Thursday, 30 December 2010

Best of 2010 - Movies

With only a day and half left of this year at the time of writing, I can't help but think back over the year in terms of the new films that I've had the pleasure to sit down and watch, be it at the cinema, or in the comfort of my own home. Anyone that knows me well will probably be aware that I am rather enthusiastic, and downright passionate when it comes to film, so looking back at the year in cinema is something I've been looking forward to for a while. Now, I was struggling to decide whether this list would be a countdown kind of thing, in which my favourite films would be ranked, with a clear favourite as number one. The problem with that sort of thing though, is that I will ultimately wind up being unhappy with it for a number of reasons. One such reason would be that I haven't yet seen so many films that have been released this year, such as 2012 and Bad Lieutenant, which are both films that I think I'd really like. Another reason would be that after viewing some of these films again in the future, I might decide that the ranking should be different. So I decided upon writing a straight up list of films in no particular order... until I then changed my mind again, and decided to man-up and properly rank my top films of the year. So what follows will be my top ten films of 2010; a list of films released this year, that at the time of writing, I have seen and enjoyed. You may disagree, hell, I may even find myself disagreeing when I think about it tomorrow. Anyways, here it goes:

Honorary Mentions
A few films that didn't quite make the list, but were still among my favourites this year included How to Train Your Dragon; From Paris with Love; The Other Guys; The A-Team; Get Him to the Greek; The Sorcerer's Apprentice; MacGruber; I love you Phillip Morris and Hot Tub Time Machine.  

The fact that none of these films made it into the top ten list just goes to show what an awesome year we experienced in terms of the films that we were treated to.

10. The Expendables

The script for this film was passable, but not much better than that, and the acting on display was all right at best, but I didn't care, as this was the action film to end all action films. Sylvester Stallone was at the helm of this one, having written and produced it, and going on to star in and direct the flick. The cast that Stallone was able to assemble was mind blowing, as it included names such as Jason Statham, Jet Li, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Bruce Willis, and somehow, even included a cameo from the Governor of California: Arnold Schwarzenegger. The action levels in this movie were as off the charts as expected, and Stallone did a fantastic job of directing the fights, stunts and explosions. As I've already mentioned, it may not have had the best storyline in the world, but this was an hour and a half of pure fun to watch, and I enjoyed every second of it, putting it in my top ten films of 2010.

9. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1

The Harry Potter film franchise is fast approaching the end of the road now, and with the seventh book in the series including way too much important content to miss out on, the team at Warner Bros. have decided to finish the series in style with a spectacular two parter for the Deathly Hallows. In fact this idea was so good, that the money sucking vampires that are Team Twilight have stolen it for their own finale.

The Potter films have been somewhat of a mixed bag. They will never be as good as the books, but as films alone, have been average to great in quality. Thankfully, the last few installments have been very good, and to a large extent have done the books the justice that they deserve. This first part of the final chapter of the Potter tale was extremely well done in capturing the book's epic opening battle, and then going on to focus on the long, drawn out quest through forests and villages, showcasing the tried friendships between Harry, Ron, and Hermione. The biggest surprise to come from this film, that seemed to make parents who had taken their kids to see it squirm was the part in which one of the Horcruxes shows Ron a live, ghostly vision of his worst nightmare in a bid to prevent the ginger sidekick from smashing it into pieces. The vision shown is of a naked Harry and Hermione (Ron's girlfriend) getting very... intimate. It looked almost like some kind of very big-budget porno at this point, hence the twitching parents. With a part one tag line, we all know that a part two is on the way, and that the story is not going to end as it usually does, so one of the biggest issues for the filmmakers was going to be where to end this film, and continue from next time. I don't want to ruin it for you, but all I will say is, they made the right decision here, as emotions were certainly at their highest as the end credits rolled. I myself can't wait for June (or is it July?) when the Potter story in film comes to its big, hopefully very dramatic end.

8. Shrek Forever After

I love the Shrek films, I think that they really are a work of genius, that has modernised the fairy tale world so that it is easily accessible to children and adults of all ages. The humour is there for everyone, be it in the form of immature fart jokes for kids, or in the form of subtle jokes designed for the older viewer, that will go straight over the child's head. The third film in the series was good, but didn't feel as magical as the first two movies. It was as if something was missing, or that the writers had run out of great, hilarious ideas. Fortunately, Shrek Forever After (dubbed as the Final Chapter in the Shrek saga) brings the franchise back to form for one last time. Darker than the previous films, Shrek finds himself having been conned by Rumpelstiltskin, and in a world in which he never met and married his love, Fiona, and in which Rumpel rules as King. The plot is complex, yet can be easily understood, and is pretty much flawless. In other words, Shrek goes out in style. I'm now left hoping that all the Puss-in-Boots spin-off rumours are indeed true.

7. Shutter Island

Earlier in the year, when perusing my local bookshop for which I had a voucher, I saw the front cover for Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane, which featured the cinema poster. I'd heard of the film and I think at that point had seen and been intrigued by the trailer. I picked up the book, bought it, and took it home to read. The book had me on the edge of my seat (or bed, depending on where I was reading it), and it always kept you second guessing, right up until the final page with the big reveal. I missed it at the cinema, but as soon as it appeared at work, I rented the blu-ray immediately. With only one or two scenes missing, the film does a great job of capturing the terrifying, and often confusing plot devices used in the novel. I don't want to give too much away for those that haven't read the book or seen the film yet, as it's best to do so in suspense, but I will say that the basic plot follows U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels, who, with a new partner Chuck, is sent to Shutter Island, an insane asylum at sea which has mysteriously lost one of its patients: Rachel Solando. A conspiracy is soon unearthed, and trapped on the island due to a horrendous storm making sea travel an impossibility, Teddy and Chuck must escape, but has Teddy already lost his mind?

If you haven't read or watched this yet, I urge you to do so. It was also the first indication this year that Leonardo DiCaprio has matured so much as an actor, as he does a stellar job here in his role of portraying Teddy.

6. Alice in Wonderland

It's fair to say that Tim Burton is a Marmite director. You either love his work, or you hate it. My favourite film of all time is The Nightmare Before Christmas and I've always enjoyed the dark, gothic, sickly humorous worlds that he has created for us in films such as Edward Scissorhands and Sweeney Todd. This then, was easily the first film of the year that I was eagerly looking forward to going to see at the cinema. When considering his style, Alice in Wonderland was a no-brainer for Burton, however he wasn't content to create a simple adaptation of the classic Lewis Carroll novel. Instead, Tim Burton rewrote the story, so that this time, Alice, aged nineteen, was returning to Wonderland, with everybody there already knowing who she was. Alice herself though, had no recollection of having been there, most likely putting it down to being a dream when she was younger. What really made this film a must see though was the look, and feel of it all, coupled with the acting of Johnny Depp as the bonkers Mad Hatter, and Helena Bonham Carter as the sinister Red Queen.

5. Iron Man 2

The first Iron Man film was most definitely my top film of 2008. I loved it, and have watched it several times since it was first released. Therefore, Iron Man 2 was my most anticipated film of 2010 without a doubt. The fact that it is only just in the top 5 though, goes to show just what a great year for movies 2010 has been. This film began with a lot of action, and included all of the cheeky, loveable comedy from Robert Downey Junior that we could have ever wanted after the first film. Mickey Rourke's performance as Russian villain Whiplash was off the charts, and provided an excellent opponent for Iron Man, who teams with Don Cheedle's portrayal of War Machine. The one error that this film faced was that the final battle was too short, especially in comparison to the build up. It should have been far more spectacular. Other than that though, we were treated to more of the fantastically carved Marvel characters, and scenes of great acting that delved deep into the character flaws of Tony Stark (Iron Man for you non-comic book fans). Of course, it wouldn't be a Marvel film these days without a snippet of a scene after the end credits, and this time we had one teasing us with the arrival to Earth of Thor. I for one can't wait to go and see Thor in 2011, and have also been left eagerly awaiting the next Iron Man film, as well as the inevitable Avengers movie.

4. Kick Ass

Where the hell did this film come from? I try and describe it, even now, to people that haven't seen it, and they look at me as if I'm stupid. The premise of this film really shouldn't work, but it does, it just does, and on so many levels. Based on a graphic novel by the same name, Kick Ass follows a normal kid who decides to become a superhero by buying a diving suit and some batons. He then goes by the name Kick Ass to protect his identity. This film has it all, from cute side-story in which the girl of his dreams thinks that he's gay, to a foul-mouthed, tough as nails eleven year old girl. It also includes the performance of a lifetime by Nicholas Cage as he dons a Batmanesque attire to become Big Daddy, and kicks all kinds of ass, unlike Kick Ass himself. So yeah, this film has it all: comedy, drama, action, gangsters, high school shenanigans, and plenty of swearing and blood shed. This is one of the coolest films you will ever see. I should know, I saw it twice at the cinema!

3. Inception

After viewing this film for the first time, I would have placed it lower on the list. I would have definitely ranked both Kick Ass and Iron Man 2 higher. That's not to say that I didn't like this film, in fact I thought it was brilliant, it's just, I guess I hadn't fully taken it all in. After watching this film another one and half times, I can safely say that this film is more than brilliant, it is tremendous. Again, this film, on paper or in descriptive form shouldn't work, and if you try to describe it to anyone, they give you a look that says 'What are you on?'. But in this world created by writer and director Christopher Nolan (the same movie genius behind 2008's The Dark Knight), it all becomes logical and makes a lot of sense. Basically, the technology exists in this world to enter the dreams of others. Ideas can be stolen in this manner, but the premise of the plot, is that the team, lead by Dominick Cobb, played by the now undoubtedly outstanding Leonardo DiCaprio, must implant an idea into somebody's mind in a way that they'll think that they came up with the idea themselves. This involves going down into several dream levels (dreams within dreams), each time running the risk of going to far and getting trapped in limbo, as time travels slower each level down you go. This all becomes rather confusing, and most people won't fully understand after a single viewing (I certainly didn't), but after multiple plays, more and more will be spotted, and your understanding will grow. In essence, this is one of those films which you'll take a little more away from everytime you watch it.

2. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Director Edgar Wright has a history of messing up and playing around with genres. You need only to look at Shaun of the Dead, described a Rom-Zom-Com to see that. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World goes so much further though. I'm trying to decide what genre to say that it best fits into, but to be honest, I have no idea, and I consider myself to have a slightly broader knowledge of film than most people. I mean, it could fit into the comedy category in that it does make you laugh quite a bit, especially with the pure absurdity the film emits to the audience. It could also be viewed as a drama of sorts, or a romance, as a boy is merely trying to be with the girl of his dreams (the fact that Ramona first appears in Scott's dream makes this a true statement). You could combine two of the elements and say that it is a rom-com, but to tell the truth, it is really unlike any rom-com I've ever been forced to sit through. No, there is officially no genre for this film, and that's why this film works so well, it plays by its own rules.

Based on a series of graphic novels, this film was for some reason, a massive flop at the box-office. I have no idea why, as I found the trailers to perfectly show you just how cool this film was. I went with a group of friends to see this, and even the doubters going in came out impressed. We all left the cinema feeling good... wait, that's it, this is a feel-good film, we have ourselves a genre everybody, one that features a lot of rock music due to Scott also being in a band called 'Sex Bob-Omb'!

The idea behind the film is simple, to be with Ramona Flowers, Scott Pilgrim must defeat her seven evil exes (note the absence of the word boyfriend there) in arcade style fights, as they all seem to have superpowers. The post production on this film is immense, as the editing and effects are unlike any seen before. This film is also a cheeky nod to long time gamers, as throughout the film such as the aforementioned band name, enemies turning into coins when they are vanquished, and the fact that you will often here a very subtle piece of music playing in the background, being music from Zelda or Final Fantasy.

All in all, this film has both style and substance. It also caused me to actually like Michael Cera, as I felt he did an extremely brilliant job in the lead role, and of course we had the very pretty Mary Elizabeth Winstead in the role of the girl who's hair colour changes every week and a half, Ramona. Go out and buy this film now!

1. Sex and the City 2

Just kidding... It was terrible!

The REAL number 1:
Toy Story 3

Back in the late nineties, I was at the perfect age for the first two Toy Story films. I was at the target age for the films to work, and of course, to be bought the merchandise for Christmas. In a way, I felt as if I myself had grown up with these toys as Andy himself had. Especially since I often pop the original films in the DVD player every now and again to relive the magic that brought Pixar to prominence. The third installment was eleven years in the waiting, and it sure as hell did not disappoint. After the fantastic efforts Pixar have made in recent years with hits such as Wall-E and Up, it would have been a major travesty if this film didn't live up to its legacy. Pixar did of course pull it out of the bag, and gave us one of the most emotional films ever made. All I can say is that I'm glad that we had 3D glasses over our eyes so as to hide the tears that welled up and eventually streamed down our faces. This was quite simply animation at its best with unbelievable characters, both heroes and villains that we can more than believe in. We fall in love with them and get behind them. If this really is the final film of the franchise, then all I can do is send a congratulations to Pixar for ending it so, so well, with more style than that which Buzz fell with in the first movie.

Well, that's it, my list for the top films of 2010. I will probably regret some decisions as soon as I press the 'Publish Post' button. But I won't edit it. This is what I feel is right right now. I hope you've enjoyed reading this list, and if you haven't seen any of the films on it, I hope you feel inspired to look them up and give them a good watch.


  1. Thanks for the distraction!! I feel bad that out of your top 10 and the honourable mentions I have only seen 2!! Where did that year go?

  2. You should feel bad Pete, you've been missing out on some epic films!