I think this post should wrap up our sporadic series of lists that have dominated this blog for the last month. Now we can finally get on with 2010. Anyway, I only saw a handful of movies this year that I really embraced, and a lot that were pretty good but didn’t quite blow me away or anything.
(500) Days of Summer
10. Star Trek
I’ve never really considered myself a Star Trek fan, but I’ve always had respect for the franchise. That’s probably why I enjoyed this slick updated version of the original Star Trek series as it makes for a satisfying popcorn movie for the non-die hard trekkies as well as a film that does a great job of breathing new life into these iconic characters. Sure, the second half isn’t nearly as thrilling of the first half, but Star Trek still made for one of the year’s best blockbusters, and gives a nice rebirth to a franchise that’ll have me looking forward to any subsequent installments.
Pixar set the bar extremely high with last year’s Wall-E, and although Up may fall a little short in comparison, it’s still makes for another breathtaking piece of storytelling. Much like Star Trek it suffers a little from a weaker second half, but the sentiment and visual richness of the film are still undeniable. It’s also a little unfortunate that the film pretty much peaks within the first 10 minutes, but I’m not sure how any film could top the emotional resonance of the opening sequence of this movie.
I’m not sure that most people where quite as charmed by this movie as me, maybe it has to do with the fact that it pays so many homages to one of my favorite eras in music. But I think there’s certainly more to this film than that, as Greg Matolla creates a surprisingly fresh and personal take on the coming of age story while giving us a nice mix of comedy and heartfelt romance.
My opinion on Avatar probably resides somewhere between Sean and John’s. Yes, it’s not a terribly original or inventively executed story, but I still found myself getting swept up in the visual complexity of the film, as well as the whole spirit of the thing. I’m still amazed each week when I see that Avatar still has remained number 1 at the box office, I guess James Cameron just knows how to make a shitload of money.
This is a story that’s certainly bleak, but it really hit me where it counts, and I think that’s the most you can ask for in a story like this. Gabourey Sibide and Mo’Nique give remarkable performances, as the film give us a devastating look into the lives of these most compelling characters. It’s one of those films that managed to bring me out of my comfort zone, but in a completely imersive and satisfying way.
5. A Serious Man
This has quickly become one of my favorite films in the Coen brothers’ canon. It’s just fascinating the way the Coens take on all of these weighty themes, all while doing it such a wholly original way that only the Coens could pull off. The film also has an uncharacteristically personal touch as it finds them grappling with their own religious demons in their own strange, offbeat way.
4. Where The Wild Things Are
Going in to this movie I wasn’t sure what to expect. It seemed that the overwhelming concencus I had heard was that it was visually stunning, but kinda boring. Honestly I don’t know how more people weren’t able to get completely absorbed in the childlike emotion and wonderment of this movie. Spike Jonze truly captures a great deal of adventure as well as tenderness in this film. However, I’d definitely have to say it’s less a film for kids than a film for the kid in all of us.
3. Inglourious Basterds
This movie is simply a lot of fun, and another great example of Quentin Tarantino’s knack for reinventing genres. There’s plenty of Tarantino’s signature dialogue, and he manages to top himself with some of his most brilliantly executed scenes yet. There’s really no argument for whether Christoph Waltz should win the best supporting actor Oscar, he steals every scene he’s in and manages to create about as entertaining a villain as you could ask for.
2. The Hurt Locker
Definitely a film everybody should see, as it’s easily the definitive document of the Iraq War so far. However, at it’s heart it’s an action movie and a damn good one. Kathryn Bigelow manages to create some incredibly intense sequences, while also being able to really pull you into the world and mindset of the common soldier. I would have no problem with The Hurt Locker ending up being the big winner at the Oscars, it’s certainly an important achievement any way you look at it.
1. Up In The Air
This is a film that wasn’t hard at all for me to embrace, and I’m sure is one I’ll be coming back to in years to come. George Clooney anchors this film in the way only a performer of his charms and talents could, but the film also gets a great deal of it’s heart and soul from it’s magnificent supporting cast. This is an impressively mature work from Jason Reitman and one that manages to capture the uncertainy of the age we live in while still giving us plenty of warmth and optimism along the way.