If it's crap ... We'll tell you
- The Social Network
- Hot Tub Time Machine
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
- The Kids Are All Right
- True Grit
10. The Fighter
Since the plot of The Fighter is, admittedly, nothing earth-shattering for the genre, the two elements of this film that cause it to stand out are the stellar performances from the entire cast and the authentic sense of place. And while it is Christian Bale who gives what might be the most memorable performance from an actor this year as Dicky Eklund, there hasn’t been a whole lot of attention given to Marky Mark’s portrayal of Micky Ward. Some argue that he was essentially playing the same Mark Wahlberg from all of his past films, but I maintain that the film would not have worked nearly as well without him. Personally, I feel that he really captured what was necessary for us to root for his character --- to hope that he would eventually become his own man and overcome the obstacle that is his own family.
9. The King’s Speech
This is a film where the main driving force, for me, is in the relationship between the two main characters. Honestly, there really isn’t anything that I can say about the performances of Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush that hasn’t been said already. It’s just great to watch the two of them play off of eachother – to watch this member of royalty and this commoner treat one another as equals. If there are any male performances that I would say are on par with Christian Bale’s, it’s those two. Oh, and it’s also nice to see Helena Bonham Carter play a normal person for a change.
8. How to Train Your Dragon
How to Train Your Dragon, while including a surprisingly engaging, character-driven story, is an awe-inspiring experience. Similarly to 2009’s Avatar, while the basic story may not be the most original, what these artists do with it makes it extremely lovable. On top of that, the characters are particularly endearing, and the visuals are used to actually enhance the story (all of which are qualities that are rarely seen in a DreamWorks Animation film).
The first of two films on this list that earns its spot by encapsulating the purest essence of fun, Kick-Ass is a film in which just about everything works, from the Superbad-esque humor, to the often over-the-top action sequences, to the surprisingly believable cast of characters. Nicolas Cage also reminds us that he’s capable of delivering top-notch performances with the Adam-West-Batman-inspired Big Daddy, and Chloë Moretz’s introduction as Hit Girl is sure to go down as one of the great character intros.
Here’s a movie that, while being an absolute blast to watch multiple times, still manages to have something to say. Whether you agree or disagree with where the film’s coming from in terms of its statement regarding the United States’ immigration policy, Machete is undeniably bold. While it’s certainly lacking in subtlety, the film’s heartfelt rage and frequent ultraviolence compliment eachother brilliantly. Easily the most fun that I had at the movies in 2010.
5. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Definitely my biggest surprise of 2010. This, to me, is the gamer’s movie, expressing an understanding of the culture to an almost scary degree. Scott Pilgrim is among the most unique movies of the year, with its sharp, witty dialogue (making it the funniest movie of the year), and a visual style that gives the film an identity all its own.
4. Black Swan
“What the hell was that?!”
- Audience Member as the credits for Black Swan started rolling
Despite a mildly slow beginning, Tangled is one of the most entertaining, as well as one of the most emotionally resonant, movies that I've seen this year. Directors Byron Howard and Nathan Greno (who were also behind 2008’s Bolt, which – I dare say – is my personal favorite animated film of all time) prove themselves to be more than just one-hit wonders by providing a film with mesmerizing visuals, extremely catchy musical numbers, and a cast of characters that is almost entirely memorable.
From Memento, to The Prestige, to The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan is quickly becoming one of the premiere directors of intellectual, yet crowd-pleasing entertainment. Inception definitely continues this trend, while demonstrating more creativity than perhaps any of his other films. With its challenging narrative structure, likable characters (if somewhat lacking in depth), and sheer visual splendor, Inception is easily among my favorite movies of the year. It was a pretty rough summer movie season in 2010, but thankfully, both Inception and my #1 pick were there to remind me why I dig this medium so much.
1. Toy Story 3
I've said this before, but I'll say it again: Pixar has shown with their initial ten films that they haven't the faintest clue how to make a bad movie. And yet, somehow, I always find myself feeling doubtful whenever a trailer for one of their new films is released. With Toy Story 3, I got the impression that it would be just another adventure with Woody and the gang for the sake of having one. So, with this, would Toy Story 3 disappoint? The answer: absolutely not. With characters that are just as likable (and even more expressive) as they were over a decade ago, action sequences that feel every bit as epic as anything found in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and a story that deftly handles the themes of loss and growing up, Toy Story 3 is not only a worthy conclusion to a fantastic trilogy, but also the one third installment (other than Return of the King) that I feel is better than its predecessors.