The Academy Awards started nominating ten movies for Best Picture as a way to boost interest. The only real problem I have with that is I think it lessens the value of the nomination itself, but as it’s a category for a film rather than an artist I can roll with it. It will also make speculation articles on Best Picture winners have to be a bit longer.
That being said, critics like making lists and ranking things just as much as the next guy. That’s why I made a list of my favorite seven movies of 2010. These aren’t the ones that are the best in any category, they’re just the ones I enjoyed the most. If you haven’t seen them yet, this is me making a suggestion for your Netflix queue.
7. The Town
Proof that Ben Affleck is going to be a force in Hollywood for many, many years whether you like it or not, “The Town” is set in Charlestown Boston, an area of the country that was supposedly famous for producing bank robbers. Ben Affleck performs solidly as the vehicle’s star, but it is the ensemble he composed that makes the movie a great heist flick.
Jeremy Renner was nominated for an Oscar because of his hard-edged thug, but the two ladies in the cast really stand out as well. Rebecca Hall, who I’ve enjoyed since “Starter For 10,” is proof that girls with decidedly average looks can play the female lead and be beautiful doing it. My biggest surprise came from Blake Lively. People are trying to compare her with Amy Adams in “Gone Daddy Gone” but that’s just silly. Her role as the desperate and broken, strung-out and beat-down, running-out-of-options snitch is so deeply far away from her “Gossip Girl” foundation it proves to be a perfect choice for her to break out as a serious actress.
6. Animal Kingdom
Every year it seems like there is one stand-out Australian movie and “Animal Kingdom” certainly stood out this year. With an Oscar nod for Jacki Weaver, this Sundance Jury Prize winner is getting the attention it deserves from the American media and thank god for that. Where most organized crime family dramas use glamor to paint the picture, David Michod (the writer and director) uses starkness and seediness to represent this clan of bank robbers.
The cast is exceptional and there is a fun interlude where Andy McPhee is given the screen to loom over. Ben Mendelsohn blew my mind as Pope, a character more sadistic but with less collected cruelty than Jacki Weaver’s Smurf. While the ending doesn’t come as much of a surprise, the way the story plays out allows some mystery as to where the story would go from here.
5. Exit Through The Gift Shop
Some people think this is a mockumentary. I disagree with those people, but unlike them I don’t really care if I’m wrong. I enjoyed the movie thoroughly and that, in the end, is all that matters. If it was another stunt pulled by Banksy I will still send my golf clap the lad’s way.
From the beginning, I was more disturbed by Thierry Guetta than amused. Dude is weird. Weird is what it sometimes takes to polymorph, and watching him transform himself into Mr. Brainwash is at once fascinating and bizarre.
4. Winter’s Bone
I count the Ozarks as one of the most inhospitable places on the entire planet, because I’ve seen “Deliverance” and every time I read the word Ozarks I hear the first part of dueling banjos. “Winter’s Bone” is an excellent film because it bleeds place; it uses setting and character to found a story. It’s my pick for Best Picture this year, even if it isn’t my funnest movie of the year.
Jennifer Lawrence does an outstanding job carrying this movie. I knew people that would have slid comfortably into the setting of this movie, and she was flawless in her portrayal. John Hawkes got my pick for best supporting actor in what I think is the toughest overall category this year. Teardrop will be a character written about in acting class. With the exception of Natalie Portman in “Black Swan,” I might argue it was the best performance overall. Garret Dillahunt was refreshing. I enjoy his Raising Hope character and it is nice to see him get other work.
When you make a stir-fry consisting of Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Mary-Louis Parker, Helen Mirren, Richard Dreyfus, Earnest Borgnine and Carl Urban you get fun.
I’m completely biased about this movie and I don’t care. My favorite actor is in it. That would be Mr. Cusack. Even though he doesn’t stretch a lot in most of the roles he takes, I enjoy his attitude and style. His favorite band is the Clash. Mine isn’t, but I like Big Audio Dynamite.
My favorite Chinese actor is in it. Chow Yun-Fat is awesome. My favorite Chinese actress is in it. Li Gong has always been amazing and she doesn’t back down from the task this time either. My favorite Japanese actor is in it. Ken Watanabe almost killed Batman, which makes him almost Chuck Norris, because only Chuck Norris can kill Batman.
My favorite war is in it. WW2 is the best war because it’s very easy to make things black and white. Heroic films with clear friend enemy demarcation are not only possible, they’re realistic. Movies like “Schindler’s List” and “Saving Private Ryan” prove that Steven Spielberg is a nerd and that ww2 was of ginormous artistic importance.
And, above all, John Cusack’s character is a spy. What? I dare you to get cooler.
Most people seemed to think it was a pretty okay movie, too.
1. Never Let Me Go
An adaptation of a Japanese philosophical science-fiction novel set in the British countryside in the ’90s. It stars Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield.
That’s all that really needs to be said about that.
A sneek up on you documentary, this one made me completely rethink the possibilities for stories based on social networking. The mildly underwhelming reveal at the end only reinforces the strange truth to everything.
Made in 2008, “Mystery Team” ran in theaters in 2010, so it can grab a shout-out. Donald Glover, the guy from Community, plays a man-boy detective with the mind of cliche. The most endearing thing about it is that it doesn’t try to be endearing, it simply tries to be funny. Plus, the apathetic girl from Parks and Recreation is in it.
Released in the States at the beginning of January, this British character sketch explores being a young girl in the piss-poor council estates of England. Remarkable writing and acting make this one a stand out that fits comfortably on a shelf with “This Is England” and other staples of British realism.
What was your favorite movie this year?