The Academy Awards and Indie Spirit Awards winners will be announced this weekend, marking the end of the awards season. On the heels of the prizes, here is a list of my top ten favorite films of 2010.
Exit Through the Gift Shop | DVD Blu-ray On Demand
This film begins as a collection of videos shot by Thierry Guetta. His obsession with street art leads him to documenting some of the most infamous artist of that form, including Banksy, Shepard Fairey, and Invader. Eventually Guetta turns his attention to creating his own street art under the moniker of Mr. Brainwash. Guetta’s artist endeavors take on a grand scale and illustrate of the absurdity of the fine art consumer market.
The claims that this film is a documentary have been challenged. It ultimately does not matter if this film is a legitimate documentary or a prankumentary. The commentary that it makes on the state of the modern, fine art world is brilliant.
127 Hours | DVD Blu-ray On Demand
James Franco stars as Aron Ralston, a mountain climber and adventure seeker. The film recreates the true events that lead to Ralston having his right arm trapped under a boulder for 127 hours. He is alone with his thoughts and pain until he is able to free himself.
Roger Ebert described this film as “an exercise in conquering the unfilmable.” It doesn’t simply complete the task; it makes a harrowing and exalting film with amazing cinematography, wonderful direction and a stellar performance.
Jack Goes Boating | CD Blu-ray On Demand
For his directorial debut, Philip Seymour Hoffman reprises an off-Broadway play in which he stared as the title character. Married couple Clyde and Lucy set Jack up on a blind date with Connie because they both appear to be lonely, shy, and a little gawky. Everything builds to a dinner that Jack cooks for Connie because no one has ever cooked her a dinner before.
Hoffman retains most of the cast that he worked with in the stage play. All of the actors impeccably combine quirky wit, emotive expressions, and beguiling awkwardness in a manner that has defined Hoffman’s acting career. The result is a film that combines the themes of Marty and Raymond Carver’s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.”
Toy Story 3 | DVD Blu-ray On Demand
All of the characters that made the first two computer-animated films in this series enjoyable are back. As Andy, their owner, packs for college, he has to decide what to do with his toys now that he has outgrown them. Instead of being stored in the attic or thrown away, they accidentally get donated to a daycare center. They try to escape and make their way home.
The Toy Story series has done a wonderful job of conveying the aging of childhood and continues its realistic approach with Toy Story 3. This film is on par with its original entry to the franchise and contains one of the funniest segments of any movie from the past year.
Winter’s Bone | DVD Blu-ray On Demand
Jennifer Lawrence puts forth a commanding performance as 17 year-old Ree Dolly, the most responsible member of her rural family. Her drug addicted father has disappeared after using his house as bail. Ree must find him or the family will lose their home.
The dark cinematography of this crime drama helped director Debra Granik create a compelling backwoods noir film. Combined with a stellar cast of guileless supporting actors, Lawrence and Granik have created a notable movie.
Inception | DVD Blu-ray On Demand
Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) leads a team that extracts information from people’s subconscious while they dream. Cobb is offered a job of planting a thought into someone’s mind. Infinitely more difficult than extraction, the inception requires a larger team of accomplices and multiple levels of dreams. The crux of the movie is the confusion between reality and dreams.
Inception is well written, directed and produced by Christopher Nolan. The topic and scenarios could have been confusing, but Nolan’s skills present them in a straightforward manner. So many aspects – from production design, editing, special effects, etc – of the movie were well planned and perfectly executed.
Animal Kingdom | DVD Blu-ray On Demand
Josh Cody, known simply as J, witnesses his mother die of a heroin overdose during the opening of this film. The 17 year-old then moves in with his grandmother and uncles, who are wanted criminals for their armed robbery and drug offenses. J decides how to survive for himself and has to choose between helping his criminal family or seeking the protection of the law.
This is one of the best Australian films in years, partly due to the ensemble cast that perfectly captures the character’s idiosyncrasies. All of the nuances were superbly crafted by writer/director David Michôd, who turned out a fantastic debut film.
The Fighter | DVD Blu-ray On Demand
Micky Ward is a boxer who tries to balance his potential for a title and his dysfunctional family. His crack head half-brother, a former boxer himself, is his trainer when he’s not in jail. His controlling mother is his manager, but she is more concerned with making money than fighting the right opponents and advancing Micky’s career. He battles to keep his family on his side while he fights for his chances in the ring.
This film showcases a faultless ensemble cast with great performances from Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Melissa Leo, and the actresses who portray Ward’s seven shoddy sisters.
Black Swan | DVD Blu-ray
Natalie Portman is a ballet dancer obsessed with perfecting her dancing. Based on her meticulous audition as the White Swan, she is an ideal candidate for the lead role in “Swan Lake,” but the artistic director wants to choose his lead based on the dancer’s ability to perform the darker, more seductive role of the Black Swan. As she takes on the role, she slowly loses her mind.
Darren Aronofsky crafted a stunning psychological thriller, perhaps the only psychological thriller set in the world of ballet dancing. The film can be predictable, but still maintains its poignancy. Like many of Aronofsky’s films, this is a dark character piece that is primed for an outstanding performance, which Portman delivered.
Kick-Ass | DVD/Blu-ray On Demand
An average teenager decides to become super-hero despite possessing no super powers or special skills. Under the guise of Kick-Ass, he tries to rid New York City of crime and meets two proficient super-heroes, the former cop Big Daddy and his 11 year-old daughter Hit-Girl. Together they battle the local crime boss.
This film, based on the comic book series of the same name, enlivens the super-hero model with its amateur adventurers. The high energy movie is full of black comedy and pleasurable throughout. The standout performance of this film is Hit-Girl portrayed by Chloe Moretz, who has been fantastic in all of her roles (including (500) Days of Summer and the US remake of Let Me In).