2010 in Cinema

Oh 2010, what a year you’ve been.  You contained my best semester, and my worst.  You held my graduation, and my favorite year of camp.  In some regards, I will miss you tremendously.  In others, I’m glad to put you behind me.

But this isn’t a personal blog.  It’s a pop-culture blog, so enough about me.  Let’s get on to my top five movies of the year!

5.   True Grit


So I started writing this post a week ago or so, when it was actually near the New Year (and therefore relevant), but I wanted to wait until I saw True Grit.  And I’m so glad I did.  This spot was previously held by Black Swan which – yes – was absolutely amazing and incredibly well-done.  What it didn’t have was an emotional core I could connect with and characters I legitimately enjoyed.  True Grit, on the other hand, had both of those things.  I loved Mattie Ross and her quest for vengeance, her Wednesday Addams pigtails, and incredibly precise speech patterns.  I loved Cogburn and his uncanny ability to state the obvious.  Matt Damon was cool too.  I wasn’t a big fan of the ending though, despite the classic “ride off into the sunset” thing going on.

But visually, the movie was great.  It was well-shot, and the scenery was impressive.  The music was subtle, but powerful.  Jeff Bridges’ performance was masterful, even if he was hard to understand.  He pulled off the perfect blend of slightly dopey, secretly brilliant, lonely, wounded, and also kind and caring.  Matt Damon definitely grew on me after his kind of pervy douche bag first impression.  And Mattie is straight up the coolest girl ever.  I hope to someday meet a girl this awesome.  So whether you’re a fan of Westerns or not (I’m generally not), go see this movie.

4.  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1


From a purely fan-boy stand point, this movie would clearly be number one.  In a way it’s almost the exact opposite of Black Swan.  While the one was technically flawless but less emotionally-driven (in the sense of my connection to the characters, not in terms of story-telling), this one was incredibly emotional (for me) and less technically perfect.

That being said, this is almost certainly the only Harry Potter movie I would include in a Top 5 list (maybe even a Top 10).  It is without a doubt the strongest film in the series, despite having whole sections of wandering in the woods and staring hopelessly at each other.  It stays very true to the source material – mostly due to having so much more time to tell the story than previous installations.  But what most impressed me was the emotional core of this one.  The feeling of hopelessness is pervasive, the tensions between the Power Trio are palpable, and overall the tone is perfect.  Visually I also loved the film – especially the animated sequence telling the story of the Peverell brothers.

I anticipate part two with equal parts eagerness and dread.  Eagerness for awesomeness, dread for the end.

3.  Scott Pilgrim


O sweet movie how I love thee.  And when I say “sweet,” I mean sweet like sugar, because that’s what this movie really is.  Let’s be real.  There isn’t a ton of substance.  It’s a classic story of boy meets girl, boy dumps fake high school girlfriend for girl, boy fights girl’s seven evil exes, boy gets girl and they sail off into subspace.  Classic.

But in all seriousness, there is nothing about this movie I don’t love, and that doesn’t make me smile like a big dope.  Highlights include Chris Evans as a skateboarder turned actor, Brandon Routh as a psychic vegan, Michael Cera’s reunion with Bland Ann from Arrested Development, and of course Cho Chang as a desperate ninja/hipster/Catholic school girl.  I love the Zelda music playing in the background, the Mortal Kombat references, Guitar Hero fight, Metric, and everything about it.  This is a movie for our ADD generation, for anyone who grew up playing video games, or anyone that is awesome.

2.  Toy Story 3


I LOVE the original Toy Story.  But I don’t consider it my favorite Pixar movie.  That honor goes to probably the Incredibles, maybe Up.

I can’t STAND Toy Story 2.  I hate Jessie and the stupid coal miner or whatever he is.  The only part of the movie I do like is Emperor Zurg and his relationship with Buzz 2.

So I was skeptical of Toy Story 3.  But it blew me out of the water.  I could instantly tell that this was a movie for me.  For us.  For people who grew up with the original.  There was a darkness to the movie.  Not like The Dark Knight or that kind of darkness, but a sense of loss.  Friends have been lost, sold in garage sales or discarded.  The toys are tired, having fought for relevance for too long.  And this is their last stand.  Then they are taken away to a new home, a false Utopia, and hijinks ensue.

Part of what I love about this movie, other than the above, is that it made me cry.  Both times I saw it.  The ending is PERFECT as far as I’m concerned.  It really brings things full circle, and struck a chord in me.  It was about growing up, letting go of the past without purging it from your life, and about passing the torch.  As a recent college grad, this seems especially applicable to me.

It’s nostalgic without relying too much on that emotion, it’s sweet but not too sweet, it’s more grown up but still fun for kids, it’s funny, it’s interesting, and it’s entertaining.  It was, quite simply, the perfect end to the story.

1.  Inception


It’s no coincidence that this is the only movie on the list that isn’t either a sequel, an adaptation, or a remake.  This movie is original, which is shockingly unique these days.  I heard a statistic recently that over 80% of movies that have come out recently have been one of the above.  I get that making movies is expensive, and a huge risk, and that you want to make something that already has an established fan base but really??  80+% ?!?  That’s… disappointing.  In fact, I heard that the studios didn’t want to take the risk to make this movie, except that Christopher Nolan had kind of earned their trust after Batman.

But seriously, what is there not to love about this movie?  Definitely not the cast, because it’s nothing short of phenomenal.  Leo, Ellen, JGL, Marion Cotillard, Ken Watanabe, Cillian Murphy, and Michael Caine?  Fuggedaboutit.  And who would have thought the biggest BAMF of them all would be SHINZON???  Freaking SHINZON, clone of Captain Jean-Luc Picard.

Definitely not the effects.  That no-gravity fight scene in the hotel?  Very little CGI.  I know, right.  Wires and a rotating set.  And the CGI scenes are awesome too!  Ellen Page rebuilding Paris is one of the more impressive things I’ve seen on the screen to date.  George Lucas and his CGI addiction can suck it.

This movie has a great emotional core too.  At its heart it’s the story of a desperate father doing whatever it takes to get back to the children he can’t be with.  Dom is tortured by the things he has done and seen, but I wouldn’t describe him as angsty or emo (I’m talking to YOU Spider Man!).  There’s also the friendship of Dom and Arthur, the UST between Arthur and Ariadne, and the incredibly complex relationship between Dom and Mal.  Not to mention Cillian Murphy’s twisted emotional journey.

On top of that, there’s great action, intriguing concepts, decent humor and snark, great dialogue and acting, and all-around bad-assery.  If you haven’t seen it yet, pull your head out of your asinine Twilight book or whatever else you’re distracting yourself with, and go watch Inception.  Fool.

And that’s it for the year’s movies.  There were some great movies that simply couldn’t make the Top Five, but I wasn’t about to do a Top Ten, so there.  If I were going to do a Top 10, I probably would have included

6.  Kick Ass

7.  Easy A

8.  Black Swan

9.  The Book of Eli

10.  Alice in Wonderland

But I didn’t, so sorry aforementioned films, you’re just Honorable Mentions in my eyes.

2010 was a strong year, most definitely.  Overall perhaps not as strong as 2009 (I mean, that year had Inglourious Basterds and District 9, Up and Star Trek, so… yeah), but it was certainly close.  And 2011 is looking to be a decent year as well.  Thor, Green Lantern, Cowboys and Aliens (yes I’m excited about it, shut up), Kung Fu Panda 2, The Hangover 2, X-Men, Sherlock Holmes 2, Harry Potter, and YES FINALLY the JUSTIN BIEBER MOVIE!

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