But then, a funny thing happened. I saw a good movie. And then another. And another, and another, until it got to the point where every movie I saw was excellent. Then I rented some movies that were released earlier in the year. And those were all really good, too! It’s to the point where I look back on the year and can honestly count three times as many films I liked as those I didn’t. (To be fair, that probably has a lot to do with my choices – I skipped stuff like Jonah Hex, Devil and Skyline.) Choosing only ten movies I loved was a hard task, and a bit heartbreaking. But “Top 10 of ’10” is a solid title, so I’m going with that.
Before we start, I just wanted to make a quick note. I haven’t seen every movie this year, which is probably why I thought it was such a great year while a lot of other people keep saying it sucked. Luckily, I missed ou t on Jonah Hex, Skyline and the Nightmare on Elm Street remake. Unluckily, I also haven’t had time to see stuff like Best Worst Movie or True Grit yet, even though I’m pretty confident they’d make the list or at least honorable mentions.
With that out of the way, onto the list!
10 – Cyrus
Starring John C. Reilly, Jonah Hill and Marissa Tomei, this Duplass Brothers comedy has a standard storyline – a man falls in love with a woman but her dependent son tries to ruin their relationship. But as cliché as it sounds, Cyrus is refreshing, sincere, and genuinely hilarious. It’s also a unique exercise in minimalist filmmaking which, for geeks like me who get excited about that kind of crap, adds even more layers of awesome!
9 – Tangled
Ever notice how CG characters have their hair short or tied back? That’s because hair is extremely difficult to animate properly, but the artists who worked on the newest Disney fairytale (based off of Rapunzel) have magnificently overcome that obstacle! Lush and vivid, this musical is as every bit as beautiful as it is sweet. It mixes classic Disney elements with innovative twists, in both story and artistic design.
8 – Exit through the Gift Shop
What is art? Can it be superficial? Can it be repetitive and derivative? What if it’s making a statement about the repetitive, derivative nature of life? Or is it all a load? These are some of the questions anonymous graffitist Banksy asks in his documentary, which follows the phenomenon of guerilla street art and one man who became oddly infatuated with it. Some viewers think the movie itself is an elaborate prank while others go with the stranger-than-fiction theory, but real or not, this doc is an interesting look at the art world. It’s also funny as hell!
7 – Despicable Me
Illumination Entertainment is a new family-oriented production company which made its brilliant debut this summer with Despicable Me. The movie follows Gru, a Bond-esque villain who adopts three cookie-selling orphan girls as part of his plot to steal the moon and outrank evil genius Vector as the number one villain. Highlights include an inventive and heartwarming story, interesting character designs, a superb cast (including Julie –freakin’- Andrews as Gru’s emotionally detached mother,) a slick theme by Pharrell, and Gru’s legion of bumbling minions.
6 – Scott Pilgrim vs the World
It should be noted that I am by no means a gamer (unless Tetris counts, but that’s more about exercising OCD than defeating bosses.) But I am a twenty-something slacker who responds to MTV-style editing and lots of bright colors, as well as an avid filmgoer with a particular fondness for quirky rom-coms, so maybe that’s why I loved SPvsTW so flippin’ much. The best thing about it was realizing I was watching a future cult classic, one my kids might enjoy if they’re as awesome as me.
5 – Toy Story 3
Pixar made a quality film? Surely you jest! </sarcasm> When Toy Story first came out in the summer of ‘95, I was six years old. Watching the world’s first full CGI movie on the silver screen was an amazing experience that’s always stuck with me. So it’s fitting that the year I graduate college is also the year that brings the excellent last chapter of the series, one that’s all about entering adulthood while treasuring childhood. The timing just makes it all the better.
4 – The Social Network
The year’s most culturally relevant film is also one of the most entertaining. From Aaron Sorkin’s snappy dialogue to David Fincher’s fresh style to each stellar performance from the young cast, every last bit of this movie was enjoyable. It is a highly fictionalized account and shouldn’t be taken as the gospel truth, but that’s a pretty minor flaw with a film this solid. And the miniature faking was beyond glorious! </film nerd>
3 – Black Swan
There isn’t a whole lot to be said about Darren Aronofsky’s ballet pic without spoiling certain aspects, so here’s a list of adjectives to describe it: haunting, beautiful, thrilling, absorbing, eerie, seductive, wild, stunning, heart-pounding, suspenseful, ambitious, dynamic, and just awesome. Natalie Portman sets new standards in the amount of passion and conviction she brings to her role, balancing fragility and ferocity through a maelstrom of madness. Plus there’s dancing!
2 – 127 Hours
A movie succeeds on an entertainment level when it holds its audience. It succeeds on an intellectual level when it inspires new thought. But when it lifts you up and takes you away from your troubles even for 90 minutes, it succeeds on a personal level. It’s not just a movie anymore; it’s a spiritual experience. That’s what 127 Hours was for me. Aron Ralston’s true story is a testimony to human willpower, and it affirmed my faith and made me appreciate life. It also proved to me just how talented and engaging James Franco is and that as a visionary auteur, Danny Boyle is only getting started. And yes, I did keep my eyes open. It was worth it!
1 – How to Train Your Dragon
I love everything about this movie. I love the story, the animation, the music, the characters, the cast, the dialogue, the action, the mind-blowing detail, the fact that the creative team is evidently full of cat owners, the regret I feel for not paying $14 to see it on IMAX 3D, the regret I feel for not seeing it in theatres at all, the fact that in the end, I only care that I saw it at all, the sensation it gave me of being a kid again, the smile and tears of joy it brought me, the fact that I don’t even feel like a sap for admitting that it made me cry. Most of all, I love how real the bond between Hiccup and Toothless feels. If this movie doesn’t positively lift your soul, you probably don’t have a soul in the first place.
Honorable Mentions (in alphabetical order. I got sick of ranking stuff.)
- Easy A
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
- The Kids are Alright
- Legend of the Guardians: the Owls of Ga’Hoole
- The Other Guys