2010 was a good year for movies. All total, I was able to see 58 movies from 2010 (and I only really hated two of them). Though there are a few I never got around to seeing, (mainly The King's Speech and 127 Hours) I feel like I was able to see mostly everything else that had a chance of ranking high. I've already covered films #58-16 in a previous post so without further rambling, here are my top 15 movies for 2010.
15) Winter's Bone
This movie reminded me of Brick in that it took an already great story and dropped it into the fantastic universe of Film Noir. I may have a hard time praising Jennifer Lawrence for her amazing role because I've yet to see her in anything else, but I thought her character was one of the best in all of 2010. She does a great job, especially considering she is surrounded by fantastic character actors like Garret Dillahunt and John Hawkes.
I went into Splice not expecting much and ended up being blown away by what I saw. It was great to see more original sci-fi this year (along with Inception) that was able to stand on it's own away from the sequels and remakes. I had a few problems regarding the last act of the movie delving too much into straight up horror but overall it's a very fun flick that should have a larger audience. It finally teaches the long needed lesson that humans should not have sex with genetically created hybrids.
13) Despicable Me
One thing 2010 will always be remembered for is my obsession with the Minions. In fact, without them in this movie, I doubt it would even crack the Top 20 (thus showing just how much I loved them). Though I should give some credit to Despicable Me for making me laugh more than any other animated movie I saw this year. I was brought to the movie without having any desire to see it and ended up enjoying it more than Toy Story 3.
The funniest movie of 2010. Like most of America I stayed away from this in the theaters and that was a stupid mistake. It may not bat 1.000 with jokes but it comes pretty close. It's wonderfully absurd and very R-Rated, combining raunchy humor with fairly graphic violence. MacGruber also contains the funniest "sex scene" joke I have ever seen. Please see this movie.
11) The Ghost Writer
The thing I loved most about The Ghost Writer was how perfectly it was paced. Every scene seemed to build on top of the previous one as the story became increasingly more engaging. This should be no surprise considering it comes from Roman Polanski (One of the best example of loving the work but not the man behind it). A great political thriller that actually managed to surprise me at the end. I would also like to point out that a movie featuring Jim Belushi is my 11th favorite movie of 2010. I'm a little upset about that.
If you had asked me a month ago where Kick-Ass would fall in my list for 2010, I would have said #3. Then I made the mistake of re-watching the movie where I sadly found out that it does not hold up to a second viewing. Clearly I still love the movie but watching it a second time really brought out the flaws (mainly anything to do with Dave's love life). I think the combination of seeing it in a packed theater and not knowing what to expect made the movie seem a lot better. The only thing that didn't get worse was anything featuring Hit-Girl and/or Big Daddy. It's those scenes that make this #10 for the year.
09) Black Swan
Darren Aronofsky is amazing. I've really loved his previous 3 movies (I still need to see Pi) and think Black Swan is a new high point in his career. He should also be thanked for directing Natalie Portman in her best role yet. I really think she deserves all the hype that is being generated for her right now and it will be good to see her win some awards. I'm still not sure what was real and what was her imagination but it doesn't matter because the movie itself tells such a great story. Bonus points are rewarded for the graphic scenes of body horror that caused me to both cringe in my seat and smile at the same time.
08) The American
I'm surprised how little love The American got as 2010 came to an end. I understand some people might have expected Jason Bourne: The Senior Years but you can't deny that The American is a fantastically made character study of an aging hitman. I'll admit a few scenes could have used a bit more subtlety but it's forgivable considering how smart and gorgeous most of the movie is. I don't want to call people who didn't like this movie "stupid," so I'll just stop here. But seriously, if you missed out on this movie, go see it now.
07) Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Pt. 1
I'm glad that I decided to finally watch the Harry Potter series last year because it allowed me to be able to see this one in the theaters. I've said many times before that I am not a Harry Potter Fanboy (never read the books and I've seen each movie once), but I easily consider The Deathly Hallows to be the best of the bunch. I don't buy the complaint that it was boring as I was fully engaged from start to finish and found the quieter moments to be quite touching. It made me laugh, it made me cry, and it made me wish it was July 2011 so I can see the finale.
06) True Grit
I wanted True Grit to be my favorite movie of the year. I spent months counting down to the release, awaiting the chance to see the best movie the Coen brothers ever made. Maybe it was that insane amount of hype that made me feel let down by the movie, but I really think it was my hope that the movie was going to be more gritty and not have as much comic relief that let me down the most. I'm not saying it made me hate the movie (seeing as how it ranks this high) but it just made me wish that the story was taken a bit more seriously. Having said that, the performances in this movie are outstanding and it's also one of the nicest looking movies that I saw this year. It has a lot of "Coen Brothers charm" (read that as both a positive and a slight negative), and I was happy that the ending felt a bit more fleshed out than their past few movies. I really think this movie will only get better with repeat viewings.
05) The Fighter
This is the surprise of the year to me. I expected to enjoy The Fighter but I never thought it would be my fifth favorite movie of the year. As with the remaining Top 5 movies in this list, I spent the better part of The Fighter actually saying "this is an amazing movie..." over and over in my head as it continued to amaze me. Yes, Christian Bale deserves an Oscar for this movie. Yes, David O. Russell and Amy Adams deserve Oscar nominations for this movie. Yes, whoever picked out Amy Adams outfits should get an honorary Oscar for this movie. But the real standouts of this movie are The Sisters. I've read them described as a dysfunctional Greek Chorus and that really sums it up better than I could. I saw this movie pretty late in the year but if I redid my Top 30 Pop Culture Moments of 2010 now, the fight scene on the front porch between the sisters and Amy Adams' character would easily crack the top 15.
04) The Social Network
Obviously a movie about Computer Programmers would end up as one of my favorites of 2010, but The Social Network is a lot more than a simple movie about computer geeks. From the opening scene at the bar, The Social Network came right out of the gate as one of the best written movies I've seen in quite some time. People can argue all they want about about how factual the movie is and whether or not it is sexist, but I'm simply not interested in either of those arguments. Every role in this movie was perfectly cast and I applaud the use of groundbreaking technology (the creation of the Winklevoss twins) as a way to further the story and not simply wow a crowd (see: Avatar, Alice in Wonderland).
03) Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
Everything about Scott Pilgrim vs. The World works and it's a shame that it didn't get the attention it deserved this summer. Edgar Wright is now 3/3 as far as feature films go and at this point it's safe to say that he's my favorite director currently making movies. Unlike Kick-Ass, Scott Pilgrim actually seems to get better the more I watch it (which has already been 3 times). While it may seem a bit crowded at times due to the desire to only make one movie while keeping the number of evil ex-boyfriends ("evil exes!") to seven, it's also fairly unbelievable how well made the movie is considering how much is going on. People will be talking about the innovative way the movie was edited for years to come as it will become a blueprint for how to make this type of movie. Anyone who doesn't like this movie, can tell it to the cleaning lady on Monday.
02) Piranha 3D
I had a real hard time deciding on the final ranking for my top 2 movies of the year. But as much as a I loved Piranha 3D when I saw it in theaters (best movie theater experience of my life), I still think it belongs at #2 on my list. I still can't believe this movie exists and I'm even more amazed that it got a release in theaters. Hatchet II gets pulled after 2 days in theaters because it was released Unrated due to not being able to get an R, yet Piranha 3D was allowed to skate by on a R despite being far more graphic than anything in Hatchet II. The genius of the MPAA at work! Regardless of that, Piranha 3D is simply my favorite over-the-top horror movie since Dead Alive. I felt guilty at first loving something with that much nudity and violence in it but that quickly faded into me accepting it as the greatness that it is. Let's see if Piranha 3DD (the actual title) can top it. I highly doubt it but it will be fun to see them try.
It almost felt lame picking this as my #1 movie of the year because I feel like the backlash for this movie has really hit a new high lately as people create their best of 2010 lists. But to be honest, it was my favorite movie of 2010 and what I consider the best science fiction film since Children of Men. I was blown away by the effects, engaged by the story, and entertained by all of the excellent performances (though special praise goes to Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Tom Hardy). Christopher Nolan took a giant chance with this movie and nailed it out of the park. Sure it's a bit heavy on expository dialog but I don't consider that as big of a fault as others do. I still go back and forth on my reading of the movie but I'm fairly settled on the belief that most of the movie is actually Cobb's dream. I believe his team is putting him under as a way to try and have him get over his wife's death after they see how much it is starting to affect his life and their line of work. Why do you think the first time we see Mal (Cobb's dead wife) is when Arthur asks Cobb "What is she doing here?" It was him planting that thought into his head as a way to start putting everything into motion. As for the ending, I don't think the top stopped or kept going. I think Cobb woke up.