I have seen a lot of movies this year, which is nothing new for me. However, this is the first year (a year that I have been very happy with and proud of) that I have been given much more of an important task when it comes to delivering my opinions (as nonessential as some may feel they are) about the films I see. With that being said, the following lists are, what I feel, a solid compilation of the best and worst films of the year. I have seen a lot of very good movies, and I have also seen a lot of very bad ones. Regardless of how good of a year this was for movies, I would say that I had a lot of options available to me when developing these lists, so enjoy.
Aaron’s Top 10 Favorite Films of 2010
It’s the end of 2010, and with that I have a list of my favorite movies. The following list contains all of the films that I felt defined what I seek out in most films; namely that they have elements of entertainment, intrigue, or master craftsmanship when it comes to the filmmaking. Some may only have a few of these aspects covered, others may have all three bases dominated. Given my lengthy honorable mention section, there were certainly a good number of films that I had to choose from, but this list, I feel, represents the best of what 2010 had to offer theatrically:
10. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – The first film of a trilogy, adapted from a book series that became mega popular over the course of this year. This film was a strong entry as far as crime thrillers go; made great by the breakout performance by Noomi Rapace, who played the titular “girl with the dragon tattoo” of the series. While the remaining entries in the series came with diminishing returns, this was the dark and very well made film to see. With David Fincher currently filming the American remake (due next Christmas), it will be interesting to see how that film matches up with this great one.
“I’ve never done this before. Hold still or it’ll get messy.”
9. 127 Hours – Director Danny Boyle managed to follow up his Oscar winning Slumdog Millionare with a great story about triumph. Boyle managed to combine his kinetic style with a story that mostly takes place in one location and made it one of the tensest experiences of the year. This film is wonderfully well made with a pretty fantastic lead performance by James Franco. While it may be a tough watch for some (especially “the scene”), this was certainly a film I was glad to see. The feats accomplished by Aron Rolston outweigh the graphic display of his plight.
“All you have to remember is that everything will be okay.” (Theatrical Review)
8. Kick Ass – It is impressive that this film managed to live up to its title in so many ways. Adapted from the Mark Millar comic, this was the little film that could, as it was independently financed, but still managed to wow audiences with its slick action sequences; most notably the violent ones involving 12-year-old Chloe Moretz as Hit-Girl. Add to that a fun story about a high school kid attempting to become a superhero and the wild card that is Nic Cage and you have a pretty fantastic comic book movie.
“Tool up honey bunny. It’s time to get bad guys.” (Blu-ray Review)
7. The Kids are All Right – With all the big spectacle films that came out over the summer, I really fell in love with this film as well. It has great performances from Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, and Mark Ruffalo, who are all well equipped to match the roles they’ve been given. The film is very funny, with the all the right kind of dialogue that is sharp, witty, and perfectly suited to the story. All of these great elements lend themselves to a film that will easily earn repeat visits for me.
“To an unconventional family.” (Theatrical Review)
6. True Grit – All of the ingredients were in the right place for this one. A Coen brother’s western, starring Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, and Josh Brolin, which features all of the elements that make their films so enjoyable. The film has great, funny, quirky and authentic dialogue and plenty of dark humor to match the western violence. Definitely adding to this film’s greatness is its accessibility to audiences. That is not a factor you can really associate to many Coen films, but True Grit certainly delivers a very satisfying viewing experience.
“Fill your hands, you son of a bitch!” (Theatrical Review)
5. Toy Story 3 – I have said this many times, but when Toy Story 3 came out, after Wall-E and Up, I was expecting a fun comedy starring some old friends. This aspect was certainly delivered to me, but I did not expect the roller coaster of emotions that the entire film would put me through, as the story beats led to various moments of cleverness, suspense, and past reflection. Any movie that can make me laugh very hard and also worry about the safety of Mr. Potato Head is one that deserves high recognition. Pixar scores a hit again, here’s hoping they pull off Cars 2.
“You’ve got a play date with destiny.” (Blu-ray Review)
4. Black Swan – I love the idea that I was able to fall in love with the concept of Natalie Portman going insane. This movie certainly gave me that, delivering on its seemingly simple premise, which basically functions as a twisted take on Swan Lake. The end result is a terrifically terrifying ballet drama. Director Darren Aronofsky certainly delivered on establishing a mood and a creating a film that was very much a visual feast when it came to delving into Portman’s psyche. The final act of this film, in particular, is a tour-de-force. Add to that Portman delivering one of the best performances of the year, and you have a film that easily belongs high on my list.
“What happened to my sweet girl?” (Theatrical Review)
3. Inception – Now we enter that top tier of 2010 films that I really love, starting with this Christopher Nolan directed, mind-bending, summer blockbuster. What many were first thinking would be a nice cool down for Nolan, in between Batman films, turned out to be a grand-scale sci-fi/action epic, with a large and very talented ensemble cast, and a plethora of amazingly filmed sequences. Between the spinning hotel hallway fight and Ellen Page’s character literally bending the world backwards, I found much to love in this film, and it all starts with Hans Zimmer’s booming score. Bwarrrrrr!
“The dream is collapsing.” (Theatrical Review)
2. The Social Network – Here’s another film that was absorbing and action packed…with dialogue, heyo! David Fincher once again delivers a fantastically made film that may not have screamed “Fincher” when first bringing up the subject of “Facebook: The Movie”, but upon viewing the film, certainly fits very well into his filmography. Masterfully crafted, the obvious benefit to a movie like this is having a screenplay written by Aaron Sorkin, who manages to cram this film with great dialogue, all functioning to tell a story about ambition, friendship, and betrayal. This is a film that works as a drama, a sly comedy, and a solid reflection on a generation still in progress.
“If you guys were the inventors of Facebook, you would have invented Facebook.” (Theatrical Review)
1. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World – Anyone who knows me or has been reading up on what I have to say should have probably seen this coming. I have seen this film more times in theaters than any other film this year, let alone the past few years (although Inglourious Basterds was close). I have done everything I can to get the word out on this epic epic of epicness. Based on an equally brilliant comic, director Edgar Wright has made one of the ultimate hybrid films, which is essentially a romantic comedy but manages to be both: hilarious and full of some pretty kick ass action sequences. Add to that Wright’s ingenious visual style, which perfectly fits the tone of the film, as it heavily references video games and the indie rock music scene, and you have a film that seemed to literally be after my own heart. In a year that ended up being full of lots of good films to choose from, this was the one that managed to be both one of the best made films of the year and the film I had the most fun watching.
“We are Sex Bob-Omb and we are here to make you think about death and get sad and stuff.” (Theatrical Review)
The King’s Speech, The Fighter, Animal Kingdom, The Good The Bad and The Weird, The Ghost Writer, A Prophet, Splice, Shutter Island, The Town, Micmacs, Cyrus, Buried, Let Me In, Hereafter, Restrepo, Exit Through the Gift Shop, McGruber, and of course Piranha 3D
With all of the films I did like this year, there were plenty of duds that came out as well. I do not like to relish in how bad a film was, and most of these were not the kind of “so bad it’s funny” movie that I can appreciate; however, it is worth noting these select 10 flicks that I felt were the worst 2010 had to offer:
9. Cop Out – I hate to single out this film, but it really does suck. I am looking forward to seeing a film that is both directed and (more importantly) written by Kevin Smith soon, because this buddy cop comedy with Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan was severely devoid of humor it could have used.
8. Skyline – This is an example of why Cloverfield is a very good movie. (Theatrical Review)
7. (tie) Saw 3D: The Final Chapter / Chain Letter – I hope this is the final nail the damn Saw coffin. As for Chain Letter, didn’t hear of it? Don’t worry about it. (Theatrical Review – Saw) (Theatrical Review – Chain Letter)
6. A Nightmare on Elm Street – With a signature villain and an infinite amount of ideas to work with, as the film’s premise relies on a villain stalking his prey in the world of the dream, this film decides to hold way back at being in any way creative, and instead decides to continue killing bland teenage characters in steamy warehouses.
5. The Tourist – Lots of talented people working together to make one, big nothing of a movie. Just a big, boring dud, through and through. (Theatrical Review)
4. Jonah Hex – Josh Brolin battles against that wily John Malcovich and his deadly Dragonballs. One thing is for sure, Megan Fox plays a convincing whore. (Theatrical Review)
3. She’s Out of My League – Oh man did I hate this movie. As much as this seemed to be the year of Jay Baruchel, this “comedy” was not one of his highlights. And now I recall the scene where Baruchel’s friend helps him to shave his scrotum. Har har har.
2. The Last Airbender – Enough people are going to have this as their number 1, so I’ll hold back a bit for something else. That being said, any kind of comeback people may have been hoping for from Shyamalan, when he decided to tackle a big budget studio adventure/fantasy film, was instantly ruined after witnessing this disaster. I keep telling myself, this series has nowhere to go, but up…? (Theatrical Review)
1. My Soul to Take – As much as I hate Airbender, that film could not match the confounding mess of a film that is Wes Craven’s My Soul to Take. A complete waste of time for everyone involved, this is a film that was absolutely ridiculous from start to finish in the worst kind of ways. Nothing seems to make sense, it’s a strangely constructed PG-13 horror movie from a man who used to know how to make horror movies, and finally, to add insult to injury, it’s in “3D”. There is absolutely nothing in this film that I can view in a positive manner in any capacity, and that is why it earns its spot as the worst movie of the year. (Theatrical Review)
So there you have it. That is my countdown for the year of 2010 regarding the best and worst flicks of the year. I have talked at length about the reasoning for many of these choices, but suffice it to say: I know what I like and I know what I don’t like. I am very much looking forward to 2011. There are a lot of upcoming releases I am very much excited about. While I may not be writing a top 10 list regarding these upcoming releases, the picture below may be a good indication of what I really want to see…