Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Top 20 of 2010

Right, I usually try to get this up the first week in January, but... I was busy, dammit!

Notable Omissions that I have yet to see: The Town, Red Riding 1983 (I... don't ask), I Am Love, A Prophet, 127 Hours, Get Low, Ghost Writer, Buried, Red, the American, Monsters, Machete, Rabbit Hole, Another Year, The Way Back. I can't see everything. At some point I have to go watch Metropolis. There are only so many hours in a week!

So, with that in mind, here are my top 20 of 2010 (with links to earlier references/reviews on the blog included, and if you can see it now):

1. Winter's Bone. (On DVD) Just hands down the most brilliant film I've seen this year. An Ozarks-set noir with fantastic performances all around.
2. Red Riding: 1974. (On DVD) Part of a trilogy of films loosely based around the Yorkshire Ripper and police corruption in the area. This first film deals with a young reporter and one of the victim's mothers. Andrew Garfield was excellent in the Social Network and Never Let Me Go, but he is at his absolute best here.
3. Inception. (On DVD) I think you may have heard of this one.
4. Black Swan. (In theaters) I can't believe I never got around to writing this one up, but I really loved it. It's high art horror. And ballet lends itself particularly well to horror.
5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. (On DVD) Like any fan of the books, I could point out one or two niggling details that I would have done differently, but the fact of the matter is that they took a massive, widely-adored book and did it justice. Noomi Rapace knocks it out of the park as Lisbeth.
6. Fish Tank. (2009/2010 release, but I saw it in January, so I'm adding it here. Not yet on DVD.) I haven't been able to get this film out of my head all year. It is so striking, so original that it seared itself onto my brain. Katie Jarvis gives an incendiary performance as a teen that tries to live beyond her projects housing and Michael Fassbender is riveting as her mother's new boyfriend who begins to befriend her.
7. The Social Network. (On DVD) I think I'd like to see this one again. I feel like it may grow on me. I didn't quite fall in love with it, I won't re-watch it the way I will Inception, but it's so excellent on so many levels and I have found myself thinking about it a lot. Yes, even apart from the awards race.
8. The Fighter. (In theaters) What could have been a rote underdog sports tale is elevated by terrific characterization and filming style. This and True Grit were the two most pleasant surprises for me at the movies this year.
9. True Grit. (In theaters) If No Country for Old Men was the Coens' serious western, this one puts the genre squarely in their sly, darkly-comic oeuvre.
10. Red Riding: 1980. (On DVD) This one hasn't stuck with me the way 1974 did, but it is also incredibly well done and anchored with a remarkable performance by Paddy Considine.

11. Perrier's Bounty. (On DVD) Is this a great film? No. Did I find it wildly entertaining and enjoyable? Yes. Crazy Irish mob film with a great cast.
12. Cell 211. (Not yet on DVD) A fantastic Spanish prison drama. Does not go anywhere you expect it to.
13. Red, White and Blue. (Not yet on DVD) As I wrote before; "Really good, and really disturbing. I suppose it would be called a horror film, but it isn't supernatural in any way. It's flawed people in bad situations doing nasty things to each other. It's far more character-driven than most horror films and it's really well done."
14. Predators. (On DVD) The best summer action flick of 2010. Did everything it set out to do and was a lot of fun.
15. The Killer Inside Me. (On DVD) Casey Affleck as a murderous small town southern sheriff. Much in the same vein as American Psycho or Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.
16. Never Let Me Go. (Not yet on DVD) An achingly beautiful portrait of three friends who grow up at a strange boarding school for special children and the paths they take.
17. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. (On DVD 1/25/11) The trilogy wraps up with Lisbeth and Mikael fighting to keep Lisbeth out of jail and trying to return her rights to her. Incredibly satisfying.
18. Blue Valentine. (In theaters) Well done, if depressing look at the dissolution of a marriage.
19. The King's Speech. (In theaters) A sports film about a speech impediment, or Masterpiece theater for the awards race. Also, it turns out that Nazis are bad.
20. The Crazies. (On DVD) A surprisingly effective horror film about a zombie-esque plague in a small town. Also a good argument for why remakes are not always a bad idea.

The best of the rest: Ondine (On DVD - Irish fairytale), Red Hill (On DVD 1/25/11 - Aussie Western/Revenge thriller), Kick Ass (On DVD - what it says), Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (Not yet on DVD - horror comedy), Animal Kingdom (On DVD 1/18/11 - Aussie crime drama), Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (On DVD - ode to video games, hipster love, and amazing visuals), I Love You Phillip Morris (Not yet on DVD - gay prison dramedy), Marwencol (Not yet on DVD - fascinating documentary about the artist Mark Hogancamp), Salt (On DVD 1/18/11 - spy thriller), Bunny and the Bull (Not yet on DVD - surreal British road trip), Let Me In (On DVD 2/1/11 - vampire tale/coming of age film. But scary>sparkly.)

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