Sunday, February 27, 2011

Brian's Best of 2010

Why is this Best of 2010 list being posted at the end of February 2011?  If the Academy Awards can wait until then, so can I.

Of course, I don't follow the same rules as the Academy and I don't watch all of the same movies.  I'm going to give you my Top 10 and Worst 5 movies of the year, the best and worst actors and actresses, as well as best director, bit part and biggest surprise and disappointment.  I should point out that, at the time of this post, I have not seen The Fighter, 127 Hours, Machete, or Piranha (2010), so you might notice a discrepancy between my lists and most critical listings.  For a complete list of the 2010 films that were considered in my 2010 wrap-up, check my review index; I will have reviews for Black Swan, The Social Network, Toy Story 3 and The King's Speech later this week.

Let's begin with the bottom of the barrel...
Worst Actor: Joaquin Phoenix in I'm Still Here.  The movie was awful, and all it did was follow him around being awful.
Dishonorable mention goes to Channing Tatum in Dear John, mostly for his godawful monologue about coins.

Worst Actress: Amanda Seyfried in Dear John.  I'm just tired of her stupid face.
Why does she have a belly bra?
Dishonorable mention goes to Tiffany in Mega Piranha, but only because she actually looked like she was trying to act in that awesomely bad crap-fest.

Biggest Disappointment: It had to be Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland.  It wasn't bad, and it was visually spectacular, but I expected more from Burton and Johnny Depp.  This was their chance to get really, really inventively weird, and they half-assed the story.  Even the spectacular special effects would have been more impressive if they were a little more bizarre.  The last thing I expected to feel after watching this movie was indifference, but that's what I got.

Worst Five Movies
5. A Nightmare on Elm Street - Yeah, I know remakes suck.  Yeah, I know that the people who brought me the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake produced this, too, but it managed to get Freddy Kreuger exactly wrong.  He's not scary because he's a killer, he's scary because he's in your dreams.  This also has one of the lamest "twists" I've seen in a while.
You know it's bad when the NES version is scarier than the 2010 movie.
4. Leap Year - Romantic comedies are terrible.  Case in point.  Amy Adams is generally adorable, but not when her character is obnoxious.
3. Unthinkable - There's nothing like bringing up a controversial issue, not arguing both sides equally and still not taking sides by the end.  This movie is my all-time winner for ending a film before key plot points get resolved.  If you thought The French Connection ends abruptly, this conclusion will blow your mind.
2. Dear John - Manipulative drivel with awful acting.  I hate you so much, Nicholas Sparks.  But hey, at least he made the point that autism is not the same thing as mental retardation.  Consider me schooled.
1. I'm Still Here - Self-indulgent tripe of no value.  By far, the most painful viewing experience of the year.  When the highlight of your movie has somebody pooping on the star, you know you've hit rock bottom.

Okay, that gets some of the bile out of the way.  Now on to the fun stuff!

Best Bit Part: This award absolutely had to go to someone from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, because the movie was chock full of great minor roles.  I'm going to give it to Chris Evans for two reasons.  First, the posters for his fictional movie roles were amazing.  Second, I loved his response to someone saying they're a fan: "Why wouldn't you be?"  That was great.

Best Supporting Actress: Chloe Moretz in Kick-Ass, primarily because her character was awesome, but also because her fight with Mark Strong was the only time the movie's gratuitous violence disturbed me.

Best Supporting Actor: Geoffrey Rush in The King's Speech.  I'm a huge fan of Rush in supporting roles, and this is some of his best work in years.  Silly and touching at the same time, his performance was the perfect compliment to Colin Firth's.
This is my favorite category because there are so many great small but memorable roles every year.  Honorable mentions goes to Eddie Marsan in The Disappearance of Alice Creed for the purity of his performance in a crime movie.  It wasn't terribly complex, but it was very well executed.
Mrsan may look like a hobbit here, but he was scary in Alice Creed.
John Hawkes deserves some recognition for his work in Winter's Bone, too --- he has the most character development I have seen in any supporting character this year.

Best Actress: Jennifer Lawrence in Winter's Bone.  She was just terrific.  Sure, the character was pretty good, being all tough and determined and whatnot, but Lawrence gave her redneck character real dignity.  That is no small task.
Honorable mention goes to Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit.  I realize that she received Supporting Actress nods (probably because teenage girls don't win Best Actress anythings), but hers was definitely a co-starring role, and she deserves the credit for her work.

Best Actor: I didn't have a clear-cut favorite in this category this year until I watched a marathon of Oscar-nominated films this weekend.  Now, it seems pretty obvious that Colin Firth deserves to be considered the year's best actor for The King's Speech.  I'm not a huge Firth fan, but he managed to make me care about the personal problems of a foreign royal, and I didn't laugh at his stutter once in the whole movie.  And I'm a jerk, so that's doubly impressive.
"You want me to sing into this tin can?": NOT a British remake of O Brother Where Art Thou?
Honorable mentions go to Michael Cera, for his stunningly perfect work in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and Jesse Eisenberg, for his fast-talking asshole performance in The Social Network.

Best Director: Christopher Nolan for Inception.  The movie was smart, visually fabulous, well-told, and well-acted.  Nolan is responsible for all of that greatness, so he wins.
Honorable mentions go to Martin Scorcese, for his beautifully directed (but a tad predictable) Shutter Island, Edgar Wright for making THE GREATEST comic book adaptation ever (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World), and Tom Hooper for directing the Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor performances in The King's Speech.

Top Ten Movies

10. The Crazies: For my money, this is the smartest, most well-crafted horror movie of the year.  It's not Oscar-worthy, but the main characters seem reasonable and don't act stupidly.  That might sound a little simple, but it makes a potentially fun horror-watching experience into a thrilling one.
9. The Expendables: Old men make boom punch pow.  Violence good.
Fashion by Stallone.

8. Iron Man 2: It wasn't as deep as the first movie, but I love me a good sequel and IM2 delivered.  Well-directed, -paced, and -acted, this is a sequel that had only a few moments of Sequel Stupidity.  Thankfully, it balanced those moments out with Sam Rockwell being obnoxious and dudes fighting other dudes in robotic (you might even say iron) suits.  I don't know about you, but I got what I paid to see.
I can't believe they replaced Terrence Howard with that guy.

7. The Social Network: It's hard not to love a whole movie full of fast-paced witty dialogue, and it was a pleasure seeing Jesse Eisenberg step out of Michael Cera's shadow with this film.  Good performances and great dialogue --- I just wish the real Mark Zuckerberg was anywhere near this cool.
6. Kick-Ass: It answers the question of why there aren't superheroes in the real world --- because they would get ass-kicked on day one.  It's not a deep movie, but it is fun and violent.  As an added treat, Nicolas Cage doesn't ruin the film.  What are the odds?
5. Toy Story 3: Just because it makes you cry doesn't make it sad.  One of the most touching dramas about family and growing up you can see.  This is probably the best artistic statement of the year, even if it's not my favorite movie.  Pixar is the Alan Moore of animation.
4. True Grit: Certainly one of the best remakes of all time and a return to gorgeous filmmaking and quirky supporting roles for the Coen Brothers.  It doesn't quite shake off reminders of the original, but it certainly offers another argument for the importance of the Western in modern filmmaking.
3. The King's Speech: Impressive performances make this potentially boring subject matter thoroughly entertaining and emotional.  It's just really, really good.
2. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: This movie was an 8-bit love song, aimed directly at my heart.  Goofy, stupid, fast, and video gamer-friendly, this movie was perfect for what it is --- a movie about comic books and video games that is as much fun as reading comic books and playing video games.
Actors holding original comic art of their characters is pretty sweet.

1. Inception: Don't ask questions about the ending.  Just smile and laugh.  The always interesting Christopher Nolan crafted his masterpiece here.  The acting is very good, with many actors doing a lot of little things well; the plot is labyrinthine to explain, but understandable when you see it; the visual effects are unique and awe-inspiring.  This is a film that dreamed big and achieved everything it reached for.  It is absolutely the most impressive film I have seen all year.

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