If it's crap ... We'll tell you
As seems to be the trend around this time of year, I've put together my Top Ten Films of 2010 list. Now, I feel I should point out that I'll be taking a slightly different tack with this list compared to other lists. Where the standard "top ten of 2010" list will focus on films that were released in 2010, this one will instead focus on films that I *saw* in 2010, regardless of when they were released. You're also going to see a fair number of ties as you move up the list. In some cases, movies couldn't be included without being paired together (ie "The Millenium Trilogy) and in other cases, I had to declare ties because the movies were just too good not to be included. So, without further adieu...
10. The Crazies (2010): This actually ended up being a great way for me to have started the year. I'd had no interest in seeing "The Crazies" because the trailers had made it look like a generic, brainless, slasher film that was of no interest to me at all. However, after lucking into free passes for my brother and I, I decided to check it out and was pleasantly shocked. The film was well paced, jump scares were in places that I didn't necessarily expect them, it made me think, and I was never entirely sure who the film's bad guy actually was. This was a quality film that ended up being the culmination of a great evening for me.
My original review can be found here
9. Alice in Wonderland (2010): Another Johnny Depp/Tim Burton re-imagining, this version has Mia Wasikowska (who, gotta say, kinda hot) in the lead role of Alice who is returning to Wonderland as part of a prophecy despite having no memory of her first visit because she believes that visit was nothing more than childhood nightmares. However, everyone insists that she is there to kill the Jabberwocky on the Fraptuous Day as was foretold blah blah blah and the Mad Hatter gets to breakdance for some reason (I'm with the Spill crew ... that made no sense). While not the greatest version I've ever seen (which goes to Malice in Wonderland and even Syfy's "Alice" could've had a better story had it been in three parts instead of just two), as with most of Tim Burton's films, you have something with decent plot and incredible visuals. My only regret here is not getting to see the film in 3D because I can tell where the 3D would have worked and worked well, I'll just never get to see it.
8. Machete (2010): Now, was Machete thought provoking? No. Oscar worthy? Oh God no. Finally get Danny Trejo a role other than "scary old Mexican Gangster #31?" Well, okay kinda. If you recognized "Grindhouse" for the silly, shlocky fun that it was, then you probably enjoyed "Machete." If you wanted to see Lindsay Lohan get naked on screen ... well, just don't make that the only reason to see this thing.
My original thoughts on Machete can be found here
7. Airplane! (1980): In honor of the recently departed Leslie Nielsen, I decided it was time to finally sit down and watch "Airplane!" and have come to the conclusion that Friedberg and Seltzer need to do the same. Starring Leslie Nielsen, Robert Stack and Lloyd Bridges amongst others, "Airplane!" has to be considered the perfect parody film. Not once is a joke put in solely for the sake of putting a joke in, everything contributes to the story. Seriously, if you haven't seen it, you need to watch "Airplane!" right now. Stop reading this and go pop it into your DVD/Bluray player ... and don't call me Shirley.
6. Iron Man 2 (2010): "Iron Man 2" was, to me, the "Dark Knight" of the Iron Man franchise. Am I trying to say it's as good as "The Dark Knight" was? Oh good God no. I simply mean that it has that darker sequel feel to it that "The Dark Knight" had where things are going badly for the hero before they begin to turn around. While certainly not better than "Iron Man" it was a good follow up that I only wish had made more use of Mickey Rourke and kept Terrance Howard.
5. Faster (2010): "Faster" was actually one of the bigger surprises of the year for me. When my brother and I went to see this, I expected a mindless, fun action film with numerous pretty explosions. What I *got* was a surprisingly deep exploitation film, if not film noire, with themes of addiction, honor, loyalty and forgiveness as well as elements that touched on "The Crow." While not film of the year, I'd pick "Faster" as possibly my biggest surprise of 2010. Don't judge it solely based on the trailer.
5. The Book of Eli (2010): As hard as I tried, I just couldn't imagine this list without "The Book of Eli" somewhere on it. This film perfectly re-enforces the idea that Denzel Washington can do no wrong. Ever. Taking into account what "The Book" actually is, I can understand some of the complaints that accompanied the film, but people need to keep in mind that it doesn't truly center on "The Book." That book could've been anything and the film would still work. The film's focus is spirituality, not any one religion. Denzel does a great job here as Eli and Mila Kunis creates in Solara a character that I would like to see a sequel based around. While some will probably see the twist surrounding Eli coming, I didn't and frankly it made Washington's performance that much stronger. I truly hope to see more from this film's world.
4. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo/Played With Fire/Kicked The Hornet's Nest (2009, 2010): When I was inspired by the Spill Crew to broaden my movie viewing horizons, one of my first endeavours was to check out more foreign films. One of the first was "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" and I was hooked instantly. From the incredible intensity of "Dragon Tattoo," to the satisfying plot tie-ups of "Played with Fire" and the gripping drama that left me with the desire to cheer loudly at the end of "Hornet's Nest" I'm a huge fan of the Millenium Trilogy and now look forward to the North American remake of "Dragon Tattoo."
4. Let The Right One In/Let Me In (2008, 2010): My very first foreign film, "Let The Right One In" was actually not the film I'd been lead to believe it was going to be. I kept hearing about how it was this terrifying, bloody, disturbing horror film which was where I was intrigued. In reality (and maybe it was the terrible dubbing that lead me to the conclusion that I prefer subtitles) what I got was a coming of age, almost love, story that lead to my best describing the movie as "My Girl" with vampires. To me, this is actually a good thing as I actually found the story rather adorable ... though I could simply be that messed up.
"Let Me In," though, was actually far creepier to me than the original. With both movies drawing from the novel "Let The Right One In" I have a great deal of difficulty calling "Let Me In" a remake. Either way, I'm really looking forward to this on Blu-Ray. It's actually darker in some ways than "Let The Right One In" was, stays surprisingly faithful to the source material, and if this doesn't convince you Chloe Moretz has a future in Hollywood, nothing will.
3. How to Train Your Dragon (2010): I've had a thing for dragons. Always have and always will. With "How To Train Your Dragon" I got beautiful dragons as well as a main character I could see a lot of myself in, in Hiccup. In fact, I'm man enough to admit that, upon seeing this in theatres, I actually cried during a couple scenes. While I not only missed the chance to see it in 3D, the theatre I was at was old enough that they could only play it on 35MM, it was still easily one of the most memorable films of the year.
2. Requiem For a Dream & Black Swan (2000, 2010): "Requiem For a Dream" was something that I actually decided to check out on a spontaneous whim. To this day, I have no idea what made me want to see it, but I am so very, very glad I did. Dark ... intense ... the film is filled with absolutely brilliant performances that truly need to be seen. It was easily one of the most mind blowing films I've ever seen.
For my initial thoughts on "Requiem For a Dream" click here
Black Swan was another example of Darren Aronofsky at his finest. I spent half the movie with no idea what was real and what was in Nina's mind. Despite being creepy as hell, the final twist that I didn't catch until the end credits actually made me smile. If doing "The Wolverine" leads to more films like this for Darren Aronofsky, hand the man all the big budget work possible! I want more! I can see how this has "Film of the Year" potential and Nathalie Portman must be given Oscar consideration as this film cannot maintain the level of quality it does without her.
And in the number one spot ...
1. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010): As many others have said, Edgar Wright can do no wrong. I had never heard of Scott Pilgrim before the trailer for "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" and was very intrigued. It looked like fun and the visuals were such that I could only think "I should check this out." And in fact, I'd actually almost missed it. Life wouldn't allow me to see it until roughly it's second last week in theatres and I am so very, very glad I saw it. Despite a dull opening twenty minutes, what I ended up with was a nerdy love story that I'd put at the level of "The Princess Bride." It drew me in and I left it thoroughly impressed. I was also quite surprised at how close the set pieces and exterior shots are to the comic itself. That's a level of dedication to source material you don't often get to see.
For my original post on "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World" click here
1. The A-Team (2010): Yes, I said it. I consider "The A-Team" a top film of 2010. As a fan of the original series, I was extremely excited and actually slightly nervous about this movie. My attraction to the original show resulted from it's abundance of stupid fun and sillyness. I went into the theatre bouncing with excitement ... and left the theatre utterly glowing. Now, is this a truly perfect film? No. The entire secondary storyline of B.A's sudden pacifism could've easily been dropped and it wouldn't affect the film in any way. What "The A-Team" is, is fun. Lots and lots of "shut your brain off and enjoy the ride" fun. It knows full well it's absurd and doesn't care. The casting was also, in my view, perfect. While Liam Neeson only ever gives one performance in action films, it's Liam Neeson. He makes it work. Where Dirk Benedict originally went suave, Bradley Cooper accomplishes the same result through confident arrogance. Sharlto Copely credits H.M. Murdock with inspiring his desire to act and almost steals the film from everyone. As for Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, I get why people weren't sure about him. Hell, I was one of them. That is, until the line "You pancaked my van!! I'MA KILL YOU FOO!" where he's successful enough in almost channeling Mr. T. that I found myself thinking "Oh, okay. Now I get it."
As far as I was concerned, "The A-Team" was utterly Better Than Sex
Now, were there better quality films than what's made my list? Sure there were (Inception, Shutter Island). However, my list required that they be memorable and many of those other films either weren't terribly memorable or simply got pushed off the list. Quality wasn't the only requisite for this list, I also had to want to see the film again and again and/or be utterly blown away by it.
Hopefully, with films like Green Hornet, Green Lantern, Thor and Suckerpunch, I'll have just as much fun going to the movies as I did in 2010.