Tuesday, January 4, 2011

2010 Year in Review - Best Films

To commemorate my first full year as a blogger, I will do a best of 2010 series of posts.  These posts will consist of the best movies, directors, actors and actresses of the year that was.  I'd like to think of a creative and clever nickname for all my awards but to be honest, I am not creative nor clever, so you're just gonna have to deal with 'The Reeltime Report's Best of 2010."  You know what, I like that, it's like the 'Dave Matthews Band' of original post titles.

I know that if I want to be taken seriously as a critic then I apparently have to make a top ten list of the ‘Best Movies of 2010’ (it’s in the handbook), so I will start my 'Best of 2010' series with that.  So here goes, my first annual ‘Reeltime Report Best of 2010.’  And since I always go above and beyond for my loyal readers I am going to give you my thoughts on best films as well as directors, actors (supporting actors, too), and actresses (supporting actresses as well) of the year (although those will be separate posts).  Ambitious move to be sure, but one that I am confident you will enjoy as my opinions are always supremely relevant.

So here they are, according to the Reeltime Report (my reviews are linked in the titles), the ‘Top Ten Movies of 2010’ (please insert an echo when you read that statement):

10 – Cyrus – This was a movie that I really wanted to see because I thought it was gonna be really funny, and while I was right, it had an unexpected heart to it that I did not expect.  Great performances all around from Marissa Tomei, Katherine Keener, John C. Reiley, and especially Jonah Hill who showed some acting chops I didn’t think he had.  Cyrus is a movie about moving on and letting go.  It’s a film that shows while it’s good to appreciate your past, it’s not healthy to latch on to it.  Everyone needs to grow up and move on at some point because even though you may not think so there is something good waiting for you just around the corner (or behind a bush in this case – see the movie and you’ll understand).

9 – The Ghost Writer – Wasn’t sure what to expect from this movie.  I heard it was good but didn’t really know what I was gonna get.  I am a fan of Roman Polanski if for no other reason than Chinatown is one of my favorite movies of all time.  Despite the warrant out for his arrest in America, the man still does good work.  He unravels a tightly wound yarn here with an appropriate amount of tension.  You’re never quite sure where it’s going and there is definitely a bit of a punch in the gut in the end.

8 – Scott Pilgrim vs. the World – Rarely does a movie come along that I think is “really, really cool” and still stands on it’s own merit as a good film.  Scott Pilgrim will never get the recognition it deserves beyond your everyday geek, but fact of the matter is this movie excels on many levels.  Michael Cera is the same character he normally plays but gives just enough flavor to it to make it ‘Scott Pilgrim,’ great supporting performances by Ellen Wong, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ana Kendrick, and Kieren Culkin only make the movie that much better.  Throw in an innovative style that was the freshest way to shoot a film this year this side of ‘Inception’ and you definitely have a movie that deserves to be on this list.  Oh yeah, and it has a touching story to boot, if only true awards givers saw this movie for what it is.

7 – The King's Speech – Lot’s of people don’t like this type of movies.  I suppose you could call this the non-silent film era version of ‘talkies’ a movie that has little action, doesn’t make a big deal out of scenery, not a lot of characters or scene changes, but drives on sharp writing and strong, strong performances.  Despite what Michael Bay and Tony Scott will tell you, it is possible to create tension without giant robots or exploding trains.  What it takes is a director with confidence in his material and actors strong enough to push his vision to the audience through their performances.  Check, check, and check with this movie.  Phenomenal performances all around make this one of the best films of the year, highlighted by a particularly strong performance by Colin Firth as the stammering future King of England.

6 – The Town – Who ever would have thought Ben Affleck would be good at anything, especially directing?  I am kidding really, I have always thought Affleck was more talented than people gave him credit for, but what I didn’t realize was just how talented he was at directing.  He shows some deft skill in ‘The Town’ and packages one of the most crowd pleasing films of the year with one of best films of the year.  In talking to The Jackie Report after seeing this movie it seemed that it was a shoe-in for best picture nomination but in a normal year (with only 5 nominees) it wouldn’t make the cut.  After more thought, I think it would, even though I still have it on the outside looking in here (this and ‘Inception’ were neck-and-neck for me; they are really 5a and 5b to be honest).

5 – Inception – It is not necessarily on the strength of it’s performances or writing that put ‘Inception’ on this list, rather it is on the strength of it’s sheer ambition and directorial skill that drives it to be this high.  Christopher Nolan has solidified himself as the best of the ‘new guard’ of directors in Hollywood and is possibly the most skilled technically since Speilberg, if not more so.  The way Nolan is able to weave in and out of storylines and toy with the audience is a feat unlike any I have ever seen in a director.  Someone of lesser skill would get lost in themselves but someone of lesser skill wouldn’t have the control and command of his craft as Nolan does.  This movie proves that we as a movie-going public are still able to be wowed and we are all popcorn eating strings wrapped around the finger of one of Hollywood’s finest.

4 – Black Swan – As good as Christopher Nolan is technically Darren Aronofsky is visually.  He has a style and eye that is all his own and none can duplicate.  Aronofsky, perhaps better than anybody working today, can express the emotion his characters are feeling visually at a level not many can or ever have been able to reach.  This is the movie that will put him on the map for good, he has flirted with total Hollywood stardom for a few years now and this will solidify it.  In my opinion, it is Aronofsky and Nolan ruling the roost in Hollywood for the next 20 years.  It was people like Kubrick who struggled with acceptance of their craft that allows people like Aronofsky to flourish in present day Hollywood.

3 – Toy Story 3 – Animation keeps cruising toward a truly acceptable art form in America.  In other countries there is little difference between an animated film and a live action film artistically.  Neither is looked down upon look more highly upon than the other and that is something I have hoped for in America for a while now.  We don’t need songs and funny sidekick animals to make animated movies good or enjoyable.  Enter Pixar.  As opposed to abiding by the tried and true Disney formula, Pixar decided to go a different route and concentrate on solid writing and directing as opposed to songs and visuals.  Toy Story 3 is as poignant a tale as you will see this year and is deservedly on this list.  At some point all aspects of animated film will be recognized (picture, director, writing, maybe even acting), but until then we will have to settle for Toy Story  as one of best films of the year.

2 – Let Me In – Sometimes it takes a filmmaker a couple of tries to truly find his voice.  You see flashes of it here and there, but it doesn’t quite all get put together, then it all clicks and you know instantly this person has a lot of talent.  That is the case with Matt Reeves.  Cloverfield was an enjoyable movie in it’s own right, but didn’t quite hit on all cylinders.  You knew it was there, but something about the movie wouldn’t let itself be truly great.  Such is not the case with ‘Let Me In.’ Reeves took a remake of a Swedish film and made it his own.  He was able to establish an atmosphere that was Hitchcock like in it’s tension and Kubrick like in it’s tragedy.  Reeves was able to coax two of the best performances of the year out of two young actors who both have bright futures ahead of them.  ‘Let Me In’ is one of the most well done, well acted, compelling, films of the year and in a different year this would be the best movie of the year (The Jackie Report says that it is), but any other year wouldn’t have…

1 – The Social Network – What else is there left to be said about this movie that hasn’t already been said?  Not only is it the best film of the year but it elicited the best review of the year from yours truly.  This movie had the perfect storm, a skilled director who is made better by an expert writer, a great writer that is tamed by an excellent director, a young directable cast that had great performances in them just waiting to explode out, and a topic ripe for a film that everyone is knowledgeable about and everyone can sympathize with.  It takes a pervasive topic to get everyone talking about a movie and Facebook is just that topic.  With the movie getting so much love, haters have come out to try and bring it down, “Mark Zuckerberg is nothing like that, Sean Parker is nothing like that, that is not how it actually happened,” etc, etc.  However, the point they are missing is that even though the movie is based on real events, it is still a movie.  Nobody will admit it but I would imagine that most people were pretty similar to how they were portrayed in the movie and ultimately the movie succeeded at giving us a look into the life and mind of the man who changed the internet and changed the way we communicate forever.

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