January 30, 2011

MOVIES: Best of 2010 -- top ten movies

Starting with #10 and working up to #1, these are the movies that made the biggest impression on me this year:
  • True Grit -- as usual from the Coen brothers, every role is impeccably cast (Dakin Matthews is a special treat as Mattie's horse-trading nemesis), and the tone is perfectly controlled.
  • The Social Network -- Despite the movie's factual inaccuracies and distortions, the story it does tell is wildly entertaining, and the actors handle Sorkin's dizzying dialogue with astounding grace and ease.
  • Another Year -- The more I think about this movie, the more I begin to pity its central couple, Tom and Gerri, who are so hermetically sealed within their own happiness that they are almost willfully oblivious to the sorrow of their friends.
  • The King's Speech -- Yes, it's shamelessly old-fashioned, and deliberately pushes every "give me an Oscar!" button known to man, but it pushes them extremely well, and while I think it's been a bit over-rewarded by the Academy, it's a solid piece of entertainment.
  • Tangled -- Gorgeous animation; solid voice performances; lively songs and production numbers. And the lantern scene is the animation set piece of the year.
  • Shutter Island -- A deliriously loopy homage to and parody of B-movie horror, with Scorsese setting just the right over-the-top tone, and getting impeccable performances, especially in the smaller roles.
  • The Ghost Writer -- A masterful thriller, with the best final image of the year.
  • Blue Valentine -- A devastating portrait of a marriage in collapse. Writer/director Derek Cianfrance is superb at showing the way that the traits which draw people together are the very things that will eventually pull them apart.
  • Exit Through the Gift Shop -- A spectacularly entertaining documentary about the insanities of the contemporary art world. The possibility that the entire thing is some sort of massive hoax only plays into the movie's central question: Is there any real meaning to art, or do we simply accept that art has value because we've been told that it does?
  • Toy Story 3 -- How does Pixar keep getting better and better at this? It's funny, it's devastatingly emotional, and it presents serious issues in a way that entertains the kids and moves the adults. If you're not crying after Andy's final scene, then you have no soul, my friend.
And a group of runners-up, any one of which might have made the top ten on a different day: Animal Kingdom, Barney's Version, Dogtooth, Inception, Mother and Child, Night Catches Us, The Secret in Their Eyes, The Square, Timer, Unstoppable.


Brandon (Twister) said...

Nice list, Keith.

My most surprising favorite is The Fighter which deserves the trophy it won't get. And I'm still pissed about the ridiculous Wahlberg snub.

Keith said...

Thanks for the kind words, Brandon.

I had mixed feelings about The Fighter. I was mostly distracted by the clash between the relative realism of Wahlberg/Adams and the hammy histrionice of Bale/Leo (I much preferred the former, and Wahlberg was very close to making my runner-up list for Best Actor). But in the end, I didn't think the movie rose above its genre; it was a nicely made, well-acted, heroic-comeback sports movie. Perfectly competent and entertaining, but nothing extraordinary.