I’ve made mistakes in the past. Turns out I’m not infallible. Last year I put Avatar as #10 in my movie list for last year. I was coming off of a 3D high that would soon fade. I can’t even defend that choice and regret even putting it into my list. So this year I have put a lot of thought (too much thought) into my top 10 list. Each of these movies should be seen. I happen to believe that my opinion is the most valid out there (otherwise it wouldn’t be MY opinion). There were some real disappointments this year (Iron Man 2, Easy A) and it wasn’t the greatest year in movies but there are definitely some new classics. We begin with…
10. Exit Through The Gift Shop
To keep up appearances I usually put at least one documentary in my list. In “Gift Shop” we follow several graffiti artists throughout the world. You eventually meet the elusive “Banksy.” (apparently THE name in street art) He turns the camera on the strange man behind the camera as the filmmaker tries to become a legitimate street artist. Like most great documentaries it becomes stressful and depressing and shows just how shallow the art consumer world is.
9. The Town
I’ve never liked Ben Affleck. He is still the arrogant boyfriend from “Mallrats” to me. Well it seems the guy has some talent. No, I still don’t think he’s a great actor, but the guy can direct. The Town is his second effort, after the surprisingly fantastic “Gone Baby Gone.” This movie is tense and never completely delves into the cliches you’d expect from most robber-makes-good movies. There are many great performances here. I’m excited for Affleck’s next directorial (not acting) role.
8. True Grit
I might be the only movie elitist who doesn’t go gaga for the Coen brothers. They make some good movies, but I’d say they have more misses than hits. Thankfully True Grit delivers. The dialogue is sharp and often funny. The characters have great chemistry and 14 year old first-time actress Hailee Steinfeld carries the movie. The movie does suffer from not ending ten minutes earlier than it does (Return of the King syndrome). If the ending was more effective this movie would have ranked higher. But seriously, how often do you get a chance to see a new Western, especially a good one?
7. The Social Network
The movie of our generation? Not quite. I think I let all the hype surrounding this movie get in the way of my movie-going experience. It was fun to watch and featured some great acting (even by Justin Timberlake….shudder) but there was just not much to the movie. It was basically a movie about a class-action lawsuit. This movie, unlike True Grit, has a perfect ending. Good, just not great.
6. Let Me In
For all those people who liked vampire movies before they were ruined by shiny daywalkers. A remake of a 2008 Swedish vampire movie. I’ve seen both and even though I was protesting that they do a remake for American audiences, I was very happy with the result. It is so incredibly similar to the original that some may think it unnecessary, but I feel it improves on many aspects. It is definitely less European (see also: weird sexual stuff), and I actually felt more of a romantic bond between the two kids in the movie. I know that sounded weird and European, but just watch it.
5. Black Swan
I never expected to put this movie into my top ten. I thought it would be one of those “art for art sake” movies that people just shouldn’t understand. And it’s true, this movie blends psycho-fantasy moments with reality that it is really hard to tell which is really happening, but it takes you along the journey of Nina (Natalie Portman) as she loses sanity and joins the dark side in preparation for her lead in Swan Lake. Not a movie for everyone but if you want an effective movie to jack with your brain for 2 hours, this is a good choice.
In a year where there weren’t any good comedies, Kick-Ass easily took the crown for the most guffaws. This was the perfect theater movie because no one in the audience could remain silent (whether it was disgust or hilarity) when Hit Girl would say a number of unmentionable profanities. On further viewings I’ve been able to appreciate the movie for its action scenes and awkwardness of the main character. Maybe this is just a guilty pleasure because I too have always wanted to put on a scuba suit and fight crime. The past 2 years have been kind to “cuss word” movies: Inglourious Basterds, Drag Me to Hell, and now Kick-Ass. Can’t wait to see what comes next.
3. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
This is director Edgar Wright’s first American movie. He previously directed 2 of my favorite movies: Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. I was a little wary of Michael Cera’s casting due to overexposure and type-casting but I was not disappointed by the final product. This movie really is like an visual energy drink that doesn’t let up for an hour and a half. The plot is ridiculous as Scott meets his dream girl but has to defeat her 7 evil exes in order to be with her. After watching this, my wife told me that it’s a boy movie. I agree it may not be for everyone but for any of us that have the contra code memorized or smile every time you hear the mario theme, this is your movie. Embrace it.
2. Shutter Island
Was my favorite film of the year for a long time. The Departed changed how I felt about Leonardo Dicaprio’s acting ability, this movie solidified it. I’m a sucker for Hitchcock films and this is the closest modern thing that feels anywhere close to those films. I advise people not to just predict the twist and say “That was obvious, I knew that would happen!” (to be said in the moron voice). Just sit back and enjoy the ride and feel the anxiety. I know that I love a movie when I am emotionally invested. This movie, along with Black Swan, made me stressed and uneasy nearly the entire time. Now that’s escapism. And don’t forget the last line of the movie. Fantastic stuff!
No surprise here. Christopher Nolan is consistently hitting them out of the park. The entire cast was phenomenal. That hallway scene! The spinning top! The crazy wife! There are so many things to love. I really enjoy watching this movie with people who haven’t seen it every time I watch it. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t loved it. I never would have thought Nolan could have topped Dark Knight but I believe Inception has. Now I am excited for the next Batman movie under his direction and writing. Thank you Warner Brothers for not getting in the way of a great screenplay and letting us enjoy a smart movie released in the middle of a mediocre popcorn summer.
And didn’t you just love the soundtrack? This was a fantastic year for movie scores: Inception, Shutter Island, Scott Pilgrim, Black Swan, Social Network, Tron Legacy to name a few. If you haven’t seen this movie yet, quit short-changing yourself and let it take you on its dream journey. I wish I saw that bloody top for a few more seconds…