Well, the year has finally come to a close and it’s time to reflect on everything I’ve witnessed. I have to admit the year started rather slow, and by summer time I was convinced Inception would be the hands down best film of the year. But, thanks to an awards season surge, multiple films tried to prove their case for best picture of the year. It was a great year for thrillers in my opinion, and a quiet year for really gut busting comedies. Big name directors shined brighter than ever this year, delivering some of their best work to date. Danny Boyle, David Fincher, Darren Aronofsky, the Coen Brothers, and Christopher Nolan all created their own masterpieces, proving the value of experience. Some young guns also made a splash, including Gareth Edwards and his alien drama Monsters, which secured him a job directing the new Godzilla re-imagining Legendary Pictures has set for 2012. There were also some surprises, such as The King’s Speech, that took a topic I judged as uninteresting, but through brilliant story telling kept me hooked and wanting more. Enough about generalizations though, on with the list! I obviously won’t delve into a tremendous amount of detail, but I will attach all the reviews on the film’s titles.
Nato’s Top 10 Film’s of 2010
10) The Town (Ben Affleck)
Ben Affleck’s directorial followup to the critically acclaimed Gone Baby Gone was just as strong as his first effort. Focusing on the crime infested city of Charlestown, MA, it tells the story of Doug McRay and his struggle to put his criminal ways behind him. What I loved most about this film was the gritty, true feel the entire film had. Look at those mugs. These aren’t some overly muscular body building criminals, but real schmos from the street. It turns out to be very engaging and every exciting, showing that Affleck has a tremendous amount of talent behind the camera we can only hope to see more of.
9) [REC] 2 (Jaume Balaguero/Paco Plaza)
In 2007, I discovered an amazing zombie film titled [REC]. After an hour and a half, I had discovered my favorite zombie film of all time as it gave a first person view in a quarantined apartment building of horrors. Well, in 2010, I got my hands on its sequel and had another hour and a half in heaven. [REC] 2 took the mythology of the first one, expanded it, then took a hard left just when you thought you had the story figured out [REC] 2 started down a completely new path for the series. It did exactly what a good sequel should do: introduced new and exciting concepts into an already tantalizing formula and deepened an already in-depth franchise. Not to mention it was probably the best horror film I saw for the year. Guess what, there’s still 2 more to come and if they’re anything like their predecessors, you’ll be seeing the [REC] franchise make another of my lists in the future.
8) True Grit (Joel/Ethan Coen)
Is there any genre the Coen brothers can’t break into? Not only do they remake a western classic with ease, but they reinvent the western genre to fit their unique style. As I said in my review, you won’t find a ton of silly back and forth shootouts and a bunch of characters dancing around shouting “Yeehaw!” Nope, instead you’ll get a few straight shooting characters and a sprawling landscape for them to traverse. Dialogue is minimal yet extremely effective and a lot of the film is beautifully shot. Jeff Bridges provides a “Rooster” Cogburn who acts on swift justice, but young Hailee Steinfeld steals the show with her extremely professional acting. You would think she had years of acting under her belt the way she delivers lines with ease and flows through every scene. The Coen brothers strike hard again with True Grit, coming in at number eight. Prediction Update: After careful deliberation and analysis of reviews, I don’t see the Academy getting away from the Coens. True Grit for Best Picture
a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a 7) Toy Story 3 (Lee Unkrich) / How To Train Your Dragon (Dean Deblois/Chris Sanders)
Alright, I’m going to tie these two animated movies because I loved them both for the same reasons. First, they both succeeded on the level of children’s movie and adult’s movie. I didn’t need a younger sibling to see these films. I was able to go in with friends of the same age and enjoy them to their fullest. They were both filled with tons of heart and were touching in their own ways. The 3D made the animation look gorgeous, especially in the vast island atmosphere of How To Train Your Dragon. Dragon was a touching story about believing in the underdog and giving everyone their fair shot. Toy Story 3 on the other hand completes one of the greatest trilogies of all time by bringing Andy and the toys full circle. Many tears were shed when we saw Buzz, Woody, and the gang have to say farewell to their owner we watched grow up through all three movies. I have no problem admitting I own both of these films, and have no problem watching them over and over again.
6) The Social Network (David Fincher)
We’re all envious of Mark Zuckerberg for becoming an overnight billionaire just by creating a website. But most of us didn’t know the story behind the site. If we’re to believe all the events in this film were true, there was tons of deception, backstabbing, and lying that spawned this social network juggernaut. And if it was all fabricated, I don’t really care because it was still a tremendously entertaining story. The mixture of Trent Reznor’s edgy rock/synth soundtrack, Aaron Sorkin’s sarcastic screenplay, and the major actors of the film create the dramatic story of the creation of Facebook.
5) Inception (Christopher Nolan)
I love a great movie to wrap my mind around. Inception was the ultimate mind sizzling cluster of insanity, still leaving you with questions as the credits rolled. Inception was the best written story of the year, masterfully crafted by the genius himself Christopher Nolan. It was visually astounding, and scene to scene you never knew what to expect. One minute the characters were in a city, the next some snow-covered hidden base. The fantastical story brought us somewhere we never thought possible, and superior creation kept us on the edge of our seat for two hours and thirty minutes. The ensemble cast put together shined gloriously throughout, creating one of the most unique viewing experiences of the year.
4) Black Swan (Darren Aronofsky)
If it wasn’t for Black Swan, Inception would have easily won Trippiest Film of the Year hands down. Instead, we were blessed with this psychological thriller filled with drama and driven by sexuality that sucks us into the insanity of its actions. We witness a girl so driven by perfection start to become delusional as a result of the stress of being Swan Queen in her upcoming show. You try to keep all of her actions straight, but it becomes a challenge separating what goes on in young Nina’s head and what is really occurring. Natalie Portman has a career defining role as the ballerina in question Nina as she pushes the boundaries of her female character. Not for the easily confused, Black Swan offers a viewing experience filled with uncertainty and intrigue, but also visual beauty and chilling thrills.
3) 127 Hours (Danny Boyle)
Surprise, surprise; Danny Boyle strikes again. Last year he took home the Best Picture Oscar with Slumdog Millionaire, and now he legitimately has a chance for back to back bragging rights with 127 Hours. He tells the harrowing tale of Aron Ralston’s amazing escape, played perfectly by James Franco. It’s an inspiring tale filled with raw emotion and brilliant cinematography, and even the most brutal parts are so artfully created you can’t look away. Smart decisions in Boyle’s screenplay make this an easy fit into my top three.
2) The Fighter (David O. Russell)
I cannot stress how much I loved this movie. Too many people confessed to boxing in the parking lot after seeing this movie. During Mickey’s last fight, people were literally cheering in the theater as Marky Mark boxed for the title. If that doesn’t prove how engaging of a film The Fighter is, I don’t know what will. Christian Bale gives such a convincing performance as Mickey’s brother Dickie, they were impossible to tell apart when compared with each other. Not to put down any of the other actors, but Bale outshines all of them undoubtably. There was such an investment in numerous characters, it was hard to care that the average viewer could predict the ending from the start. Didn’t matter. It was a joy watching Mickey every step of the way. Prediction: Christian Bale for Best Male Supporting Actor
And now…the #1 pick no one will agree with….
1) Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (Edgar Wright)
Edgar Wright was the first director to successfully translate the feel of a comic book/graphic novel to the big screen. My review is based solely on the movie, so those complaining that Wright changed the ending…your argument is wasted on me. This was the perfect film for the geekdom/video game generation. It was a love story wrapped around an action film mixed with a geeky comedy. The soundtrack was out of this world, the visual prowess was unmatched, and for once in my life I can say I didn’t mind Michael Cera being typecast. He was Scott Pilgrim. It’s not his fault his personality is being overused by any director that can get their hands on him. I don’t expect all to love this movie, but it was made for a specific niche, and I just happened to be the definition of the target audience for Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.
11) The King’s Speech (Tom Hooper): Surprised everyone by taking what looked like a sure-fire historical drama and turning it into a hilariously touching struggle of a man vs. a speech impediment, but also himself. Prediction: Colin Firth for Best Male Actor/Helena Bonham Carter for Best Female Actress
12) Kick Ass (Matthew Vaughn): Hit-Girl. Need I say more? Oh, I do. Nic Cage.
13) The Loved Ones (Sean Byrne): An Australian horror flick that shows what a “torture” film is really supposed to be like. No gratuitous T’N’A or gross out tactics, just a deeply disturbing story and equally skin-crawling acting.
14) Unstoppable (Tony Scott): Again, a story with not many plot twists, but brilliant directing and high-caliber acting make this film way more entertaining than it has any right to be.
15) Shutter Island (Martin Scorsese): A spooky film-noir type detective piece that keeps you guessing while on the edge of your seat.
Number #1 Netflix Watch Instant Discovery: The Good, The Bad, The Weird (Ji-Woo Kim) The beautiful offspring of a classic western and an expertly choreographed martial arts film.
Biggest Disappointment of the Year: Predators (Nimród Antal)
It’s not that Predators was the worst film of the year, but it surely let me down the most. It saddens me that Robert Rodriguez was involved in this project because it had none of his flair even though Nimrod was reporting on set Robert was always involved in some aspect of the filming. There was a whole lot of walking and talking, and not much Predator action. Not to mention the film turned the Predators into pussies that couldn’t even take down one slender Asian wielding a sword, when it took Arnold and a burley group of body building goons just to bring down the first one. I get the whole “they were head Predators in training blah blah blah,” but in the long run the film just totally fell flat. It was way too boring to be under the Predator name, and Danny Trejo died way too early! If you’re going to have a badass Mexican character, you can’t have him be the first to die! Ok, must stop now before I rant for another 2000 words. Predators, thanks for nothing.
Worst Movies of the Year:
1) The Bounty Hunter (Andy Tennant): This piece of garbage romantic comedy had nothing worthwhile to be found in a film. A couple with no chemistry and ridiculously unbelievable scenarios.
2) The Human Centipede (First Sequence) (Tom Six): Disgusting, repulsive, sick, sadistic, perverted, stomach churning; and all without a point. Yet The Bounty Hunter was still worse.
3) Legion (Scott Stewart): This had cult classic written all over it, until the characters started talking and stopped fighting. You can’t bill a movie as an action piece when too much of the time is spent watching dull paper-thin characters whine about their lives.
4) Survival of the Dead (George A. Romero): “Blahhh, we’re going to eat your brainssss….when we walk to you in 30 minutes…..” If zombies could talk, that’s what every zombie in Survival of the Dead would have been saying. Dreadfully boring and nowhere near on par with George A. Romero’s work.
The Coens picked a perfect song in the Johnny Cash song “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” and set up the perfect tone for True Grit with their choice. I almost got chills watching the trailer.
Most Anticipated for 2011 (In No Order):
Cowboys and Aliens (John Favreau): Sounds crazy enough to work, and has a cast that could be epic.
New Muppets Movie (James Bobin): It’s the Muppets! Plus Jason Segel working with half of Flight of the Conchords on new music for our favorite puppet pals.
Sucker Punch (Zack Snyder): Looks like visual dynamite so far, just like most of Snyder’s pictures, and has a crazy steampunk/anime look to it which is extremely intriguing.
Battle: LA (Justin Lin): Looks like an interestingly real take on the whole alien invasion plot.
Green Lantern/Captain America: The First Avenger: Comic book films are finally starting to look up, lets see if they can keep rising!
Super 8 (J.J. Abrams): The guy can run a viral marketing campaign, there is no doubt. I can’t quite pinpoint just the kind of film Super 8 will be, but I’m none the less intrigued.
The Cabin in the Woods (Drew Goddard): Being a horror nerd and loving all people involved in the behind the scenes work on this project, I’m dying to see how the film puts a creative spin on a simple cabin horror story.
Not much left to say, except after a brilliant year in film, I can’t wait to see how 2011 tries to topple it. Movies are always evolving, lets just see where they take us next.