Yes, this list is incredibly late. So late that there’s really no need to post it at all. Even if I allow myself to believe that there are people interested in my opinion on these things, I’d have to assume any such interest died months ago. Especially since I basically ranked my top movies months ago in my Oscar post. So why do it?
Well, I’ve done a year end movie list every year since I started blogging, so it feels incomplete to not have one. The Oscar one doesn’t necessarily fit the bill, given that I hadn’t even seen all ten films nominated at that point, plus my top ten includes at least a couple films that weren’t nominated for best picture (alright, literally, only a couple. What can I say? They did a good job this year. Plus, I didn’t see all that many movies). Mostly, this list is here not for now, but for years from now when I want to know what I liked in 2010 (so I have when I start another best of the decade list that I’ll never properly complete). Plus, I don’t really update this thing much anymore, so why not feed it with some new content, no matter how outdated?
Honourable Mentions: The King’s Speech, The Town, Tangled, Shutter Island, Easy A
10. Never Let Me Go – A sci-fi film that’s more based in feelings than science, what really stood out for me is the way director Mark Romanek and cinematographer Adam Kimmel infused the film with a visual style to match the poetry of Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel. It’s a gorgeous film in every sense.
9. The Fighter – The boxing movie has been done to death, so I wasn’t particularly looking forward to this one (and if I wasn’t on a week-long vacation with willing babysitters, I probably wouldn’t have). I’m glad I did, as Mark Wahlberg, Amy Adams, and especially Christian Bale brought real emotion to the proceedings, while David O. Russell impressively found ways to make the tried and true new again.
8. Black Swan – From my Oscar post: “[there’s] a lot going on in a film that dabbles in camp without fully giving over to it, from the lengths of abuse entertainers are willing to put themselves through for their art (continuing his thesis from The Wrestler), to dabbling in Cronenbergian body horror, to a haunting psycho-sexual adaptation of Swan Lake. It’s audacious, unafraid to go to some unusual places or teeter on the edge of ridiculousness”. The center doesn’t always hold with Black Swan, but it’s audaciousness ultimately makes up for it.
7. 127 Hours – The one Oscar nominee I wasn’t able to get to before the show, largely because it was released at a time when it was difficult to get out to movies, but also partially because I had a hard time convincing my movie-going partner (AKA my wife) to go see a movie about a guy who cuts his arm off. Which I think kept a lot of people away from it, which is a shame, because 127 Hours is another great example of Danny Boyle’s kinetic filmmaking and gift for striking at the emotional core of his material. James Franco may have given the year’s best performance when no one was looking.
6. Winter’s Bone – A haunting personal tale with a better sense of place than any of the films on this list, Winter’s Bone masterfully builds tension throughout without exaggerating the stakes of this small film. If more people saw this breakout performance by Jennifer Lawrence, we’d have fewer people complaining about her getting cast in things.
5. Inception – Just rewatched this tonight. If only more big blockbuster films had even a quarter of the ambition and craft of this film, pop culture would be so much better off. An orgy of memorable scenes and eye-catching visuals, complimented by strong performances and an original idea, two things not typically associated with summer movie fare.
4. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World – Easily the most fun film of 2010, Scott Pilgrim is an exuberant piece of filmmaking, perfectly suited to director Edgar Wright’s abilities of stylistic mimicry. By borrowing the motifs of 80s video gaming and comic books, it perfectly captures the spirit of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s graphic novels, while creating a shorthand for how an entire generation of men have failed to leave any aspect of their childhood behind. It’s an incredibly complicated bit of filmmaking for something that comes off so breezily fun.
3. True Grit – I’m not as huge a Coen brothers fan as most people who choose to blog about movies, having found myself frustrated by their films almost as often as I’ve been awed by them. But I’ll keep coming back for more to get a chance to see films like True Grit. It’s probably their most purely entertaining film since The Big Lebowski, while maintaining the maturity and tension of their other top tier dramas. Right now, I have it in my Coen brothers top three.
2. Toy Story 3 – By conservative estimate, I’ve seen this roughly eleventy thousand times at this point. “Buzz” was one of my son’s earliest words, as he couldn’t get enough of the series, and this film in particular. Normally, you’d think this would make me sick of the film, and while I did start to tire of it a bit, I never resented it. And my admiration for the filmmaking only grew. The first impression is easily the heavy emotional moments at the end, and that core is infused throughout. But the fun elements of the film works just as well, particularly the opening Western scene, which ranks at or near the top of the best sequences Pixar has ever done.
1. The Social Network – I already wrote a tonne about why this is the best film of the year throughout my Academy Award posts (shockingly, I gave a bunch of fake awards to my number one film of the year). So go read those if you need more convincing. I gotta move on to 2011 some time.