Monday, December 27, 2010

A mostly positive look at 2010 in film

A baker's dozen of the top films of 2010 (from one to 12 with a little extra powder at the end):

"The Social Network" -- A gifted young cast put the Face(book) on one extraordinary movie, but director David Fincher and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin gave it the heft to define the decade it does.

"The King's Speech" -- A very close runner-up with lots of British w-w-w-wit, worth, warmth and wonder.

"The Ghost Writer" -- It came and went quickly in February, but political intrigue rarely gets any better than this.

"127 Hours" -- Co-writer and director Danny Boyle turned a horrific true incident into a celebration of life with the help of a bravura performance from James Franco.

"Let Me In" -- Remakes never are as a good as the original, but Matt Reeves perhaps made one better, not to mention scary and sumptuous at the same time. Too bad so few actually saw this stylish vampire film.

"Toy Story 3" -- Perhaps the greatest second sequel ever made easily became the year's best animated film (although I have not seen Sylvain Chomet's acclaimed "The Illusionist").

"Please Give" -- Originality abounds in this fourth film from writer/director Nicole Holofcenter, who once again has the wonderful Catherine Keener and a mostly female ensemble at the center of it all.

"The Fighter" -- Speaking of ensembles, expect at least three supporting nominations to come out of star/producer Mark Wahlberg's pet boxing project-turned terrific movie.

"Winter's Bone" -- Ya gotta "show me" in Missouri, so young Jennifer Lawrence did -- by sparkling amidst the despair of Debra Granik's very small film with a big, courageous spirit.

"Hereafter" -- Director Clint Eastwood got superbly supernatural -- and even a bit spiritual -- with us and added a knockout opening segment to boot.

"Secretariat" -- No win, place or show in cinema for perhaps history's greatest racehorse. Just the year's most stirring live-action family film.

"Incendies"/"Of Gods and Men" -- Foreign filmmaking from Quebec and France, respectively, at its finest. Just see them both whenever it is they do get to your town in 2011

And the other stuff -- Worst films: "Repo Men," "The Back-up Plan" and the truly dreadful "Cats & Dogs 2: The Revenge of Kitty Galore."

Guilty pleasures: "Faster," "Salt," "The Other Guys."

Overrated: "The Town" (not bad, but nothing we haven't seen before), "The Kids Are All Right" (nicely acted but awfully slow, and Annette Bening shines even more in the underseen "Mother and Child").

Finally, a few other under-appreciated performances: The "kids" (Chloe Moretz and Kodi Smit-McPhee) in "Let Me In," Olivia Williams ("The Ghost Writer ), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (in the craft-driven "Inception"), Diane Lane ("Secretariat), Matt Damon ("Hereafter" and "True Grit").

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