Friday, December 31, 2010

best of 2010: movies

And finally, we have my favorite movies of 2010. The usual disclaimers apply:

  • Not all of these movies were first released in 2010, but that's when I saw them.
  • Aside from the first two movies, these aren't necessarily listed in order of preference.
  • And, as always, your mileage may vary.

1. Kick-Ass: Dave is a teenage boy who loves superheroes and dreams of becoming one, even though he's just an ordinary kid. So he makes himself a costume out of a wetsuit and heads out to fight crime. He sees a man being beaten by thugs, and he interferes...and promptly gets the shit kicked out of him. But bystanders tape the incident on their cell phones, and he becomes an Internet sensation. Of course, he soon gets in over his head, and he's rescued by Hit Girl, a foulmouthed 11-year-old with supremely mad skills. He also meets her father, Big Daddy, and a fellow teen superhero named Red Mist, but when they all run afoul of a crime syndicate boss, things get nasty indeed. I absolutely loved this over-the-top, balls-to-the-wall movie. It's funny, action-packed, exhilarating, bloody, and even poignant at times, they had the good taste to put Sparks on the soundtrack, and Hit Girl is one of the coolest characters to hit the silver screen in a long time. Despite its stunningly poor box office, they're making a sequel, and I'll be there opening night, guaran-fuckin'-teed.

2. Toy Story 3: When Andy is preparing to leave for college, he decides to only take Woody with him and put the rest of his old toys in storage. But a mix-up leads to the toys being donated to a daycare center, and when it turns out that things are much more sinister than they initially seemed, Woody has to figure out a way to save his friends. Another gorgeously animated, funny, and bittersweet masterpiece from Pixar. If you trust nothing else I ever say in my life, trust this: have tissues handy.

3. The Hurt Locker: A searing movie about a cocky bomb disposal expert working in Iraq. Almost painfully intense at times, and Jeremy Renner is perfect in the leading role.

4. Easy A: A teenage girl's lie about losing her virginity gets her labeled as the school slut, and she decides to use the rumors to her advantage. An unusually sharp script and a terrific performance by Emma Stone elevate this movie far above the average comedy.

5. The Kids Are All Right: When the teenage children of a lesbian couple track down their sperm donor, it has unforeseen consequences for everyone involved. It hits the perfect balance between funny and touching, and Annette Bening and Julianne Moore are superb as Nic and Jules. They truly inhabit their characters, and during their interactions I had no trouble believing that they had been together for over 20 years.

6. Black Swan: Natalie Portman turns in a stunning and fearless performance as Nina Sayers, a ballerina who begins to completely lose her shit after winning the role of the Swan Queen. Even though it was a bit campier than I'd expected, I almost had a nervous breakdown watching it. That might not sound like a glowing endorsement, but its claustrophobic atmosphere, stellar acting, and nerve-jangling suspense make this one of the best psychological thrillers I've seen in years.

7. Zombieland: After the zombie apocalypse hits, a teenage boy sets out to find a safe haven. Along the way, he joins up with an especially enthusiastic zombie killer (a hysterical Woody Harrelson) and two scheming sisters. As far as zomcoms go, this is just about perfect, thanks to a wildly funny script and generous splashes of gore.

8. Inception: I'm not going to tell you anything about this movie, because I think the less you know about it, the better. (Plus, let's face it, you've probably already seen it!) I will say that it wasn't quite as good as I thought it would be, but considering how hard the hype machine was running, that would have been a tall order. Still, it's got some amazing visuals and it will twist your brain into knots, so thumbs up from me.

9. How to Train Your Dragon: Hiccup is a scrawny Viking boy whose lack of interest in slaying dragons is a huge disappointment to his father. But one night, Hiccup is toying around with a contraption he built and manages to knock a dragon from the sky. When he goes to investigate, he winds up being charmed by the dragon (which is more like an overgrown kitten or puppy than a fearsome beast) and eventually befriends it. Then...oh fuck, I'm seriously tearing up remembering this movie. Let's just say it's stunningly animated, often funny, and achingly sweet.

10. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: When the title character (Michael Cera) meets Ramona, the girl of his dreams, he has to defeat her "seven evil exes" to be with her. These battles play out in hyperkinetic video game style, and are frankly quite awesome. Although the movie is really funny and I enjoyed the ever-lovin' hell out of it, I think it would appeal primarily to gamers and/or comic book fans.

And now, for your amusement, my random movie awards for 2010! I'll try to avoid spoilers as much as humanly possible, but if you're majorly spoiler-phobic, best to move on now.

BEST "BIRTH CONTROL" MOVIES: Orphan, Grace, Joshua

WEIRDEST FUCKING MOVIE OF ALL TIME EVER: 70's Japanese psychedelic horror flick House

YOU'RE GONNA GO FAR, KID: Chloe Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass), Isabelle Fuhrman (Orphan)

BEST AMERICAN ACCENT BY A NON-AMERICAN ACTOR: Aaron Johnson in Kick-Ass; Russell Clank in The Crazies

WAY BETTER THAN I EXPECTED: Orphan, A Perfect Getaway, House of the Devil, The Invention of Lying

SCENE STEALERS: Chloe Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass), Isabelle Fuhrman (Orphan), Greta Gerwig (House of the Devil), Bart the Bear (The Edge), Sean Combs (Get Him to the Greek)

I AM DISAPPOINT: Ong Bak 3, Where the Wild Things Are, Paranormal Activity, Jennifer's Body, The Lovely Bones, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

BEST LINES: "Within your 'purview'? Where do you think you are, some fucking regency costume drama? This is a government department, not some fucking Jane fucking Austen novel! Allow me to pop a jaunty little bonnet on your purview and ram it up your shitter with a lubricated horse cock!" (In the Loop); "Y'know, I've come across a lot of psychos, but none as fucking boring as you. You are a real boring fuck. Sorry, sorry, I know you disapprove of swearing so I'll sort that out. You are a boring F, star, star, CUNT!" (In the Loop); "Fuck you, Mister Bitey!" (Kick-Ass; I refuse to spoil THE best line in that movie; suffice it to say it's the first line Hit Girl speaks); "Was I good?" (Black Swan); "When the world slips you a Jeffrey, stroke the furry wall" (Get Him to the Greek); "After we watch The Bucket List, remember to cross 'watch The Bucket List' off our bucket list" (Easy A); "Chocolate, candy, biscuits, love, and dreams!" (House); "Time to nut up or shut up!" (Zombieland)

ANYBODY GOT ANY PROZAC?: Animated Danish downer Princess, The Lovely Bones, Big Fan, Black Swan, Sex: The Annabel Chong Story, The Road

MOST VISUALLY STUNNING: Daybreakers, Black Swan, Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World, Red Cliff, Inception, Alice in Wonderland, The Fountain

MADE ME CRY: Toy Story 3, Grace, How to Train Your Dragon, The Princess and the Frog, The Lovely Bones


I JUST MAY VOMIT: The train set scene in Jackass 3D; the assorted "body horror" scenes in Black Swan; the orgy in The Drawn Together Movie: The Movie!; "Inside you!" (Splice)