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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Top 10 Films of 2010

The year is 2010, and a lot has happened in the movie world. To help take you back in time, here's a look back at some of the film-related events that took place:
Toy Story 3 becomes the year's highest-grossing film, earning over $1.06 billion at the worldwide box office.
The King's Speech wins the Academy Award for Best Picture as well as three other awards, including Best Director (Tom Hooper), Best Actor (Colin Firth) and Best Original Screenplay.

The world loses the likes of Zelda Rubinstein, Peter Graves, John Forsythe, Gary Coleman, Dennis Hopper, Rue McClanahan and Leslie Nielsen.
I've been able to see 132 films released in 2010, and from those, I've compiled my own top ten list. As one can imagine, some great films had to be left off the final list. Here's a look at some of the movies (listed alphabetically) that just missed the cut:

Easy A
Exit Through the Gift Shop
Nowhere Boy
The Town
Toy Story 3

But enough about the runners-up; here's the list you've been waiting to see! Counting down from number ten to number one, I've listed each film and have given the principal cast list as well as if and how fared at the Academy Awards. Also, I've listed the film's rank on my "Best Films of All-Time" list, if applicable. So without any further delay, here's my top ten movies of 2010!

*****

10. Blue Valentine
Rated: R
Directed by: Derek Cianfrance
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams, Faith Wladyka, John Doman
Academy Awards: 1 nomination
All-Time Ranking: 132
***
Originally rated NC-17, Blue Valentine gained some much-desired publicity after a very public effort to reduce the rating down to a more reasonable R. As a result, I was able to see the film in theaters, and I was thoroughly surprised by just how good it was. It's a strange film that leaves you feeling a little bit strange and a lotta bit dirty, but the performances by Gosling and Williams, who received an Academy Award nomination for her work, as so darn good that it's hard not to like this movie to some degree. You're not going to like the story, and you're probably not going to like the characters, but you can easily appreciate the talent level of the actors bringing those characters to life. Just be ready for a very awkward film that proves to be brilliantly beautiful at the same time.

*****

9. Tangled
Rated: PG
Directed by: Byron Howard, Nathan Greno
Starring: Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, Donna Murphy, Ron Perlman, Jeffrey Tambor, Brad Garrett
Academy Awards: 1 nomination
All-Time Ranking: 130
***
I'm going to get a lot of grief about placing Tangled ahead of Toy Story 3, but I had to go with the original fare over another sequel, no matter how good it might have been (I scored the films in the same way). Disney's first foray into the concept of a three-dimensional princess tale proved to be much better than anyone probably expected, and although it may take a little time for it to turn into a Disney classic, it's still offered quite a few memorable moments, like the song "I See the Light." It's a magical tale and deserves recognition alongside the former Disney princess tales.

*****

8. The King's Speech
Rated: R
Directed by: Tom Hooper
Starring: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce
Academy Awards: 12 nominations, 4 wins
All-Time Ranking: 129
***
The eventual Best Picture winner, there truly was a lot to like about The King's Speech. From the moment I saw the film's first trailer the summer before its release, I was calling it the front-runner in the Best Picture race, and it offered everything necessary to win the award. It has a great screenplay, and it's cemented by stellar acting performances from Firth and Rush, and even Bonham Carter manages to make a few memorable moments. Although I don't agree that it was the best film of 2010, I still highly recommend this film and think it should be seen by any cinephile.

*****

7. The Social Network
Rated: PG-13
Directed by: David Fincher
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Rooney Mara, Armie Hammer
Academy Awards: 8 nominations, 3 wins
All-Time Ranking: 128
***
The Social Network was the film that gave The King's Speech the biggest run for its money, and I personally thought it was a better film, if only slightly better. I thought Eisenberg did a great job as the lead, and I was blown away by Armie Hammer's dual portrayal of the antagonistic twins, but it really came down to Fincher's direction that made this film so great. He was able to establish a specific tone and feel from the outset, and it carries through the entire film. It's this tone that truly makes the film something special; the acting and all that is ancillary in comparison.

*****

6. Get Low
Rated: PG-13
Directed by: Aaron Schneider
Starring: Robert Duvall, Bill Murray, Sissy Spacek, Lucas Black
All-Time Ranking: 126
***
Get Low was a little film released over the summer that I'm sure not many people had the opportunity to see. It featured a stellar performance by Robert Duvall as an old hermit who was well-feared around the nearby communities. As he finds himself approaching his death, the hermit enlists an undertaker to set up a living funeral for him so that he can hear the stories that people tell as well as give his own life story in the hopes that those who have feared him for years will finally be able to understand him. It's a quiet and beautifully-crafted tale, and Duvall's character's final story of his life is heart-wrenching, to say the least. This one's going to pull at the heartstrings.

*****

5. The Kids Are All Right
Rated: R
Directed by: Lisa Cholodenko
Starring: Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska, Josh Hutcherson, Mark Ruffalo
Academy Awards: 4 nominations
All-Time Ranking: 113
***
A quirky, offbeat dramatic comedy centered around a lesbian couple and their children, The Kids Are All Right offers quite the character study of a number of characters throughout the course of the film. The central two arcs lie with Bening and Moore's characters, but we're also getting some interesting arcs from the supporting actors in Wasikowska and Hutcherson, who simply want to have some sort of relationship with their biological father. It's a strange tale fueled by a strange familial situation, but for whatever reason, the film works and proves to be both funny and heart-warming.

*****

4. Waking Sleeping Beauty
Rated: PG
Directed by: Don Hahn
All-Time Ranking: 70
***
This one is probably more of a personal pleasure than anything else, but I found it to be a well-crafted documentary that was able to stir my emotions. It tells the story of Disney Animation from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, showing how the studio was able to break out of a slump and enter into their "Renaissance" period with films like The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King. It's an impassioned story about the men and women who worked day and night to bring Disney animation back to its former glory, and you get a real sense of accomplishment as you watch them work. This is an absolute must-see for any Disney fan.


*****

3. 127 Hours
Rated: R
Directed by: Danny Boyle
Starring: James Franco, Clémence Poésy
Academy Awards: 6 nominations
All-Time Ranking: 51
***
I actually saw this film at an advance screening a few months before it was released to the public, and I was absolutely blown away by the power that the film held. Franco gives a tour-de-force performance as Aron Ralston, the man who's arm became trapped underneath a rock as he hiked in Utah. Anyone familiar with Ralston's story will know how the film will end, and yet, there's still no way to prepare yourself for this climactic moments. However, it's the time Ralston spends stuck in the canyon that really makes this film, as we see Franco slowly drift into delirium and madness. A truly remarkable spectacle.

*****

2. Inception
Rated: PG-13
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Ken Watanabe, Dileep Rao, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger, Marion Cotillard, Pete Postlethwaite, Michael Caine
Academy Awards: 8 nominations, 4 wins
All-Time Ranking: 42
***
I had been waiting for Inception since I first heard bits and pieces of the cast list over a year prior, and when I finally sat down and watched it on opening day, I thought it was the greatest film I had ever seen. I loved it so much that I went to see it again the following day, and I was further impressed by the screenplay and storyline. A few months later, I purchased the DVD and watched the film a third time, and I started to see a few holes here and there, but Inception still has enough bravado and originality to keep it as one of the better films released in the past few years. Nolan cements himself as a creative genius with this one.

*****

1. Black Swan
Rated: R
Directed by: Darren Aronofsky
Starring: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, Barbara Hershey, Winona Ryder
Academy Awards: 5 nominations, 1 win
All-Time Ranking: 23
***
In my movie-watching lifetime, I have only been rendered speechless by three films. The first was the iconic 1972 film, The Godfather, the second was 2007's No Country for Old Men and the third was Black Swan. Everything about the film was firing on all cylinders, from the pitch-perfect acting to the perfectly-crafted screenplay that parallels the storyline of Swan Lake with the story that Portman's character is living. It's this parallel that makes the film all the more powerful, and when the film's final credits began to roll, I simply couldn't find the words to express how I felt. This is Aronofsky's masterpiece.

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