Sunday, February 20, 2011

Fish, Fighters, and Freaky Dream Sequences: The Films of 2010-Part One

In just one week from tonight, the 83rd Academy Awards will air, and the starletards and suck ups in the Hollywood industry will get a hard on for glamorous dresses, and an even bigger one for ugly ones. People will cry, actors will be disappointed, someone will get cut off before they're finished their Oscar speech.

In short, it's going to be amazing.

To keep with a similar tradition with what I did last year, I'm going to leak my favorite films of 2010 over the course of four days, with Friday being a surprise post. Instead of going with five, I wanted to write about twenty. Well, the word 'Wanted' was not how it played out. I submitted a list of my Top 20 favorite films from 2010 to a film magazine, Film Comment, and hopefully, they will publish my selections. If not, well, you can read them here, and I hope you enjoy them. I'm going to preface my list by saying, the twenty you will see over the next week are different than those of more conventional critics. Films that critics put at the Number one or two spot got slated down lower on my list, or in the case of some films, were left in the slush pile. That's why subjection is a beautiful and glorious thing.

Without further adieu, here is Part One of Five of My Twenty Favorite Films of 2010

20. Catfish

This is similar to Exit Through the Gift Shop in that it also focuses on a larger than life subject, and we cannot really determine if it's a true story or just a pieced together lie. Catfish is wonderful because the story surrounding it is both unsettling and so easy to relate to. Boy meets girl, boy likes girl, she's on the Internet, he smells something fishy(no pun intended), and decides to investigate his new girlfriend. I'm a huge fan of a good old fashioned mystery with an explosive ending and enough tension and twists that you are never sure what the detectives are getting their noses into until it's nearly too late. While I was disappointed by how the trailer marketed the film, for lack of a better word, and made it seem like a pulse pounding horror thriller. In fact, it was so terrifying I lost sleep over it. The film was never going to be as horrific as the trailer advertised it to be, but it did promise a jawdropper of an ending, and it delivered.

19. The Town

2010 was a big year for trashy dramas set in Boston, and The Town feels like the complimentary movie to The Fighter, one that details the life behind Mark Wahlberg's character at an even more microscopic level. Ben Affleck is good as Dougie, a man caught up in crime and corruption. For Dougie, this is just his life, his way of living, and everyone he knows is a criminal or a slime-ball in a baseball cap. Being the Mad Men addict that I am, I really enjoyed seeing Jon Hamm in a role on the big screen, as opposed to playing the damaged and equally compelling Don Draper, which shows how far his range reaches. Rebecca Hall is one to watch, and was equally impressive in Please Give, and Jeremy Renner made the film even better. Not as good as Animal Kingdom, but still worth watching.

18. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Reading The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was like taking literary crack cocaine. The book was dense and full of action and emotion, and once you got into the story, it was impossible to tear away from it. I'm glad to say that the film was a faithful and enjoyable adaptation of the novel. It's not perfect, and is missing several points that are important to the book, but were bound to be trimmed and discarded in the script writing process. Noomi Rapace captured the raw nerve and sadistic edge that embodies Lisbeth Salander. The film is not a technological orgy of lights, camera angles and noise, but it's still a tightly paced adventure thriller that will please fans and newcomers to the Millennium Trilogy alike.

17. Inception

At this stage, it's easy for me to rant about Inception and why it does not belong on the Best Picture list. Was it enjoyable? Like hell it was! Was it spectacular? Most definitely! Was it meaningful? Well....not so much. The energy and momentum that was sustained during the film was heart thumpingly amazing, as were the stunts and little feats of gravity that kept popping up. Christopher Nolan is a very exciting director, and this is a film that will toy with your brain and wow you on sight alone. That being said, it's a summer blockbuster action movie, and its characters have the emotional depth of a sanitary napkin. I'm glad that I saw it, and was more than in love with the film and its premise, but I have to play devil's advocate and say that yes, it's well made and fun, but Oscar worthy? That's somewhat of a stretch.

16. The Fighter

Surprisingly enough, I really liked The Fighter, and this coming from an avid avoider of sport movies in general(Read: MAJOR Homo). Yes, this resurgence of boxing/wrestling movies/TV shows where the main fighter is looking for a comeback is really being overdone at this point, but since this film is about a real person, I can let it slide. While part of me is convinced that it was made solely as an Oscar bait flick where actors put on fake accents and looked gritty to win a naked golden boy, I was able to look past that and see a well made, thoroughly interesting and enjoyable film. Christian Bale finally can receive the acclaim he always deserves, as can Melissa Leo, both of whom are so immersed in their characters, it's hard to remember that they are actors just as it is difficult to turn your eyes away from them. I liked the struggle between the two brothers and the rough and tumble world they live in. Exciting and quick paced, and highly recommendable.

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