The 10 Best Films of 2010

There are still a few more things I need to see before I really have a finalized list but, in all honesty, the one I have now is very sturdy to the point where I feel maybe there is only possibility for one or two changes down the road, but as is – this list is strong, filled with excellent films and I will gladly talk about what I consider the greatness that made its way out of what I would consider an otherwise weak year of 2010. Please comment on my choices whether negative or positive, and please take my recommendation to see these films if you haven’t, especially what I consider the year’s finest film.

STILL NEED TO SEE: 45365; Alamar; Another Year; Applause; Boxing Gym; Carlos; Four Lions; Frankie and Alice; Hereafter; The Illusionist; Inside Job; Jack Goes Boating; Last Train Home; Looking for Eric; Lourdes; Micmacs; October Country; Samson and Delilah; Secret Sunshine; Stone; White Material; Wild Grass

I LOVED THEM, BUT…: The American; Chloe; Easy A; Enter the Void; Exit Through the Gift Shop; The Fighter; Fish Tank; Frozen; The Ghost Writer; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1; How to Train Your Dragon; Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work; The Kids Are All Right; Leaves of Grass; Madeo; A Prophet; The Social Network; Sita Sings the Blues; Tangled

10. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. There are many creaming over The Social Network’s importance in showing how our society has become reliant on technology. This seems to be where most of the praise for the film stems from and it makes me furious to announce that, while David Fincher’s film really is great, that Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World managed to show our pop culture hysteria in a more colorful and cartoonish way. Mixing multiple media from film, video games, music, and graphic novels, the bubble gum insanity that stretches throughout the film is a testament to the American popcorn movie in which brains exist in a live-action cartoon.

09. Somewhere. A fellow friend brought notice to me how Sofia Coppola basically lifted the racetrack scene from Vincent Gallo’s The Brown Bunny for her latest work called Somewhere. In all honesty, it can’t be denied that it feels as if Coppola has borrowed (or maybe even stolen) Gallo’s examined theme in his 2004 film (which is, in my opinion, very good itself). But the surprising aspect of it all is that Coppola somehow takes the same theme and makes it breathe into its own personal space. The films almost work as companion pieces, only Somewhere’s brilliance comes from its sly stabs at Hollywood (which refreshingly avoids the typical) and the way Coppola once again owns her directorial stamp (there are moments and feelings completely lifted from her previous films as well). Feel like life is going nowhere? Well, depending on who you are, Somewhere (and/or The Brown Bunny) may or may not be for you.

08. Our Beloved Month of August. There is a certain charm to the way Our Beloved Month of August somehow falls together. There are some who are arguing that the film is a documentary, and then there are others who feel it’s a work of fiction which just so happens to feature some reality flair. Either way, the film works and it’s a marvelous creation from director Miguel Gomes that mixes the arts of music and film (and life) in the most fascinating way not done since Jonathan Demme’s wonderful Rachel Getting Married. It may take a while for Our Beloved Month of August to really find its footing, but when it does… it becomes something to celebrate.

07. Let Me In. It could be easy to attack a film like Let Me In if you are easy to believe that the very existence of a remake is a negative thing. But Matt Reeves’ re-interpretation of the critically-beloved 2008 Swedish film Let the Right One In (a very good film in its own right) and the novel of which that film was based is a truly marvelous work that proves what greatness can come from the reworking of previous material. Just by changing the original film’s growing friendship between a young boy and a little vampire girl into a disturbing study on masochistic sexuality bruising in the hearts of an abused child, Reeves has constructed a stronger and more human film. It only makes much more sense for the director to shift the previous film’s cold, blue-and-white hues and silences into a warm, yellow-and-amber palette with commotion in order to show the complete isolation of a boy who is, like the vampire he falls for, also pulsating with an inner beast.

06. Blue Valentine. It can be said that, if anything, 2010 was the year of the relationship drama. Blue Valentine was one of those films this year that excelled; a gritty account of the many differences that exist between a freshly-spun love between two people and their punctured relationship years down the road. Through the magnetic and raw performances of Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, director Derek Cianfrance takes us on a truly mesmerizing study of the human’s longing for eternal acceptance, bruising the film with the realization that it can all turn sour when the wrinkles begin to appear on a loved one’s face.

05. Winter’s Bone. Dripping with a sincerely morbid and all-too-quiet atmosphere filled with both despair and conviction, Debra Granik’s Winter’s Bone so painfully captures realism in such an unbelievably haunting way that it’s fairy tale mood slowly brings the film into the rightful label as a landmark horror film. Every tree in every frame and every sound of wind on the soundtrack isolates us away from our own reality and into the film’s terrifying world as we follow Jennifer Lawrence’s strong-willed young woman into a world of figurative witches and goblins as she gains clarity over her own f-cked up life. So menacing that it verges on whimsical, Winter’s Bone captures a world of its own without seeming to break a single drop of (cold.. tehe) sweat.

04. The Killer Inside Me. Michael Winterbottom so bravely dives into the perverse mind of a repressed serial killer to the point that (and the walkouts at Sundance prove this) it achieves some kind of demented importance. Very faithfully adapted from the Jim Thompson novel of the same name (my personal favorite novel, might I add), The Killer Inside Me takes so much from the mind of its lead character’s murderous sheriff that it slowly progresses from psychological narration to actual cinematic imagery as the film reaches its over-the-top final scene. A film as disgusting and without remorse as it very much should be, The Killer Inside Me is easily the year’s most daring black comedy and arguably one of the best film representations of a serial killer brought to the screen.

03. Dogtooth. What would it be like for a person to have been raised in an entirely secluded, and slightly (if not almost completely) fictionalized environment. Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos decides to examine this very thought in Dogtooth, one of the year’s very best films and, in its own quirky and plucky way, a sort-of crazy modern classic. While most films seem to verge from many different filmic qualities in spurts (not that is a bad thing, as my year’s #2 will prove), Dogtooth balances immaculately in the middle of a genre triangle that blends familial drama, pitch-black comedy, and disturbing social allegory with a quirkiness that I once thought could only be achieved through John Waters. But Lanthimos makes it his own, an original concoction of brilliant pathos that separates him from being compared to another director; even one as wonderful as Waters.

02. Black Swan. To be honest, I’m quite surprised that there is so much love coming in for Black Swan. It seems to be appearing in the awards circuit, critics are loving it and most of the online movie-loving community does as well. What surprises me is that the film is so far into “cine-metaphysical” territory that it seems like it would be an obvious work for the consensus film buffs to despise. Not unlike most of the things Brian De Palma has brought forth (especially his recent efforts, such as The Black Dahlia), Darren Aronofsky’s self-conscience and compellingly over-the-top re-working of horror conventions is, at once, a campy piece of entertainment and, at other times, a very devastating character piece examining the hunger for perfection that lurks in almost every artist (maybe even Darren himself). The very definition of a companion piece to Aronofsky’s own The Wrestler (showcasing the artistic expression of a person in realism rather than surrealism), it’s impossible to not to get at least slightly swept away in Black Swan’s seductively beautiful spell.

01. Everyone Else. If there was another character piece this year with the amount of devastation packed in its feature length, I have yet to witness it. Maren Ade’s Everyone Else is a meticulous drama buried so deep in the realism of its characters that it’s literally amazing to take note on how the film manages to be so astonishingly specific and yet still claim a universal relevance. We follow two people who honestly think they are in love, but begin to slowly realize that they may or may not be wrong. Director Ade fuels the film with the little things, making her characters defined by the stark honesty of their random lived-in events; from reading a book to yelling at a child, from speaking foreign languages to the passing of gas. Everyone Else is so powerfully perfected by its hypnotic simplicity; a nearly plotless two hours that takes on a narrative structure where the resolution is only two more beginnings. It’s the very definition of a masterpiece.


~ by jerkwoddjh on January 10, 2011.

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