"Dreams feel real while we're in them. It's only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange." -Inception

Friday, December 31, 2010

My Top 10 movies of 2010!

As the year winds down, it's time to look back and check back at the movies that made 2010 great.  It should be noted that while this is a top ten list, there are many good movies of 2010 as yet unreleased here in India and therefore I did not get to see them.  So, therefore, this is a list of the top ten movies I saw in 2010.  This is in no random order but I am kind of rating it in order of preference so here goes.  And I'm sure you can guess my all-too-predictable number one film.

1) INCEPTION: How much do I love this movie? Let me count the ways.  This movie has all the requirements that make it great in my book: tortured characters with plenty of angst, a screenplay that delivers, stunning visuals, stellar cast of actors, soundtrack that complements the film and a director whose imagination brings it all together.  And, oh yeah, let's not forget about that ending.  It's the ending that cinches it all for me.  You had me at spinning top!  My vote for best film of the year.

2) THE SOCIAL NETWORK: Another good film that is on the top of every critic's list.  How is it that movie about Facebook become so popular? How could it not? The "origin" story of how the one of the world's most popular social networking sites may not be all factual but it sure is entertaining.  Led by Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg and a young cast that includes Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, and Rooney Mara, the film contains some of the best dialogues of the year and is fascinating from start to finish.  Come Oscar night, this is going to be a contender for sure.

The rest of my list under the cut...

3) HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: Yes, I'm rating a DreamWorks Animation feature over a Pixar film but there was just something about this film about a boy and his dragon that really endeared itself to me.  Kudos on the tough ending as well.  After watching sequel after sequel of animated features, it was so nice to see an original story in the mix.  A real story of an underdog and his best friend, this was my vote for best animated feature of the year.

4) SHUTTER ISLAND: Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio's fourth collaboration is a highly underrated film.  A strong cast that features Sir Ben Kingsley, Emily Mortimer, Patricia Clarkson, Michelle Williams and a very subdued Mark Ruffalo, the film takes place on Shutter Island Mental Institution where a patient has mysteriously disappeared.  Or has she? This taut thriller, which I made the mistake of watching late night, will keep on the edge of your seat as you trying to figure out what's real and what's not.  Sound familiar? The second powerful performance from Leonardo DiCaprio this year that put him on the top of the list of actors who grossed $1.1 billion at the global box-office.

5) TOY STORY 3: Pixar doesn't really do sequels but all of sudden, it's sequels everywhere for the Cars and Monsters, Inc series too.  But first up was the second sequel to the first ever movie they made.  Are you following me yet?  The whole gang is back but this time, Andy is going away to college and they end up in a creepy daycare center where everyone is not what they seem.  Loads of new characters this time around and the story was very emotional, not a dry eye there.  This was the first animated movie many of us grew up with and it was a fitting send off to the characters.  Another ace from Pixar.

6) WINTER'S BONE:  This is the 'little film that could' for 2010 and not many people have heard about it.  It's a shame because it's a quiet film that packs a big punch.  Jennifer Lawrence, in her debut performance, plays Ree Dolly who's trying to find out what happened to her father so she can keep her family together.  Watch out for Lawrence who seems to have a very promising career ahead of her.

 7) THE SECRET IN THEIR EYES (EL SECRETO DE SUS OJOS): Okay, technically, this won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film for 2009 and yet was released only this year.  But I saw it in this calendar year.  This movie is what good storytelling is all about.  If you have not seen it yet, put it on your list of movies to watch.  One of the best films I've seen in a long time and oh, that ending! It will haunt you and keep you wondering.  I recommend it to you all.

8) THE TOWN: Ben Affleck, keep making movies like this and Gigli and Reindeer Games will be long forgotten.  After his directorial debut, Gone Baby Gone (another fine film), Affleck returns to Boston to tell the story of a gang of bank robbers.  I was on the edge of my seat wondering what would happen next and although the ending, for me, was a little bit too Hollywood, the movie still ranks a one of the best of the year.

9) LEGENDS OF THE GUARDIANS: THE OWLS OF GA'HOOLE: Second animated feature to be adapted by a series of popular books, this film was absolutely stunning to behold.   Directed by Zack Synder (300, Sucker Punch) was a bit like the Lord of the Rings series but with owls as many people claimed but it was visual poetry onscreen.  The shots of the owls flying through snow, rain and even fire were amazing and the warrior owls were very cool.  Unfortunately, though, this film didn't quite click with audiences but you can still enjoy this film in repeated viewings at home.

10) HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PART 1:  Wow, it's come to the last films of the saga and it opens out with a bang.  The stuff with the trio on the run as they hunt down the Horcruxes is much more fast-paced than the book and it shows us how the characters have grown as they aim to take down Lord Voldemort.  Nagini is scary as in the books and just imagine how it would have been if the film had been released in 3D.  We eagerly awaiting the next and last film in the series and slightly dreading it too.

Honorable mentions (The movies that didn't quite make the list but you should still check out)

Despicable Me: Yes, Steve Carell as Gru is funny as he tries to play Dad to three orphan girls.  But the Minions! They steal the show completely.  I've said it before and I'll say it again.  Give them their own movie.

Easy A: It's been a long time that there has been a funny, smart high school comedy. Most of them end up being cliches.  But this film directed by Will Gluck and starring the very likable Emma Stone was just what audiences needed.

Harry Brown: The other Harry.  You know, a mild-mannered pensioner by day and ruthless renegade by  night.  Michael Caine is so good in this film.  I want to go back and watch his older films.  A very bleak film but watch this one purely for Caine's performance.

Zombieland: The only kind of horror I can watch.  Comedy horror! I also like Shaun of the Dead.  Zombies take over the earth (again!) and the very funny Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin are on the run from them.  Best line in the film, Abigail Breslin's character Little Rock asks the real Bill Murray as he's mistakenly shot as a zombie, "So do you have any regrets?" To which he replies, "Garfield, maybe".

The Kids are All Right: The acting film of the year.  See this film simply because you won't find a better cast of actors anywhere and that includes the youngsters.

The Ghost Writer: Under appreciated film of the year that I myself knocked for being too slow.  But I found myself thinking more and more of the story and how well-layered it was.  Great acting by the cast of Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan and Olivia Williams, this film will grow on you.

 Departures (Okuribito):  I'm sneaking this onto the list because well, I saw it this year and I want to recommend it to you all.  Winner of the Oscar for Best Foreign film for 2008, this Japanese film is delightful.  A young cellist returns back to his hometown after his symphony is disbanded to find work as a "Nokanshi", one who prepares dead bodies for the next world and it changes his outlook on life.  The movie is moving, the characters are well-defined and yes, I wept at the ending.  Bonus: The music is  by Joe Hisaishi, the composer of most of Hayao Miyazaki's films.

Well, that was it for 2010.  Up next, what to look forward to in 2011!

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