2010 Ten Best List

10. Catfish -  A-


     “Catfish” comes in as the lone documentary on my list this year.  The film follows Nev Schulman, a New York City photographer, and his strange long distance relationship with a girl named Megan who lives in rural Michigan.  The relationship occurs over the phone and on Facebook and goes on for months until Nev decides to surprise Megan and show up at her home.  What occurs then is perhaps one of the most haunting true life stories you will ever see.  This is a thought provoking film that will have you debating its merits long after you view it and it really shows just how depressing our society has become.  As you peruse your own Facebook “friends” list, perhaps you should ask yourself this question: Are those beautiful profile pictures real, current, or someone else?  With an average of over 200 friends per Facebook user, how could you possibly keep track?


9. True Grit -  A-


     The Coen Brother’s “True Grit” pulls off a great trick.  We all know Jeff Bridges the actor from countless great films, but he seems to disappear in the role of Rooster Cogburn (made famous by John Wayne) to the point where we forget its Jeff Bridges.  What they have done here is bring a character to true life and this makes for a very satisfying film experience.  Its not about the stars, rather it is about the characters like it should be.  Surprisingly enough, with all of the big names populating this yarn, the actor who truly stands out is Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross.  Her performance carries this film to the heights it reaches and is as awards worthy as you can get.  The Coen’s are famous for their art house fare, but I believe with True Grit, they have taken all of the elements that make independent films great and combined them with those of the main stream blockbuster.  A film hybrid of sorts.  The results speak for themselves.


8. Toy Story 3 -  A


     When you get the point where a third film is being made in a franchise, typically it is being made for money related purposes and the quality usually suffers for it.  Not so with the excellent “Toy Story 3”.  It appears the people at Pixar are simply incapable of making a bad film.  The third entry in this popular series boasts possibly the best story line and ends the trilogy on such a high note that one cannot help but become emotional at the end of the film.  The writing is as sharp as ever and the environments are absolutely amazing with all of the vivid color and imaginative detail.  Furthermore, these characters will absolutely stand the test of time.  I have no doubt that children 20 years from now will still be playing with Buzz Lightyear and Woody dolls.


7. The King’s Speech -  A


     If you want to see the years best acting performance look no further.  Colin Firth is amazing as King George VI as he struggles with a brutal stammer during time in which he is about to become the King of England.  Geoffrey Rush gives an equally as good performance as the all important speech therapist, as does Helena Bonham Carter as George’s wife.  Some may not be attracted to this type of subject matter and normally I’m not either, but I will tell you this film is funny and always entertaining.  Its also one of the best films of the year and a surefire awards contender.


6. The Social Network -  A


     David Fincher’s “The Social Network” is the story of the birth of Facebook based on the book “The Accidental Billionaire”.  Aaron Sorkin’s fabulous script is loaded with the type of razor sharp dialogue which gives its many colorful characters a lot to say.  The film has Fincher’s trademark dim lighting and a very modern production design which gives things a very real feel.  The ensemble acting is excellent across the board.  No one performance really stood out to me, but the group as a whole knocks it right out of the park.  A lot of people have this film pegged as the front runner for Best Picture and if it was to win, I really couldn’t argue.  Fincher has made a very entertaining and engaging film and is clearly in the prime of his career.


5. 127 Hours -  A


      To see “127 Hours” is an experience in and of itself and a gut wrenching one at that.  James Franco gives the performance of a life time in a film that features him in every scene, mostly alone, as he portrays Aron Ralston, who while hiking in Utah finds himself in quite a jam!  As the story goes, he falls and finds his right arm stuck between a large boulder and a rock wall.  He’s woefully unprepared as he has minimal food and water and apparently, he left his good knife at home.  If you know the story, you know what happens, but director Danny Boyle amps up the tension and build up to the key 5 minutes of this film in a way that will leave you both breathless and uneasy.  This is a true work of expert craftsmanship and superb acting.  Its ashamed this film is not getting the credit it deserves.  I’ve heard people were to scared to see it because of the nature of the film’s plot, but I’ll tell you now these people are missing out.  Definitely one of the year’s best.


4.  Winter’s Bone -  A


     When people ask me about this film, I ask them if they remember the individuals who raped Ned Beatty in “Deliverance”.  When they reply “yes”, I then tell them “Winter’s Bone” is a film about where those people live.  The winner of the Best Picture award at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, “Winter’s Bone” tells the story of a 17 year old girl, Ree,who is forced to take care of her family in the Osarks.  Her mother is mentally ill and can barely care for herself and her brother and sister are both very young.  They are brutally poor and don’t always know when their next meal will be.  To make matters worse, their father has been busted for cooking Meth and has skipped on his bail.  One day, a bail bondsman shows up at their home and tells Ree that her father put their home up as collateral for the bond and since he didn’t show up for court, they have one week to find him or move out.  This sets Ree on a journey to find her father’s whereabouts and a string of events unfolds which is as scary as anything you will ever see.  The performances by Jennifer Lawrence as Ree and John Hawkes as her Uncle “Tear Drop” are both nominated for Oscars as is the screenplay.  Like 127 hours, this is a film which isn’t getting a lot of attention and I don’t know why.  Easily one of the best films of 2010.


3.  The Fighter - A


     “The Fighter” is more a story of family than of boxing.  Yes, it is the story of real life boxer “Irish” Mickey Ward and his crack addicted brother/trainer Dicky Eklund, but in order to get to the fighting, Mickey has to navigate through one of the most dysfunctional families you may ever see on film.  The cast here is outstanding with Mark Wahlberg turning in a great performance as Mickey, but the real attention goes to Christian Bale’s transformation to play Dicky.  There’s no doubt in my mind that Bale will win the Oscar for his portrayal of Dicky, a portrayal that shows him at his lowest point but somehow has you rooting for him by the end of the film.   The boxing sequences are filmed television style by director David O. Russell and this method brings a certain reality to the fight footage.  The Fighter is one of the best sports films to come out in some time and checks in as the feel good story of the year.


2.  Black Swan -  A


     Darren Arronofsky’s “Black Swan” is an experience like none other, combining all of the thriller and horror type elements of a great Hitchcock film and embedding them in a backdrop of the New York City ballet.  Natalie Portman gives her best performance to date in a role sure to win her the Oscar for Best Actress as Nina, an aspiring dancer being considered for the lead role in her company’s production of Swan Lake.  She anchors a film which as a psychological thriller succeeds on a number of levels.  There is all sorts of interesting sub plots and intense confrontations all occurring at once.  There is the relationship with her overprotective mother, played to extreme effectiveness by Barbara Hershey.  There is the relationship with her teacher, played coldly intense by Vincent Cassell.  Finally, there is the relationship with her understudy and primary competition, played with devilish bravado by Mila Kunis.  Combine all of these elements together and Nina, quite simply, goes mad.  In the third act of the film, you don’t know what is real and what is not.  Black Swan brims with originality and stark emotion and is sure to be a film people talk about for a long time.


1.  Inception -  A+


      When I saw Chris Nolan’s “Inception” back in July, I knew then what I know now.  Inception is the BEST FILM of 2010 bar none.  While watching it, I was completely overcome, intoxicated if you will, as I began to realize this is not only the best of the year, but one of the best I’ve ever scene.  A bold statement for sure, but one I believe is clearly accurate.  Its not often a film comes around where all of the important pieces fit together exactly the way they are supposed to.  To say anything but the highest of praise would be selling this great film and everyone involved in its production short.  The script by Nolan and the original idea behind it is excellent in every way.  The top notch cast, featuring Leonardo DiCaprio stands out as the one of the best ensemble performances of the year.  Hans Zimmer’s rousing score fits the material perfectly and heightens the tension and emotion throughout.  There is simply nothing bad to say about “Inception” and with this entry, Chris Nolan has definitely crossed over into the realm of the greatest directors of all time. I’m absolutely baffled as to why he was snubbed as a Best Director nominee at this years Academy Awards, as he has demonstrated again the ability to make a mainstream quality blockbuster film that includes all of the essential character and story elements of an art/house film.  Inception is one of those films that requires repeated viewings to catch everything and that is what sets it apart from the rest of the pack.  This is the type of film that will endure the test of time and no doubt will be remembered as one of the best ever.



In Case You Were Wondering:


The 10 Worst Films of 2010

    

1.     Jonah Hex - F

2.     MacGruber - F

3.     Cop Out - F

4.     Little Fockers - F

5.     The Bounty Hunter - F

6.     The Last Airbender - D-

7.     Killers - D-

8.     How Do You Know - D-

9.     Wolfman - D

10.   The Edge of Darkness - D