Friday, December 31, 2010

the 40 best movies of 2010!

I'm sorry this is at least six days late.

Every year I do my best movies of the year list and every year I wonder what to do about the movies I see in the theater in the year that actually came out during the tail end of the previous year. I'll quickly mention those right now in their own list.

The top 10 movies I saw in 2010 that actually came out in 2009!

10. The Box
Points to the guy who made Donnie Darko, but this movie sucked.

9. Fantastic Mr. Fox
Negative points to Wes Andersen, who isn't as clever as he thinks he is (or at least as clever as I say). I did appreciate the "wolf power" fist toward the end though.

8. Invictus
One of these days a decent rugby movie will be made. Still waiting.

7. Sherlock Holmes
More sleuthing would have been nice.

6. Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire
A decent movie. Bonus points to the longest, pretentiousest title ever.

5. More Than a Game
Propaganda for LeBron James, but nonetheless contains exciting basketball footage.

4. Avatar
The only movie I've recommended solely on the merits of its visuals and nothing else. Apparently this movie made more money than any other movie ever. Strange, considering we all will have forgotten it in two years.

3. Up In the Air
This was pretty good. Especially the two girls in it.

2. Brothers
Personally I think the Gyllenhaall brother would have made a better Spiderman than the Maguire brother.

1. Me and Orson Welles
Technically this movie came out in 2008 somehow. Worth the tops of this list because of Christian McKay's uncanny Welles characterization.

The 40 best movies of 2010!

Whenever I do these rankings, I always lay out all the movies I've seen and give each one a letter grade. After that I rank them within the letter grade. I'll go ahead and reveal the letters this year.

F range:

40. A Nightmare on Elm Street
Boy talk about a waste of potential. The Elm Street movies were so ripe for a very cool re-imagining. The setting is whatever could possibly happen in a literal nightmare. Too bad the opportunity was squandered. The visuals were absolutely not there. The character of Freddy wasn't defined as either a twisted mysterious lunatic or a gleeful sadistic winker to the audience. Net result: one of the boringest horror movies ever.

D range:

39. The Romantics
Saw this one at Sundance. If you didn't see it there, you may never get the chance to see it... fortunately. Lots of young beautiful people though -- some of my favorite young actors. They don't have anything to say or do.

38. The Joneses
This is the requisite one that I'm putting back on the list because I posted this whole post and then noticed that I had a ticket stub for this one but I didn't write about it. This movie wasn't super good. Is it possible that Amber Heard can act WITH clothes on? I'm not sure.

37. The Other Guys
Mark Wahlberg is far funnier than Will Farrell.

36. Youth in Revolt
At least Michael Cera branched out a little. Mustaches never hurt either. The rest of the movie was uninteresting.

35. Eclipse
I've been a good sport with this whole Twilight craze. I read the first book and had some fun with the first two movies. Now I don't even have the energy to make fun of it anymore.

34. When in Rome
Points for Veronica Mars being in this, but it's an insulting rom-com. Most rom-coms are, which is unfortunate. I will never be against an entire genre, but people who prefer romantic comedies ought to demand better than what they're given.

C range:

33. Frozen
Points for yours truly making a cameo in this. You can totally see me in the background. Otherwise this movie is about as dull as when you're on the ski lift and it stops for an hour and a half.

32. Iron Man 2
Not terrible. Interesting how with both Iron Man movies most of the really exciting stuff happens near the beginning of the movie instead of the end. Huh. Anyway, the characters seemed a lot more flat in this one than the first. They missed an opportunity to go deeper instead of more superficial.

31. It's a Trap
I did love this Family Guy interpretation of Return of the Jedi, but unfortunately it's hindered by Family Guy's better attempts to skewer Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back. Actually, a bigger help may have been that those other two movies are so much better than Jedi.

30. Get Low
Robert Duvall is great, but I didn't find as much to the character, story or situation as most of my friends who also saw this. Maybe it doesn't help that I fell asleep during 20 minutes of it.

29. The Expendables
Another wasted opportunity. Needed a lot more Dolph Lundgren. Needed to take itself more seriously and trust itself. Then we could have laughed a lot harder at its earnestness.

28. Shutter Island
Completely respectable as a Scorsese film and as a mindbender. Respectable, but didn't bring anything to either column that were exclusively memorable to this movie.

27. How to Train Your Dragon
Yeah, this was absolutely adorable, but I've never been converted to Jay Baruchel.

B range:

26. Salt
This is completely indescribable. About a dozen action spy thrillers come out every year and I can't say why this one is better than any of those. Maybe Salt just subtly hit all the notes just right. Maybe after seeing as part of a double bill with The Other Guys, I was looking for something to like.

It's not super. Nothing really happens. Unfortunately I relate to Ben Stiller's 40-somethingish loser character who tries to impress young people. I sadly relate. A lot.

24. Best Worst Movie
This is a documentary about the hilariously bad movie Troll 2. If you've seen Troll 2 you know the inherent hilariousness. I would have liked a little more exploration about what the specific appeal is.

23. TRON: Legacy
I make no apologies for absolutely adoring the original TRON. This update was pretty good, especially considering the Daft Punk soundtrack. However (soundtrack included (no need for string arrangements)) it was a little too analog. I would have appreciated the digital world looking a lot less real.

22. Splice
Don't see this movie. It may have been the scariest movie I saw, but not for the horror elements. The subtext drew on parental anxiety. Most horror movies are paralleled by anxieties of young love or lust. Splice plays very well on the next stage of life. Don't see it though. I totally get it when people say it's the worst movie of the year.

21. Please Give
This indie is a little Woody Alleny. I kind of like how it explores the idea of repressed, privileged guilt.

20. Machete
Aaaand with number 20 we start a short list of movies that are tremendously awful, yet gut-bustingly fun. Machete is stereotype, violence and seriousness taken to the extreme. Result: hilarity!

19. Piranha 3D
Okay, I feel sort of bad about this. It was far more exploitation than I thought it would be. No stops were pulled.

18. Jackass 3D
Totally not converted to 3D, but THIS was a VERY good use of 3D. It made me want to investigate getting a 3D camera so I can film my friends getting seriously injured.

17. True Grit
The Coens are perfection at film making. I would have enjoyed a bit more of the Coen influence than we got here though. Unfortunately, I'm not ranking this one as well as most other people I know who saw it. The problem may be in that a couple of years ago I saw No Country for Old Men and saw what the Coens could do with the western genre. I wound up not caring for the people or events of True Grit nearly as much. Perhaps I'm to blame.

16. Let Me In
The coolest thing about this movie is that it was widely released when I would have expected it to go strictly indie. The bad news is that it was one of the biggest widely released flops of the year. There's nothing like a re-invigoration of classic vampire elements using a completely unique view of telling the story (well, completely unique as in a very close copy to the Swedish movie it was remade from).

15. My Girlfriend's Boyfriend
I'm giving points to this one because it has Alyssa Milano and it was also locally produced by a guy I totally insulted to his face at a party in Provo once. It was pretty good though. Better than When in Rome.

14. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Props to Edgar Wright for taking the idea of directing comedy far more seriously than pointing the camera at a few people telling jokes. Wright utilizes far more than words to elicit laughs. Now if only Michael Cera could play more than George Michael Bluth...

13. MacGruber
Don't see this. It's horribly offensive (but I was laughing my head off).

12. Book of Eli
Maybe it's my Mormonism, but it was very fun to grab onto the religious elements of this one. Also, it looks cool. Also, Mila Kunis.

11. You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger
I did not like this movie very much as I watched it. I do appreciate it plenty in hindsight though. Woody Allen obviously has a very cynical view of relationships and it's a view I share probably too much. Maybe this will help me purge it.

10. Easy A
This probably doesn't deserve the top ten, but I'm putting it here to say that Emma Stone is more than a girl I wanna hook up with. She constantly exhibits a charming charisma that is needed for the magic of film to work. There was a time when I would put acting and charisma and chemistry far behind writing and art direction and cinematography. Right now, I feel it's personality that is the most important and Emma Stone has a talent that saves even a mediocre story like Easy A.

9. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
A bit much for only half of a movie, but they pulled it off well. This flick actually had several legitimate scenes of tension and dozens of scares! Very well done considering the severe limitations of the source material.

8. Toy Story 3
It wasn't the scene of despair the toys went through that got to me. It was what Andy did right before he went off to college that got to me.

A range:

7. Catfish
I've mentioned scary movies in the list already, but Catfish is definitely the scariest. But only to me. There's horror scary and then there's social scary. You know how The Office is awkwardly funny? Catfish is seriously awkward. I had a panic attack watching the characters in this movie. Plus its Facebook-centered storyline is an excellent companion piece (in a very different way) to The Social Network.

6. Never Let Me Go
Here's another movie that I didn't really like while I was watching it, but loved it more and more afterward. It took me a while to get to know or even relate to the characters, but now I think of them often and feel badly for them. No doubt I'll read the book. I bet the book is great.

5. Black Swan
Hard to sit through at times, but quite a spectacle and some powerful insanity. The last half hour is as exciting as front row Swan Lake. One thing I really appreciated about the movie is how the camera seemed to be dancing with the ballerinas -- right next to them rather than just watching them.

4. The Social Network
Fincher. Sorkin. Reznor. For the win. You don't need to care one flying lick about Facebook to appreciate the way the drama unfolds here, but it doesn't hurt. I love how the guys that brought so many people together through the literal social network are shown to have no ability to retain a friendship between just themselves. I realize that most of those elements were exaggerated for the purposes of the movie, but that doesn't matter. The tale is told very well with all elements at the storytellers' disposal.

3. Exit Through the Gift Shop
The title practically insults the viewer, but this movie is worth it. Banksy challenges our views on art through his street art as well as through this "street film" itself. Perhaps accepting what we once considered lofty as mere packaging will help us appreciate the next level.

2. The Secret in Their Eyes
I'm the only one I know who saw this movie. I think it's Argentinian. It's an unrequited love story over decades and a police investigation over decades. Both elements are beautiful forms of both. There is also a tracking shot that is IMPOSSIBLE to pull off in real life, yet it's there in the movie. How did they do it? I dunno. They must have gotten government funding from the entirety of the Argentinian treasury.

1. Inception
Interesting that the worst movie on this list is a movie about the potential of dreams being squandered. Here's a movie with an awesome concept that never failed to deliver. Nolan is amazing for taking so many risks on so many levels and absolutely nailing every aspect. You all saw this, am I wrong? Why can't all summer movies be this fun AND this thinky?


Blogger Erica said...

Oh Jon...I disagree again for the like millionth year in a row! How can Shutter Island be so far down on your list? But it's ok because you clearly love cheesey movies so I can understand why you put them in the order you did.

January 08, 2011 3:08 AM  
Blogger joN. said...

huh? cheesy? this from the person who said SHERLOCK HOLMES was the best movie of 2009? I stand by my cred.

January 11, 2011 1:48 AM  

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