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Top 10 of ’10

Happy New Year everybody!

I can’t say that 2010 was a particularly strong year at the movies.  Seems like I saw more disappointments and lame attempts and straight up bad ideas that luminous, memorable films this year.  Ironically, that makes it easier than usual to pick the year’s best.   These are the movies that stood head and shoulders above the rest this year.

10.  Animal Kingdom

Australian David Michod’s crime drama skips right past the rise of a gang of bank robbers and settles down right in the middle of their grisly fall.  When his mother dies of a heroin drug overdose, 18 year old James Frecheville goes to live with his grandmother and pyschotic, bank-robbing uncles.  Trouble is, the cops are on to them, and the gang’s splintering and being picked off one by one.  “Animal Kingdom” is gritty, tense, well-plotted; a fine piece of filmmaking from Down Under.
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9. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Definitely the easiest movie on this list to hate, Scott Pilgrim is loaded with EMO-tion, purple hair and indie songs with one word lyrics.   Sure, it’s bright and manic, eye candy for the ADD generation.  But underneath that emo exterior is a movie with genuine heart.   Adapted from a comic book, “Pilgrim” represents a new generation—or perhaps just subculture – learning to tell complicated, truly felt stories in their own language.   Oh yes.  And it’s a heck of a lot of fun.

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8. Get Low

This film may be the polar opposite of “Pilgrim:”  it’s not flashy, and it’s not about young people.   But Robert Duvall and Bill Murray do great work as an old hermit and his undertaker, planning his funeral so that it will happen before his death.  Duvall in particular is spectacular, and “Get Low” is about a deep truth – the human soul’s need to confess—that rarely finds its way onto the silver screen.   A wonderful, wise movie.

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7. Never Let Me Go

Carey Mulligan, James Garfield and Keira Knightley star in this “science fiction” film set in a delightfully shabby and run-down 1970’s England.   Melancholy and wistful, it’s a movie about life and death, and what one does with both.  Beautiful and sad; get out your handkerchiefs when you rent this one.

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6. Winter’s Bone

Take the formula for all those Sam Spade and Philip Marlow noirs (“The Maltese Falcon,” for example) and use it to make a film about meth-cooking hillbillies in Arkansas.  There are so many reasons this ought not to work, it’s absolutely stunning that it actually does.   Oh boy, does it.

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5. Inception

Chris Nolan’s follow-up to “The Dark Knight” is another masterful step in an astonishingly solid filmography.   It may not be the best movie of the year, but it’s certainly been the most talked about; I’m still not sure what exactly was real and what was a dream (and neither do you.)   But all the head games about dream levels and spinning tops aside, “Inception” was a rollicking good time and contained, without a doubt, the best action sequence of any film this year.

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4. Toy Story 3

Do you know how hard it is to make a successful threequel?  (You do if you read my review in June.)  Pixar pulls it off by delaying some 11 years since the first two movies came out, then filling “3” with melancholy moments about growing up, moving on and the intricacies of commitment, friendship, and love.   Like Chris Nolan, the Pixar guys have yet to make a bad movie.   I’m curious to see who buckles first.

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3. Black Swan

Hard to believe Darren Aronofsky followed up the depressing, gritty “Wrestler” with this psychotic, exotic delve deep into the realms of ballet and obsession.   Natalie Portman gives the best performance of her career and a fragile young ballerina who must discover her dark side in order to perform the role of a lifetime.  “Black Swan” is absorbing, layered, intense and tragic.   This is one not to be missed.

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2. The Social Network

David Fincher’s film about the programming genius behind Facebook never stops for a breath or an explanation and takes no prisoners.   Jesse Eisenberg’s portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg is just as intense and focused, and the result is a relentlessly entertaining, if somewhat exhausting, film that tosses off complicated moral questions and observations about society like they’re beads at Mardi Gras.

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1. The Fighter

After making a tone of movie playing plastic action figures in summer blockbusters, Christian Bale reminds us in “The Fighter” that he really can act, when he needs to.   The story of real-life welterweight Mickey Ward, “The Fighter” is the best boxing movie since “Raging Bull” – and that was 30 years ago.  Every now and then, a film comes along and reminds me of why I love movies.  I get so caught up in the stories, the characters, the performances, the plot, indeed, the whole gestalt of the thing that I never, for two hours, think about anything but what’s happening on the screen.   After a fairly disappointing year at the movies, “The Fighter” has reignited my love and passion for the silver screen.

It’s my favorite movie of the year.

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Posted in All Reviews.

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  1. Matt K. said

    i still cant figure out why you liked winters bone i thought that movie was worthless! glad to see inception and toy story 3 on there though =) tintin better make it onto your 2011 list!

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  1. Top 10 Films of 2013 - GonnaWatchIt.comGonnaWatchIt.com linked to this post on November 7, 2014

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