2010 felt like a disappointing year for movies, yet here I am with like 10 movies that I feel should be on this list but couldn’t make the cut. Yeah, I’m looking at you, The Kids are All Right. So quickly: Micmacs is neat, The Fighter is good, The Town is a lot of fun, True Grit is pretty impressive, Greenberg is interesting, Kick-Ass is funny (I’ve seen it three times!), Scott Pilgrim is cool, I guess, How to Train Your Dragon was surprisingly charming, The A-Team is a masterpiece. There. Glad I got that out. Also, I missed out on some movies that are probably really good. Specifically: Animal Kingdom, Mother, Shutter Island, I am Love and Please Give. Just didn’t have the time. Now that I’ve gotten through those massive lists, I’m sure you’re dying to see what my real list is; so let’s dig in.
What makes Restrepo a triumph is that it doesn’t politicize anything. And that would have been so easy to do: this is a documentary about the troops in the most dangerous part of Afghanistan, after all. But these soldiers don’t politicize it, they’re not out there saying they’re fighting because the liberals are too weak or anything like that. These are guys as old as me, and they remind me of the people I know. Except a lot braver. They are fighting because they swore to defend us. They are fighting because they want they’re buddies to live. After the recent passing of Band of Brothers hero Dick Winters, it’s comforting to know that while the times have changed, the caliber of the young men asked to defend us has not.
9. Black Swan
The more I’ve come to think of the Black Swan’s screenplay, the more I’ve come to doubt the writing. So I hope it means something when I say that doesn’t matter. Future Wolverine sequel director Darren Aronofsky is such an expert with his camera and the performances are so strong that the film still triumphs as one of most intense, uncomfortable, trashy movies I’ve seen in recent memory. Oh man, that last ballet sequence at the end gives me chills.
|8. Winter’s Bone|
The world of Winter’s Bone is so alien to me this might as well have been a sci fi movie. Kinda like The Road but better. This is a world where everyone seems to be related in some way, where gossip has enormous power, and no one is safe. It’s a complex and dark movie that I could see a lot of people really being turned off by, but I found it enthralling. I just really wanted that girl to get a better life.
|7. The King’s Speech|
I had to really think about this one. Something about it just seemed cliche to me. Oh, the British monarchy period piece movie. Look at its all-star British cast! I didn’t want to succumb to those temptations, but here I am. At least I can say that my favorite part wasn’t British, but in fact Geoffrey Rush, who was great in the role and a real treat to see out of Pirates of the Carribbean makeup. You know what? This is a really good movie about a pretty crazy part of history I only knew a little bit about before.
|6. 127 Hours|
So, yeah, this is a movie about one dude stuck in a canyon for a long time. It is a movie which graphically shows said dude amputating his arm. None of that sounds appealing. But what makes it great is DB’s direction and JF’s performance. It becomes clear pretty quick that this is a story about more than survival, it is a story about perseverance and finding out why you want to survive. That’s pretty cool. Also, Sigur Rós.
|5. Exit Through the Gift Shop|
Is this really an entry on my list, or a trick? In a year with a lot of disappointing comedies, it was even more surprising when one of the most amusing movies I saw was a “documentary.” Whether there’s any truth to this document doesn’t matter, because its story of a rebellious art form selling out and this unstable guy who was there to see it all is just so good. I really recommend you check this out, it’s on Netflix Instant streaming.
|4. A Prophet|
A Prophet is kinda like the French version of The Wire, but it’s a movie. Yeah, I can get behind that. It takes its time to get you into this world and these characters. The argument can probably be made that this makes the movie way too long and unfocused, but to me I felt like I knocked out a whole TV series over the course of one movie. There are some seriously crazy moments packed in here, making it among the best prison films I’ve ever seen. Plus, France is weird. The give you a day off of jail? What’s up with that? Also, Sigur Rós.
|3. The Social Network|
Hollywood started paying attention to the creepy qualities of Facebook in 2010. It was well documented in the creepy, surreal Catfish. The Social Network touches on what makes Facebook scary, from a privacy point of view, but is more content telling a great story with some tremendously memorable characters. So am I. I think in my review of this movie I compared it to Citizen Kane, in that it is a story of a youth’s rise to power and fortune at the cost of everything he once held dear. However, Mark is never that likable, he’s too distant and possibly mentally troubled for anyone to really get that close. The Social Network is an extraordinary film that I believe will still survive even after we’ve all moved on to whatever comes after Facebook.
I sure do like me some Chris Nolan, I tell you what. Is there anyone better than him when it comes to big action movies? He manages to make movies that are more thrilling than the Michael Bays of the world, and he still is able to fit in interesting plots and quality characters. Inception is a crazy movie for a lot of reasons, including just the fact that it was made with the big budget it had. It’s a real trip the first time through and you pick up more each time you revisit it, or at least I have.
|1. Toy Story 3|
I think we waited long enough for this one. The first two Toy Story movies are certainly among my favorite animated films, and Woody and Buzz are one of the best couples in cinema. There was some concern that the threequel for this series couldn’t live up to that legacy, especially so many years later. We’ve all grown up, and, fortunately, Andy did too. Toy Story 3 is a more mature film, dealing with some very adult themes and featuring some pretty harrowing sequences. Pixar did a great job with both the familiar and new, and provided us with a damn satisfying conclusion to a wonderful franchise.