It's been a bad year for films: I'll say it. There were far too many rehashes and sequels and wholly uncreative movies out in 2010. Looking back at last year's post of my top films of 2009, I'm astounded at how many more quality movies there were. And that list would have changed, too! I hadn't seen A Single Man or Moon until this year, and they would have garnered spots right up there for sure. (A Serious Man would have been filed under worst, sah-rry).
But back to this year - there were most definitely films that rose above. I believe the top five especially are exemplary of good films that chose in one way or another to feel new or, not redundant. There's a gleam of innovation and creativity there, and for that I love them.
01 Black Swan
Now, there are a lot of themes here that are quite conventional - anorexic ballerina, doubles, mirrors, murderous ambition - but director Darren Aronofsky, lead Natalie Portman, and the sounds of the film formed something beautiful and original as I watched. The rising intensity of the film played like horror, and I relished in seeing a modern, well-made horror film.
02 The Social Network
Because the rhythm of Aaron Sorkin's writing will always rope me in. I don't care at all that this "based on a true story" movie isn't really at all: the writing, David Fincher's dark and moody directing (after Benjamin Button I was getting nervous...), the score, and the surprisingly great young actors were enough for me to watch in glee from the first scene on. Not to mention that as as BU girl, I remember signing up for the first inception of Facebook. Speaking of...
Oh, how daring for a movie to be not only smart and artistic but mainstream. I love movies that continue in your mind long after they're over; seeing this in the theater with friends several times was always fun because of the many conversations that would ensue afterwards. I love movies that create conversations. Not to mention those visuals, that script, and another score for Christopher Nolan - a director my father and I kept our eyes on after seeing Memento in the theater so many years ago. Another film that had us talking for weeks afterwards.
04 The Kids Are All Right
Hilarity at it's best! The only thing that surpassed the perfectly tuned acting of Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Mia Wasikowska, and Josh Hutcherson was the script itself by Stuart Blumberg and Lisa Cholodenko. I appreciate a good comedy because it seems to come along so rarely - well a good comedy that is also non-offensive, I should say.
05 Blue Valentine
On the opposite of comedy is this film, starring Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling. The film is wretchedly uncomfortable and I don't think I could see it again. But there's something to be said for a movie that makes you squeam not because somebody is being bludgeoned to death, but because you see a couple trying to make things right, trying to combine their lives into one and not always succeeding. Those minor details of real life are so often passed over in film, but this one puts them front and center. And juxtaposes them in a "duet" (as the director said at the screening I saw) of a couple's relationship during two different times.
06 Winter's Bone
I saw this movie pretty early on in the year, but it's stuck with me over the months. I think the lead actress, Jennifer Lawrence, along with John Hawkes, are astounding. The movie is slow-paced and eerie; the scenery cold and dank. Scenery like this is usually used in awful horror films; there's a different, far more realistic eerieness residing in this film.
07 The Fighter
I think I loved this film because I went into it expecting a heavy-handed drama about boxing (not exactly my cup of tea) but was pleasantly surprised by a really funny movie. Sure, there's some real dark stuff going on here at times, but the best parts are when Christian Bale is on screen as Dickey, a crack-addicted former boxing champion from Lowell, Massachusetts. At times I thought he overplayed it a bit (not that I minded) - but after seeing real video of the person which his character is based on, he's right on. Christian Bale bordered on funny in American Psycho, but you know, I'm more used to him as the brooding Batman or sickening insomniac in The Machinist. Him, plus the other supporting characters really make the film, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
08 True Grit
I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy this film, either. It was a remake (though, thankfully, not of a film that came out in my lifetime). But I always like Coen Brother-directed movies. However, what most blew me away was lead actress (this is NOT a supporting role no matter what the awards are deeming it) Hailee Steinfeld. It's hard to think of a thirteen-year-old actor who's not playing cute or cloying or precocious. The rest was also great, and I enjoyed it quite a bit.
09 Scott Pilgrim vs The World
What a love it or hate it film! I loved it. I enjoyed all the risks it took in the visuals and story because, hey, at least I'd never seen it done before. It felt like a ride and it made me grin in its silliness. I had to give it the thumbs up for being so daring. (Also, anybody think Zach Snyder should take more tips from Edgar Wright? Just me?)
10 Toy Story 3
Well, because Pixar. They know good story. Find something non-good or enjoyable in this film. Seriously. I can't. It's great.
And the rest!
Pretty honorable: The King's Speech, Vincere, Micmacs, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Shutter Island, Going the Distance (I'm serious, I love this movie), Easy A, Exit Through the Gift Shop
Pretty fun: Iron Man 2, Kick Ass, The Crazies
Pretty meh: Catfish, Just Wright, Love and Other Drugs, Due Date, Machete, The Runaways
Pretty full of issues for me to like it at all: The Town, I Am Love (I will debate anybody over a cup of coffee and a slice of pie on these two films, oof.)
Movies I've yet to see: 127 Hours, Casino Jack, Another Year, Animal Kingdom, The Ghostwriter, Please Give, Never Let Me Go (ugh, want to see it so badly!)
Whaddya think? What are your faves? Anything I missed?
PS Happy New Year - have an enjoyable evening!