Monday, January 3, 2011

DAMN Good Movies -- My Top 10 Movies of 2010

Another year has ended, a new one just begun, so I thought I'd pass along a few random thoughts about my personal favorite films of 2010.  For those of you not familiar with my typical disclaimer, this list only contains films I actually managed to see in theaters, so if you don't see your favorite here, that's probably why.

1.  Inception -- It seems to have become somewhat fashionable to bash Inception now that some time has passed and various bloggers and message board posters want to show how smart they are by poking at plot holes in the story.  The thing is, though, this Christopher Nolan film is still the most impressive film to come out of 2010.  Regardless of flaws, no one managed to develop a fantastic new playground the way Nolan did, incorporating elements from such films as The Matrix and On Her Majesty's Secret Service to stunning effect.  Say what you want, Internet, but this is the movie that deserves Best Picture come Oscar time.

2.  True Grit -- At long last, someone finally came along and justified the reason for remaking older films, which unfortunately means that we'll probably see a lot more of them now instead of coming up with something new.  Ethan and Joel Coen directed a superb film here and actually created a remake that was better than the original starring John Wayne.  Jeff Bridges turns in another great performance as Wayne's Rooster Cogburn character, but the true star of this film has to be newcomer Hailee Steinfeld.  Don't be surprised if she at least lands a Best Actress nomination.

3.  How to Train Your Dragon -- One of the biggest surprises of the year, this terrific DreamWorks animated film blew its competitors away and should be a lock of Best Animated Film unless excessive sentimentality for Toy Story kicks in come voting time.  The idea of dragon-fighting Vikings with Scottish voices sounds ridiculous, but Gerard Butler and Craig Ferguson sell the concept so brilliantly and naturally.  Some wonderfully directed sequences and great character design, especially with Toothless, make this one a classic that will be long remembered.

4.  Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World -- Yeah, it was another Michael Cera movie with Michael Cera stretching as an actor to be...Michael Cera once again.  The difference is, though, that a mad genius like Edgar Wright directed this quirky movie and made it something more than just an offbeat independent film.  There's a real love for the generation that grew up playing Nintendo videogames with their 8 bit soundtracks that shines through and superhero actors like Chris Evans and Brandon Routh embracing the cheest villainy of their Evil Ex characters just make this a fun movie to watch.

5.  Toy Story 3 -- Although this is arguably the weakest of the trilogy ("The Toy Story Trilogy...weird), it still packs a hell of a punch for sentimentalists.  Seeing grown-up Andy handing off Woody, Buzz and the other toys to the next generation rips right at the heartstrings, the way Disney films used to do once upon a time.  This film could easily have been phoned in to make $200 million in box office, but thankfully Pixar makes a considerable effort to have the toys go out with an ending they truly deserve.

6.  Tron: Legacy -- I have no way to prove it, but I'm pretty sure this movie was made especially for me and me alone.  Sure, there are other fans of the original Tron from 1982, but how many of them imagined a direct 28-year sequel that actually included Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner as their original characters?  Still, I have trouble understanding why Disney made this film rely so heavily on the original without re-releasing the original back into theaters or on a new Blu-Ray release to get Tron N00bs up to speed.  If nothing else, though, it was all worth it just for Daft Punk's crack-addictive soundtrack.

7.  Iron Man 2 -- Ah, what could have been.  After Robert Downey, Jr. blew fanboys away with his portrayal of Tony Stark in the first film, hopes were understandably high for the sequel.  Sadly, Drunk Iron Man was as uncomfortable to watch here as Drunk Superman was in Superman III and the lively pacing from the first film was sorely missed from the second.  Director Jon Favreau recently announced that he won't be directing the third film, which I'm thinking is probably a good thing at this point.

8.  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 -- Camping, camping, camping, camping, camping, camping.  The really sad thing is, this film adaptation is actually an inprovement on the first half of the final book.  Some great scenes here and there, but they're spread too far apart to make the film work like it should.  Fingers crossed for Part 2, though, which could potentially end up redeeming films six and seven and salvage the overall film saga.

9.  Alice in Wonderland -- Tim Burton and Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland certainly sound like a match made in creative heaven and thankfully, Burton mostly comes through.  Unfortunately, he produces something that desperately wants to be Lewis Carroll but isn't, although the results are no less interesting.  He does manage, though, to find a future star in Mia Wasikowska and traditional Burton composer Danny Elfman turns in one of his best scores in ages.

10.  Kick-Ass -- Ranking up there with Scott Pilgrim in terms of sheer fun, the adaptation of Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr's comics series Kick-Ass also improves on the original source material.  Even months later, it holds up well on rewatching and will probably be considered a cult classic somewhere down the line.  Nicolas Cage was stellar channeling a disturbed Adam West as Big Daddy, but the real heart of the movie has to be Chloe Moretz stealing every scene she's in as Hit-Girl. 

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