We start the Top 7. You finish the Top 10.
It was a year. I don't think anyone can debate that. It was also a year in which there were movies. Again, I believe history will show that I write the truth in this instance as well. When discussing these movies, there shall be only seven that people will speak of, and to this, there will be great debate. Now, if you will grant me the chance, I will throw my proverbial hat into the proverbial ring, and give you my favorite seven films of 2010. This is also known as, the TOP 7 Films of 2010 (cue the Earth shaking music).
7. True Grit
Recap: Based on the novel by Charles Portis, a 14-year-old girl (Steinfeld) wants to avenge her father’s death and enlists the help of an aging Marshall named Rooster Cogburn (Bridges) to get the job done.
Reason: Sometimes not even I can avoid movie news about films no matter how hard I try. I had heard the Coen brothers remark that they were adapting the novel, not remaking the film. Now, even though my dad had probably told me a half dozen times to watch it, I never saw the John Wayne original. Once I header of this project, I decided I didn’t want to compare and contrast. This version is my True Grit.
I love this Western world and cast of characters. I couldn’t believe how funny it was. That seems to be a theme with The King’s Speech, The Fighter and this getting more laughs than expected for a drama. Those films had me laughing out loud more than The Other Guys or Due Date. Any fault I have with this film is within the story. In all likelihood, I’m referring to the source material. Lucky Ned seems to need an extra scene or two, or maybe even a flashback to fully understand if we fear or care about his rivalry with Rooster. The very end of the film seems out of sorts, and disconnected from the rest of the movie. Then again, the Coen brothers can simply throw up their arms and say they were making a proper adaption. The characters are so colorful and engaging that you can easily overlook these things that I have pointed out. In fact, it’s the best overall cast of the year. To make another version of this movie takes … I’m going to say it, I’m going to say it … True Grit. Yes, the Coen brothers and the cast have what it takes. This is one of the best of the year.
6. Shutter Island
Recap: Based on Dennis Lehane’s novel, U.S. Marshall Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio) and his new partner Chuck (Ruffalo) are called to a remote island off the coast of Massachusetts to investigate the disappearance of a woman from the island’s hospital for the criminally insane.
Reason: This was the first must-see film of 2010. That’s my pimp statement for Shutter Island. Here’s another, “This is one island you won’t want to leave!” Wait, that doesn’t make sense, since it’s technically an island you would never want to find yourself on. Let’s sick with the must-see. Man, guys like Peter Travers and Pete Hammond make those sellable quotes seem so easy.
It was a great feeling to be in Scorsese’s hands after almost two months of average films. He controls every aspect of this film, and it’s simply obvious he knows what he is doing. Once again, we get a really good DiCaprio show. We are completely and utterly on a journey with him, and want to know the truth of the mysterious disappearance of a woman just as much as he does. It’s rare to have a film slow down and really keep you in a moment. Most films don’t stick us in a dream sequence for 15 minutes. But here, it all works toward a great ending.
“You’ll shutter yourself to death if you miss this film.” Argh. Never mind, just see this movie.
5. Black Swan
Recap: A ballet dancer (Portman) finally gets a big break with her company doing a production of “Swan Lake,” but a rival (Kunis) may want her top spot.
Reason: From the director of Requiem for a Dream and The Wrestler comes Black Swan. I’m not just repeating a line from the ads for this film. It really is the perfect blend of those two films. Black Swan is creepy and beautiful.
It really is the perfect role for Portman. Her entire career up until this point could be described as “adult.” Her first two major roles in The Professional and Beautiful Girls showcased a little girl well beyond her years in maturity. It’s shocking to see Portman act this way. It’s her most immature character to date and it’s so well done.
Beauty, grace and the insane (in a good way) mind of Darren Aronofsky make Black Swan a hypnotically addictive film.
4. 127 Hours
Recap: Aron Ralston (Franco) is an outdoor adrenaline junkie. He takes off for the weekend without telling anyone where he’s heading and runs into serious trouble when he gets stuck in a canyon.
Reason: When Aron gets trapped, he’s shocked by the situation. But it’s different than if it would have happened to you or me. He’s not stressed, just surprised. Aron has plenty of “untouchable youth” in him, whether that is with adventure of how he treats love. But when it comes to the outdoors, he also has the necessary intelligence to do the “crazy” things he does. He also doesn’t blame the world, he knows how he got into this mess.
Once Aron is stuck, we the audience aren’t. We get moments with a young Aron and his dad (Treat Williams) watching the sunrise at the Grand Canyon. We get glimpses of a failed relationship with Rana (Clémence Poésy). And just when it seems to be getting a little bit boring, we get a talk show hosted by Aron, showcasing the comedic abilities of Franco.
Through it all, it’s somehow relatable. You know that feeling you get when you misplace your keys, but then find them? It’s like you’ve accomplished something even though you’re right where you started. Well, Aron dropped a knife and is overjoyed when he figures out a way to get it back. Director Danny Boyle has figured out how to put you in the canyon.
Franco shines in 127 Hours and he must to make the film work at all. And to think, he’s just the guy playing the guy.
3. The King's Speech
Recap: This is the story of King George VI (Firth) of Britain. He has a speech impediment but through the help of his therapist (Rush), attempts to overcome it.
Reason: Your new dynamic duo … Firth and Rush! It’s like a relationship with these two. Even at one point Lionel declares he hasn’t told his wife about the Prince (to great comedic effect).
This is a “based on a true story” that I had no idea about. For the most part, the American education system never focuses on the former Kings of England, especially not when it comes to World War II and Winston Churchill.
The King’s Speech feels like a play in the best way possible. Sometimes I say that to mean that the story is small, or limited in space or, most likely … the acting is forced. None of that is true with this film. It’s on my short list for best of the year.
2. Toy Story 3
Recap: In this animated three-quel, the toys are back, but their owner Andy is all grown up and about to leave for college. Woody (Hanks) and Buzz (Allen) must try to figure out where to go, but they run into trouble at Sunnyside Daycare.
Reason: It’s formulaic. And you know what? That’s just peachy-keen with me. We begin in a fantasy action sequence just like in Toy Story 2. But instead of Buzz Lightyear and a video game, it’s the whole gang and the power of imagination. There are definite storylines that are comparable to Toy Story 2 but this time it’s done even better. This movie truly captures the pain and worry of being alone. Lotso and his gang try to sell the idea of “No owners means no heartbreak.” Woody tries to sell the idea of being there for someone, even when they don’t want you anymore.
If you want to remember your childhood, and the passion you can have for inanimate objects, then go see this movie. Actually, no matter what your thinking is … go see this film, it’s my favorite of the first half of 2010.
Recap: Cobb (DiCaprio) is a man who infiltrates dreams to steal people’s secrets. Now he and his team must attempt to pull off their toughest mission ever; trying to convince a man that an idea he dreams is his own.
Reason: Do dreams matter? Most of us have already made up our mind’s with that question. But here’s a better question: Do movie dreams matter? Almost all of the time, the answer is no. They’re used as a gimmick, a joke, a shock, but otherwise they don’t serve much of a purpose. Inception changes those rules. Dreams matter. They matter a whole hell of a lot. It’s crazy that you could actually attempt to explain this movie by saying it’s about trying to get a CEO to make a different business decision. This film taps into some of the same emotions as Nolan’s previous work, Memento. It’s an unsteady world, and we are desperately looking for answers, for sturdy ground. Sometimes we get it with DiCaprio’s Cobb, but not all of the time. The idea behind Inception is that ideas matter. A single thought can burn so deep into your brain there is just no way out. This movie stays with you, you want to show it off to your friends. You want to discuss it and see what they think.
It’s like a spinning top, Inception spins you around and you feel a little disorientated, but you can’t wait to see where it goes next, and you hope it can keep going just a little bit longer.
There’s the Top 7, now what should be in the Top 10?
Actually, before I ask you, here are the rest of my Top 10 ...
8. The Social Network 9. Fair Game 10. Going the Distance