Spoiler alert: Furry Vengeance will not be on my Top Movies of 2010 list. If you think no “best of” list is complete without it, please do the following: a) stop reading; and b) delete me from your Facebook friends list.
Brendan Fraser’s film aside, 2010 ended up a pretty stellar year for movies, which is something I wouldn’t have said in July. By then, only a handful of good, let alone great, movies had been released, but 2010 ended on a strong note with quality work coming out as Oscar bait.
So, with the Oscar nominations set to be released Tuesday, I offer you my picks of the Top Movies of 2010:
10. Easy A
Poor marketing doomed this one, as most people assumed it was just another teen comedy sex romp and decided to sit it out. Too bad. In a year dominated by another film about social networking, Easy A took a sharp look at, yes, social networking as well as rumor mongering. It’s far smarter than was advertised, and Emma Stone continues her streak as a gifted comedic actress.
9. The Other Guys
Nothing else made me laugh this hard all year, and that is reason enough to include it on my list. Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell are great together in this spin on buddy-cop movies, portraying the cops who don’t appear in movies like Lethal Weapon. I quoted it for days after watching it. That’s always a plus. I dare you to see/hear Gator and not do the same.
8. The Fighter
This was a good year for Wahlberg, who might still be atoning for the craptastic acting performance in The Happening. Wahlberg plays the titular fighter, Micky Ward, a guy hoping to escape his family while simultaneously embracing them. Christian Bale gives one of the performances of the year has his half-brother, Dickie Eklund, Ward’s part-time trainer and a full-time crackhead. Amy Adams and Melissa Leo, as Ward’s love interest and mother, respectively, also shine as director David O. Russell returns to his early form.
7. Toy Story 3
Yeah, it got a little dusty in the theatre at the end of this one. My allergies were flaring up all over the place as Woody, Buzz, et al, faced down two of their biggest challenges: a fiery incinerator and an owner who is growing up. It’s a beautiful, gripping and exciting piece of work.
6. Black Swan
Natalie Portman, as directed by Darren Aronofsky, will likely win a much-deserved Oscar for her portrayal of a ballet dancer’s descent into possible madness as she pushes her body to its limits and beyond. I’m not sure I understood all of it, and the ending was far beyond my intellectual capacities, but that might be why I liked it.
5. Let Me In
I hated the idea of this movie. The original, Let the Right One In (perhaps better known as “that Swedish vampire movie”) is perfect in tone, acting, mood and direction. Why give it a Hollywood remake, particularly from the hack who directed Cloverfield? Well, I guess because director Matt Reeves had intention of making it just as dark and moody (and let’s be honest about it, arty) as the original. Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Grace Moretz are absolutely haunting as the two children who manage to fill the voids in each others life. It’s a beautiful look at love, obsession, loneliness and bullying, along with our reactions to each.
4. The Social Network
Let me walk you through my initial reactions upon learning of this project: A Facebook movie? Stupid. Directed by David Fincher? You have my interest. Written by Aaron Sorkin? I’m there opening night.
And I was. I didn’t leave disappointed, either. The script is, of course, a thing of brilliance, the rhythms of the words, the stinging lines, the things we all wish we could say – those are the earmarks of a Sorkin script. What I didn’t expect were the world-class acting jobs from Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield and Armie Hammer. This Justin Timberlake guy wasn’t too bad, either.
I should also note that The Social Network’s trailer would likely, on its own, make my list:
3. The King’s Speech
A period drama about a therapists attempts to cure King George VI’s stammer? Nothing about that seemed interesting, but as the buzz continued to build around Colin Firth’s performance as the king and Geoffrey Rush as the therapist, I caught a viewing. I came away surprised at how funny it is, along with being overall amazed at the acting from everyone involved. Firth is the favorite to win Best Actor, and he deserves it. Rush is the only challenger to Bale in Supporting Actor, and it won’t be a total stunner if he wins.
Firth makes us feel the pain that comes from the stammer, that inability to communicate when it’s needed the most. Rush makes us feel the joy that comes with attempting to lead someone past that impediment. The King’s Speech makes us feel something and moves us. The tears fall from pain and joy.
2. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Sheer joy, captured on film. Director Edgar Wright brings a graphic novel to life, blending in aspects of video gaming, along with some old-fashioned new-fangled romance. Scott Pilgrim battles his new ladyfriend’s evil exes, all while dealing with his own personal soul-searching. It’s pure cinematic bliss in the form of visuals we’ve never seen before outside of our Nintendos (or PlayStation 3s, if you prefer).
Writer/director Christopher Nolan’s dizzying look at dreams and the subconscious remains as talked about now as it did during the summer. Yes, much of the debate centers on what’s real and what’s a dream, but I think Nolan (who planted a pretty clear answer with hints throughout the film) cared less about that and more about the things that stir us. Inception isn’t about our nighttime dreams so much as it is about our waking-hour desires. It has a complex script that begs for repeated viewings (and even flow charts) to help clarify which characters are dreaming what. Inception is a sci-fi art film that somehow became an action movie success. It’s also the best movie of 2010.
Other films came close to making the list but ultimately couldn’t quite break through. These include: The Ghost Writer, Shutter Island, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallow Part 1, 127 Hours, Winter’s Bone, True Grit and The Town.
As for Furry Vengeance, I can proudly say I’ve never seen it, nor do I ever want to. I have seen this, and it makes me hang my head: