What a spectacularly memorable year 2010 was for films. Let’s get right to it, shall we?
1 The Social Network Pretty sure no one imagined going in that a film this special could be made about facebook. Director David Fincher has separated himself from the pack and become the most capable and dynamic storyteller working in film today. He will win the Oscar for Best Director, but it will only be one of his many trips to the podium that evening. The film will also win, as will writer Aaron Sorkin.
2 The King’s Speech Any other year – in other words had The Social Network not been in competition – The King’s Speech is the quintessential Best Picture winner by all voting standards. Similarly, my guess is no one going in to this production thought that a film made about a Monarch’s speech impediment would find this enormous an audience. But it has. And for bloody good reason. Colin Firth will win the Academy Award for Best Actor, but Geoffrey Rush (again, any other year) will lose out to a fellow Brit. Oh, that’s right, Rush is an Aussie. Crazy stuff.
3 The Fighter What a great film. Seen it twice on the big screen and each time absolutely loved it from the opening frame to the closing credits accompanied by the real boxing brothers. Outstanding performances up and down the roster – too many to cover ’em all (ok, can’t resist, Mark Wahlberg and Amy Adams have great screen chemistry); but Christian Bale will take home the trophy come Oscar night, and I’m kind of thinking Melissa Leo will as well. Her acceptance speech might be the highlight of the evening so don’t duck out for a cell chat during her category.
4 Black Swan Must admit I was hesitant to sit through Darren Aronofsky’s followup to The Wrestler. That bleak, semi-scripted desperation extravaganza gave me a case of the wobbles. Man, am I glad I listened to my readers. Black Swan is a fascinating and twisted examination of performance anxiety and self-loathing. Natalie Portman, 29, sheds the innocence she had grown into after her dark entrance into film in The Professional (1994), and soars in this role. Her courage and depth (and dancing chops!) will win her the Oscar for Best Actress. Keep your kleenex close by.
5 The Town I will always remember that when I launched this blog last year, The Town was my very first film review. Ya might say I got lucky. I have watched this film a half a dozen times and I find more to admire each time. Ben Affleck’s direction was straight forward and lean, and his performance in the middle of the chaos was subdued and confident. Jeremy Renner further established himself as a reliable go-to guy for intensity and intellect; not to mention it will be my last memory of the late great Pete Postlethwaite, who chills us to the end. I make no apologies for slotting this picture in my top five amidst a very tough field.
6 Get Low He was overlooked by the Golden Globes, but Robert Duvall will not be forgotten by the Academy. His performance in Get Low ranks right alongside his best – and that’s saying a lot. This is a thoughtful and mature film that benefits greatly from a light touch from Bill Murray, as well as the rest of the cast who all tell the same story with grace and dignity.
7 True Grit Immediately made it into my top five favorite Coen Brothers films – says a lot. There really is no one quite like the Coens, their sense of humor is so specific and off center, and when they cast well it is a thing of beauty. Matt Damon shined and a star was born in Hailee Steinfeld. Barry Pepper comes on in the third act and throws one final spice into the soup – and its just good eatin’.
8 Inception A mindbender for sure. I was under impressed walking out of the theatre, perhaps due to all the buzz. But once I gave Inception a second look, I forgave it for being bogged down by too much story and just took the ride – a ride that Leonardo DiCaprio handled with his usual amount of emotional depth and charm. Solid work by many. A solid film.
9 Grown Ups Hey, let’s give it up for Adam Sandler. He’s grown out of just being a big goofball. He now puts so much care and thought into many of his projects that I wanted to reward him by including Grown Ups in this distinguished list. I’ve seen this film more than a half a dozen times and it always makes me feel good about the important things in life.
10 Tangled Better than Toy Story 3? Probably not. But this felt so original and fresh and sure as heck made me wish I had a young daughter to take to it. A really sweet and gorgeous film to look at. Can’t wait to see it again. Oh, and my sons loved it.