Before I started putting together my list of the Best Films in 2010, I had it in my head that it had been a pretty average year for film. Yet once I put pen to paper, I was surprised at how easy it was to list ten great films. Then when I struggled to fit in all the films I wanted, I discovered I could probably do another ten films as honourable mentions.
There was a pretty decent variety of films too: You had excellent summer blockbuster films, traditional animated films, plenty of great comedies from Hollywood and around the world, insightful documentaries and top notch adaptations of novels and graphic novels. I’m not sure where I got this idea that 2010 was a year for poor quality films. It’s anything but.
Of course, as with every other year, there are plenty of films I’ve wanted to watch but haven’t found the time to do so. This year’s list is put together before I’ve had a chance to watch The King’s Speech, Tron and The Secret In Their Eyes. Other films like 127 Hours, True Grit and Black Swan won’t be out in Australia until next year.
Anyway, enough waffle. Here it is. My pick of the Ten Best Films of 2010.
Kick-ass was an unexpectedly great superhero film that came out in the summer blockbuster season. For such an oversaturated genre, Kick-ass felt fresh and was highly entertaining with its sweet blend of action and comedy. Listening to a pint sized ten year old girl cuss out some hoodlums before disembowelling them with her katana was one of the cinematic highlights of the year.
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
A wonderful Swedish adaptation of the book of the same name, TGWTDT is an entertaining whodunnit mystery that mixes a fifty year old unsolved murder with computer espionage, investigative journalism and lots of twisted evil men. They certainly didn’t call the original Swedish novel Men Who Hate Women for nothing. This film also contains two highly entertaining leads in Lisbeth Salander, a messed up gothic computer hacker and Mikael Blomkvist, an aging journalist who sleeps with every single woman he meets.
Get Him To The Greek
An unexpectedly funny follow-up to Forgetting Sarah Marshall, GHTTG looks like it might just be another instalment in the long line of Judd Apatow comedies but this particular instalment does an exceptionally good job at portraying the hedonistic lifestyle of rock stars. Some of the party scenes delve into such a level of anarchic chaos and have such a halucogenic quality to them that it evokes memories of the excellent Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas.
Toy Story 3
The long awaited concluding instalment to the Toy Story trilogy did not disappoint. Pixar continue to deliver an improbably high standard in their films and this latest effort is no different. It can be enjoyed on face value as an all ages adventure but such is the film’s finesse is exploring its themes of childhood innocence that the final chapter gained the film a reputation for reducing many men to tears.
How To Train Your Dragon
By reputation, Dreamworks’ animated films tend to cop a bit of flack for not measuring up to the quality of their contemporaries at Pixar. How To Train Your Dragon however, has a lot more in common with the qualities you would associate with the best Pixar efforts. Maybe that comes as little surprise when you learn it was made by the creative mind behind the excellent Lilo & Stich. Once you get over the bizarre decision to make the Vikings sound Scottish and the lead actor sound like Woody Allen, the rest of this film is wonderfully entertaining and heartwarming.
A bittersweet French animated feature set in the Fifties about an aging magician who plays to smaller and smaller crowds. This wordless feature film does an excellent job balancing gentle physical humour with a darker tone that depicts carnival entertainers struggling to find work in a contemporary society that has replaced them with television, rock bands and other modern distractions for their source of entertainment. It’s no small irony that the film is done in traditional hand drawn animation rather than the much favoured computer animation style.
Easy A is a charming high school comedy about a girl who gains noteriety at school for helping awkward boys lose their virginity and features a star-making performance from Emma Stone. This is an immensely likable film that draws favourable comparisons to other classic contemporary teen comedies such as Clueless and Mean Girls.
Restrepo is an eye-opening low tech documentary that portrays life on the frontline for American troops in Afghanistan. This apolitical film does an excellent job showcasing the bizarre idiosyncracies and desperate challenges facing the soliders. We see them barter with village elders for their support and often all thats changing their allegiance to the Taliban is the offer of $5 or a goat. The military conflict itself is so impersonal that you never even see a shootout with anyone on camera. Instead popping noises echo around the valley and occasionally someone falls over dead. It is a thoroughly depressing documentary but also a highly insightful one.
Just as Restrepo does a great job showcasing the grim reality of war, Four Lions does an equally good job satirizing the very people that the American troops are in conflict with. This black comedy explores the lives of five inept British Muslims who aspire to become Jihadist suicide bombers. The film is uncomfortably funny throughout and then it cranks up the intensity during the last half hour when the boys carry out their plan. It probably would’ve been my pick for Film of the Year were it not for…
The Social Network – Film of the Year
I gotta agree with everyone else. David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin’s film about the rise and rise of Mark Zuckerberg is easily the best film of the year. Sorkin’s cracking script turns a film about computer coding and backroom dealings between lawyers into something highly engaging. The film features a star making performance from Jesse Eisenberg and is an interesting blend of fact and fiction. Just how true to life is this portrayal of a modern day William Randolph Hearst? Well it doesn’t really matter when judging the film solely on its merits as a drama about the youngest billionaire in the world and a man who revolutionized the way people communicate. This is a highly polished, well acted and brilliantly directed film that richly deserves all the plaudits its getting.
Some other great films this year that didn’t quite make the Top Ten list:
Inception – I didn’t quite enjoy this as much as some other people but it is still a great film
Animal Kingdom – an absolutely awesome Australian crime drama about a teenage boy who gets caught up in the family business
Centurion – a highly entertaining blood n’ guts action film about Roman soliders invading Britain from Neil Marshall of Dog Soldiers and The Descent fame.
Let Me In – An entertaining Hollywood adaptation of an already excellent Swedish vampire film Let The Right One In.
Shutter Island – Leonardo Di Caprio is entertaining when he’s going crazy
Monsters – An entertaining road trip with an unlikely couple travelling through Mexico which has been overrun with aliens
A Town Called Panic – Hilarious stop-motion animated French film about a cowboy, an Indian and a horse that live together.
Freakonomics – A fun documentary that serves as a great primer for the popular book series by economist Steven Levitt
Fantastic Mr Fox – An excellent stop motion animated adaptation of Roald Dahl’s novel
The Road – an excellent adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s novel. The central relationship between the father and his son is heartbreaking when it reaches its conclusion.