It’s that time of year, where you stop and reflect on what movies had the greatest impact on you throughout the long year. It’s that time of year where the web is littered with lists of the top films of the year; many of them incredibly similar and several that are dramatically different. There’s a wide variety of tastes out there so the movies that some people love other people hate, but there’s usually always at least a few that everyone agrees on. Regardless of my opinion on other people’s lists they are always a lot of fun to read and compare.
The problem I run in to when I sit down to make a list is that when I’m making it I love the films so much that when I put a film at the bottom I feel like I should move it towards the top, or if I leave one out I want to edit the list to include it. I also do not get a chance to see several films that might be on other lists that may very well be great movies; I just don’t get a chance to see every single release. The other factor in the list comes as I have a chance to watch and re-watch movies and I start enjoying them even more or finding less to enjoy than I did the first time.
I tried as hard as I could to pick out titles that wouldn’t be on every other top ten list, and I still have yet to see several movies that get quite a bit of audible praise such as THE FIGHTER, THE KING’S SPEECH, THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT and ANIMAL KINGDOM to name a few. As is common this time of year and going into next year when I get a chance to see everything I missed out on my list could look a whole lot different, and some may not be considered the best films of the year, but are merely my personal favorites. Over the years especially last year some of my favorites eluded Oscar gold, such as DISTRICT 9 (my favorite from 2009), THE ROAD and MOON for example all had regular rotation in my DVD player and even graced selected top ten lists but not all were widely considered the best of the year. That is the great thing about top ten lists; they are all subjective and open for interpretation and are all based on personal bias. The controversial nature of lists are why they are so much fun to construct especially at the end of the year; so without further ado here are my top picks for the year 2010.
10. The Town – I remember back when I reviewed Ben Affleck’s THE TOWN I originally came off as though I enjoyed it but that its middle section of sappy love story really harmed the film as a whole. While I still feel the film would have been better off shying away slightly and focusing more on the heists and cop drama, THE TOWN is still a very solid heist thriller/drama. Ben Affleck and Jeremy Renner give fantastic performances and the heist sequences are intensely thrilling. THE TOWN is one of those movies where my first impression may not have been entirely fair.
9. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World – Here’s another pick that I really enjoyed after seeing it, but not being completely sold on how high quality it was. When I finally got to watch it again I ended up loving it more and re-watching it several more times in a row. I still don’t think the romance is completely fleshed out enough to really buy into the gravity of the situation, but with the humor and the fantastic video game visuals and references, SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD is easily a classic for me. It’s such a shame that it got so overlooked during its time in theaters.
8. Buried – I had originally planned on using one spot for a trio of films that employ a minimal setting or character trapped in one location, but instead saved the spot for my favorite of the three. The others each will get a well deserved honorable mention though. BURIED is a film that surprised the hell out of me; I could not fathom how a movie that is literally one location for the entire 90 minutes could be memorable. Rodrigo Cortes pulls out every trick in the book to make being stuck in a wooden box as thrilling, scary and engaging as it can possibly be and in the end I haven’t felt that feeling of claustrophobia in the middle of an open theater as I did during BURIED. Ryan Reynold’s puts one of my favorite performances of the year even if it’s not THE best performance of the year. I cannot say enough good things about the film and it was actually extremely difficult to put it so low on the list.
7. Shutter Island – I had no interest in SHUTTER ISLAND when the buzz was floating around; largely because the trailer did not catch my eye and the story it wanted to tell seemed very boring. I’m glad I didn’t follow my initial instinct to skip it because when it was over I was completely turned around on it. When the credits rolled I knew I had liked the film but the beauty and genius of the film was that it all just builds on you to the point that you can’t help but want to re-watch the film so you can experience it knowing what you now know and it’s not until you do watch it again that you can fully appreciate the film. Leonardo DiCaprio is phenomenal and it’ll be a shame if he doesn’t get even a small bit of recognition for his performance, which I think he’s bound to be overlooked due to a field full of fantastic performances.
6. Toy Story 3 – I might be a little more enthusiastic about this pick had I not watched it at least 30 or more times with kids from my own family and so on. However, this is my favorite of the TOY STORY movies; aside from another film on the list I haven’t felt such a feeling of wonder and emotion in an animated feature quite like I did with TOY STORY 3. There’s a certain scene dealing with such finality that deeply affects me every time I watch it and is also more emotionally devastating than anything I’ve been used to in these family friendly Disney films.
5. True Grit – If there is anything to be learned from my list to this point it’s that first impressions are never quite right. I really enjoyed TRUE GRIT, but again as with other films on the list I just didn’t feel blown away by it. I found it visually amazing with its fantastic cinematography and the performances we great across the board but I just wasn’t sure if the story intrigued me as much as the rest. While that might still be the case it’s visually arresting, funny and acted extremely well and likely will have great replay value on those aspects alone.
4. How To Train Your Dragon – Before TOY STORY 3 was released I had already had that feeling of being a kid again with Dreamwork’s fantastic dragon adventure. Everything about this film is pretty simple but is executed in the best possible way. The score is fantastic the animation is gorgeous especially in the climactic battle with the enormous dragon spitting fire erratically into the air and the emotional journey just hit all the right chords for me. This is the only 3D movie I saw in theaters and didn’t feel like I was cheated out of my money, and even on DVD without the 3D it’s impossible for me not to love it.
3. The Social Network – I had a headache after watching this film; with all the characters just spitting computer lingo centered dialogue at the screen without stopping to breathe. You never could have anticipated that a movie about the creation of a website could be so tense and engaging but David Fincher pulls it off with astounding ease. I was extremely impressed by the end that a film full of basically nothing but pure dialogue could prevent me from feeling bored during several scenes, but here the time flew by.
2. Inception – The top two was an extremely difficult decision; in many ways I’d almost consider it a tie since they are two completely different types of films. INCEPTION is a film that has managed to make me second guess everything I thought I understood every single time I watch it no matter how many times I tell myself what I think the answer is. Christopher Nolan is a phenomenal filmmaker and INCEPTION is easily my personal favorite of his movies. I loved every character, the score, all the action and the ambiguous ending; but it’s the shifting gravity hallway fight that will go down as one of my favorite scenes of all time.
1. Black Swan – I lost track of all the times I’ve had to write and re-write all ten of my choices. When I replay moments of each movie in my head it becomes harder and harder to choose. When I walked out of BLACK SWAN I knew that it had to be somewhere near the top just by the way it made me feel when the credits started rolling. Ultimately, I am a person who loves a challenging psychological thriller and effective horror. While BLACK SWAN is not your typical type of horror film there are some extremely frightening aspects to the film that had me gripping my seat till the very end. This film was a journey that left me extremely rattled at the end and I love it for that reason.
127 Hours – Anchored by the phenomenal performance by James Franco
Frozen – Elevated by a trio of solid performances and an extremely tense tone.
Kick Ass – Very funny and exciting entry into the world of comic book movies.