By: Andrew Walsh, Guest Reviewer
First, I want to make it clear that I did not see every movie that came out this year. If this list does not include what was your favorite movie of the year, it is quite possible that I didn’t see it, for which I apologize.
We shall get to the full list of my top good movies in a moment, but I must bring attention to one film that stood above all else at it’s own level of crap. The film that was, without a doubt the worst film of the year 2010:
Seriously, I can’t think of a worse movie made in the past decade. It’s premise: laughable. Story: idiotic. Direction: non-existant. Peformances: more horrifying and awkward than an elementary school version of Angels in America. Every now and again we get films that are “so bad, they’re good,” but Legion had it’s sights set even lower. I could forgive it if it weren’t simply for the fact that it takes itself WAAAAAAAAAAAAY too seriously. The filmmakers seem to believe they themselves are doing God’s work by bringing this film to the people. But make no mistake, they are the Great Tempters. Do not follow them and their mind-numbing dribble of what can only ironically be called “art.” We can not allow them to keep doing this, especially since they have already remade their own film in the form of Priest, set for release later this year.
But now, so we can end on a pleasant note, here are My (not Your) Top 10 films of 2010.
I honestly think the concept and reality of death is often overlooked in films today. It’s very much present, but I feel that it is often glazed over and rarely taken as seriously as it should. In “Hereafter”, Death is an ever-present reality and fear. It isn’t done in the “I’m trying for an Academy Award” way that so many other “serious” films do, but handles the topic carefully and sensitively. I can’t think of another movie that made death feel so serious, and I applaud it for such tact.
On the other end of the spectrum, Machete was a movie that took a very serious topic of recent social/political debate and made a farce of it. While the film certainly has a point of view it never takes itself too seriously and concentrates on simply providing a good, fun time at the movies. While it doesn’t quite hold together for it’s full duration, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything else out there quite like it.
Last year I said that the Science-Fiction genre of films has kind of been in the crapper for the past decade. Last year we saw a return to form with “District 9” and “Moon” (which, as far as I’m concerned, is one of the best pure sci-fi films since 2001: A Space Odyssey) and now it appears we are continuing the trend. Splice is a bloody disgusting movie, and a lot of people probably stormed out of theaters after they saw one particular scene. But honestly, that was the point of the film: to make the audience feel a sense of unease. I saw all kinds of people make stupid comments about this film like: “if you enjoy bestiality and incest, then you’ll love ‘Splice.’” Those people can seriously piss off. I don’t enjoy crime, war, or murder, but I often love watching movies that portray such things, as do many other people. This film had the courage to put something up on screen that audiences would most definitely not like, and had more than enough reason to do so.
7. “True Grit”
The Coen Brothers are possibly the quintessential American filmmaking team at the moment, and many of their films evoke the styles of Westerns. Finally, the duo has made an honest-to-God Western, and it’s been worth the wait. With wonderful cinematography that emulates the landscape sweeping style of the great John Ford, the Coens have reminded me of how much I miss Westerns.
6. “The Social Network”
A movie about the founding of a website… sounds pretty dull on paper. But put it in the hands of a director like David Fincher, and you get one of the most engrossing and involving character dramas in years. Few people could make a scene in which a character creates a website exciting, yet somehow Fincher pulled it off. And I must say Jesse Eisenberg deserves so much credit for his performance: after years of being negatively compared to Michael Cera, with one fell swoop he has declared himself as a standalone talent in a way that Cera may never be.
This has been another good year for Science-Fiction. Instead of creating typical cheese-fests and recycled special effects showcases, we are returning to a time in which sci-fi stories revolve around characters, philosophy, morality, and numerous other mature concepts. “Inception” is the brain-child of Christopher Nolan, who has proven after his success with “The Dark Knight” he can basically get away with anything. There hasn’t been a sci-fi film this original or as richly detailed in it’s conception and execution. Fall asleep during it, and you will awake to realize nothing makes sense anymore… maybe Nolan is trying to tell audiences something?
4. “Shutter Island”
Here is the master at work. With Shutter Island, Martin Scorsese turns his attention to genre he is not readily familiar with: the psychological thriller/horror film. Few people are as in control of what is on the screen as Scorsese is. As layers of the film begin to fall away, he uses every trick in the book to put you off guard and even make you question what you just saw on screen (did that lady just drink from a glass that wasn’t there?) all for the sake of simply freaking you out. And if you’re complaining about the predictability of the ending just give yourself a cookie and shut up, because you have severely missed the point with this one.
3. “Toy Story 3”
I have shed tears three times at a movie theater… all three times were watching this film. Having literally grown up with these movies, there isn’t a single film on this list that could affect me on such a personal level. This is easily the darkest of any of Pixar’s films, and being in the same franchise that put them on the map, you knew thay weren’t going to settle for anything short of perfection. The emotional rollercoaster that is Toy Story 3 is sure to affect anyone with a heart. And don’t be afraid to punch any immature middle school brats in the face for laughing at the ending… ARGH! Seriously, I want to break those punk’s noses. Sadness is a powerful emotion, so show it some damned respect.
2. “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World”
You know I’m biased for this film when I say I haven’t had this much fun at the movies since I saw Hot Fuzz (both of these having been directed by Edgar Wright). But I really don’t care, because not only was SPVTW the most fun I’ve had at the movies all year, it’s also one of the best directorial tour-de-force’s in quite a while. Similar to Mr. Scorsese, Mr. Wright is using every trick in the book with this film. However, he is also constantly experimenting with original techniques and frequently switching styles effortlessly at a moment’s notice. Mr. Wright explained the film quite eloquently in comparing the film to a musical, “instead of characters breaking into song and dance they break out into fights.”
1. “Black Swan”
I’m honestly at a loss with what I can say about this. “Black Swan” is a masterpiece, plain and simple. Every time you think you understand what is happening, the film throws you for a loop. Is it all psychological, is it for real, is it fantasy, is it simple exaggeration? If you saw previews for this you likely thought it would give you the Fight Club twist, but Aronofsky is too good of a director to blatantly copy another film. All of his work has a unique, personal feel to it, and it is usually very down to Earth. However, with “Black Swan” he constantly forces you to question what is happening: how much is real, is any of it real, where is this leading, did I really just see that? Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis both give stunning, multi-layered, complex performances. And special mention must be made for the re-composition of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake score, which has been re-recorded and mixed in way that it feels very familiar, yet completely different at the same time. This,
people, is great cinema.