I didn’t have a real good critics year in 2010. I was let down – in varying degrees – by The Kids are All Right, Winter’s Bone, Never Let Me Go, The Social Network, Black Swan, 127 Hours, The King’s Speech, and True Grit. It happens. Besides, it was still a memorable 2010. 120 trips to the theater, 2 film festivals (Toronto and AFI), and a partridge in a pear tree. Anyway, with apologies to North Face, Waiting for Superman, and The Green Hornet (technically 2011), here are my favorite 10 movies of the year.
10. The Company Men
The performances lift The Company Men above its script, which at times plays to the obvious. The entire cast is terrific, but it’s Affleck who carries it, in little moment after little moment.
9. How to Train Your Dragon
Dreamworks took a pretty simple and standard story, and told it beautifully and inventively. Dragon is gorgeously animated, perfectly scored, and the flight sequences are breathtaking.
8. Four Lions
The funniest movie about suicide terrorism ever made (except for maybe Paradise Now*). Four Lions is sharp, with tremendous set-ups and rapid-fire dialogue reminiscent of In the Loop.
7. The Town
Shades of The Departed (the good parts), shades of Heat (the shooting parts), The Town was superb entertainment start to finish. Affleck, Renner, Hamm – they all killed it.
Inception is one of those movies that remind me why I love movies. It’s a true spectacle – with a fantastic and innovative concept, executed to perfection on a grand scale.
5. The Fighter
Strong script, terrific acting (especially from Christian Bale). Primarily an engaging drama that captures a fascinating family dynamic, The Fighter is complemented by the beautifully shot and intensely choreographed boxing sequences. Plus, Amy Adams.
4. The Secret of Their Eyes
The narrative structure is beautiful. As the movie proceeds, as more of the story gets unraveled, there is meaning infused to each and every action, past and present. And it has a powerful an ending as any I’ve ever seen.
3. Toy Story 3
The last scene nearly brought me to tears. Toy Story is everything – hilarious and fun, yet heart-wrenching and emotional, even tense and thrilling. Eleven years after the last installment, and Pixar doesn’t skip a beat.
2. Shutter Island
The score is a bit overdone… okay, that’s an understatement. But aside from that, Shutter Island is a perfect psychological thriller. An enthralling buildup, an incredible payoff. I absolutely loved the script. Even if the last line was, in retrospect, rather reminiscent of one from The Dark Knight.
Despite what the horrendous marketing campaign would have you believe, Disney managed to sneak out an unapologetically earnest princess fairy-tale. It has the characters, animation, and vibrancy of a modern classic. I liked Enchanted and The Princess and the Frog – a lot. But Tangled is Disney at its best. I’ve seen the movie twice; I’d happily go again. It’s my favorite movie of 2010.