Yes, it's time for the long-awaited Dave's Top 10 Films Of 2010 list! This year, Virg and I saw pretty much everything. First, a few honorable mentions:
Most Over-Rated Movie of 2010: I Am Love. It sucked through and through. 2 hours of artsy fartsy sap and scenery, utterly devoid of characters or plot.
Favorite Fun Movies of 2010:
Kick-Ass (great premise, with a hilariously lethal little girl)
Despicable Me (cute, clever, and great use of 3D)
The Other Guys (great opening hot-shot cop sequence spoof)
Easy A (very clever dialogue, and Emma Stone is great as the lead)
Dave's Top 10 Films Of 2010
Now for the real list. I've done my best to describe these movies without spoiling their endings. Which was difficult, because there were some great endings this year, and I loves me a good ending.
Ryan Reynolds trapped in a coffin for 90 minutes, with only his cell phone to save him. The entire movie takes place in the coffin. No flashbacks or fantasies. You never see anyone but Ryan Reynolds, and half the time you don't see anything at all. It was a lot like watching 127 Hours, except you didn't know how it would end. And like Black Swan, the movie really messes with you, finding the perfect ending in the final seconds.
9. A Solitary Man
Michael Douglas gives a good performance as a not-so-likeable guy, who you become increasingly sympathetic for. A smart movie with good dialogue, made more interesting by a small twist.
8. The Town
Ben Affleck was excellent as writer, director, and star of this intense bank-robber story set in Boston. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time, but disappointed by the cheesy ending.
7. Toy Story 3
Sadly, we only saw it in 2-D, as a rental. I wasn't crazy about Pixar's first Toy Story, and I thought the second one was pretty dumb. Last year's Up was 10 very moving minutes followed by 80 minutes of somewhat entertaining silliness. Toy Story 3 was similar, but saved the 10 good minutes for the end of the movie, delivering some surprisingly haunting footage.
6. 127 Hours
The true story of a guy whose arm gets trapped under a boulder in Canyonlands, and who escapes 127 hours later by amputating it with a dull knife. Before the movie had even started, Virg was cringing at a preview of a movie about people trapped in a cave, and I instantly regretted dragging her to this. When the hero first falls in the canyon, you realize just how absurd it would be for him to cut off his arm. The movie does a great job of walking you to the point where you understand his desperate act. James Franco is wonderful, and the script is fantastic. And yes, I covered my eyes for the amputation scene.
5. Animal Kingdom
If The Town was a glorified look at the life of bank robbers, Animal Kingdom seemed like the real thing. It's an Australian movie about a young guy who is taken in by his seemingly sweet grandmother, and 3 criminal uncles. The movie feels distant and spacy, as the main character is increasingly caught between the police's attempts to make him their star witness, and his loyalty to his increasingly mistrustful family. The final resolution makes for an excellent ending.
4. The King's Speech
The story of King George VI struggling to overcome a terrible stutter. Colin Firth is fantastic (and my pick for best actor), as is Geoffrey Rush, and the script is excellent.
3. Barney's Version
As soon as we left the theater, we were ready to see it again. Paul Giamatti stars in this very clever, very funny, and very touching film. Rosamund Pike is great as his love interest, Dustin Hoffman is very funny as his father, and Minnie Driver is hysterical as his cartoonishly awful wife.
2. Blue Valentine
Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams are both phenomenal in this complex relationship study. The movie alternates between telling the story of a single day in their married life, and telling their back-story, with an absolutely heartbreaking ending. This great script and its very human characters leave much food for thought. Were they good for each other, and who was to blame for their troubles? Typically, Virg sides with the wife, whereas I found the husband more sympathetic.
1. Black Swan
Darren Aronofsky wrote and directed this brilliant psychological thriller--a surreal behind-the-scenes look at ballet that is part Wrestler and part Pi. Like Animal Kingdom, it's about a good but weak character needing to find strength. It put us on the edge of our seats from the very beginning, and the final 15 minutes of the film are absolutely chilling. It's one of those movies you continue to analyze for days afterward. And Natalie Portman is truly perfect in it. This is my pick for best picture, best director, best actress, and best screenplay.