Best Films of 2010

Films

Although it gets harder and harder to see movies in the theater I do try and catch up to the year’s crop on dvd.  And while this list contains the best I did see I wouldn’t say it was a great year for movies.  That being said, it is odd to find that the top 3 movies on my list could be best movies in any other year.  They were that good.  The entire crop of movies made in 2010 was less than in year’s past.  But alas, here it is.  These are the 10 films that did resonate with me and all are worth seeing, renting or watching again.  Scroll down for Ruth’s favorites.

1)  Kids Are All Right (Lisa Cholodenko)

Lisa Cholodenko’s heartwarming tale of a family with some broken parts.  No film brought us love, heartache and drama this year.  The entire cast is superb, it was well written and Anette Bening is as good as she has ever been.  This is the best film of 2010.

2)  Black Swan (Darren Aronofsky)

Darren Aronofsky has a knack of creating almost obsessive compulsive characters in his films that suffocate to their own thoughts.  Think Micky Rourke in The Wrestler, Ellyn Burstyn in Requiem For a Dream and in Black Swan, Natalie Portman.  Portman plays Nina, a ballerina who has just been given the lead role in the latest and updated version of Swan Lake.  Can her beauty and passivity be successful not only for the white swan but for the elusive and sexy black swan as well?  Portman is outstanding in the role and what Aronofsky has created is the most visceral mind fuck movie of the year.

3)  The Social Network (David Fincher)

This is THE MOVIE for me and Nick.  Directed by the amazing David Fincher and written by one of our favorite writers Aaron Sorkin.  The Social Network is the Facebook movie.  There’s not much I can say that you don’t already know.  This is the movie that will define a generation.  A great film.

4)  Toy Story 3 (Lee Unkrich)

I’ve said this previously and will continue to say it.  There is no studio or filmmaker making films like the crew of Pixar.  All I can say is that it’s amazing that one studio can continue to create films that are heartwarming, not condescending to the viewer, original and creative.  The last tale of Woody and Buzz may be the best yet.  They have created one of the greatest trilogies in the history of film.  Yes, you read that right.

5)  Shutter Island (Martin Scorsese)

One of the more underrated films of the year and of Scorsese’s career, Shutter Island is a gripping, cerebral film.  Another mind fuck movie of the year.  Leo is so good playing (or is it) both sides of Teddy Daniels.

6)  Exit Through the Gift Shop (Banksy)

A documentary (is it?) on the elusive street artist Banksy as well as others in the field turns the viewer around and lets us wonder what is art, who is making it and whether we are in the midst of it.  That Banksy guy is one smart dude.

7)  Cyrus (Jay and Mark Duplass)

One of the more original films of the year is Cyrus.  Played with such ease and suave by Jonah Hill, Cyrus is essential about one’s power and control over another.  Cyrus’s mother has found a new boyfriend and this does not sit well with Cyrus.  The film is at all times hilarious as hell, uncomfortable and well acted by everyone.  Reminded me of Scorsese’s most underrated film, The King of Comedy.

8)  The Town (Ben Affleck)

Ben Affleck has created a highly entertaining heist film that may go down with the 70’s greats.  Essentially it is just that, a heist film with Ben leading his crew on numerous bank robberies throughout the streets of the Charlestown neighborhood in Boston.  Rebecca Hall plays the girl he falls for, Jeremy Renner is his best pal and fellow bank robber, Jon Hamm is the FBI agent who is trying to catch them in action but the most supporting actor/actress of the film is the city streets of Charlestown.  In nearly every scene, this town is the star of the film.  Well directed by Ben Affleck.

9)  Please Give (Nicole Holofcener)

There’s not much to describe the movie other than that one couple (Oliver Platt and Catherine Keener) who own an antique furniture store is trying to get the apartment of the little old lady who lives next door.  She has 2 granddaughter’s (Rebecca Hall and Amanda Peet).  That is the plot but it is so much more.  First it’s a beautiful told marriage story, secondly it’s a heartwarming tale of a kid growing into her own (Platt’s and Keener’s teenage daughter) and third it’s another kick ass film starring the amazing and beautiful Rebecca Hall.  I can’t think of another actress that wears her emotions on her sleeve as she does.

10)  Scott Pilgrim vs the World (Edgar Wright)

My last choice was between the incredibly well acted, deftly directed sports film The Fighter (David O. Russell) or this one of a kind, comic book meets video game growing up tale called Scott Pilgrim vs the World.  This usually is not the kind of film that I find entertaining but I loved it.  It was a frenetic fantasy tale for the now generation.  Creatively directed and featuring Michael Cera (who doesn’t like this kid) as Scott Pilgrim himself trying to out duel and defeat the 7 former flames of his new girl Ramona.  Highly entertaining its only negative is the laundry list of films that will try and emulate this formula to much less success.

Worst: Greenberg

Another “woe is me” flick from my favorite obnoxious and condescending director Noah Baumbach.  Ben Stiller this time plays the “who gives a shit” lead in Greenberg.  Seriously Baumbach, what started as a keen eye for dialogue and filmmaking has turned you into our most cynical and smarmy director.  I hated it.

The “I haven’t seen them yet but may have made the list if I did” movies..

  • Somewhere– because it’s Sofia Coppola
  • Blue Valentine– what won’t you love about a married dysfunctional couple starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams
  • True Grit- umm, the Coen brothers???

Ruth’s Best of…

1.)   I Am Love (directed by Luca Guadagnino)

Tilda Swinton is extraordinary as an aristocratic Milanese wife and mother whose privileged perfect world unravels when she enters an affair with her son’s friend, ending in tragedy. The seduction begins with a cake that we never get to see, and food continues to play a supporting role (her lover is a chef). The movie at times made me think of Hitchcock (the scene where she secretly follows the object of her desire through crowded city streets) and a little Douglas Sirk thrown in. This is a lush, gorgeous film to watch and the over the top music score punctuated the melodrama perfectly.

2.)   Black Swan (directed by Darren Aronofsky)

Natalie Portman plays ballerina Nina Sayers who lands the lead in the company’s new production of Swan Lake. She’s innocent and sweet enough to nail the role of the White Swan – but is pushed by ballet director Thomas (played by Vincent Cassel) to let go and get in touch with her inner Black Swan. Newcomer to the company Lily, played by Mila Kunis, embodies all that Nina is not, seductive and irreverent– she is naughty to Nina’s nice. This is where things get interesting. Is Lily out to get the starring role or is Nina’s search for her dark side loosening her grip on reality? I loved the dance scenes filmed with a handheld camera and the costumes by Rodarte were gorgeous. And speaking of ballet movies, if you’ve never seen “The Red Shoes” (one of my fave films of all time) You have to add it to your Netflix queue now. But don’t take it from me, Martin Scorsese is a huge fan too. Read about why you should see it here: http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/11/04/cinema-as-music-martin-scorsese-on-the-red-shoes/

3.)  Exit Through the Gift Shop (directed by Banksy)

Thierry Guetta, a a French vintage clothing store owner based in L.A. ,with no film experience whatsoever, gets the idea that he wants to film a documentary on street art so he follows and befriends the likes of Shepard Fairey (creator of the iconic Obama Hope poster) and others, all convinced that they’re participating in a totally legit project. When one of the artists (the world famous) Banksy finally gets to see the finished product, it’s a hot mess – badly edited, and totally unwatchable. So Bansky turns the tables and the camera on the eccentric, zany Thierry himself and what happens next is hilarious as Thierry becomes a celebrated street artist himself. Or is it all a prank? Best line in the film – “ Life is like a game of chess. (pause) I don’t know how to play chess.”

4.)  Enter the Void (directed by Gaspar Noe)

Gaspar Noe’s films are not for the faint of heart. If you’ve ever seen his previous film, Irreversible, you know what I’m talking about. You know you’re about to experience something brutal and punishing, but at the end maybe something beautiful and profound too, When we bought tickets for the screening, there were actually signs warning that epileptics might be prone to seizures during the film (wtf?) The story is about a brother and a sister, orphans who in flashback scenes, promise to never part but are separated nonetheless and are now reunited and living in a seedy part of Tokyo. Oscar is a small time drug dealer (played by Nathaniel Brown) and Linda, a stripper (played by Paz de la Huerta). The first half of the film seems almost banal as we see these two doing actually not much of anything. But when Oscar is shot dead by cops in a drug deal gone wrong at a club called The Void, we see Oscar’s spirit rise and follow Linda through the streets of Tokyo trying to get back to her. It’s trippy and hallucinagenic and I then understood the warning at the ticket booth.  I think I read somewhere that you don’t watch this film as much as experience it which I thought was pretty apt. Whatever you think of Enter the Void , you can’t deny that it’s utterly original and that you’re been taken somewhere you’ve never been.

5.)  Tiny Furniture (directed by Lena Dunham)

When a friend asked me to go see this , I was skeptical. Was this was going to be one of those annoyingly cute quirky films That’s all style and no substance?  I was wrong and actually really liked this film. Director Lena Dunham plays the starring role as Aura, a recent college grad who comes home and tries to figure out what’s next. The film was shot in the Tribeca  neighborhood Lena grew up in and the loft of her real life art star parents – Laurie Simmons and Carroll Dunham.  In fact, Laurie Simmons plays her (fictionalized) mom in the film as well as real life sister Grace. So what happens? She goes to a few parties, gets a nowhere job as a restaurant hostess and gets not so romantically involved with a couple of loser guys. I thought the dialogue was hilarious and smart and there’s a realness to it that was refreshing i.e. – when we see Aura’s youtube performance piece, she’s not afraid of showing her un-Hollywood physique in an unflattering light.  She captures the awkwardness and uncertainty of a certain kind of girl at a certain kind of age perfectly. I especially loved the character of Aura’s sarcastic kooky friend Charlotte played by Jemima Kirke. This movie secretly made me glad that I’m no longer in my 20’s, dating guys in their 20’s.

6.) Please Give (directed by Nicole Holofcener)

Catherine Keener is in it. And if that isn’t enough to make you want to see it,read this – because I just ran out of time but wanted to include this great film on my list. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/25/movies/25give.html,

Films I haven’t seen yet but might have made this list if I did – Somewhere by Sofia Coppola because it feels like she’s back to Lost in Translation territory, and True Grit by the Coen brothers, well, because it’s the Coen brothers!

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