2 January 2011

The Best films of 2010

Honourable mentions: Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, Four Lions, Catfish, The Other Guys, I Love you Phillip Morris

10. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Edgar Wright’s berserk comic book adaptation was ignored at the box-office last August, but is set to have a powerful afterlife on Blu-Ray. Despite Michael Cera still refusing to exit his comfort zone, Wright crafts a witty and visually dazzling action-comedy, with one of the sweeter and more tangible romantic centres of the year. Fans of the source material received the film very favourably, although it also presents a great time for those unfamiliar with the property. It’s the second best comic book movie of 2010.

9. Cemetery Junction

After a mediocre box-office showing in the UK, “Cemetery Junction” was unfairly shoved straight to DVD in the USA. Marking a change of pace for celebrated comic team Stephen Merchant and Ricky Gervais, the film follows a group of young lads growing up during the 1970s in the little town of Cemetery Junction. It’s a wonderfully acted and poignant movie, filled with laughs and tears. The fact it was distributed so poorly makes for one of 2010’s sadder filmic tales. Track it down on DVD now.

8. Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy

This exhaustive documentary chronicles “The Nightmare on Elm Street” franchise, appealing to your inner geek marvellously through its exhaustive 4 hour runtime. Looking back at the series in meticulous detail, this documentary explores the effects and feelings these movies have conjured up, with virtually no bias or undeserved self-congratulation. Certainly for fans of this series it was a needed quantity, with Samuel Bayer’s underwhelming remake of the original entry clogging up theatres during spring 2010. I appreciate this picture may not serve all demographics, but for horror fanatics it’s a genuine gem.

7. Shutter Island

Retuning after his Oscar victory with “The Departed”, Martin Scorsese must have been feeling the pressure with “Shutter Island”. However the film is an immaculate and insanely clever ride, a throwback to the thrillers of old. Leonardo DiCaprio offers an exquisite leading performance, and the rest of the cast excel as well (especially after a second viewing). Filmed and edited atmospherically, this trippy little chiller is a wonderful product courtesy of one of the greatest filmmakers of all time.

6. Up in the Air

An Oscar hopeful from last season, “Up in the Air” was released in the UK during January 2010, hence its inclusion on this list. An almost poetic dissection of the human condition, “Up in the Air” benefited hugely from subtle direction and several robust performances; including a charming George Clooney. A film that impresses on the back of its bravery and engaging emotional undercurrents.

5. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

The Harry Potter cycle is one of the odder franchises of recent years, starting at an almost whimsical pitch, before transforming into a far darker beast in the later movies. “Deathly Hallows: Part 1” is the first segment in the climactic story, and is possibly the best Potter yet. A deliciously gothic continuation of the saga, the film blends adventure with the far more meditative concept of growing up. The acting is superb in all corners, with special mention going to the three leads, now matured into strong performers. A tantalizing teaser for what’s to come, “Deathly Hallows: Part1” is one of the year’s finest blockbusters.

4. Inception

Chris Nolan’s “Inception” is possibly a little too convoluted at times, but that’s a minor quibble when it comes to this otherwise mind bending experience. Doing a great job with the visual possibilities of dreaming, Nolan’s otherworldly heist movie is primed with phenomenal action, good acting and an intelligent script. It treats the audience with respect and asks they engage their brains in order to keep pace with the intricate plot, and for that we should be eternally grateful.

3. Kick-Ass

If there was an Oscar for “biggest filmmaking balls” the crew behind “Kick-Ass” would walk away with it in 2010. This individually financed blockbuster is a great adaptation of its edgy source, boasting a professional line in exhilarating action and razor sharp wit. Director Matthew Vaughn guides the project with assurance and conviction, refusing to censor his exceedingly adult version of the comic book world. The best example of what can be achieved with graphic novels since “The Dark Knight”.

2. Toy Story 3

For my money Pixar went a little off the grid in 2009 with “UP”, a fine film but hardly a major triumph. “Toy Story 3” on the other hand is everything fans of this franchise could have hoped for, a beautiful and hilarious closing chapter for the now legendary story. Ending on a touchingly bittersweet note, the film entertains consistently throughout. At times very dark, the movie is alongside “Wall-E” possibly the most adult movie to be born of the Pixar stable, although unlike that movie this one will also automatically appeal to the under 9 crowd through its universally agreeable comedy. An absolute treasure, “Toy Story 3” represents a fully fledged masterpiece.

1. The Social Network

Already a big contender for next year’s awards race, David Fincher’s “The Social Network” is made brilliant thanks to one of the best screenplays of recent times. Aaron Sorkin adapts Ben Mezrich’s book “The Accidental Billionaires” fantastically, finding deep humanity within the legal battle that surrounded the forming of Facebook. An awesome leading turn from Jesse Eisenberg sweetens the deal, as of course does the unique soundtrack (it’s been a great year for music in film) from Trent Reznor. An almost flawless experience, “The Social Networks” compels effortlessly, thriving on its tenacious dialogue and engaging characterizations of the figures involved. It’s a must see.

Daniel Kelly, 2011


Anonymous said...

Great list, but just FYI "Cemetery Junction" wasn't set in a town called Cemetery Junction, it was set in a town called Reading. Cemetery Junction is literally a junction by a cemetery in the middle of Reading. I drive down it every day :P

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