My Top Films of 2010: Runners Up

I saw a lot of movies this year: 65 films in the theatre and at least a dozen more 2010 releases at home.  So because I saw way too many movies to be contained in a Top 10, (and because I couldn’t bear to make that post any longer), here are the rest of my favorite films of 2010.  

11. Blue Valentine
Emotionally devastating indie with great performances from stars Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams.  The film examines the beginning and end of their relationship and the contrast between scenes is heartbreaking.

12. Kick-Ass
Not the spoof you might think, it’s actually a relatively straightforward superhero story peppered with moments of dark comedy and shockingly over-the-top violence.  Features incredibly entertaining performances by Chloe Moretz and Nicolas Cage.

13. The Fighter
It looks like another bland feel-good boxing movie but it’s not.  The film has a real energy and authenticity that sets it apart from typical sports films.  Christian Bale is a force of nature here and it’s good to see David O. Russell back in the director’s chair.

14. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 
The darkest film in the series is entertaining whether you’ve read the books or not.  (I haven’t.)  The cast have all grown into their roles and director David Yates seems to be wrapping up the series on a high note.

15. Never Let Me Go
Beautiful but emotionally distant dystopian sci-fi film from director Mark Romanek.  Cast Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield all do great work but the film’s script is missing that little extra something to make it great.

16. The Town
Thanks to a great cast including Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm and Rebecca Hall, this is one of the most entertaining films I saw all year.  And with Ben Affleck’s smart direction, (who would have thought?), I didn’t even have to feel guilty about it afterwards.

17. Let Me In
Writer/director Matt Reeves very nearly succeeds in making a film that can stand beside the Let The Right One In as a worthy alternate version.  He creates a few sequences that are superior to the original but stumbles during a few crucial moments and doesn’t quite get there. 

18. Frozen
The only film to make this list that I didn’t see in the theatre.  This thriller will have you on the edge of your seat literally talking back to the screen.  It’s smart, has believable dialogue, great acting and a premise that will make you never want to ski again.  Please watch this one.

19. Animal Kingdom
Australian crime drama features multiple standout roles as each member of the Cody clan appears even more dangerous than the others.  It was a hit at Sundance but, like most Sony Pictures Classics films, got lost in it’s theatrical run.

20. Waking Sleeping Beauty
A great documentary about the dark days of Disney Animation and their resurrection in the late 80’s/early 90’s.  It’s fun to see future titans John Lasseter, Tim Burton and Brad Bird here but it’s even more amazing to see the warts-and-all turmoil from the usually squeaky clean studio.  I have no idea how they were able to release this.

Notable: Best Worst Movie, Catfish, Four Lions, Inside Job, The Kids Are All Right, The King’s Speech, Un Prophet, Shutter Island, Somewhere, True Grit.

Animal Kingdom

One of my Most Anticipated Films from Sundance, Animal Kingdom is an Australian crime drama centering around J, a 17 year old who is taken in by his uncles after the death of his mother.  J enters their lives nearly silent and introverted as the police are closing in on the family for crimes implied (the film opens with still images of violent bank robberies), but never shown in the film.  Thanks to some great performances you never doubt how dangerous they are.  Jacki Weaver as “Smurf” the grandmother and matriarch of the clan is a particularly standout performance.  The brief moments of violence are used for maximum effect but the emphasis here is on the characters.  First-time director David Michod has an assurance in his storytelling and takes the film to darker places than I expected it to go.

5 Films I’m Looking Forward To from Sundance 2010

Someday I’ll actually go to Sundance, but until then I’ll continue to watch from the sidelines and pick the handful of movies I’ll see when they’re eventually released.

1. I’M HERE
Spike Jonze 31 minute robot love story.If you need to know more than that, this movie probably isn’t for you anyway.  I can’t wait.

2. ANIMAL KINGDOM
A 17 year old boy is torn between a crime family and the cop who wants to save him in this Aussie crime drama that’s been compared to Tarantino, Coppola and Scorsese.

3. FOUR LIONS
Terrorist farce from (the best comedy on TV) Peep Show screenwriters Jesse Armstrong & Sam Bain.  Please be brilliant.

4. EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP
A documentary about street art focusing on (and co-directed by) elusive street artist Banksy.  It’s pretty clear there’s no telling the facts from fiction, but it should be entertaining either way.

5. BOY
New Zealand’s Taika Waititi (who has directed episodes of Flight of the Conchords) coming of age tale about a boy from a broken home who is obsessed with Michael Jackson.  It looks suspiciously like previous Sundance entry Son of Rambow but supposedly is better (hopefully).

5 MORE: Blue Valentine, Buried, Catfish, Frozen, The Kids Are Alright.