simply because it is dark and creepy.  But, as a cinematic work, it is very difficult to discredit this film.  It’s story revolves around the “Swan Lake” story and parallels the white and black swan (played by Natalie Portman) in both the ballet and the story.  It’s almost a story within a story (for all you Inception fans).  Natalie Portman gives the best performance of the year in any movie.  I hesitate to hype the climax of the movie, but it will leave you stunned.

2.) “The Social Network”
I wish I could give The Social Network spot #1b because it’s that good.  The separation between #1 and #2 is miniscule.  I won’t be surprised when this does take the prize at the Oscars for Best Picture (among other awards).  Jesse Eisenburg is my pick for Best Actor (but I haven’t seen the praised performance of Colin Firth in The King’s Speech).  From the opening scene to the last deliberations in the courtroom, Eisenburg portrays the cold, but amazingly visionary, founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg.  I was apprehensive there was a movie about Facebook, but there is so much more than that, its about today’s social scene more than the website.

1.) “Inception”

Joseph Gordon-Levitt was one of the many high points of Inception

No real surprise here.  Some say I may have a Christopher Nolan bias, but the truth is, I am scared for him to make anymore movies because of his track record.  His movies are almost flawless, and this one is no different.  Inception has everything from dynamic characters to an original concept to awesome visuals.  The story is another mindf*ck and had audiences talking about it for hours on end afterwards.  Some argue that is it too confusing, but I believe that’s what makes it fun to watch.  The “rewatchability” factor is ultimately what made it #1.  I don’t think there are as many movies that can give this type of internal feeling after so many watches.

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