Saturday, 1 January 2011
2010 in Review: Film
After some careful (and some not-so-careful) consideration here's my own personal take on film in 2010 starting with the ten movies I enjoyed the most.
My top 10 favourite films of 2010
10. Easy A. Will Gluck’s witty, charming and keenly intelligent high school comedy sees the fab Emma Stone as Olive, the invisible nerd girl who tells a little lie to get herself out of a pickle. Only problem is Olive then sees that small lie grow beyond reason until she is eventually branded the biggest [insert derogatory term for women who have lots of sex with lots of different men] in the school. Stone is wonderful in the lead but she also gets great support from a sterling supporting cast especially Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson as Olive’s loving if slightly eccentric parents. Smart, witty, biting, Easy A sees Emma Stone’s birth as a major movie star. At least it should.
9. Centurion. Neil (Dog Soldiers, The Descent) Marshall’s Roman Britain era film sees the always excellent Michael Fassbender leading a surviving band of Roman soldiers back through the hostile wilds of Scotland to the relative safety of Northern England after their legion is devastated by fierce locals. All the while, mute psycho tracker/hunter Olga Kurylenko is hot on their heels and craving Roman blood. Centurion is one of the best looking films of 2010 thanks to Marshall’s sweeping direction and regular DP Sam McCurdy’s gorgeous (as always) cinematography. Centurion is simple yet grimly elegant with blistering and bloody action, great characters and gorgeous scenery.
8. The Losers. Similar to The A-Team and The Expendables, The Losers is by far the best even if it did make by far the least at the box office. It has a breezy, witty, snappy script and a top-notch charismatic ensemble cast led by the excellent Jeffrey Dean Morgan in rumpled George Clooney mode but with the brilliantly nerdy and funny Chris Evans stealing the show. Director Sylvain White gives the whole thing a glossy, gritty comic book feel while always keeping the ensemble cast front and centre. Also, The Losers has my favourite single shot of 2010: the gorgeous Zoe Saldana firing a rocket launcher in slow motion. Sexiest thing I saw all year. Does that make me a bad person?
7. Whip It. Drew Barrymore’s hugely charming, sweetly anarchic and very funny directorial debut sees Ellen Page’s outsider teen from a nowhere town hook up with a ‘cool’ roller derby team made up of a motley bunch of girls who can’t stop fighting and losing. Beyond the funny and the roller derby madness, the film is at heart a simple story about a mother and daughter’s stressed relationship and their struggle to connect to each other. Ellen Page is fab as is Kristen Wiig as the roller team’s mother figure but it is Marcia Gay Harden as Page’s actual mom who takes the acting gong in a perfectly pitched performance of parental strife.
6. Tron Legacy. Yep, I’m a Tron geek. Have been since 1982. I love light cycles, recognizers, disc wars etc. And though far from perfect this belated sequel is a stunning film to look at and is smarter and richer in substance than it has been given credit for. The script, though messy and choppy, is loaded with allegory and theme and the brilliant score by Daft Punk keeps your neck hairs raised. Oh, and Olivia Wilde makes for one dreamy cyber warrior babe.
5. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Edgar Wright directs what is the single most energised and visually inventive and creative film of the year. A very funny, very cool, very smart love story and coming of age story that plays out like a super slick video game. Think Spaced with a budget. Tons of energy, tons of smarts, tons of fun.
4. Black Swan. Darren Aronofsky’s deconstruction and reconstruction of an immature, fragile and fearful girl’s psyche as she struggles to become the mature and confident woman she needs to be is a beautifully poetic and darkly disturbing piece of cinematic art. It is certainly not to all tastes but I for one adored every single frame. Natalie Portman is quite extraordinary as Nina, the troubled young ballet dancer struggling to transform in to the perfect performer. That Oscar should be hers for the taking. To my mind this is Aronofsky’s best work yet. A beautiful nightmare.
3. Kick-Ass. Mathew Vaughan’s bright, bloody, violent, sweary, funny not-so-superhero film adapted from Mark Millar’s comic of the same name is so much fun it hurts. Aaron Johnson is great as Dave/Kick-Ass, as is Nicolas Cage as nutty vigilante Big Daddy, but it’s uber-moppet Chloe Moretz who steals the movie as the viscous, foul mouthed and all round badass Hit Girl. If you’re a geek like me and you don’t love this film then there’s something truly wrong with you.
2. Toy Story 3. Pixar strike again with what is arguably their best film to date. Before TS3’s release who’d have thought they could come close to equalling let alone surpassing the previous two Toy Story films. But that’s exactly what they did. A glorious mix of laugh-out-loud fun, edge of the seat adventure and genuinely heartrending emotion, Toy Story 3 is not just a great animated film but a great film. Period. Oh, and Spanish Buzz, possibly THE funniest thing this year.
1. Inception. Christopher Nolan’s puzzle box film is an absolute masterpiece of ingenious, complex storytelling and thematic depth. It’s that rarest of beasts – a blockbuster that is unashamedly deep and intelligent, that challenges its audience and demands close attention, active thought and multiple rewatching. Nobody makes films like Christopher Nolan, nobody.
The five films I hated most in 2010
NOTE: these are all major releases and don’t include the many dregs I’ve seen from cheap direct to DVD or cable as there’d be far too many of them to list.
5. Robin Hood. Utterly dull, charmless and misguided ‘prequel’ to the old story we all know and love. Batman Begins did this kinda thing so very right. Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood got it so very wrong. Boring in da Hood.
4. Case 39. Puffy faced Renee Zellweger looked as bored as the audience in this long delayed scary child horror that was neither horrific nor scary, but was instead just plain silly and bland. Kids, just say no to a puffy Zellweger.
3. Legion. Paul Bettany is a heroic renegade angel in this flashy but stupid and tiresome actioner that wants so bad to be The Terminator with an angry God instead of Skynet but without an ounce of the originality or intelligence of Cameron’s sci-fi classic. Beefcake Angels make me laugh.
2. Law Abiding Citizen. Gerard Butler and Jamie Foxx star in this ridiculous, morally dubious and flatly made revenge thriller from hack journeyman director F. Gary Gray. Arrest ‘em all and throw away the key.
1. Resident Evil: Afterlife. Boring beyond belief was how I found this floater; a big steaming jobbie that has no redeeming features whatsoever with no proper story, no interesting characters, terrible acting and a style ripped off ten years too late from The Matrix…and done really badly at that. Die you zombie scum!
Best actor: Ryan Reynolds in Buried. Special mention to Ben Affleck in The Town who was also most impressive.
Best actress: Natalie Portman in Black Swan. And a special mention goes to Chloe Moretz for her outstanding roles in Kick-Ass and Let Me In. If not for Natalie it would be Chloe hands down.
Best Guilty Pleasure Film: The Wolfman. Joe Johnston’s gory remake of the 1941 classic is more old school Hammer Films than Universal horror but Rick Baker’s make-up FX are fab as is Benicio Del Toro in the title role and the always great Hugo Weaving as Inspector Abberline.
Most likely guilty pleasure for 2011: Zack (300, Watchmen) Snyder’s Sucker Punch. Kick-ass girls fighting giant samurai, dragons, space robots and mutant soldiers in what Snyder describes as Alice in Wonderland with machine guns. Woo hoo!
Best Trailer for a movie released in 2010: Inception
Best Movie News of 2010: The Hobbit is officially a go with Peter Jackson directing
Worst Movie News of 2010: Warner Bros. and Atlas Entertainment to make a Joss-less Buffy reboot movie. NOOO! GRR ARGH!