The best films of 2010, in the opinion of this reviewer (who still has to catch up with THE FIGHTER, WINTER’S BONE and several other acclaimed releases):
THE SOCIAL NETWORK
Normally, people working with computers is one of the most boring things that can be put on screen. Director David Fincher, writer Aaron Sorkin and an across-the-board brilliant cast headed up by Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake leave the computers in the background and illustrate the dynamics of friendship and ambition in a way that is remarkably compelling and universal. The fact that the film is about the origins of Facebook feels like an almost incidental detail, and that’s one of the things that’s so great about it.
TOY STORY 3
Those Pixar geniuses John Lasseter, Lee Unkrich, Michael Arndt and Co. have done it again, taking characters we’ve loved for over a decade and coming up with a new story so affecting (and hilarious) that it feels like what they intended all along.
THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT
Director Lisa Cholodenko and her co-writer Stuart Blumberg have created a film that truly affirms family values – support, acceptance, forgiveness and love – while being laugh-out-loud funny at times. Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Mia Wasilowska and Josh Hutcherson all play characters we could easily watch all year long in this story about what happens when the two children of a lesbian couple seek out the sperm donor who is their biological father.
Conor McPherson directed and co-wrote (with original story author Billy Roche) this distinctly Irish story that works equally well as a straight drama and a deeply frightening ghost story, starring a soulful Ciaran Hinds.
THE KING’S SPEECH
This fact-based period tale of a tongue-tied royal, played with awesome intelligence, integrity and rage by Colin Firth, and his public and private rescue by a wily speech therapist, portrayed delightfully by Geoffrey Rush, is brought to vital, moving life by writer David Seidler and director Tom Hooper.
Directing/writing team Joel and Ethan Coen leave the snark behind for this vivid, melancholy Western, with Jeff Bridges as a drunk but tough U.S. marshal and Hailee Steinfeld as the determined fourteen-year-old who hires him to find the man who killed her father in cold blood.
NEVER LET ME GO
Director Mark Romanek and writer Alex Garland have adapted Kuzuo Ishiguro’s novel of a common science fiction premise into a version we’ve never seen before that lingers in the mind long after it’s over, not least because of the performances of Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield.
Director Ben Affleck (who also stars) and his co-writers Peter Craig and Aaron Stockard have adapted Chuck Hogan’s novel PRINCE OF THIEVES into a heist film that recalls HEAT in its intensity, but goes its own way in terms of idiosyncratic morality.
Director/writer Christopher Nolan’s film has some problems – notably an uncompelling love story at its center – but his strikingly imaginative premise and love of detail make this tale of dream invasion a unique trip.
MY NAME IS JERRY
As independent as independent filmmaking gets (it was funded by Ball State University in Indiana), this tale of a salesman struggling with midlife epiphanies is rendered unexpectedly charming, warm and lifelike by director Morgan Mead, his co-writers David Hamilton and Andrew Janoch and their appealingly open leading man Doug Jones.
THE SIX THAT WOULD HAVE MADE THE TOP TEN IF THE AFOREMENTIONED TEN HADN’T
- ROBIN HOOD
- FAIR GAME
- HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON
- HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PT. 1
- THE LAST EXORCISM
- THE RED RIDING TRILOGY
GUILTY PLEASURE OF THE YEAR
You know how the Roger Corman movies from the ‘60s and ‘70s are never quite as amazingly preposterous as you remember when you see them again? Well, SHARKTOPUS is everything you remember about those old schlockfests and more. Indeed, this may be the best representation of the soul of cheap rubber monster flicks yet – it’s hard to recall anything else that fills the bill so completely.