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.

The Town

Directed, co-written and starring Ben Affleck, The Town would have seemed like a really dicey proposition a few years ago.  But his directorial debut Gone Baby Gone proved not only was he determined to resurrect his career but that he was a talented director.  Without watching any trailers I decided I wanted to see the film based on the cast, and the cast was what made it entertaining.  Jeremy Renner is believably scummy (excellent!) in the role of Affleck’s best friend and Jon Hamm is great anytime he’s onscreen, (though I wasn’t sure if his character was supposed to come off as a bigger asshole because he is just too charming)!  The working class Boston setting gives the film it’s character and helps elevate it above a generic heist film.  Even though a few emotional moments don’t quite work the film is solidly entertaining.

Most Anticipated Fall Movies 10

September is here which means the dismal Summer movie season is winding down and it’s time to start looking forward to all the movies coming out between now and the end of the year.  Here we go…

1. TREE OF LIFE (Unknown) Not much more is known about reclusive director Terrence Malick’s fifth film than it was when I wrote about it at the beginning of this year.  Supposedly it "will change the language of cinema" and (even though there is still no release date) will supposedly open by the end of the year.

2. BLACK SWAN (December 1) Watch the trailer and tell me this doesn’t look amazing.  You can’t.  Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis and Winona Ryder star in Darren “Requiem for a Dream” Aronofsky’s psychological thriller about rival ballet dancers. 

3. THE SOCIAL NETWORK (October 1) Yes, “the Facebook movie”.  The trailer is brilliant and early word is that the movie might actually live up to it.  David Fincher shows he isn’t concerned with replicating reality as he magnifies events to near-operatic levels.  It’s a movie about computer nerds but shot like Se7en, what’s not to like?  

4. SOMEWHERE (December 22) Sofia Coppola returns with a film that looks like it could be a spiritual sequel to her breakout Lost In Translation.  Again, a fantastic teaser gives you glimpses of this story about a bad boy actor and his daughter living in the Chateau Marmont. 

(December 25) The Coen Bros, who seem to be alternating between shit movies (Burn After Reading) and great ones (A Serious Man), can hopefully put one more in the “win” column here. Their first western is about a US Marshall helping a young woman track down her fathers murderer.  It reunites them with “The Dude” himself, as well as Josh Brolin and first-timer Matt Damon.

6. NEVER LET ME GO (September 15) Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and (future Spider-Man) Andrew Garfield star as kids who grow up in a “seemingly idyllic” boarding school.  Unfortunately the trailer gives away a pretty significant twist in the “seemingly boring” setup, but without spoiling I’ll say it’s vaguely sci-fi and you will probably cry.

7. THE FIGHTER (December 10) David O. Russell jumpstarts his comeback with this true-life story about boxer “Irish” Mickey Ward.  Stars Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Melissa Leo mean the studio is probably counting on some awards here and luckily Russell is one of 3 directors who can direct Wahlberg to a good performances. 

8. HARRY POTTER & THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART I (November 19) I’ve never read the books but the movies have become consistently entertaining and the trailer for the latest and penultimate Potter film looks like the final installments are going to be EPICI’m probably not the only one excited for this. 

9. TRON: LEGACY (December 17) I’ve never seen the original but am interested in this one for the art direction alone.  CG Jeff Bridges looks worrisome and I’ve heard that lead Garrett Hedlund’s performance might not be exactly award-worthy but Daft Punk did the score and it looks visually stunning so they’re probably getting my money anyway.

10. LET ME IN (October 1) On the surface, remaking one of the best horror films of the last decade would be a huge mistake.  But damn if it doesn’t look like they’ve gotten it right.  Cloverfield director Matt Reeves seems to have a lot of reverence for the novel as well as the original film so maybe it’ll be possible to love both?

11. THE TOWN (September 17) I’m still getting used to the idea of Ben Affleck the director, but Gone Baby Gone was a really good movie.  And he’s assembled an interesting cast for his sophomore effort: Jon Hamm, Rebecca Hall, Jeremy Renner and Blake Lively star in this heist-gone-wrong film.  I’ve actually avoided the trailer because I heard it was too spoilerful so I’m excited to see this one blind.

12. 127 HOURS (October 22) I’ve always been a Danny Boyle fan and (barring Sunshine) have enjoyed all his films.  Slumdog Millionaire may have been overrated (certainly it wasn’t Best Picture) but it was cute and enjoyable.  James Franco stars in his latest, about real life mountain climber Aron Ralston’s attempt to save his own life after being trapped for *titular line* 127 hours.

See how last year turned out.