Ryan's Picks: The Best Films in 2010 - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Ryan’s Picks: The Best Films in 2010

2010 was a very strange year for movies in my opinion.  When I started thinking about the year and the movies I loved and loathed for the end of year lists, I had trouble figuring out any on both ends.  The problem with 2010 was everything was so middle of the road it was hard to find any movies that I was excited about after seeing or angry about. Most of the movies I left thinking they were ok.  What does this say about the movie industry right now?  I don’t know for sure but I would assume that years of playing it safe have now made most movies devoid of any creative spark or idea.  The risk takers have slowly been beaten down into submission and they now are towing the company line.

Unlike my fellow writers at this site, I am specifically making a best of list for the genres of the films that were released in 2010.  I am not doing a top ten because I feel I have not seen all the movies I would need to see to truly know what the best films of the year were, instead I am breaking down the year in categories.

I have heard that he loves it when a plan comes together.

Best Action Movie - The A-Team- 2010 was unique in the fact that within 3 months, 3 similar action films were released.  They all had the same plot of wrongfully accused/hunted team of Special Forces soldiers out to get revenge on those that framed them and clear their names.  Within those 3 months I went to see all 3 of these films and between The Losers, The A-Team and The Expendables; I enjoyed The A-Team the most.  The rest of the year saw very few true action movies being released and as the dust settled on the year, it was clearly evident that The A-Team stood far above the rest.  The director, Joe Carnahan, used his giant budget wisely and staged some of the most enjoyable action scenes in recent history.  The mid air tank scene was a blast (bad pun totally on purpose), the scene set up in 2 skyscrapers was awesome and the few times that BA let loose was great.  Thanks to a perfectly casted film and the mentioned action scenes, The A-Team was a lot of fun, and that is all I needed out of the film.  I am sad that this movie did not do well, because I would have loved to seen the future adventures of these guys.

Best Animated Film - Toy Story 3- Last year was an amazing year for animated films them being some of the best movies released.  How to Train Your Dragon was the best film Dreamworks Animation has released, Tangled showed that Disney still had some magic left in its tanks and Descipible Me was a lot of fun for both my young daughters and me. The one film that stood above all these very pleasing films was Toy Story 3. If you heard our latest podcast or read Andrew’s original review you know that I work with the two people in the world that didn’t love this movie, aside from a reviewer in the East coast that will remain nameless that hates any feel good movie.  To be honest some of their gripes might have merit.  The villain almost was a carbon copy of the villain from the second movie and some of the scenes in the day care do drag. That doesn’t matter in the overall picture because the movie is so magical and well made that I can’t help but love it.  Doing a third movie in a series is tricky, just look at the mangled films that have been released as the final chapter in these trilogies.  Spiderman 3, Matrix Revolutions, X-Men 3, Back to the Future 3 and so on, so it is even a bigger deal that this movie stuck the landing.

Tears are usually flowing by the time I get to this scene.

The geniuses at Pixar hit all the beats that they had to hit to keep typical moviegoers happy (grumpy Mr. Potato Head, Aliens and the Claw, crazy Buzz Lightyear) but also went for something new and amazing.  By letting Andy grow up the movie tells a story about moving on and the changes that everyone has to face sooner or later.  The end of the movie breaks my heart every time I see it and changes how I watch the first two films.  Pixar could have played it safe and made another film about the adventures of young Andy’s toys and still made an enjoyable film. But for them to reach for something more, and hit a nerve with both kids who are growing up and for the parents who hate seeing it happen is makes Toy Story 3 something special and easily one of the best films of the year.

Funniest Film - The Other Guys - Wow, what a terrible year for comedies.  Few of the films released as “comedies” this year hardly made me chuckle.  For 364 days, I did not see a movie that had any belly laughs, but on New Years Eve it happened. I finally was able to watch The Other Guys and found it to be truly the funniest film of the year.  I love weird, off of the center type humor and The Other Guys had that in spades.  The tuna vs. lion monologue was brilliant, every single second Dwayne Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson were on screen was great (and I would love to see them make a movie together) and an unhinged Mark Wahlberg was priceless.  While watching this film my one-year-old daughter was trying to take a nap on my chest, she got very annoyed with me because my laughing kept waking her up. If I was watching any other “comedy” from last year she probably would have slept undisturbed.

Best Blockbuster - Inception - I said in the introduction to this story that all movie makers were playing it safe these days, well I might have misspoke because director Christopher Nolan promptly gave the middle finger to playing it safe and made probably the most crowd pleasing film of the year.  The first hour has a lot of set up but that is understandable for a movie that has to create its whole world and the rules of how everything works from scratch.  After everything is ready to go and the main characters start their mission it is the most exciting film of the year.  The last hour and plus of the movie is one big action sequence that has brains behind it and some of the coolest effects of the year.  Inception was a big risk for both Christopher Nolan and Warner Brothers and I am glad they were rewarded so handsomely for their risks.

Best Screenplay - The Social Network - I was thinking of separating this category into a few different parts and doing a best story and best dialogue sections, but then I realized The Social Network would win any categories in the screen play category.  The script is so well put together that two unlikable characters could be on screen doing nothing but talking to one another and the viewer is still mesmerized by the film.  The dialogue was crisp and lean and all the characters were given reasons for what they did.  No screenplay comes close to as good as The Social Network and I expect to be hearing screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s name a lot come awards time.

Best Breakthrough Performance - There is a three-way tie: Chloe Maretz Kick-Ass, Jennifer Lawrence Winter’s Bone and Hailee Steinfeld True Grit. This was a very good year for young girls/women in film.  The three females mentioned all stole movies out from well-known and respected actors and became the best things in their films.  Chloe Maretz’s Hit Girl is probably my favorite character of the year and I would love to see a spin off film of just her.  Jennifer Lawrence went toe to toe with great character actor John Hawkes and gave the best lead female performance of the year.  Hailee Steinfeld was in countless scenes with Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon in True Grit and blew them both off of the screen.  I see long careers for all three of these actresses in the future if they would want them and I hope to see them in movies that use them correctly in the future.  To add a footnote in this category, for those casting The Hunger Games film, look no further than Jennifer Lawrence for Katniss, I can’t think of anyone more perfect.

A beautiful way to start a film.

Best Scene - The Social Network- The movie opens up on a date that is going horribly wrong.  We don’t know the characters, their back-stories or their past together.  We are just thrown into the scene and we watch all involved put on a show for us moviegoers.  The dialogue is perfectly written and delivered brilliantly by the actors and the scene is shot in a way that grabs your attention from the beginning.  The Social Network is a movie that shot out of the gate as a great movie and never lost its momentum thanks to this wonderful scene that started the whole thing out.

Best Score - Tron: Legacy- I really dug the music in Inception and it was perfect for the film and somehow Trent Reznor’s score for The Social Network actually worked and fit in with the movie, but my favorite score of the year would have to be Daft Punk’s awesome music for Tron. I liked Tron and had a great time watching it but I was also very aware of many of the story problems and didn’t think the lead actor was that charismatic.  I honestly think a big reason I liked the movie so much was the visuals and music blended together so well that any problems I might have had went to the background in favor of all the pretty and shiny things.   This score is also great to listen to while: driving, working, reading and exercising because it will make you feel like a total badass while doing any of these activities.

When the movie takes place in a rural area, there must be banjos!

Best Look - Winter’s Bone- This movie was a great noir and it started with the look and feel of the movie.  This film was set in the rural woods of Missouri during winter and the movie looked cold and miserable.  Shot in actual woods with muted colors and with many decrepit building in the background, the terrain that Ree Dolly has is dark, depressing and foreboding. The movie makes the viewer feel like they are right there with the characters.  True Grit might have looked beautiful and majestic, but in Winter’s Bone the setting almost becomes a character itself.

Best Acting - The cast of The Fighter- The Fighter follows the same plot as every other single boxing film ever made.  Boxer from the poor part of town who never caught any breaks but has a good heart does the unexpected and starts winning his matches until he gets his one chance at a title fight.  Yes, this movie had cliché on top of cliché but the acting in the film elevated it to one of the best movies of the year.  Amy Adams, Melissa Leo and Christian Bale all turned in award worthy performances in this film.  Mark Wahlberg might have been the main star of the film and he does fine with his character that mainly reacts to everyone else but his supporting cast just floored me with how good they did. Christian Bale might turn in his best performance as a junkie, washed up boxer who missed his shot and is now living through his brother.  I saw some footage of the real life person that Bale plays and he has Dickie down perfectly.

While many people have imitated real life characters to Oscar glory before (most recently Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles) Bale’s performance isn’t just an imitation but a fully realized character full of sorrow, regret, pride and resolve.  The fact that he plays someone that you want to strangle and hug at the same time shows how well he does at getting under your skin.  Melissa Leo as the mom, who is not to be messed with, and Amy Adams as the one woman that will stand up to her also do some of their finest work, and that is high praise for these actresses.  While these give the best performances in the film everyone does a stellar job in the film, helping the movie feel real and lived in and I loved it.

Best Directing - Inception- The Social Network and its director David Fincher came really close by making a movie about computers and business interesting, but for me the best job anybody did as director was Christopher Nolan. He took a big idea, didn’t dumb it down and made a terrific ride of a movie.  When most people would have leaned on computer effects, he used real trick shots and effects.  The last hour of the film, Nolan had some many plates spinning at once and he never once faltered or seemed worried, instead he kept adding more and more plates to the equation.  Inception is the best kind of big summer blockbuster, it is one where you get all the excitement and action you wanted but you don’t have to forgo story or character.  Nolan should be applauded for being a director who has learned how to work within the studio system to get the budgets needed for his spectacles without compromising his vision.

Best Film of the Year - The Social Network- The best film of the year for me came down between The Social Network, The Fighter and Inception and the fact that I see NO flaws in The Social Network tips the scales in its favor.  Go down the list, Acting- Not a bad performance in the movie, Directing- David Fincher once again knocked it out of the park and Script- Best damn script of the year hands down.  On top of being good it is also really entertaining the movie gets you to laugh, feel bad for certain characters and really dislike others but most importantly it makes you sit in rapt attention for the duration of the film.  The movie might not be as flashy as other movies this year and some older citizens might not “get” the film, but it was the film that fired on all cylinders throughout.

HONORABLE MENTIONS- these are all films that weren’t mentioned earlier but I enjoyed: The Town, Easy A and Black Swan.


STILL NEED TO SEE- would these movies of made my list?  I don’ know because I have not seen them yet: 127 Hours, The King’s Speech, Red, Another Year and Let Me In.

Posted by Ryan

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