The Blogin’s Best of 2010 is back for one more installment of unnecessary, numerically ordered madness! Last year, we found out how frustrating trying to order the best movies of the year can be. There was a lot of shuffling around until we reached the final list – possibly because so many damn good movies came out in 2009. We even had a tie for number five! This year the ordering wasn’t as difficult. Our favorites seemed to be more concrete this time, as in, “I totally loved this movie more than this one.”
There was some shuffling towards the end, but nothing like ’09. Does this speak about the quality of films this year? Well, I felt like overall 2009 had more to enjoy than 2010. But don’t worry, Мишка is here to tell you what to watch from the 2010 bin.
If there are some themes that run through a good chunk of the list they’re reality, deception, and teenage girls kicking ass. There’s a movie here that intentionally tricked its audience and one that still no one knows the truth about. There’s some ambiguous ones and some straight-forward action flicks. Horror to indies to animated to foreign, we watched a lot of movies this year.
And though we watched quite a fair share of films between all of the Bloglin staff, we are only human and couldn’t see them all. I’m sure Colin Firth stutters really well and hanging out between James Franco and a rock is enthralling and I know Crook kept wanting someone to watch and review Tiny Furniture, but we never got around to it so screw those movies. Next time send us screeners, yo! So here is the best of what we saw (after the break) which was still a lot.
P.S. You know we’re right.
International poster boy for teen rape and legendary director Roman Polanski delivered this brooding, gorgeous thriller early in the year, based on the novel The Ghost by Robert Harris. Polanski manages to make the picturesque landscape of Martha’s Vineyard look like a gothic nightmare as Ewan McGregor seeks out the truth behind the death of the British Prime Minister’s (Pierce Brosnan) previous ghost writer. It’s a dark, twisting labyrinth of a yarn right up until the very – ahem - abrupt ending.
Not originally reviewed on the Bloglin.
Last year, Luc Besson’s protege Pierre Morel made his directorial debut with Taken. It’s easy to say that we at the Bloglin fell in love with that ridiculous film. Morel followed up this year with the even more over-the-top From Paris With Love, starring a prissy Jonathan Rhys Meyers and a bald, brilliantly badass John Travolta. How does Travolta go from a coke-sniffing, trigger-happy madman in this film to Oprah’s darling in real life? Anyways, From Paris is a balls-out-buddy-action-comedy that’s relentless in its presentation. Throw your thinking caps in the laundry and enjoy the ride.
While I prefer Ben Stiller in his zany roles (Tony Perkis FTW), I admit he’s awesome as misanthropic carpenter Roger Greenberg – a man stuck in the past. He’s a paranoid mope who writes pointless complaint letters and keeps his heart locked like a tomb. Until he meets the right girl, duh. Sounds formulaic, but in the hands of Baumbach it’s a hilarious, touching, and colorful movie filled with the just the right amount of angst and quirk.
The movie that made the world do a “big collective dry heave” based solely on its premise alone surprised a lot of us by being really really good. Three people sewn together ass-to-mouth screams cash-grab gimmick, but the “centipede” takes a backseat to the incredible Dieter Laser as the twisted Dr. Heiter. Best villain of the year? Hell yes, no matter what the Heiter haters say. From Crook’s original review:
“He’s one part Udo Kier and one part Christopher Walken, with a dash of John Lithgow splashed in. He’s completely believable, terrifying but not totally humorless (much like the whole film). This sort of movie lives and dies by who plays the villain, and fortunately, this was a grand fuckin’ slam.”
Swallow your pride, mopsters, and read the writing on the wall. Pixar has been the most consistent studio on the planet since the first Toy Story dropped in 1995. And I’m not just talking about those buku box office records. I’m speaking of the wealth of creativity, charm, and masterful storytelling that resides in each Pixar joint. Even at their lowest (Cars) Pixar’s films dwarf the majority of the content in Hollywood films.
Maybe they were trying to one-up the gut-wrenching opening montage of last year’s Up, but you can go to hell if the last 15 minutes of Toy Story 3 didn’t tear at your heart strings. The franchise may help sell a retarded amount of merchandise, but at their core they’re still all about friendship and loyalty. And the Spanish Buzz Lightyear parts were hilarious.
Not originally reviewed on the Bloglin.
I was head over heels for this film when I first saw it early this year at the Boston Film Festival. Then when it came On Demand I must have watched it six times, showing it to friends along the way. An adaptation of Jim Thompson’s 1952 pulp novel of the same name, Winterbottom’s film is a hypnotic, soft-spoken look at mental illness, family legacy, and S&M in small town Texas.
The film caused some controversy over it’s unflinching scenes of lethal violence against women, but, like Winterbottom argued, violence isn’t pretty and you’re not supposed to enjoy watching it. I’m sure most people would agree with that. Whether you’re supposed to enjoy a bare-bottomed Jessica Alba getting spanked by Casey Affleck in a stetson is, however, a matter of opinion.
I’ve had a screener of this sitting on my hard drive for a criminally long time, so here’s some of what Crook had to say on this controversial film that left one distributor unconscious and bloody:
“To say that this is a pretty dark and brutal movie would be an understatement, but the film’s most shocking aspect isn’t the gore or the disturbing situations it depicts (which are pretty shocking mind you), but rather how well done all of it is. The acting, directing, cinematography and even the authenticity of the scenes are all handled at such a high level that it will not only catch you off guard, but make you uncomfortable. Torture Porn this may be, but (Sergej) Trifunovic truly cared about his craft with this film and it wasn’t merely trying to rush something out to shock audiences.” “This is the sort of movie that stays with you, whether you like it or not…”
Although I would have been more interested in seeing a movie about Farmville, there’s no denying that Fincher’s Social Network is awesome. Aaron Sorkin’s adapted script is one of the best of the year, Jesse Eisenberg is the man, Timberlake was kind of perfect in the role, and Trent Reznor’s score was the cherry on top. But I agree with our beloved Cornbluth in his original review, Armie Hammer acted the pants off everyone else. He plays both of the Winklevoss twins and I wanted to throttle them both.
The film was a great mirror for our generation – a generation obsessed with themselves and their online presence/persona/popularity. I thought this film would actually lead to the downfall of Facebook. I guess I wanted it to. Face it, it stopped being cool once your mom friend requested me.
French director Jacques Audiard has five films under his belt and he’s already being called the “French Scorsese.” I’ve only seen three and I’d have to agree with that convenient label. A Prophet is a look at the way religion and race dictate prisoner interaction and loyalty. It’s about the rise of 19-year old French-Arab Malik El Djebena (Tahar Rahim) and the fall of Corsican kingpin Cesar Luciani (Niels Arestrup). Rahim is excellent but Arestrup is a beast who just devours the screen.
Audiard doesn’t polish the movie with snappy dialogue or montages set to Rolling Stones’ tunes. He keeps it gully with razors under tongues, shower propositions, and prophetic visions of deer. That’s life in the pokey, son.
I’m going to let Behold the Destroyer do the talking on this one because I love his reviews. But I wanted to say that this movie is ahead of its time. We’ve all seen a mockumentary before, but not one so beautifully shot, hilarious, and honest in its satirical look at stardom and reality.
“Essentially, this movie is the documentation of an Andy Kaufman like social experiment/prank, to see what would happen if a famous actor went full on, grow a wizard beard, rambling, batshit crazy and decided to become a rapper.” “…it becomes less mockery and more a very compelling and surreal narrative that you try to decipher and unravel as you watch it. It honestly, probably poses more questions about the nature of reality than Inception did.”
And while the film may have been a prank, what is no joke is that Phoenix currently has zero projects in the works listed on his IMDB page. So if he really did retire, I’m Still Here is a terrific, final middle finger to Hollywood.
Greek director Giorgos Lanthimos’ satirical look at parenting and the control of information was one of the most unsettling and funny movies of 2010. It’s about a mother and father who keep their children locked away from the world on a fenced-in estate. They feed them distorted information on the way the world works to foster a bizarre, micro-utopia. When real information from the outside world leaks in (via VHS), the children begin to question their entire world.
It’s a violent, funny movie that contains incest, Rocky impersonations, and someone getting beaten with a VHS tape. What’s not to like?
From first time writer-director David Michôd, Animal Kingdom looks at the inherit troubles of being born into a Melbourne-based crime family. Something we can all relate to. The film is almost Shakespearean in its reach and builds up so much tension you might be begging for a gunshot to the head by the end. In a good way, I mean. From Whole Milk’s original review:
“(James) Frecheville carries the movie with his subdued, quiet performance. He never overplays his delicate paradox, even when he has to make the choice between protecting his family and participating in some seriously evil shit.” “…the real star here is Jacki Weaver (as the matriarch). Beneath her bleached blond hair and saccharine tongue lies a pitch black heart. She’s seriously scary.” “Despite being made on a budget, the look of the movie is aces and never sensationalist. In fact the whole thing is languidly paced, which only adds to the ever-growing sense of dread that pervades it.”
So, did the movie that had Nolan fanboys sweating for a year deliver? Yes? Did it reinvent the wheel? No. The idea of the dream within a dream seemed to somehow confuse people who thought it required massive deconstruction, but for viewers who didn’t think about “dream layers” too much the movie was just straight up enjoyable. Solid acting across the board, intelligent action sequences, and style out the ass. The revolving hallway sequence is hands-down one of the coolest scenes of 2010 and, as if last year’s Bronson wasn’t enough, Tom Hardy’s performance, to me, put him up there with actors who can fill seats on name alone.
From Doc Dino’s original review:
“It did not change my idea of what cinema can do, or move me in a massively emotional way, it’s not There Will Be Blood or The Hurt Locker. The movie is very fun and very entertaining but its not perfect or transcendent. The screenplay is definitely convoluted and sometimes just makes no sense but you buy it because you are too busy enjoying yourself. I really enjoyed the fact that once the “heist” gets started the movie is pretty much one long action sequence. Hot.”
I didn’t make it out to this one, but here’s what Crook had to say:
“Over the course of the film were treated to something that expertly switches from teen romance comedy to action flick without skipping a beat. The action sequences are really fun and well done, playing homage to everything from Street Fighter, Guitar Hero and DDR. And while it may get pretty corny and predictable at times, it does so while being acutely self aware of that fact… which in turn makes the film quite as funny and enjoyable as it is.”
“Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is the sort of teen movie that works across generations. I can just as easily see thirtysomethings enjoying it as did most of the fifteen year olds in attendance while I watched. It’s the perfect storm of themes that may either be ringing true now, or those you have nostalgic fondness for. There is no specific time for when the film seems to take place, but the style, hair and music is oh soooooo very late 90 which in no small part helped endear it to someone around my age.”
For those of you wondering, Crook is 16 years old.
This movie redefined what a “haunting film” is for me. Bong Joon-ho’s tale of a mother’s love and devotion for her mentally challenged son is a murder mystery/police procedural that defies genre and challenges the audiences morals. Its narrative is tight and unravels at the perfect pace (I gasped at the turning point that begins the third act), but without the performance of 68-year-old actress Hye-ja Kim, the movie might not have been convincing. Kim plays the caring mother turned private eye very subtly, but that’s what makes it so disturbing in the end. The final moments of Mother are the visual translation of T.S. Eliot’s famous line: “not with a bang but a whimper.” You won’t shake this one off easily.
From Crook’s original review:
“Four Lions documents the tale of a four (sometimes five) member Muslim terrorist cell in England. But these aren’t your average scourge of the world; they’re not the cool, calm and methodical terrorists that we’re fed by the media after the fact… These guys are bumbling idiots! So watching them try to blow shit up is pretty goddamn hilarious.” “Four Lions is as dark as a comedy can get, and it’s easily the funniest film I’ve seen all year. It’s a brave, uncompromising and uproarious film showing that evil in one’s heart doesn’t mean a brain in their head… or at least not until it’s way too late. And as depraved as this premise may seem for some, it’s not merely shock without any virtue. Consequences are a big part of the story. I can’t recommend this film enough…”
The tale of a ballerina who may or may not be driving herself insane in pursuit of her dreams at first sounds like your sister’s favorite after-school special. But in the able hands of Aronofsky it’s one of the darkest films of the year. Part intelligent fairy tale, part body horror, part lesbo ballet, Black Swan was one of the only films this year I wanted to watch again immediately after it ended.
From Behold he Destroyer’s original review:
“Black Swan balances between moments of quiet understated beauty and sections of wildly, over dramatic hysterics — much like the performances of ballerinas themselves. Sometimes, within the same scene the movie jumps from feeling like a highbrow, art house piece of cinema (many of the beautifully choreographed and shot ballet scenes) to feeling like an episode of Silk Stalkings (the much discussed lesbian scene between Portman and Kunis). Yet, the film does manage to come across as a cohesive whole once you accept the world that it exists in.” “…Black Swan manages to take the idea of polarity and duality and apply it to all aspects of the film to create a multi-tiered and rich experience.”
It doesn’t matter if it’s real or not. That’s not the point. Exit Through the Gift Shop is genius. If it’s an “accidental” documentary of simply a hoax, it’s still one of the most enjoyable movies of 2010. Easily better than 98% of the scripted ones. It looks at the growth of the street art movement, its commercialization, and its injection into “pop culture” and higher art circles. Several stages of Bansky’s work and “stunts” are documented, which are just as interesting/hilarious to watch as the interviews with the man himself and Thierry Guetta.
Guetta’s shift from filmmaker to commercially successful “street artist” is as infuriating as it is tragic. It was like Lando’s betrayal scene on Bespin. But unlike Lando’s eventual move to the Rebels, Guetta takes the money and runs. At least he left Bansky with material for one of the year’s best. Or did he? *head explodes*
The Coen Brothers have produced some of the most amazing, original, genre-bending, films of our lifetime. True Grit is their most straightforward film; remaining in the western genre. While that kind of confinement would crush other filmmakers used to bending shit their own way, the Coen’s made a classic. BAM! From the ominous opening shot to the bittersweet end, True Grit is flawless. This is just damn good storytelling, adapted or not.
The brothers took a chance casting 14-year-old newcomer Hailee Steinfeld, but their gamble paid off. She’s a subtle tornado as Mattie Ross, a girl hellbent on vengeance who manages to hold her own against Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, and Josh Brolin. The little lady has a bright future.
Like our number one last year, (Bad Lieutenant), our top pick wasn’t reviewed on the Bloglin. What’s wrong with us? Well, Winter’s Bone barely had a release but I caught it up quick when it was released on DVD.
Ree Dolly, a 17-year-old Ozark girl, sets out to find her meth-dealing father who put their house up for bail bond. If she can’t find him, Dolly’s two younger siblings, inept mom, and herself will be turned out in the Ozark wilderness of Missouri. On her search, she has to confront the reddest of rednecks and kin – all who follow an unwritten law of family silence. This isn’t like calling a relative to see if they know where your dad is. Dolly’s look for pa is more like the “hero’s journey” of mythology.
Debra Granik, who co-wrote and directed the film, fills this vision of the Ozarks with an almost unbearable sense of dread. From the moment Dolly sets out we have a gut feeling she isn’t coming back unscathed or even alive. Dolly is played by 20-year-old Jennifer Lawrence and if the Academy isn’t completely retarded she will be nominated. The whole supporting cast, in fact, is utterly believable as scary-ass hicks – especially John Hawkes as Dolly’s uncle Teardrop. Atmosphere, tension, and brutality fill in the rest of the puzzle – along with the most ass-clenching rowboat scene you will ever see.
Not originally reviewed on the Bloglin.