The Best and Worst Movies of 2010

Lacking the opportunity to gain screeners or press screenings makes it slightly more difficult to fit in the time or budget to see every movie that comes out within a year. Sometimes you just have to buck up and watch a lot of damn movies; that’s what the Internet is for. With less than one week until the 83rd Annual Academy Awards, I felt that it is my duty to share with you my thoughts on last years motion pictures.

The year was 2010 and a whole lot of nothing was going on in the cinema world; there were the really good and then there were the really bad. Hardly any movies in 2010 were sub-par, but to create a list of the best was really hard to determine. So what films did I love and what films did I hate? Find out after the break to see who made my best and worst movie lists of 2010!

I decided to create a top 20 list. I didn’t want to throw away any of those outside my top 10 because I really wanted to acknowledge some really great movies from the past year and give them their justice.

Let’s start from the top and work our way down shall we:

The Best of 2010:

20: Love & Other Drugs (Anne Hathaway; Jake Gyllenhaal)
Director: Edward Zwick

It is wonderfully refreshing for this day and age in romantic dramedies when we can get something with this much substance. Great performances by Hathaway and Gyllenhaal really stand out as a natural chemistry onscreen that some directors tend to forget about when directing a relationship movie. But in a year where we had to endure movies like Killers or The Bounty Hunter, Love & Other Drugs pushes past typical romantic facets and takes us to a more serious route then expected when we learn about Maggie’s (Hathaway) turmoil with Parkinson’s Disease. At times, Love & Other Drugs wanted to be two separate movies with the extreme drama angle and the extreme comedy angle (due to one annoying bizarro Jonah Hill). Without the saving performance of Anne Hathaway this movie wouldn’t have made it into my list.

19: Four Lions (Will Adamsdale; Riz Ahmed; Adeel Akhtar)
Director: Christopher Morris

You wouldn’t believe that the hijinks of five Muslims living in Great Britain with dreams to join Allah as suicide bombers would be too intriguing of a story, but you wold be wrong my friend. Having seen this film on many underrated and under appreciated lists, I decided to give it a go, and I had a blast you could say… This was greater than just a satirical look into terrorism. Four Lions makes you forget that you are rooting for those we consider enemies by giving our terrorists real emotional qualities of being human characters. The group of Muslims have a real bond to the viewer that makes every moment enjoyable to watch.

18: The Last Exorcism (Will Adamsdale; Riz Ahmed; Adeel Akhtar)
Director: Daniel Stamm

Fresh horror is something I needed this year when 2009 bombarded me with remake after remake (four total). It may just be the horror enthusiast in me that placed this film on my list, but The Last Exorcism quenched my thirst for real horror that I have been missing. When it comes to “found footage” movies I take into account many factors: if it can be viewed as reasonably believable, are these actors portraying “real” people accurately, and does the shaky cam add to the intensity and reality of the setting. In fact, The Last Exorcism achieves these goals and more. It was as if the director dug into my mind and gave me everything I desired out of a horror movie. Not only was the “found footage” aspect compelling, but this tale of exorcism found me completely awestruck by the ending.

17: Never Let Me Go (Carey Mulligan; Andrew Garfield; Keira Knightley)
Director: Mark Romanek

Perhaps one of the most unseen films of the year, Never Let Me Go was an eerie science fiction drama about that I never questioned the logic to, but gladly accepted the world building that the actors performed incredibly in. We are to believe that in this universe, directed by sophomore director Mark Romanek (One Hour Photo) and adapted from the novel written by Kazuo Ishiguro, that a cure for all disease is discovered in the 1960s. The lives of three characters played by Mulligan, Garfield and Knightly start at childhood in a seemingly typical boarding school, but not until we grow up with them do we realize this is a more dystopian world than our own. A beautiful yet bleak tale, Never Let Me Go promises a true science fiction that embraces the element of the unnatural and uncomfortably welcomes you into their world for a brilliant film.

16: True Grit (Jeff Bridges; Hailee Steinfeld; Matt Damon)
Director: Ethan Coen and Joel Coen

It must come natural by now for the brothers Coen to collaborate and discover great new talent with the snap of their fingers, enter Hailee Steinfeld. Hailee was absolutely astonishing as an up-and-coming actress (HER FIRST FILM) at the meager age of 13 when the film was shot (Chloe Moretz you have some competition). Like clockwork, the Coen’s deliver another amazing picture into their arsenal of filmography. Jeff Bridges was typical Jeff Bridges, but with a great western twang you might say. If it wasn’t for their incredible writing, eye for cinematography, and directing abilities, this film by Coen brothers would have been brushed off as just another remake. True Grit succeeds beyond capacity where all other remakes fail.

15: 127 Hours (James Franco)
Director: Danny Boyle

Give Danny Boyle any genre and combine it with compelling drama and you’ve got yourself an unstoppable film. Whether it is about infected, scientists saving the Earth, or a true fantasy Indian romance, Danny Boyle is the multifaceted director producers dream of. Using the limited tools for a confined space story, Boyle maintains the best possible way to keep the pace fluid and the story interesting; even though we know the ending. Amazing camera work is familiar to a Boyle film, but 127 Hours pushes the limits of creativity brilliantly for such a small area. James Franco perfectly draws you into Aron Ralston’s emotional predicament, not just being stuck in between the rock, but for other reasons factoring into his life choices shown wisely through flashbacks.

14: Exit Through The Gift Shop (Banksy; Thierry Guetta; Space Invader)
Director: Banksy

This is perhaps the documentary of all documentaries. The best part of Gift Shop are the questions you have to ask yourself after it’s all done.  Bringing street art into the lives of those who might not be familiar with its underground roots, Exit Through the Gift Shop is astonishingly informative, captivating you in its world. Documentaries can run quite heavy on the exposition, but Gift Shop takes it to a whole different level. Not only does the film inform you about an underground subculture, but it cleverly seduces you to enjoy the tale of Thierry Guetta. Exit Through The Gift Shop has perhaps one of the most incredible climaxes to a story that brings everything to a thoroughly executed end where many documentaries have failed.

13: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (Michael Cera; Mary Elizabeth Winstead; Anna Kendrick; Kieran Culkin; Chris Evans, Aubrey Plaza; Brandon Routh; Jason Schwartzman)
Director: Edgar Wright

No other film has really taken most aspects of my life and integrated them into a ridiculously awesome action comedy like Scott Pilgrim. Video games, anime, rock music, making fun of hipsters, comics, and romantic angst all woven into one package couldn’t have been done any better than what Edgar Wright has done. And no other comic book adaptation has quite gotten the feel, dedication, and appreciation of the source material since Sin City either.

This is Michael Cera in his element. He can not be stopped when brought into something that fits his persona so well along side such an electrifying young cast that just solidifies this epic story. Not a second is wasted throughout the film taking every advantage of its genre to ensure a laugh at every turn and visually smack you in the face. I haven’t had so much fun in a movie in a long time.

12: The Fighter (Mark Wahlberg; Christian Bale; Amy Adams; Melissa Leo)
Director: David O. Russell

From the writers who brought you Air Bud and 8 Mile and the director who gave the world I Heart Huckabees comes one of the most compelling and profoundly written underdog boxing stories of this generation. The Figther takes a linear story and turns it into a test of will and character. Even the story of Lowell, Massachusetts is interwoven giving life to a culture and lifestyle that only few could understand. Through the collective driven performances by Amy Adams, Melissa Leo, and Christian Bale, nothing could stop this incredible ensemble cast. The true relationships between Micky, Dicky, and their mother is one that is felt and taken to heart. The incredible emotions displayed on screen between these actors was impeccable.

11: How To Train Your Dragon (Jay Baruchel; Gerard Butler; Jonah Hill; Craig Ferguson; America Ferrera; Christopher Mintz-Plasse)
Directors: Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders

There was a point in my life, almost a year and a half ago, where I would have stuck my nose in the air to the thought of going to see an animated feature let alone a 3D animated feature. Dragon has some of the most titillating shots in an animated movie to please the eyes while complementing an impressive score by John Powell. This movie is also one of the first to take fill advantage of 3D by encompassing striking visions of animated flight sequences throughout the film.

The minor fault is the voice acting, which doesn’t break the film, but felt out of place to me. As you can tell, I still loved this charming adventure story since it is being placed at 11, especially for the relationship between Hiccup and Toothless. I just felt that the voice actors were casted perfectly for their personas and not for their voices. Other than that, the story is full of great energy, heart, and plays well with your inner child because who are we kidding, we’d all love a pet dragon.

10: The Kids are All Right (Annette Benning; Julianne Moore; Mark Ruffalo)
Director: Lisa Cholodenko

One of the most surprising films I saw all year. I utterly adored this film for taking a different approach to a nuclear family drama. Yes, the family is comprised of two lesbian parents raising their kids, but within moments everything just feels so right and there is never a ounce of doubt placed on the relationship of this family.  A lot of the credit should be given to the director/writer Lisa Cholodenko for pushing out such a taboo subject, yet making it seem all so comfortable on screen. Even more credit should be given to the three main characters played by Annette Benning, Julianne Moore, and Mark Ruffalo for excellent chemistry. The Kids Are All Right has to be one of the best under the radar dramedies of late specifically for the actors to make a fake family feel real on screen having to deal with such difficult situations emotionally.

9: Tangled (Mandy Moore; Zachary Levi; Donna Murphy; Brad Garrett)
Director: Nathan Greno and Byron Howard

How to Train Your Dragon was a complete shock to me, but after watching Tangled, my mind had been blown. How could this Disney princess movie capture my heart in ways many films this year hadn’t? Tangled was absolutely irresistible to hate on. From its beautiful pastel colored animation to its wonderful score and original songs that encompassed everything a Disney princess film should have, Tangled was spectacular.

The tale of Rapunzel mixed with a gang of unlikely characters, to add some colorful fun, brought Disney storytelling back to its roots. Hard pressed has Disney been to create a top notch animated feature since Pixar took the main stage, but Tangled really holds up on its own against the animated juggernaut Toy Story 3. Mandy Moore and Donna Murphy do a fantastic job singing original songs by Alan Menken; you might have heard of his songs from little films like Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, and Beauty and the Beast, just to name a few. Tangled really needs to be given a lot more credit than many had expected it to perform. This magical retelling of the story of Rapunzel will become a Disney classic that you cannot miss.

8: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (Daniel Radcliffe; Emma Watson; Rupert Grint)
Director: David Yates

Not only was I anti-Harry Potter up until a few years ago, but I never would have guessed that I would have placed a Harry Potter film in a top 10 list of my favorite movies ever. After reading the entire series over the Summer, nothing could hold back my excitement for this flick. Many things could be said about how this was incomplete because of its ending, but all it did was truly make my hunger for the series greater due to the amazing direction by David Yates. The cinematography continues to increase to greater heights as well as the emotional weight and toil of the characters. The growing inner struggle of our trio and the trials they must face alone is what makes their story so great.

For each sequel the animation, cinematography, actor chemistry, score, and story grows ever more impressive. Part 1 did not disappoint at all and is perhaps the best of the series, which isn’t too hard of a feat as the book was practically written practically as a film. One of the best moments in the film, and I am probably not alone with this, was the animated tale of the three brothers. I felt like this was one of the most beautiful animation sequences within a live action movie ever conceived. I also have to recognize the awesome score by Alexandre Desplat for a haunting yet moving score that fit this movie like a warm pair of socks.

Part 1 establishes the tone for the final film so incredibly well that it is hard to get past that the franchise is coming to an end. David Yates has done an amazing job since he was brought on to finish the film franchise since The Order of the Phoenix. I was lucky enough to see Part 1 in IMAX twice, which was pure eye candy in 2D, but I am sad to see that Part 2 will be in 3D IMAX only. But as a now devoted fan of Harry Potter I will gladly be there to see the final installment that will most likely have me on the edge of the seat as much as Part 1 did.

7: Kick-Ass (Aaron Johnson; Chloe Grace Moretz; Nicolas Cage; Mark Strong;  Christopher Mintz-Plasse; Lyndsy Fonseca)
Director: Matthew Vaughn

Beaten to death I know, but the title of this film does not disappoint as a descriptive adjective to represent this movie. Going into this film I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into other than the first scene with Nic Cage and Chloe Moretz, which was completely unfortunate as a spoiler. This movie grabbed my attention by the balls and threw me into a whirlwind of intense action and comedy while sideswiping me with a complete dark tone that I never would have expected coming from its overly childish TV advertisements.

Kick-Ass brought together a special group of individuals willing to work independently under no studio supervision and a very limiting budget raised by the director and supporters and I applaud every ounce of effort they gave to make this film for the fans enjoyment. I am glad a movie like this came into being as it was something completely fresh in the comic book genre. This movie hit all the right beats never loosing steam. I absolutely loved this film for all it put on the table. A colorful example of what comic book movies should be aiming for and a film that will find its place as a cult classic in the hearts of many.

6: Blue Valentine (Ryan Gosling; Michelle Williams)
Director: Derek Cianfrance

If this film was any more tragic ‘Titanic’ would look bad. You might have heard of this film due to its rating controversy when it was slapped with an NC-17, but later reduced to an R rating. The relationship that Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams give us on screen may be so convincingly true that it puts many on screen couples to shame. I think Gosling might just have it down to a science after his stint in The Notebook.

The realism and nature of this film could not be complete without the vision behind the actors. Williams and Gosling throw themselves into this film with great help from director Derek Cianfrance. Blue Valentine has what many on screen romances lack, chemistry, which is why the film feels so real in the first place. In my opinion, Blue Valentine, is a highly more depressing and better version of (500) Days of Summer with the back and forth timeline and the idea of falling out of love, there are a lot of similarities, yet highly more depressing.

5: The King’s Speech (Colin Firth; Geoffrey Rush; Helena Bonham Carter)
Director: Tom Hooper

Breaking into the top 5 films of the year comes a the last movie I on this list I saw, which is why I am writing this list so late. I am so glad that I held off from writing this until I saw this movie. The King’s Speech was a sheer delight to behold, mostly credited to Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush’s bro-mantical chemistry. To me, The King’s Speech was just one of those movies that felt too Oscar-bait, something that I would put off and eventually see, but if I had I would be kicking myself for such a stupid decision. This film deserves all the credit it can handle and more. Colin Firth’s ability to immerse himself into the position that his character had to endure through his stutter was awe-inspiring acting.

4: Toy Story 3 (Tim Allen; Tom Hanks; Joan Cusack; Ned Beatty; Michael Keaton)
Director: Lee Unkrich

The third animated feature to be placed on my list this year and rightfully so. The year of 2010 was a gift to animated movies and Toy Story 3 is king of that realm. Pixar has completely risen to an astronomical level that could possibly be unobtainable if it wasn’t for movies like Cars and Cars 2 (facepalm). Toy Story 3 tugs at your heartstrings on multiple levels with such an impressive story. Not only does it bring back a familiar cast that we have grown to love since the 90s, but Pixar always seems to know the right moment and tone to crank your tear ducts up to 11. These kinds of animated movies make me question the Academy as to why there is no Oscar for best voice acting yet too.

Toy Story 3 is a wild ride of emotions, adventure, and outright fun. To say that these films are just animated pictures, you are just kidding yourself. Many live-action films have tried and failed where Toy Story 3 and the rest of the animated features on this list have triumphed. Buzz, Woody, and Jessie try to all nail the idea of family throughout the film, to stick together no matter what, and we as the audience are just as much a part of this loving union embracing them after so many years just to come back for one final phenomenal tale.

3: Black Swan (Natalie Portman; Mila Kunis; Vincent Cassel; Barbara Hershey)
Director: Darren Aronofsky

Telling yourself that this was a “psychological thriller” only makes me want to punch you in the face. Black Swan is a true horror film by definition: an overwhelming and painful feeling caused by something frightfully shocking, terrifying, or revolting; centered upon or depicting terrifying or macabre events.

Nina’s tragic saga of yearning to be perfect creates a highway of disaster when you have Darren Aronofsky at the helm. When this film ended, words could not come out of my mouth as to what I just witnessed. Natalie Portman blew me away between her dedication to relearn ballet as an adult and depicting two conflicting personalities with such great intensity and emotion.

The authenticity of the ballet world, the sensational score by Clint Mansell, the dance choreography, and the cinematic vision of Aronofsky enwrapped in the horrors of Nina’s persona only dignify this movie as a work of cinematic art. Not only does Black Swan disturb on many levels, but it never fails to push the limits of how far your stomach and mind are willing to go.

2: Inception (Leonardo DiCaprio; Ellen Page; Joseph Gordon-Levitt; Tom Hardy; Ken Watanabe; Cillian Murphy; Marion Cotillard; Michael Caine)
Director: Christopher Nolan

For a movie to still have you questioning the reality of it all after multiple viewings really deserves the highest attention as a successful piece of work. Never has a movie made me question the direction and ending so much as Inception; I’m sure I’m not the only one. Every time I watch Inception it brings new evidence to back up one side of my case until I see something else I might have missed to completely flip the rationality of all my conclusions to the other side of the argument, making it rather difficult to finalize my opinion.

Christopher Nolan continues to improve his craft as a unparalleled filmmaker leaving no doubts whether he will have a continued successful career. The studios put a lot of faith in the hands of Nolan bringing an entirely original script to audiences in a world where all we are receiving are sequels and adapted comic books (although Nolan is guilty of that as well).

Inception dazzled on screen and my mind as one of the best sci-fi ‘thinker’s of all time. I can’t even imagine how we will look back at this movie 50 years from now and still question whether or not the totem fell. And how could I leave out one of the best running meme/jokes of the year without a BBHHHHRRRRRMMMMM thanks to a prize score from Hans Zimmer.

1: The Social Network (Jesse Eisenberg; Andrew Garfield; Justin Timberlake; Armie Hammer; Rooney Mara)
Director: David Fincher

To cap off this list, I have to give it to the geniuses that are David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin. These two guys put out one of the most outstanding films of our time. To me, movies are defined by their opening moments, you know what you are going to get once the first set piece has been established, and although all of the movies in my top ten exceed at this, The Social Network reigns supreme. The opening dialogue between Eisenberg and Mara just blew me away and from that moment on, I was almost unprepared what I was getting myself into (in a good way).

Fincher is a cinematic mastermind working the ugly and trivial epic of lies, deceit, and backstabbing and turning it into a gorgeous film. Sorkin is also an expert of his screenwriting craft depicted all throughout the dialogue performed incredibly by Jesse Eisenberg and the rest of the cast. The haunting score of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross are also to be commended for its spot on chemistry relating perfectly with the tone of the film. The Social Network is a pièce de résistance to cap off the last decade and how far this generation has come socially and where the world is mentally.

Honorable Mentions:
Let Me In, How Do You Know, Monsters, The Town, Cyrus, Get Low, Paranormal Activity 2, Rabbit Hole, Frozen, Winter’s Bone, She’s Out of My League, Flipped, Buried, The Crazies, Triangle, and Devil.

The Worst of 2010:

11: Resident Evil: Afterlife 3D – If this movie wasn’t in 3D it would have been higher on this list, but the 3D factored in as the saving element to this horrendous excuse for a zombie film because it made me laugh.

10: Edge of Darkness – Have you ever seen a movie without a soul. Probably. Maybe because you watched this movie. I never really felt like I cared about why Gibson’s daughter died in this movie or the mystery surrounding it. I also couldn’t get past Gibson’s ludicrous accent that made me want to rip my ears off. But ultimately it wast the story that just killed the movie because it was so uninteresting.

9: A Nightmare on Elm Street – We have finally come to a point where horror remakes are just not doing anything for us anymore, at least that is what I believe. Being one of the worst reviewed movies of the year, A Nightmare on Elm Street horrifically disappointed audiences and die hard fans of this one-time classic franchise. I was actually looking forward to this movie and it stripped away every ounce of faith I had in horror remakes.

8: Saw 3D – Saw V pushed my buttons, delivering the worst of the series, but Saw 3D was just mind boggling bad. I love this franchise to death, but this movie took it too far. Although the traps were awesome, the story took a nose dive, which was unfortunate after VI was pretty clever. Nothing in this movie worked well and I was left feeling empty and alone, like I was robbed of my clothing in the middle of the quad during a pep rally. There was a twist, sort of, but nothing that stood out like its predecessors. The 3D was pretty decent and 3D should be capitalized more for movies like this to just make it a fun event to go to.

7: Clash of the Titans – Titans was pure garbage piled onto the screen. From its incomprehensible 3D to its lack of character depth, Clash was a very disappointing remake. The trailer gave me high hopes, but when reviews started to pour in about the 3D I began to worry. Luckily I had a free movie ticket so I was able to capitalize on a free screening. Boy was I glad to see this movie for free. Did I care at all whether or not humanity would survive the gods wrath? No not at all. This movie could have been so much more, but decided it would be best to rely on its visionary elements rather than focus on character development or acting, which was a huge mistake.

6: Grown Ups – Put a bunch of washed up actors in the same film to make a paycheck and you are given Grown Ups. This movie had a few funny moments, but it was really painful to watch as these once great comedians lowered themselves to such filth. I could have cared less of their reunion or their sense of duty as men of their families. What I really cared about was when the movie would be over. It was just one balled up cliché after another.

5: The Wolfman – Talk about a big disappoint. The first trailer completely had me, but WHAM, like lightning I was struck with a shocking display of an inconceivable mess. Granted, I’ll give it to them for having some pretty great transformation effects and Emily Blunt was pretty foxy, but the direction and story was sent straight to the toilet.

4: Dinner For Schmucks – Perhaps we should believe that all great comedians will end up in one stinker eventually. Paul Rudd, Steve Carrell, and Zach Galifianakis practically gave me the middle finger when I saw this movie. Maybe I am not one to be amused by childish humor, but this took it to a different level. Even Step Brothers looked more promising to me to want to watch then relive this nightmare, and I disliked Step Brothers a lot.

3: When In Rome – If I had seen The Bounty Hunter or Killers I think it would have been a three way tie between the worst romantic comedies of the year. I don’t even understand how studios can accept these as being acceptable to fund and back up. Also, how can movies like this even be defined as romantic or comedies. More like stupid and annoying. The acting was just completely goofy and amateur and there was no chemistry at all that made me say, “Hey these characters really want to get down and dirty with each other because there is a natural bond going on here.” Not to mention the story was just atrocious and overly silly to the point of overkill.

2: The Last Airbender – I engaged in watching all of the animated series while this movie was out in theaters before I saw this film. I wonder what my take on it would have been if I did the reverse. I think it would have the same affect either way because The Last Airbender was a spit in the face and a curb stomp to the original source material. I wanted to cry and hide in a dark place for what M. Night Shyamalan did to this amazing animated series. The cartoon was rich with so much character depth, action, comedy, emotions, and raw enjoyment. Shyamalan literally took all of that and put it through a paper shredder and then burned the remains and then took a big dump on it. It was like watching your own child become an emotionless zombie that you could not help but watch in horror as the transformation of the one thing you loved turned into something so vile.

1: Legion – My biggest disappointment of the year and worst movie of 2010. The concept of this movie was highly acceptable in my opinion, but only if they hadn’t just used a skeleton of the idea. Nothing about this film had depth and was a complete waste of a potential story. The trailers promised so much and I actually had things taken away from me rather than gaining something out of watching this film, my time and life. This film looked like a horror, action, and sci-fi film all wrapped into one and I was given a slop fest of set pieces that hardly combined into a cohesive story. This is one of those films that endures a traumatizing experience, ie 2012, and has one of those dumb stereotypical life lesson endings that make you want to gag. This movie epitomizes soulless filmmaking and someone needs to be punched in the face for it.

And that’s that my friends. I look forward to this ludicrous year of remakes and adaptions (27 in all) in 2011 and hope to see you all back for next years round of best and worst movies of 2011.

I decided to start fresh with my 2nd round of 365 movies never seen before in 365 days starting January 1st this year, so look to see if I will make it this time.

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