Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Best Movies of 2010

As far as prestige films go, I really didn't see anything this year. The Coen brothers' latest work would almost count, but it's actually probably their most accessible film since O Brother, Where Art Thou? a decade ago. But that's okay. I watch movies to be entertained, and I had plenty of fun with a number of mainstream releases this year, including a couple of the best blockbusters I've ever seen.

Best of 2010

7. Let Me In

If I had never seen the film that this one is based on, I probably would have given it a lot more credit. As it is, it's still a more than competent remake of one of my favorite horror films ever, with at least a few things it does better or on its own that are almost as impressive. Some of the technical aspects are problematic, but what's important is that it's a well shot version of a creepy, interesting story.

6. Iron Man 2

Iron Man 2 isn't as good as its predecessor, but it's still one of the most enjoyable non-Batman comic book movies in a long time. The cast is absolutely overflowing with talent, and they all contribute to a really fun, comedic atmosphere that compliments the series' tendency to go for the bombastic when it comes to action scenes. Far from a subtly told tale, but it was a lot of fun for a couple hours.

5. Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World

Few movies can match Edgar Wright's Scott Pilgrim in terms of just pure visual style and creativity, and he did a great job faithfully adapting the crazy setting and plot of the comic while massaging it to make sense in two hours. In addition to being very funny, it also had possibly the best action all year - well choreographed fights that you could actually see what's going on in. Another huge cast, and almost everyone fits their parts.

4. True Grit

I guess it's not that surprising that this is now the Coens' biggest box office success ever, and it's nice to to see them make a film that audiences at large actually like. True Grit is not really one of my favorite films by them, but as a simple exercise in pure genre filmmaking, it works out really well. I'm not even sure if I want to see the first film based on the same work, lest it dilute my memories of what they did here.

3. Shutter Island

It wasn't that long ago that I despised Leonardo DiCaprio as a pretty boy actor, and here we are with this as only my second favorite movie he starred in this year. Martin Scorsese's creepy thriller wasn't his most nuanced work, but it was remarkably sure of itself and marvelous to look at, with some of the most purely haunting imagery I saw all last year. The ending managed to be effectively moving despite its predictably, and the care with which it was made elevates it above what it could have easily been.

2. Toy Story 3

If I was a hack, I'd write something using the words "Pixar" and "'Nuff said", and then move on. But yeah, Pixar makes consistently excellent family-friendly (not kid-friendly) animated films, and this might be my favorite of them all. Hilarious, visually brilliant, and disarmingly emotional in places, it's impressive that they managed to not only meet the success of the first two movies over a decade later, but totally surpass them.

1. Inception

Probably my favorite action movie since The Matrix, and for many of the same reasons. The characters are well cast and likable, the story is heady and exciting to think about, the action itself is genuinely exciting, and it could turn out to be extremely important when it comes to effects in big movies. Whereas The Matrix sort of helped bring along a tidal wave of heavily computer-aided action movies, Christopher Nolan did as much of Inception as possible in camera, and it was all the more effective because of it. Hopefully filmmakers realize they can dazzle audiences without spending millions on animation, and put that money into things that our brains aren't all hardwired to immediately detect as fake these days. Hopefully.

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