Tuesday, December 14, 2010

5 Best and Worst Movies of 2010: Part 2

So, last night I talked about the 5 Worst Movies I'd seen this year. So let's brighten the mood and talk about the 5 Best Movies I've Seen 2010 (a list which admittedly - and hopefully - may change before the year is over). Having already proclaimed 2010 as the Summer of Movies that Suck, finding 5 that I actually enjoyed was kind of hard. And it's just a little odd that 2 of the movies on the list were meant for children (especially since I have none of my own).

Of course, if there had been more films that made me say "I have to see that!" the list might actually be a full 10. Or more precisely, if there had more films that made me say "I have to see that!' which played out here in the 'burbs, I might have come up with 10. Why do exhibitors in suburbia think suburbanites aren't interested in seeing independent/art house films? Why do I have to travel to a dingy, flat-floored city cinema to see films like Winter's Bone; Black Swan and 127 Hours? Why am I expected to pay tolls and parking fees just to be entertained by movies that also happen to make me think? I'm starting a letter-writing campaign. Who's with me? 

Oops! Sorry. Got a little off-topic there. Anyway - here the 5 Best Movies I've seen so far this year:

#5 - Kick-Ass

Who doesn't dream of being a superhero? When high-schooler Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) decides to train himself to be one, he creates Kick-Ass who soon finds himself allied with Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and his foul-mouthed daughter Hit Girl (Chloe Moritz) in a fight against a major crime boss, whose own son (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) pretends to join them as Red Mist. Based on Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr's comic book and directed by Matthew Vaughn (Stardust)*, Kick-Ass was the most fun I had at the movies in a long time. For many, Kick-Ass was a love-it-or-hate-it kind of movie. D and I both loved it and can't wait for the sequel.

#4 - Despicable Me

Steve Carell ("The Office;" Date Night) voices Gru, a criminal mastermind who along with his minions (see photo above) is plotting to steal the moon with the help of a shrink ray and three adorable orphans he adopts as part of his nefarious plan. With a dream cast of voice talents which includes Jason Segal; Julie Andrews; Russell Brand; Kristin Wiig; Jermaine Clement and Miranda Cosgrove, Despicable Me is one of the first (and probably funniest) super villain movies, ever. You don't have to be (or even have) a child to enjoy it's delightful lunacy. 

#3 - Toy Story 3

The second animated movie on the list (and the only sequel), Disney/Pixar's Toy Story 3 is just... well, wonderful. Tom Hanks; Tim Allen; Don Rickles; Wallace Shawn and Pixar touchstone John Ratzenberger (the only actor to voice a role in every Pixar film) are joined by Ned Beatty, Michael Keaton and Jodi Benson (The Little Mermaid) in the story of what happens to Andy's toys when he goes off to college and they are mistakenly donated to daycare center. Hilarious, sentimental and exciting, Toy Story 3 once again proves why Pixar is the leader in modern animated films - story and substance plus flash and panache = critical and box-office gold. A pure delight from beginning to end.

#2 - Let Me In

When most people think of foreign horror movies these days, they think of Japanese movies like Ringu or Pulse. But the Swedish vampire flick Let the Right One In was one of the best films of 2008 and it's American remake Let Me In is one of the best remakes I've ever seen. Chloe Moritz (see Kick-Ass) is Abby, the new girl in the apartment complex where lonely Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) lives with his divorced mother. Owen is picked on at school and Abby convinces him to take a stand. Abby's 'father' (Richard Jenkins) stalks young people to bleed for Abby's food, and as much as Abby tries not to befriend Owen, she knows she'll soon need a replacement thrall to do her dirty work for her. Cloverfield director Matt Reeves proves his abilities here, eliciting amazing performances from his two young stars. Quiet, often subtle and even more often quite intense, Let Me In isn't about moody teen-aged vampires sulking about and sparkling in the sunlight, but rather an insidious monster with only one thing on her mind... as any decent vampire movie should be...

#1 - Inception

Director Christopher Nolan has never been afraid to make smart, complicated movies, even when they're about comic book superheroes. Inception is certainly a complicated and smart movie, using state-of-the-art special effects; a talented cast and a heart-wrenching love story to tell the tale of a futuristic group of industrial spies who have found a way to infiltrate the dreams of their targets to steal their secrets. This time, the band is hired to implant an idea, rather than steal one and the ride Nolan takes us on is nothing less than breathtaking. Some complained the movie was too hard to follow, though I had no problems with it's convoluted and admittedly bizarre plot. With outstanding performances from a cast that includes Leonardo DiCaprio; Joseph Gordon-Levitt; Tom Hardy; Marion Cotillard; Cillian Murphy; Ellen Page and Michael Caine (who has been in almost all of Nolan's films), Inception was without a doubt the best movie I've seen all year (so far). And let's not even talk about Hans Zimmer's astounding score... we'll save that for another post.

So, what do you think? What were your favorite films of 2010? I won't judge (unless you say it was Transformers 2). As I've said, there are still several films on my list of 'must sees," so this Top 5 List may very well change come January. In fact, I'm hoping it does, though it's a shame that I had to wait so long to see some of what I think may actually be the best movies of the year. 

More, anon.

*One of Uncle P's favorite fantasy films.

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