10. Howl: “Howl”is a movie for lovers of all forms of art. At a glance it is about the very controversial but also a very groundbreaking Allen Ginsberg poem. This very underated film that has no original writing but uses only the words of the actual people that are being represented takes shape in three different forms; the first is readings of the poem from Ginsberg, portrayed by James Franco, which are set in the time of the poem’s release and usually in dark smoky basements of coffee houses. During these scenes the movie cuts away to very haunting cartoon images that portray the poem. Imagine the cartoons from Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” only to a poem instead of music. The second piece is a series of interviews that were done in Ginsberg’s home. Again being portrayed by Franco, he talks about his life, a bit about his overall writing style and the controversy of Howl. The final piece is set in the courtroom that shows the obscenity trial that was sparked because of the poem. This is the most enjoyable piece of the movie for me. I love court room dramas and the fact that all of the dialogue in these scenes were actually spoken, is really impressive. The exchanges in the courtroom between the prosecutor, the defense, the judge and the witnesses could never have been written as articulate as how it was said in court . Large Popcorn.
9. The Social Network: It is no surprise that a movie about the most influential thing ever to happen to the internet in its moderately short existence would be a huge commercial success. The good thing about The Social Network is that the producers and executives didn’t just run on that merit alone. They actually took the time to assemble a good writing team, headed by Arron Sorkin, and a talented director in David Fincher along with a solid cast and made an engaging story that follows at least to some degree how Facebook began. As in all Bio-pics there are liberties taken in the script and from my understanding this is no exception to the rule but no one cares since they are hooked by the drama and characters in the story from the very beginning. Large Popcorn.
8. The American: This slow burn action thriller starring George Clooney is best viewed with the correct expectations. There are no big budget million dollar explosions or car chases; there are no superpowers and certainly no capes. The American is a study of an aging hit man who shortly into the movie realizes that his days are numbered and he may be in too deep to get out and live his life the way he has always dreamed. A sign that this movie is better than most people give it credit for is that its star has reached the point in his career where he doesn’t have to make movies anymore, he makes the good movies that he wants to make, and this is a very good movie. Check out a more complete review and enjoy! Large Popcorn.
7. True Grit: This classic western revisit by the ever reliable Coen brothers is more of an adaptation of the old John Wayne classic than it is a straight remake. The story focuses on a bright and hardened young girl so determined to hunt down the man who killed her father that she is willing to team up with the washed-up drunken US Marshal played by Jeff Bridges. A mustachioed Matt Damon does his impression of Chuck Norris as a Texas Ranger and they all get together to track down the wormy Josh Brolin. This movie has everything you can want and more in an old west movie making it a solid choice on the top ten list of the year. Large Popcorn.
6. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: It took a 2nd viewing for me to really appreciate how great SPvtW (that doesn’t make it any easier) really is. I guess you could say my mind was too blown away from its awesomeness the first time to realize the originality that this movie brings to the table. Standing alone, a hipster, indie, high school love movie should never come close to qualifying for a list like this. But then comes the script and direction from Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead) with some help writing from Michael Bacall (21 Jumpstreet) and you have a movie that destroys its expectations. Much like Scott destroys many of his girlfriend Ramona’s ex’s in his indie rock/graphic-novelesque/ video games style mission to win her heart. Large Popcorn with Butter.
5. The Trip: Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon take themselves on as characters in the British road trip comedy about two comedian friends who travel around the British countryside from restaurant to restaurant, and hotel to hotel all while making you, and each other laugh. While in the car on the road and sitting at a different pubs or fine dining restaurants daily, they talk about everything and nothing in Seinfeld like fashion while they do an array of impressions and annoy each other while at the same time enjoy one another’s company as only old friends can do. For me, It was one of the most enjoyable films of the year. Large Popcorn with Butter.
4. The Fighter: I would say that a great sports movie allows you to root for (or against) the player, team, or in this case the boxer just as if you are in the arena watching the event happen live. I remember having that feeling in the theater when I first saw The Fighter. Marc Wahlberg and Christian Bale shine as Irish boxing brothers Micky and Dicky. A sports movie that can cross genres and become just as much a heartfelt drama as it does an uplifting sports movie is something that is truly exceptional. Large Popcorn with Butter.
3. The Kings Speech: There was talk about “The Kings Speech” being a boring movie. Maybe that was because it is a period piece and the British Royal Family is the subject. For Americans, that can often mean that it is going to be boring. What The Kings Speech end up being is simply the perfect movie. When I watch such a perfect movie I like to imagine it growing and taking shape from the very first moment it was just a thought in someone’s mind. The first words are put down on paper and later the script is written, and then rewritten (In this case by by David Seidler). Next it is given to a director who has a vision for that script. Costume designers, set designers, cinematographers, all the best at their craft work their magic as only they can do. The casting director knows immediately who should play each part. Finally, with all of the raw material the story is formed in the editing room and what comes out is a flawless film. This simplified and fast forwarded description is not intended to make the film making experience seem to mechanical, or structural, because along the way there is such a high degree of passion and effort that goes into every step. And it certainly isn’t easy, sometimes when you watch the best performing the way they do, they just make it seem easy. Large Popcorn with Butter.
2. Barney’s Version: After the praise that I just gave the number three entry on this list I must think pretty highly of top two. And I do. Barney’s Version was one of the first movies that I ever reviewed (beware it might be a bit unfocused) and is the reason why I love going to the movies, and talking and writing about them as much as I do. The story follows Barney, a somewhat confused man that is in and out of love and uncertain with where he is going in his life. Played to perfection by Paul Giamatti, he was everything from hilarious to heart wrenching as the alcoholic yet lovable and bastardy character that throughout the movie spans 40 years in age. The movie comes alive with a great supporting cast that includes Rosamun Pike, Jake Hoffman, Minnie Driver and Dustin Hoffman as Barney’s carefree dad. It was also recognized come award season being nominated for an Oscar for Best Achievement in Makeup and won Giamatti the golden globe for best actor. Large Popcorn with Butter.
1. Inception: I am not sure what I can say about inception. I know that this isn’t a very critical review but I just think that it is such an awesome movie! Christopher Nolan is pure genius in my mind for even coming up with the concept, but then turning that concept into such a dramatic and intense script, then directing such a huge movie makes him whatever a step up from genius is! Here is a slightly more in depth look at how I felt about inception but once again, be warned, this is the first review I ever wrote! Large Popcorn with Butter.
Honorable Mentions: As always a Top Ten list is a challenge to put together so I just couldn’t finish this up with out mentiing the movies that were on my innitial list but didn’t quite cut the top 10. The following movies are 2010’s honorable mentions: 127 Hours, Winters Bone, Black Swan, The Town, Kick Ass, Shutter Island, The Ghost Writer.
For the Record: The movies that were nominated for the Acadamy Awards Best Picture in 2010 were: The Kings Speech (Winner), 127 Hours, The Fighter, Black Swan, Inception, The Kids are Alright, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit, Winters Bone.