As the year finally draws to a close, it is time to take a step back, wade through the deluge of the years’ cinematic highs and lows and decide on the top ten movies that cinema had to offer. 2010 has been an interesting year for film; while it was thankfully Michael Bay-free, there has been the usual barrage of brainless Hollywood blockbusters, misguided sequels and pointless remakes. Major disappointments came in the form of Tim Burton’s clunky reimagining of Alice in Wonderland and Peter Jackson’s fairly dreadful adaptation of The Lovely Bones, which dismissed the novels’ major dramatic plot points in favour of an abundance of flashy CGI and cloying sentimentality.
However, the year has featured some strong animation, with The Illusionist, Chico & Rita and Mary and Max all displaying original, state-of-the-art aesthetics with narratives aimed squarely at a mature audience. Honourable mentions should also go to Tom Ford’s gorgeously realised adaptation of Christopher Isherwood’s A Single Man, Hayao Miyazaki’s return to form with Ponyo, which proved that the ageing Japanese director still knows how to create lusciously vast stories in the timeless tradition of hand-drawn animation. Gareth Edward’s debut sci-fi feature Monsters was also a highlight as it proved that one doesn’t need a big budget to make brilliant movies, similarly Rodrigo Cortés’s suspenseful thriller Buried made the most of a threadbare narrative, abstract setting and an unusually brilliant Ryan Reynolds.
So, without further ado, here is my top ten movies of 2010:-
10. Kick-Ass. (Matthew Vaughn, 2010, UK)
Although it, at times, became the very thing it was sending up, Kick-Ass is a formidable superhero movie in that is boasts the fortitude to include crude language with some coarse violence, which saw up-and-comer Chloë Moretz channel both aspects in her brilliant portrayal of the foul-mouthed Hit Girl. Christopher Tookey branded it evil, I call it pure entertainment.
9. The Ghost. (Roman Polanski, 2010, France)
His troubles with the law didn’t stop Roman Polanski from making this taught adaptation of Philip Roth’s topical novel. The parallels with Tony Blair and his administration are all too clear and they give the film it’s powerful edge, and Polanski injects each scene with a suspense that refuses to fade until the films climactic final frame.
8. The Kids Are All Right. (Lisa Cholodenko, 2010, USA)
This is one of the few American indie films that was worth watching this year; it tells the tale of a lesbian couple in contemporary Los Angeles, their two teenage children and the ripples that occur by the emergence of their long-forgotten sperm donor. Julianne Moore proves once again that she is competent in any role she is given, but the film belongs to Annette Bening who gives an incredibly compelling performance which should earn her her overdue Oscar come next year’s Academy Awards.
7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. (David Yates, 2010, UK/USA)
Parting ways with the formula seen with previous instalments and upping the emotional stakes, the first part in this epic two part finale benefits from being set entirely outside of Hogwarts, as Harry, Ron and Hermione journey to rid the wizarding world of Voldemort and his horcruxes. Though not a perfect film, Deathly Hallows is the grittily entertaining breath of fresh air that this franchise needs and makes way for a hopefully powerful send-off next year.
6. Inception. (Christopher Nolan. 2010. USA)
Proving once again that blockbusters needn’t be brain-dead to be entertaining, Christopher Nolan arrives on the coattails of The Dark Knight with this bravura piece of filmmaking, which combines impressive effects with a narrative that is intelligent and perplexing in equal measure, ensuring that audiences returned in their droves to figure out whether it was all a dream or not.
5. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. (Edgar Wright. 2010. USA)
This is the cinematic equivalent of marmite; some loved it, some hated it and unfortunately it flopped at the box office. A big fan of the graphic novels on which the film is based, I came to this with high hopes and they were met in abundance; Edgar Wright’s first American venture is an audacious, inventive and visually stunning comic book adaptation which rolls at a mile a minute and stays faithful to the source material. Though inevitably episodic, Scott Pilgrim is unadulterated entertainment from start to finish.
4. Up in the Air. (Jason Reitman. 2009. USA)
After the brilliant Juno, Reitman returns again with this highly poised and slickly executed drama about one man’s desire to reconnect with humanity. George Clooney has never been better, and he is competently supported by the elegant Vera Farmiga and an endearing Anna Kendrick.
3. The Social Network. (David Fincher. 2010. USA)
Who’d have thought a film charting the rise of Facebook would be this engaging? Then again, who could possibly question Fincher’s ability to make even the most mundane elements of life appear compelling and instantly watchable? Working alongside Aaron Sorkin’s zingy screenplay, Fincher has delivered a superb film, which infuses a graceful elegance with a chilly sense of foreboding. Even from the opening scene, the script is so eloquently portrayed that it is hard not to fall for its effortless appeal. As the fiercely intelligent Mark Zuckerberg, Jesse Eisenberg delivers an outstanding performance which is equally matched by Andrew Garfield as his long suffering partner Eduardo Saverin. This should be seen by anyone who has a Facebook account, and anyone who doesn’t.
2. Another Year. (Mike Leigh. 2010. UK)
Mike Leigh returns once again with this searing depiction of the comfortable life of a modern British couple and the fractured souls that orbit around them, all taking place over four seasons. I am a big fan of Leigh’s work and Another Year is perhaps one of his finest films to date; It’s heart-warming and heartbreaking in equal measure and features what the director is known for – characters that stick with you long after the credits. Kudos to the stellar cast, with Lesley Manville commandeering every scene she is in, as per usual.
1. Toy Story 3. (Lee Unkrich. 2010. USA)
Encapsulating the greatest film trilogy of all time, the third and hopefully final instalment in the Toy Story franchise was a heartfelt departure for these beloved characters, and proved yet again that when it came to animation, Pixar really does offer the best of the best. I can go on for longer about Toy Story 3, but it is a genuinely fine film that appeals to both children and the adults who grew up with these films, like me.
As with every year, there were the few turkey’s which, although being mind-numingly awful, were pretty popular with audiences. I won’t go into detail about them, I’ll just let their reputations speak for themselves:
Sex and the City 2 (Michael Patrick King, 2010, USA)
Clash of the Titans (Louis Leterrier, 2010, USA)
Little Fockers (Paul Weitz, 2010, USA)
The Other Guys (Adam Mckay, 2010, USA)