Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Top 10 Best/Favorite Movies of 2010

Hello I am the movie encyclopedia and if no one else will see it, I will.

Well it's a brand new year everyone and you know what that means right? We're heading into awards season! And with every award season comes every critic, be it professional or amateur, releasing their "Best of" lists. Now this won't just be a one shot thing for me. Besides my Best/Favorite Movies of 2010 list I will also be doing my Worst Films of 2010 list, my Best Movie Moments of 2010 list, my Best Trailers (I am the host of Trailer Talk Thursday after all) list, my Best Posters List as well as acting/effects and the whole nine yards you'd come to expect. As the old Mythbusters saying goes "If it's worth doing...it's worth overdoing!"

But first and foremost comes the list that everyone is probably dying to hear: my Best/Favorite Lists of 2010. Now before I go on I can see you reading this and wondering "Huh...why does he keep slashing Best and Favorite?" Well dear reader it's because like many critics I know, Nick Jobe being the first that comes to mind, my Best Movies of 2010 and Favorite Movies of 2010 list are two totally different entities. On my Best Movie list I'll be doing all (or most) of the artsy, dramatic, award worthy movies that people will be talking about come Oscar time. My FAVORITE list on the other hand delves into films that I love, that I would watch (and probably have) multiple times, but would be (with the exception of maybe two) laughed out of the Oscars. I am a man whose middle name is guilty pleasure and while my taste may come into questioning, I stand by my decisions and in fact I treat my favorites list almost more seriously then my best. It's easy to think of what the best movies of this year were but what films will I be watching ten years from now?

First up though I put on my "critic" glasses and don a Posh British accent for my...


...list. (Disclaimer: I have not REVIEWED all of the movies on both lists but I'm getting to it shortly)

10. The Town-
 Ben Affleck's sophomore directorial piece following the lives of bank robbers in a seedy area of Boston succeeds in two ways: First, it cements the fact that Ben Affleck is a force to be reckoned with behind the camera and secondly, it shows that Jeremy Renner, even in a supporting role, is still as good as he was in The Hurt Locker and arguably better now then he ever was. It's a gripping drama with fantastic acting, great action scenes, characters you care about and is only brought down by a half-assed love story. But that is fixed in the extended edition so really that point might as well be moot. Ben Affleck is only getting better with age and I can't wait to see where his journey takes him next.

9. Toy Story 3- 
 To say Pixar knows how to do animated movies well is like saying that a butcher knows how to cut meat. Pixar has dominated animation since it's debut and has successfully blended the line between kid and adult films, making movies that everyone of any age can enjoy. Toy Story 3 is no exception and even breaks the rule of three that seems to haunt so many franchises. Yes this third entry is actually better than the first two in almost every way. And as a child of the 90s, Toy Story played a big part in my childhood so to see all the characters I loved all grown up actually felt really good. We grew together. And, like so many Pixar films before it, it also touched me deeply to the point where I was leaving the theater a mess. A masterpiece from beginning to end, Toy Story 3 is the finale all of us kids of the 90s wanted to see.

8. Inception-
 When I first saw this movie back in the Summer of 2010 I was stunned. I had never seen anything like Inception before and it messed with my head in ways that had me talking to people for days. The ingenious mind of Christopher Nolan struck again, making movie goers around the world talk about what they had just watched. But then a few weeks later I saw the film again. It was still a great film but like Barney to growing kids, some of the fantasy wore off. The plot chugged in areas, audio was sometimes muffled or way too loud for it's own good, there were continuity errors and plot holes that began to spring up and the star was being outshone by basically every other actor in the movie. But despite these growing complaints Inception was still a really good movie. DiCaprio gives another wonderful performance, Tom Hardy and Jo-Go are fantastic, Ellen Page, despite her sometimes monotonous voice is great and the action and effects were still as good as ever. It's been talked to death and I'm probably not helping by talking about it more but Inception is great and I can't wait to see Nolan's next film.

7. The Fighter-
Up until I had watched The Fighter I was pretty down on the whole film. It screamed desperate Oscar bait/Rocky rip-off, starred two of my least favorite A-List actors and cast Amy Adams in a role that seemed way too out of her ability. Then I watched the movie. Well they say people can't change but here I am to tell you my mind was completely changed. It was an exciting and moving drama worthy of being in the same ring as Rocky, Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale (Bale especially) were fantastic in their roles, and Amy Adams gave a phenomenal performance acting totally out of her comfort zone in a role that's bound to earn her an Oscar. An awesome movie from start to finish and one that is deserving of it's hype.

6. Fair Game-
 I knew absolutely jack about this movie before it came out. I hadn't seen a trailer, I saw maybe one teaser poster and knew nothing about the true story that it's based off of. The only reason I even saw it was because I wanted to try out this new little indie theater downtown and that was one of the three films playing and the only one I hadn't seen. I figured it couldn't be that bad considering it has Sean Penn and Naomi Watts in it. Well I was right. It wasn't bad, it was awesome. A taut political thriller dealing with the lead up to and initial attack in Afghanistan and how political scapegoating cost the job of a top CIA agent, Penn and Watts play their roles effortlessly and provide a great commentary on the politics going on behind closed doors in the early 2000s. I loved to be surprised by a film and Fair Game was definitely a surprise.

5. Restrepo-
 I've seen a ton of documentaries this year. I saw one about the financial crisis, one about a football player turned soldier who was killed in Afghanistan, one about the Warsaw Ghetto during WWII, one about Joan Rivers, one about public education, one about a crazed Frenchmen turned street artist (which I'll talk about later in the post) and this one: Restrepo. Restrepo follows two journalists from Vanity Fair who spend a year with soldiers stationed at an outpost in the Korangal Valley. It opts out of the usual documentary style of showing and then telling or mixing telling in with the showing. Instead it tells almost as much, if not more, than it shows. And every minute of it is a powerful example of wartime right now and what these soldiers have to deal with. People die left and right but they have to push forward and persevere, even if it's hard. A great documentary and a powerful piece of cinema.

4. The Social Network-
 (In a sarcastic tone) Shocker. Who would have thought that the guy who is on Facebook all the time and whose top 5 movies include two of the directors previous films and whose 6th all time favorite show is the West Wing would have loved this film. It's a Shyamalanian twist no one could see coming. (End Sarcastic Tone). In all seriousness though this film was basically catered to someone like me, and even after 4 viewings it's still an intense, hilarious, well acted and gripping film about the rise to power and the problems that can come from that. Everyone, especially Andrew Garfield, gives an Oscar worthy performance and Aaron Sorkin's writing is just a joy to listen to. I tried to find reasons to hate or dislike this film but I just can't find any. An amazing and fun to watch film.

3. Black Swan-
 Darren, you crazy, crazy man. How could you possibly make me afraid of the ballet? What's that? Watch Black Swan? Okay. *Watches Black Swan* Shower...shower...need shower. Great film with astounding performances all around, captivating visuals and an ending no one sees coming but damn you for making me feel dirty every time I look at swans now. Gah...

2. 127 Hours-
 "Between a Rock and a Hard Place" is an amazing book. Aron Ralston is a courageous and inspirational person and a definite hero of mine. So when I heard they were making a film version with one of my favorite "needs a career push" actors James Franco and one of the best working directors today Danny Boyle, I was ecstatic. And I was not disappointed. Franco and Boyle do the near impossible task of making an almost one man show movie not only watchable, but spectacular. Boyle uses quick cuts, flashbacks, premonitions and unique camera angles to keep the action fresh without being frantic and Franco has enough charisma to make himself a lovable hero, who you want to see succeed. 127 Hours also has one of the most powerful and hard to watch climax's that, with the help of Boyle staple A.R. Rahman, has you literally on the edge of your seat with one hand over your eyes. One of the years best and an amazing ride from start to finish.

1. Blue Valentine-
Despite an odd NC-17 rating choice by the MPAA which kept this movie from being released earlier, I'm glad it got switched around in time to be released for 2010. Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams are great actresses that excel at being subtly powerful. And what better a display of that then Blue Valentine? It takes a topic we all know pretty well: love and break-ups, but does it in a realistic and depressing tone that makes you truly value any relationship that you have. Dean and Cindy feel like real people. They are a couple that went through a whirlwind romance that led quickly into marriage and quickly into parenthood. Lots of relationships in today's world go by so fast that when the dust settles and the love blinders are taken off, a good number of them end up like Dean and Cindy. In a 2 hour film you see both love flourish and die a slow, painful death. They both know the end is near but they don't want to accept it. It's a daunting look at romance and it's a film that won't be forgotten, at least by me, for a long time.

I won't give the big detailed list but these other films were considered or were in the list at some point:
1. Shutter Island
2. The Killer Inside Me
3. Hereafter

Now I'm going to move into my...



10. Jackass 3D/Piranha 3D-
 I realize I'm kind of bending the rules here by having a tie but it was just too hard to decide between these two. They both showcase why and how 3D works in movies (if you're going to have it, use it!), neither take themselves too seriously and they are both a hoot to watch, be it by yourself or with a friend. So I said screw it it's my list and decided to turn my number 10 spot into my 3D double feature spot. And it's staying that way.

9. The Expendables-
 Watched by many, loved by few, The Expendables has divided audiences and critics alike in ways that I hadn't seen since Avatar. Some think it is a disjointed, poorly acted, non-exciting Michael Bay wannabe film starring a bunch of washed up action heroes patting themselves on the back because of how awesome they are, and some think it's a leave your brain at the door action packed throwback to the 70s and 80s that is enjoyable from start to finish. Me? I know the movie has a ton of flaws. But I am willing to overlook a good portion of these flaws because I just have so much fun watching the movie. Even after multiple viewings I still get a kick out of the movie and enjoy watching it with a bunch of friends.

8. Hot Tub Time Machine-
 Yet another divider of a movie but this time a little less angry coming from the negative party. Instead it was "I love this movie" or "Eh...it was okay." Me? I love this movie. It's a raunch comedy with a heart of gold and a great message of friendship, second chances and family. That and it's really funny. John Cusack and Clark Duke are great straight men, Rob Corddry has great comedic timing and Craig Robinson has the ability to say whatever he wants and be funny. Include plenty of 80s music and nostalgia, supporting roles by Chevy Chase and Crispin Glover and one of the most straight to the point titles I've heard and you got a great comedy.

7. Kick-Ass-
Nowadays a superhero movie is as about as common as a romantic comedy or a cop procedural on TV. Some are really good, some, mostly before the major comic companies got their own production studios, were really mediocre and some are just painful to watch. Kick-Ass is breath of fresh air to this almost now overcrowded genre. Based on one of my favorite comic author Mark Millar's miniseries of the same name (Millar is also behind Wanted) this movie adaptation from Layer Cake director Matthew Vaughn is entertaining, funny, well acted, realistically gory (and therefore gruesome to watch sometimes) and has Nic Cage doing Adam West doing Batman. *Mind Blown* This film has received plenty of opposition, questioning the moral compass of the film as well as the character of Hit-Girl altogether, but I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and it sits proud with the rest of my superhero movies.

6. The Social Network-
I already talked it to death in my "Best Movies of 2010" section but the reason that I also put it on my favorites list is I've watched it 4 times in cinema and now once already on Blu-Ray. And the whole point of favorites is films I would watch over and over so yeah...this movie fits.

5. Easy A-
Emma Stone is hot. She isn't hot because of her looks though (although they certainly don't hurt), she is hot because she is smart, has great comedic timing, is genuinely funny, can be self-deprecating, is humble and is just awesome overall. Easy A showcases all of that. Easy A is an homage to all those 80s rom-com's and knows it. It has amazing performances from Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci, has plenty of laugh out loud moments and underneath everything has a heart of gold and a message that can ring true to anyone that went through High School. I give this film an A! *Slap* Ow...I deserved that.

4. Get Him to the Greek-
Honestly I was a bit shocked I loved this film as much as I did when I first walked out of the theater. Then again the pitch of a Forgetting Sarah Marshall spin-off/sequel didn't really strike me as necessary or really wanted. But then trailers started coming in and there were some genuine laughs in it. I feared it would suffer from "Every good joke is in the trailer"-itis, but alas it has so much more funny in it then I would've ever hoped. From beginning to end I was in near tears laughing so hard and even after watching it a second and third time I was still laughing just as hard. Brand is a joy to watch and Hill doesn't play the overtly foul mouthed, loud, crude and rude guy we are used to seeing. There are still hints of him present but he actually is more subdued which, played against Brand and P. Diddy (or Diddy or whatever) is actually really good. Great film from start to finish.

3. Scott Pilgrim vs the World-
Here is a secret: it took me watching Scott Pilgrim 3 times before I liked it. It took me 2 more to love it. Why is that you ask? Well the first time I saw it I was a bit bored. I had read the comic series over and over so to see a lot of the same scenes almost word for word the same, it felt a bit boring. The second time I watched it I was Comic Book Guy pointing out all of the continuity errors and differences from the comic that I thought were just completely ludicrous that they left out. But then I watched it a third time and really just watched it for what it was: a film ADAPTATION of Scott Pilgrim. And I actually just sat back, took off the fanboy glasses and watched it. And I liked it. Then I bought it on Blu-Ray and watched it a few more times. And I realized it got better every time I watched it. The acting is great, the jokes are hilarious, the soundtrack is still my favorite of all time, and it's just a feast for the eyes.I love the movie now and it sits neatly besides all my other Edgar Wright films. Does it beat Shaun or Fuzz? To me...no. But it's still really awesome. 

2. The Crazies-
 Pick up your jaw...I'll wait. You good? Yes The Crazies is my number 2. A horror film with not only a message but good acting and seriously intense thrills is seemingly hard to find nowadays. Not even the Descent could do all three and I loved that movie. No, Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead was the last one to actually do all three and since then I have been waiting for a film on par with that. Then The Crazies came along and gave me hope for the genre. Another Romero remake oddly enough, The Crazies features consistently amazing TV superstar Timothy Olyphant, horror scream queen Radha Mitchell and one of the reasons I liked Across the Universe's Joe Anderson. All three give amazing performances, Anderson especially since his character goes through so much in such a short time. Add in some heart stopping scenes (I'm now afraid of car washes) and one of the best scenes in recent film history (which I'll cover in my top moments of 2010 post) The Crazies is a great film that should be the standard for horror films to come.

And my number 1....

1. Exit Through the Gift Shop-
I have a confession...I love street art. I don't call it graffiti because I don't believe it's that. Graffiti has such negative connotations and what some of these greats do is honest to goodness art. And the Warhol/Van Gogh/Picasso (basically the visionary) of street art is Banksy. Known for pushing boundaries and doing any and everything for the sake of art, he is a true artist of our time. So when I heard that he was directing a documentary I was excited. And when I sat down and watched it I was blown away. What I got was an amazing zero to hero story of Mister Brainwash aka Thierry Guetta who is as crazy as he is fun to watch. His following around of major players in the street art game for basically the first two thirds of the film would have been enough for me. His interviews, mannerisms, habits and craziness make him as lovable as his is obviously annoying. But Banksy went the extra step and showed how timing and hype is everything in the world of modern art. He took what he learned from his friends, copied them and a bunch of other people's work and used the almost ungodly power of timing and hype to turn himself into a superstar overnight. It's an interesting look at not just street art but art itself and is enjoyable from beginning to end. I have watched this about a dozen times now and every time I still have a smile plastered on my face. Is it real or is it fake? Honestly I don't care. Even if it's all a hoax it doesn't take away from the true awesomeness of this film.

Well that's it for my Best/Favorite Movies of 2010 list. Stay tuned for my Worst of 2010 list, my Best Moments of 2010 list and everything else in my TME presents "Best of 2010." 


  1. Matthew Vaugh didn't direct Snatch. He did direct Layer Cake though. Look forward to the upcoming lists.

  2. Oh yeah, he produced it. I meant Layer Cake. Thanks for the catch. Yeah I'm working on the lists as we speak

  3. Exit Through the Gift Shop. Yeah

  4. I'm interested by the whole best/favourite distinction. I only do a favourite list...perhaps I'm egotistical, but I think if a film isn't well made/enjoyable/effective enough to be amongst my "favourites", than it's not good enough to be on my own "best" list. That being said, it is interesting looking at the differences in peoples split lists.

    I should also point out that my own top ten of favourites more closely resembles your "best" list rather than your "favourite list"...what can I say, I'm just a snob like that :P

    I do love the inclusions of Exit Through the Gift Shop, Scott Pilgrim and The Social Network. I'll also admit that Hot Tub Time Machine and Pirahna 3D were both massive guilty pleasures for me this year.

    We're finally getting The Fighter down under this week, which I can't wait to check out (along with True Grit, Catfish & 127 Hours, all in the next month or so). I HIGHLY doubt we'll ever get Restrepo, which is a shame because I've seen it popping up on quite a few lists

  5. This distinction between best/favorites is actually a great thing. I guess my list was a combination of both, obviously. My favorite is "The Expendables", without a doubt; the best was "Black Swan", though I haven't had the time to see some other titles that would surely contend for the title.

  6. Nice best top 10! It's very similar to my top 10 except for The Social Network which I didn't include. Glad to see someone else put Restrepo in there. I have yet to see Blue Valentine but I expect to be blown away ;) Maybe this week ah.