Wednesday, January 5, 2011

top 10 best movies of 2010

I'm pretty sure all my picks can be found on DVD, with the exception of #8 and #3.

This was a bit of an odd year. On one hand, I did give out 3 five star ratings, and there were many good movies. On the other hand, I'm surprised at how weak the 2nd half of 2010 was (though I'm sure most critics will disagree.)

In June, I wrote a half year top 10 of 2010. I'm really surprised that 7 of those movies made it to the end of the year top 10. Usually only 3 movies from the first half of 2010 make it to the end. December is typically the best month for movies, but I don't know...I liked Blue Valentine, Rabbit Hole, The King's Speech, True Grit, and Black Swan (though I think it was over-rated), but never considered those movies top 10 worthy.

Stay tuned, as the next blog I'll be writing is my picks for the most over-rated movies of 2010. There are certain movies that have popped up on every critic's top 10 list which are absent from mine. Why? Because I've saved those for my over-rated list.

Oh well. Without further ado, here's my list:

Honorable Mentions: The Kids are All Right, Easy A, Hereafter, Blue Valentine, The Escapist, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Green Zone, Machete, Somewhere, The Social Network, Youth In Revolt, The Losers, Get Him to the Greek, The Last Exorcism

10. High Life
Rating: ****1/2

After a few mediocre years in Canadian cinema, I can finally say that Canada made one of the 10 best films of 2010. Sadly, nobody saw this movie. I don't blame them though, the trailer makes the movie look painfully mediocre. It's a shame, because High Life is the best heist movie since Matchstick Men (but not quite as good).

This is a very funny movie that shows what can go wrong if you get a bunch of drug addicts to team up together to pull off a robbery. The actors are very funny and there's a nice mix of interesting personalities in the team; the funniest character is definitely the good looking charming guy who's importance to the heist is being...well...good looking and charming. The scene with him in the convenience store alone is worth the price of admission.

But, let's not forget about the heist aspect of the movie. The actual robbery plan is actually quite clever, the movie is easy to follow, unpredictable and unlike other heist stands up quite well in post mortem plausability analysis. All your own country, and see this movie! it, just because it's an awesome heist movie.

9. Toy Story 3
Rating: ****1/2

Pixar has still got it! This is one of the rare trilogies that start strong and end on quite possibly the highest note it could possibly end on. Pixar has not yet turned into shameless money hungry whores like Dreamworks Animation (Shrek 4 being the most painfully obvious, uninspired money grab of 2010). Toy Story 3 clearly had a creative reason for being made, and it's the most satisfying conclusion to a trilogy I can think of.

As an action/adventure movie, I found Toy Story 3 surprisingly very exciting and far more intense than the pure eye candy, but no thrills action of Iron Man 2. For a rated G movie, the movie surprisingly gets really dark; the Incinerator scene is one of the darkest, most intense scenes of any movie this year. While it's not the funniest Pixar movie, it still delivers a lot of laughs, and Ken and Barbie make great additions to the cast.

Most importantly, Toy Story 3 really resonates on an emotional level moreso than its first two predecessors. We've all grown up, and I'm sure we all miss our childhood. Here's a profound movie about life, the transition from childhood to adolescents, and moving on and letting go of the past. With this movie now on DVD and no longer in theatres, there will unfortunately be no 3d glasses that can hide your tears when the final scene comes along.

8. Let Me In
Rating: ****1/2

Yes, a remake of the excellent Swedish vampire movie Let the Right One In just a year after its release seemed kind if ridiculous. It seemed like Hollywood would ruin yet another great foreign film. But, you know what? For once, Hollywood did it better. Let Me In captured the essence of what made the original movie so good, but added more to it.

Let the Right One In was darkly charming friendship movie between a boy and a girl, where the girl happens to be a vampire. It's the loneliness in both their lives that draws them together and makes them friends. It was a really uniquely new approach to the vampire movie.

Let Me in captures that essence and the heart of the original, but is also really good as a horror movie with suspense and atmosphere which was nowhere to be found in the original). The violence is far more brutal and memorable. It's a great thing that this wasn't a shot for shot remake, as Matt Reeves directs the movie with a far more exciting style. Its subjective style draws you into the movie so much more.

Here's a quote from the imdb board by AntoNEO comparing the directing styles of both movies:

"Let the Right One In is a beautifully shot film, characterized by the consistent use of painterly master shots, punctuated by long lens close-ups. The result, for me, is a semi-disconnected feeling of spectatorship. Let Me In, on the other hand, has a rather different filmmaking style, as it is largely composed of complementary close-ups and point of view shots, thereby putting the viewer in the shoes of the characters."

Wedgies are usually lame gags in PG rated comedies, and the idea of it makes kids in elementary school giggle. Give props to Let Me In for having a wedgie scene which is so brutal and hard to watch, you may never laugh at a wedgie ever again. Let Me In has set pieces which are so memorable. I challenge someone to name a movie that had a better car crash scene than Let Me In.

Or with that horror movie cliche...oh shit, the driver has no clue there's a killer hiding in the back seat...Let Me In does that cliche, except from the POV of the murderer in the back seat. What a concept! It's weirdly suspenseful if you're cheering for the killer in the back to make the kill.

If Let the Right One In was like a slice of really good apple pie, Let Me in is like really good apple pie plus the ice cream.

7. Temple Grandin
Rating: ****1/2

After getting bored with the huge amount of biopics which are getting very repetitive, it is so refreshing to get Temple Grandin, which I think is the best biopic since Monster. People who liked bullshit "based on true story" inspirational stories like The Blind Side and The Pursuit of Happyness need to watch Temple Grandin to see how a true inspirational story is done with creativity, originality and authenticity that doesn't feel completely phoney. It is unfortunate that this movie will have no shot at the Oscars due to the fact that it's an HBO movie.

The film is directed with such a refreshingly different style, and Temple Grandin is a very fascinating person who's struggles in life and being able to get past all the obstacles of being an autistic person is very admirable. You learn a lot about autism, the movie's direction sort of lets you see through the eyes of an autistic person, and when the film finally arrives at its ending, it is one of the most well earned, and uplifting feel good endings since...perhaps The Shawshank Redemption. I knew absolutely nothing about Temple and had no idea of her existence before the movie, but by the time the credits rolled...I felt like I spent an hour 40 minutes with one of the most fascinating, admirable real people ever featured in a movie.

There's been a disturbing lack of Temple Grandin in most critics' top 10 lists. Who knows if it would have gotten more recognition had it been released in theatres as opposed to being an HBO movie. I'll take this over 90% of the Oscar nominated movies.

6. The Secret in their Eyes
Rating: ****1/2

This movie pulled a huge upset at the Oscars, but after seeing A Prophet, White Ribbon and this one...the Oscars got it right this time! This is a fascinating, thought provoking, moving, darkly funny police procedural which is brilliantly written and directed (the soccer stadium scene...holy fucking shit!! I can also say Holy shit to the brilliant and witty dialogue), well acted and I should add includes an ending which will linger in your mind for a long time after the credits roll (it's a twist ending which really makes you think and can spark a long morality debate). Simply saying that this movie is a mystery or police procedural would be doing it a huge injustice. The Oscar for best screenplay should have gone to this movie.

While the murder case itself is fascinating, and unravels at a good pace, the movie's core focus is on the characters and how it affected their lives. The film jumps back and forth in time...we see the characters working on the case in 1974 and present day in 2000 where the former investigator is now trying to write a book about the murder case in 1974, but the lack of closure has made it impossible for him to move on with his life. Within it all, involves a romance where I'll movie I can think of has made me root for two characters to hook up more than this one. The Oscars should stop being so short sighted by only nominating foreign film for best foreign film. The Secret in their Eyes was better than almost every other best picture nominee.

5. Kick Ass
Rating: ****1/2

After seeing The Dark Knight and Iron Man evolve the super hero genre, here's a movie that will hopefully further the evolution of super hero movies even more. What if you took a post modern approach to the super hero movie, added Kill Bill type brutal violence, directed action scenes with the very cool style of Wanted, added in Superbad type raunchy humor, include an 11 year old girl who calls people cocksuckers and cunts, and integrate the super hero world into today's modern world ruled by myspace and youtube? You get Kick Ass, one of the freshest, most original takes on the super hero movie. Let's not write this off as something trashy, the writing is very clever, and even the opening existential speech made by the main character about how ordinary his life is and how he merely exists is brilliant. Immediately, the film has 95% of the audience that can relate to the main character's teenage angst.

Kick Ass is directed with a really refreshing comic book style, with action that is brutally violent, and creatively choreographed. Very few movies have gotten me more excited about the final big action scene than this one. The build up is phenomenal, the surprise weapon that remains a mystery does not disappoint, and the villain suffers the most epic death of any movie I can remember. The corrupting of a 13 year old actress was worth it after all. Who knows? She could grow up to have a sense of humor similar to Sarah Silverman's.

While I understand why certain movies of an arthouse nature fail at the box office, I still can't wrap my head around the lackluster box office results of Kick Ass. North America loves violence, and Kick Ass delivers it in a more creative way than almost every other action movie out there.

4. Scott Pilgrim vs. the world
Rating: ****1/2

First it was Shaun of the Dead, then Hot Fuzz, then this. What an impressive resume for Edgar Wright, and what a creative director he is! As good as Fuzz and Shaun were, Scott Pilgrim is his best effort yet. It's an extremely funny, visually stunning, and very creatively directed/editted movie which also happens to be a great movie that any nerd can relate to. Did I forget to mention that this movie has awesome fight scenes as well?

What stands out the most about Scott Pilgrim is its extremely creative video game/comic book style of direction. Scott Pilgrim lives in what seems at first like a normal world...but we soon learn that his environment is governed by the natural laws of a video game world. The additional animations are great, and you have to love little things like Scott Pilgrim taking a piss, with a piss metre showing up on screen.

Rarely do I ever notice a movie's editting, but Pilgrim is one of the most brilliantly, slickly editted films. The scene of Scott Pilgrim stalking Ramona at a house party is simply brilliant. I think that scene alone would sell the movie better than its mediocre trailer.

Let's not only talk about the style. Scott Pilgrim is an extremely funny movie, poking fun at many things about the current facebook/myspace generation, from the vegan who feels morally superior to everyone to the emo band who sings a song called "We hate you. Please die".

It was tough choosing the #4 spot between this and Kick Ass, as both movies have similar strengths, and they were both sadly box office failures. While they both deliver on the comedy and action, I think Pilgrim is the more creative movie of the two. It's close though.

3. Hubble
Rating: *****

Okay, so is it absurd that I put a 40 minute Imax movie into this list? Maybe. I normally find those 40 minute Imax movies at the science centre to be great visual treats, but very corny in its storytelling. To say that my mind was completely blown by this movie is an understatement. Now, if I were to have seen this on DVD, then maybe the rating would be lower, but I'm judging this based on seeing it on a giant Omnimax screen with a sick sound system.

If there is only one movie to see in theatres this year, it's Hubble in Imax. If there's only one movie get stoned's Hubble in Imax (I will say with ease...this is the trippiest movie I've ever seen). The visuals are simply...mind blowing; seeing the stars forming, cocoons in space that may form into artist can match the absolute beauty that's captured in space by this hubble telescope.

Beyond the dazzling visuals, the film tells a very good story. It documents a team of astronauts being sent into space to fix the telescope. The dangers they face are crazy, and there are some very intense moments. What surprised me the most is the emotional power of this movie. It is so uplifting, and made me feel proud to be alive, and human, and living on this planet, and proud of what the human race has accomplished. It sounds cheesy, but that's how I felt. This movie is a truly unique experience you won't get in any other movie.

2. Flipped
Rating: *****

After the schmaltzy, ridiculous Bucket List, Rob Reiner has redeemed himself with my pick for #2. I know that some people will disagree big time with this pick. Yes, I know it's not particularly original. But, as human beings we can't control how we feel. For me, Flipped is the ultimate feel good movie of 2010. This is likely to be the movie I'd watch to feel better when life is taking a shit all over my face. It is such a wonderful, innocent, charming, delightful, light hearted comedy about young love. It's one of those rare movies that leave you in such a good mood when the credits roll. This is one of the best romantic comedies of the past few years.

Flipped is about childhood love between two 8th graders: Bryce and Julie. The word "Flipped" refers to a complete 180 degree change in feelings from love to hate, or the other way around. At the beginning of the story, Julie has a huge crush on Bryce, while to him, she's a huge annoyance. Then as the movie progresses, the two of them flip.

What makes this really stand out is the multiple narrators approach. For once we get a romantic comedy where you see the relationship from both the guy and girl's perspectives, truly capturing the essence of the way kids think. Kind of like Rashoman, you often see the same events repeated twice, but you get to see how each side interpreted the event.

The characters are wonderfully written. Sometimes the best thing about watching movies is seeing characters transform, and Flipped is a great coming of age story for both characters. While the film's a love story, it's also about how the romance makes them grow as people. They're at the age where they're evolving out of being just kids to having full personalities, and developing attitudes and worldviews that will likely carry on to adulthood. It's not only the romance, but scenes with the families of both main characters provide good insight into the way both characters are.

Flipped does what a good romance should do. It gives you two very likable characters (especially Julie is one of the most likable characters of any movie this year), and it has you rooting for them to hook up. Unlike most romantic comedies, it really develops its characters, feels authentic and doesn't give into bullshit contrivances and coincidences...okay, maybe there's one coincidence that seems to convenient, but it didn't seem too unrealistic.

It's unfortunate that no one even knew about this movie. The distribution company had no clue how to market it, and it got a silent release with no publicitiy. Too bad. Fortunately it is now on DVD. Although it's a movie about kids, adults will ultimately get more out of it than children will. It may bring back memories from your childhood.

1. Leaves of Grass
Rating: *****

I imagine to many, my pick for #1 was quite predictable. When I saw this movie, I sort of knew it would be my pick for #1. I may get some backlash for saying good as the Coen Brothers are, I'll take Leaves of Grass over any of their movies.

If you're the kind of person who's bored of the predictability of your typical Hollywood movie, this movie will be such a breath of fresh air! One minute it's thoughtful and philosophical, next minute it turns absolutely batshit insane. Simply put, you can never predict where the movie's going. You just go along with the ride, and enjoy all the surprises. This sort of reminded me of why I loved Punch Drunk Love so much as well.

Leaves of Grass is kind of like a threesome between the philisophical insight of a Richard Linklater movie, a stoner comedy like Pineapple Express, and a darkly funny and chaotic crime thriller of the Coen Brothers. In committing a somewhat clever crime, the characters commit one of the funniest fuck ups I've ever seen in a movie. To top it all off, Leaves of Grass gives us a romance that we can really care for between the main character (a philosophy professor) and a poet. Ed Norton and Keri Russel have phenomenal chemistry together and the very smart dialogue between them is what I wish I saw more of in Hollywood romantic comedies.

Edward Norton deserves an Oscar for playing two very different, but equally brilliant twins. One is a highly respected Philosophy professor who got the fuck out of Oklahoma to escape the redneck life. His twin brother Brady is equally brilliant with such an elaborate and brilliantly run grow op, but putting his own life in serious danger. Brady's speech where he holds a bud up to the camera then talks about the pureness and feeling of peace when smoking weed will have all stoners nodding along in agreement and wishing that they could buy their weed off Brady.

Richard Dreyfus makes a 5 minute appearance as a dangerous Jew who Brady owes a shitload of money to. If William Hurt got an Oscar nomination for his 5 minutes in History of Violence, Dreyfus should get one for this movie. He is simply hilarious.

You have to love dialogue like:

"You know what I wish? I wish everyone would give me a dollar and call me a cocksucker!"
"So I'd be rich and everyone would love me!"

On one hand, the movie is a wacked out, outrageous, brutally violent, and darkly funny movie. On the other hand, it'll make you think more deeply about life, about family, the paths you take which lead you to who you become as a person, and the unexplainable violent, chaotic actions and behaviors of humans. While Billy has earned so many accolades for his groundbreaking philisophical insight, his visit back home makes him unable to understand this chaotic world.

This could be the smartest stoner movie ever made. This is perhaps a movie for intellectual stoners to get baked then watch. Then smoke another joint when the movie's done and have a long indepth discussion about the themes and ideas of the movie.

No comments:

Post a Comment