I’ve spent the past week sharing my picks for the top five actors and actresses of 2010, and now it’s time for the big list — the top 10 movies of the year. As a disclaimer, I regrettably still haven’t seen “The Fighter,” and with the major awards attention it has been getting, I might have to do some rearranging after seeing that one.
But at least as of right now, here are my top 10 films of 2010.
Honorable mentions: “The Town,” “Winter’s Bone,” “How to Train Your Dragon,” “Never Let Me Go,” “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1,” “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
10. “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” — This critically-acclaimed but little-seen action comedy is one of the sharpest, most original films I’ve seen in a long time. Edgar Wright’s fast-paced direction, a stellar cast and a hilarious script combine to create an eye-popping portrait of a generation of hipsters, gamers, punks and nerds.
9. “Exit Through the Gift Shop” — Directed by elusive street artist Banksy, “Exit Through the Gift Shop” provides an enormously entertaining and intriguing look at the underground practice of graffiti and stencil art. Its third act twist makes it nearly impossible believe, but in the quirky world of street art, it feels completely natural. Whether it’s a true documentary or an elaborate hoax ultimately doesn’t matter. The film’s message about the meaning of art – its definition, its self-indulgence, its commercialization, its cultural impact — rings loud and clear.
8. “127 Hours” — Only director Danny Boyle could bring his trademark energy to a tale as gut-wrenching as “127 Hours,” the true story of a man named Aron Ralston who was forced to amputate his arm after being trapped under a boulder for five days. Everyone is talking about the squirm-inducing amputation scene, but it’s the inspirational story and James Franco’s endearing performance that make this movie so amazing.
7. “Inception” — In a summer of tired sequels and adaptations, director Christopher Nolan delivered something seemingly impossible – a critical and box office blockbuster that is as smart as it is entertaining, as character-driven as it is visually stunning. Always one step ahead of the viewer, this mind-bending sci-fi epic cements Nolan’s status as one of cinema’s most inventive storytellers.
6. “True Grit” — The Coen Brothers at their finest. This duo always has a unique way of taking an old genre and breathing new life into it. “True Grit” is less about gun-slinging than it is about one determined girl’s journey toward retribution and self-discovery. It’s filled with typical Coen nuance and symbolism, and despite the brilliant performances of Coen regulars Jeff Bridges and Josh Brolin, the directors have found a true leading lady in newcomer Hailee Steinfeld.
5. “The Kids Are All Right” — This indie darling has an intelligent script and a pitch-perfect cast, but that isn’t its greatest accomplishment. With its focus on a family with two lesbian parents, “The Kids Are All Right” could have easily become too political. It’s an important part of the story, but it doesn’t define it. Instead, it’s an intimate portrayal of a modern family. The relationships and familial struggles it depicts are universal, no matter one’s sexual orientation, race, religion, etc.
4. “Black Swan” — The Academy might as well start engraving that best actress Oscar with Natalie Portman’s name now. Portman never misses a beat as a ballet dancer whose quest to be perfect slowly unravels her. The Darren Aronofsky-directed tale is dark, twisted and daring. It incorporates the original themes and story of “Swan Lake” smoothly, and it all adds up to a story so beautifully tragic it will stay with you long after the credits roll.
3. “Toy Story 3” — No one does heartwarming family films like Pixar, and “Toy Story 3” is the cream of the crop. The day care setting provides plenty of opportunities for laughter, but what makes it so emotionally affecting is the toys’ struggle to come to terms with Andy growing up. Especially for those of us who were young children when the first movies came out and have grown up with Andy, the message of moving on yet not forgetting the kid at heart resonates particularly strong.
2. “The King’s Speech” — Featuring Oscar worthy performances from Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush, the true story of King George VI overcoming his stutter thanks to the help of an unconventional speech therapist is truly inspiring and surprisingly witty. Not only does it show King George’s determination and dedication to his people on the brink of war, but it captures a beautiful friendship.
1. “The Social Network” — This film has topped so many best-of lists this year it almost seems lazy to stick it at No. 1 here. But it just speaks to what a phenomenal film “The Social Network” really is. It’s not just that it’s expertly directed by David Fincher, features some of the best young actors around and has a script as brilliantly fast-paced as the lives the protagonists lead. It’s that Fincher and writer Aaron Sorkin didn’t make the film a standard biopic of Mark Zuckerberg and the founding of Facebook. It transcends that, and becomes a masterpiece for the information age.
What are your favorite movies of 2010? Sound off in the comments section.
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