January 6, 2011

2010 Year in Review: My Top 10 Movies

Like I mentioned in the Back 10, this is more a favorites list. I just can never see all that I should and movies do get missed. This list went through a few forms before settling on this line up. The biggest thing to note is that the top three could just as easily be a tie for top dog or flip flop, they are vastly different films and depending on the day, the phase of the moon, what I had for dinner, they could change in the moment. Anyway, these are some really good films that you should give a chance.

10. Toy Story 3. This is a movie that in my review I express some reservations about. I think I was mistaken. The more I think back on it, the better it seems to be. It really is an exciting, sweet film that it is really hard not to like. It is a delightful and fitting closure to the trilogy and is another high water mark for Pixar. Not all their movies are masterpieces, but this is one.

9. Flipped. This is a wonderfully executed and uncompromising  coming of age tale that suffered from a bad advertising campaign and a small release. This is a fantastic, simple tale that is unlike any of the family movies you get on the big screen. I am not sure anyone but Rob Reiner could have made this. This is a movie to really enjoy.

8. True Grit. This is a success on all fronts, from the solid screenplay to the great performances, from the direction to Roger Deakins wonderful cinematography, this is pure genre film making. There is no winking and nodding at the camera, this is something of a love letter to the art of film making. Is it the Coen's best? Probably not, but that is not going to stop me from enjoying the pure entertainment of it all. Thrills, drama, laughs, heart, adventure, this packs it all in a perfectly paced package.

7. Shutter Island. Scorsese knocked it out of the park with this thriller. It is pulpy, it is freaky, it may be predictable, but it is always engrossing. Leonardo Dicaprio delivers a great performance in a movie that is all atmosphere. This is a movie to watch on a dark and stormy night. Fantastic.

6. Let Me In. This is a rather divisive film considering how great the original Swedish film is (Let the Right One In). There is no denying how much this version owes to that original, but there is something about this that just works. It hits all the right notes, is gloomy, morose, lovelorn, and beautiful. It is a great story told with a couple of great performances from Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Road) and Chloe Moretz (Kick Ass). I am going to have to revisit it so I can give it a proper review.

5. Never Let Me Go. This is a story of lost love, would be love, and profound sadness and longing. It is interesting to watch the characters move along their paths, primarily Kathy (Carey Mulligan). It is through her prism that we experience the movie, through her sadness, through her hope, through her wondering what might have been and what could still be. It also happens to be one the most original science fiction tales I have seen on the big screen in some time.

4. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The movie ran two and a half hours but it goes by so fast you scarcely notice. It is fascinating as it is not a terribly fast paced film. There are explosions of shocking violence and sexual abuse (which never falls into exploitation territory) that effectively punctuate the mystery they are investigating and highlighting our characters personal damages. It is all gorgeously shot and exquisitely paced. This will hold your attention until the final frame. It also features a jaw dropping performance by Noomi Rapace, who is now being courted by Hollywood. I should also mention the two sequels also released in the US this year and while it is a case of diminishing returns, the three are absolutely fantastic and should be grouped together, so this fourth spot is more like three films with The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest.

3. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Yes, I unabashedly love this movie. The performances are perfect, the pacing is strong, the visual ingenuity unmatched. It is a movie that deserves to be seen on the big screen. I am not sure what else to say to try and convince everyone to see it. It is an amazing film. It is an inventive film on so many levels with interesting character stuff, fun performances, I cannot tell you enough how much fun this movie is.

2. Inception. This is nothing short of an incredible experience, a film that engages the audience on an intellectual and a visceral level. Christopher Nolan has truly knocked this one out of the park. Inception is an example of what I wish we would get more of, a big budget film that comes from an original idea that is not a remake or a sequel. It even gets better with multiple views.

1. Black Swan. Black Swan is an incredible film, a sublime beauty that hides a frightening center. It is a movie that will have you on the edge of your seat, shake you to the core, and leaving you wanting. Darren Aronofsky has crafted a mesmerizing tale of modern horror that does not rely on blood and guts. It is a daring film really gets under the skin and unsettles the viewer. Natalie Portman turns in one of the finest performances of her career, charismatic and off kilter, her expression says a lot throughout. This deserves all of the praise it has gotten.

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