Thursday, January 6, 2011

My Favourite Films of 2010

So, it's that time of year again folks. This year I had some serious trouble narrowing it down and there are some films that regrettably didn't make the cut. Great films such as Winter's Bone, Humpday, Life During Wartime, Dogtooth, Buried, Prodigal Sons, Enter the Void, The Last Station and a fair few more had to fall by the wayside. It was difficult because I really think this was a strong year for film. Here are my picks for the best films of 2010. Due to a large amount of superb horror films, I am going to have to do a separate top 10 of the genre's best which will follow very soon. Comments welcome as always!

10. The Road
A difficult adaptation, Cormac McCarthy's bleak novel does not lend itself easily to the silver screen. However, John Hillcoat's eye for the beauty in brutality teams up with Viggo Mortensen's intense fearlessness to bring us a perfect adaptation and an unforgettable journey of a man and his son through the barren wasteland of post-apocalyptic America. It's easy to call it a miserable story but don't ever forget that this is a film that triumph's the human spirit and love over adversity more heartily than the shiniest Disney fairytale.

9. Good Hair
Chris Rock brings us this years most unlikely likeable documentary. Amid doom and gloom and prophetic social collapse documentaries this one, about the relationship between black women and their hair, is certainly my favourite of the year. The less you know going in the better as I was horrified to see that the trailer gives away all the good stuff. Good Hair is hilarious, sometimes insightful, at times political, and always engaging and it achieved the greatest of cinematic accomplishments; it made me care about something I have never had the slightest interest in!

8.Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
It may have been too hip for the high-brow and too hip for the low-brow but for those of us who are somewhere in the middle, we revelled in the joy and wit of Scott Pilgrim. The colourful palette, the razor-sharp dialogue and it's bold, adventurous style ensured that it gave the audience something they had truly never seen before. I'm no gamer but the charming 8-bit Universal logo had me tittering from the get-go and the film definitely starts as it means to go on. Unashamedly nerdy, but genuine enough to avoid being too hipster-ish, Scott Pilgrim Vs the World is as fresh and colourful a film as one could hope for!

7. I Love You Philip Morris
A heartfelt, true-story, prison-set, gay romance, courtoom drama, Jim-Carrey movie co-starring heartthrob Ewan McGregor as his fragile, effeminate love interest. No wonder they had trouble distributing this! Throw in the fact that this film has such a ludicrous plot that nobody in their right mind could go along with how far-fetched it is...until you learn that all of these events are true. This is a very special film. Perhaps the first film to treat a gay relationship as a normal one, warts n all. It is high farce most of the time but at it's heart is a mentally ill man and his love for a fellow prisoner. It helps that it is hilarious and boasts Jim Carrey's best performance since The Truman Show.

6. Whip It!
Director Drew Barrymore throws every ounce of spunk she has (and that's a LOT) at this teen roller-derby movie starring Ellen Page. For those of us who, as teenagers, liked their music dirty, their clothes dark and their boys musically-inclines, this film is a delight! Maybe roller-derby isn't everybody's cup of tea and to be honest I didn't think it would be mine, but the racing sequences are energetic and brutal enough to ensure that you can understand the passion the sport evokes in these girls!

5. The Town
A gang of bank robbers are thrown into turmoil when one of it's members falls for a hostage. Not the most original premise but this is, in my opinion, the year's strongest thriller. From director Ben Affleck, this is as cinematic as thrillers get with a strong, working-class heart beating behind it. The fast-paced action sequences are riveting and the intimate scenes of love and friendship are intense and often profound.

4. Inception
I've never shared the love for Christopher Nolan that the rest of the world seems to have. He is undoubtedly a powerful filmmaker and has shown real skill behind the camera. But something about his films has always left me a little cold. Inception was the first time I really got on board the Nolan train. A perfect adventure in science fiction. Brain-melting but only in the most logical way, the script is so air-tight there is no doubt as to the character's journey, however intricate. Many people seem to get a bit flummoxed by the very open-ended final shot but for me it was an exercise in perfect script-writing.

3. Toy Story 3
The film may be aimed at children and the protagonists may be a bunch of CGI toys having an adventure but the themes here are universal. The enduring power of friendships, the tragedy of growing up and the strength that lies in caring about others are things we can all relate to. And let's not forget that it's a brilliant comedy and a nail-biting adventure. A class-act the whole way through, there's a perfect balance of story, character and entertainment in Toy Story 3. Instant classic.

2. Shutter Island
Martin Scorsese's foray into psychological thriller doesn't sit well with everybody because of the muddy psycho-babble and the old-fashioned, naive science at it's core. To me, the ignorance, the pompousness and the over-stylisation were all part of Scorsese's nod to the institutional gothic thrillers of the 1940's and 50's. Shutter Island is thick with atmosphere, and soaked in conspiratorial high-camp thrills.

1. The Social Network
As much as I kinda wanted to give Shutter Island the top spot (cos I know no-one else will) I can't deny it to The Social Network. This film, written to perfection By Aaron Sorkin and directed with characteristic flair by David Fincher, is far more entertaining and profound than it has any business being. No amount of hype can destroy how well this film was received. With nary a bad performance nor a dull moment to be found, The Social Network is by far the best film of the year and one which will undoubtedly be studied for years to come by film example of how to write a perfect screenplay and how to achieve the perfect balance of subtlety and style.

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