Top 5 Films of 2010

January 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

2010 was not an altogether bad year for film, and while the summer had its constant supply of dreck, the rest of the year saw some great films. Unfortunately, as per usual I wasn’t able to see a number of critically acclaimed films (i.e. The Social Network, 127 Hours), both foreign and American, so this is a somewhat truncated list of the best films from 2010 that I saw. Enjoy.

1. The Fighter

The Fighter is the best kind of sports movie: one that focuses more on its characters and how they respond than on its climatic sporting bout. Boasting powerhouse performances from Christian Bale as Dickie Eklund and Mark Wahlberg as his younger half-brother Micky Ward, The Fighter uses its sports backdrop to focus on the complex dynamics of Dickie and Micky’s family and of Dickie’s drug addiction. Throughout the film, the authenticity and emotions of the characters are readily apparent and they make for a thoroughly enjoyable movie experience. To top it all off, the movie is shot and directed beautifully, and it lends a certain grace to a film that is populated with ungraceful characters. The Fighter is a fantastic film and deserves to be counted among Hollywood’s finest boxing films.

2. True Grit

I’ll admit it, when I first heard the Coen Brothers were making a remake of True Grit I was a little skeptical. While I’ve enjoyed certain Coen Brothers’ films, I’m not overwhelmed by all of them, so at first I approached True Grit with some trepidation. Then some good reviews started to roll in, so I went and saw it. I was blown away by how much I enjoyed the film. Riding the performances of young Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross and Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn, True Grit is typical Coen Bros from start to finish packed with witty dialogue and superb visuals. But unlike some Coen Brothers films (Burn After Reading) True Grit has a heart that is not lost amidst the Coen’s typical pastiche and dark humor. Sparkling with insight and questions into grace and justice, True Grit is an excellent contribution from the ever prolific Coen Brothers.

3. Exit Through the Gift Shop

Is Exit Through the Gift Shop a documentary or not? This is the question that looms large throughout this extremely entertaining documentary by British street-artist Banksy. As Banksy explores street-art and the life of Thierry Guetta, a self-proclaimed documentarian of street-art turned street-artist himself, we are exposed to the world of street art and its artistic evolution. The finale of this movie, when Guetta creates an art exhibit based solely off hype is either a devastatingly real view of today’s art community, a bristling indictment of street-artists “selling out” or a wicked satire of both street-art and the art community. These are the questions Banksy raises, and yet he provides no answers. A stirring look at art, hype and the art community, Exit Through the Gift Shop is sure to keep provoking discussion for a long time.

4. The King’s Speech

The King’s Speech is one of the best period films I have seen in a long time. Everything about it is spot-on. Terrific acting, beautiful costumes, fantastic cinematography and a superb script all combine to tell the story of King George VI and how he overcame a speech impediment to give the speech that brought Britain into World War 2. I can’t say enough about Colin Firth (King George) and Geoffrey Rush (Lionel Logue, the speech therapist), who both steal the show with tremendous ability. The King’s Speech is dramatic, but also humorous, a combination that has unfortunately been lacking in recent films. Beautifully executed, The King’s Speech is one you don’t want to miss.

5. Winter’s Bone

Winter’s Bone is a chilling portrayal of a young woman’s search for her father, grounded in the harsh reality of a drab and dark existence in the rural Ozarks. Director Debra Granik takes a chance exploring this subculture, but manages to mostly avoid making any of the people in her film into caricatures, instead telling a moving story focused on the wonderful performance of Jennifer Lawrence as Ree Darling. The film really comes into its own as it starts to examine the role of women in the culture it portrays, but with implications that spill over into broader society. Winter’s Bone is an excellent film, beautifully ordinary while also filled with suspense and intrigue.

Honorable Mentions:
Toy Story 3
The Secret of Kells
Inception

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