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Friday, January 14, 2011

Top 10 Week: Films of 2010

Honorable Mention: The Social Network, The Trotsky, Fair Game, Never Let Me Go, Shutter Island

#10: The American

A throwback to 1970s filmmaking, Anton Corbijn's follow up to his debut Control is a tightly wound and all together engrossing piece of work. George Clooney delivers one of his best performances to date as an assassin on one last job who finds that he's become the target.

#9: True Grit

A thoroughly delightful and exciting western from Joel and Ethan Coen. Jeff Bridges steps into the role originally played by John Wayne and makes it his own, while co-star Hailee Steinfeld shines as the story's spunky heroine.

#8: Inception

The most talked about and debated film of 2010. Christopher Nolan's mind bender is a clever, well-executed caper about a team who invades the psyche of their mark in order to plant an idea in his head. Featuring a great ensemble cast led by Leonardo DiCaprio, Inception is the great event film of the year.

#7: The Kids Are All Right

With great performances all around and an intelligent script, The Kids Are All Right alternates easily between being funny and being heartbreaking. Not as gritty as Lisa Cholodenko's previous efforts but a nice jump into the mainstream (how is it that a movie about kids with two moms can be considered mainstream when gay rights remains a hot button issue?).

#6: The King's Speech

A moving and beautifully made historical drama, The King's Speech hits all the right notes from beginning to end. Colin Firth shines as King George VI while Helena Bonham Carter and Geoffrey Rush deliver solid supporting performances. The film might be a crowd pleaser, but it's never corny.

#5: Black Swan

Darren Aronofsky's dark tale of ballet, madness and sexual confusion is an intense, sometimes horrifying, sometimes mystifying thriller. Natalie Portman is at the top of her game as the dancer who can't reconcile her white swan side to her black swan side without destroying herself, and the screenplay will keep you guessing right up until the very end.

#4: 127 Hours

Few filmmakers could take the story of 127 Hours and make it work. Danny Boyle not only makes this story of one man in one location visually and narratively interesting, he provides it with a sense of movement and urgency that you wouldn't think was possible. Actor/writer/professional weirdo James Franco delivers an amazing performance which goes a long, long way towards the film's ultimate success.

#3: The Ghost Writer

Roman Polanski is a problematic public figure (to put it kindly) but he's a great filmmaker. The sheer level of craft on display in The Ghost Writer is astounding and the performances are terrific. Its story is loosely (and savagely) based on former British PM Tony Blair and his wife, Cherie, and if some of its more inflamatory plot points are even remotely true, writer Robert Harris should probably watch his back.

#2: Winter's Bone

Debra Granik's gritty, insular story of a girl who will stop at nothing to find her father (or his body) is harrowing, intense and engrossing. Jennifer Lawrence delivers a star-making performance as our hero, Ree Dolly, whose odyssey takes her to the darkest of depths before allowing her to surface once again into the light. Winter's Bone is a damn near perfect movie.

#1: I Am Love

I did a lot of back and forth with myself over whether Winter's Bone or I Am Love (one so dark, the other so light) would end up being #1 on my list. Ultimatly, I had to give it to Luca Guadagnino's tale of an Italian housewife who finds the inspiration to want more. This beautiful, sensual film practically sings off the screen; it's a gem of a movie that shouldn't be missed.


filmgeek said...

I'm tempted to give I Am Love a go now. Read a bit about it but wasn't that keen, especially as for some reason I don't have too much love for Tilda Swinton... But I'll give it the benefit of the doubt and rent it

Norma Desmond said...

If you don't like Swinton, you may not like this film too much. Or, maybe, this will be the one that changes your mind?

CS said...

I still need to see I Am Love, The King's Speech, and The Ghost Writer. In regards to the latter, I won a DVD copy of The Ghost Writer a few months ago but still have not got around to opening it.