OTB Staff’s 40 Best Films Of 2010
It’s that time of year again. The end. So it’s time for us to have a look back at what we think are the best films of 2010. There’s been a great variety this year from films about Facebook and same-sex marriage to vigilante superheroes, city-bending mind-games and explosive birds. 2010’s also arguably been one of the best years for animation with Toy Story 3 appearing on nearly everyone’s best of list.
We’d fight like cats in a sack if we tried to come up with a unified list, so we’ve decided to make separate ones. We’ve all got differing tastes (trust Jamie to pick Trash Humpers….sheeesh), so there’s a bit of a mixed bag here but everything here is worth catching (and you might find one or two gems that you’d missed). So without further ado, in no particular order…
1. Toy Story 3: Despite it being 11 years since Toy Story 2, the third instalment in the franchise managed to pull out all the stops to create an animated masterpiece; one that’s exciting, funny and heartbreaking all in equal measure. Simply wonderful.
2. Up In The Air was a timely comedy drama which was the perfect vehicle for George Clooney as a corporate angel of death that combines cracking performances from Anna Kendrick and Vera Farmiga, witty dialogue and a razor-sharp script.
3. The Kids Are All Right: A comedy drama which tackles the difficult subject of same-sex marriage and adoption, The Kids Are All Right in the hands of a lesser cast could have come across as flat and maudlin but instead is frequently hilarious, moving and never over-simplified. Should win awards aplenty in January.
4. The Social Network: A film about Facebook didn’t seem like a good idea on paper but David Fincher’s direction paired with Adam Sorkin’s excellent dialogue and winning performances from its young cast make this story of greed and ambition one of this year’s highlights.
5. A Prophet: A tense and gripping drama about the rise from lowly prison lackey to burgeoning crime overlord, A Prophet is a well-acted, brutal and poetic masterpiece that made an overnight sensation of newcomer Tahar Rahim.
6. A Single Man: Colin Firth gave the performance of his career (until The King’s Speech which is released in 2011) as a gay teacher in the 60s struggling through one day after his partner is killed. Tom Ford’s stylistic flourishes are all over this making this one of the most beautiful films of the year.
7. Catfish: An unexpected late entry; a group of filmmakers document the growing friendship and eventual meeting of one of their friends with someone who he’s never met in real life but is all that it seems. A modern mystery which is surprisingly tender – December’s must see movie.
8. Buried: Ryan Reynolds in a box. For 90 minutes. This sparse homage to Hitchcock never lets up; director Rodrigo Cortes crafting real-time thriller which never lets up and is much more visually appealing that you’d think considering the limitations of the set. Not for the claustrophobic.
9. How To Train Your Dragon: It’s been a great year for animation but Dreamworks’s masterpiece hit early this year. A boy and his dog story for the modern age, HTTYD tells the story of Hiccup, a weedy Viking who befriends a deadly dragon. Visually impressive as well as unexpectedly touching, it’s one of this year’s gems.
10. Easy A: Another unexpected marvel, Easy A is one of the best teen comedies in years. Emma Stone’s timing is perfect, the script is sizzling with wit and it features the best movie parents you’ll ever see.
1. Enter the Void: Simultaneously utterly vacuous and visually brilliant, Gasper Noe’s return to full length features is one of the most thrilling psychedelic films to hit cinema screens in years. It’s what screensavers aspire to.
2. The Kids Are All Right: Nuanced performances, a witty script and a non-hysterical examination of same-sex marriages compliment each other perfectly in this superb drama that, if there’s any justice, will be rewarded in several categories at the Oscars.
3. Restrepo: A hard hitting documentary that captured the experiences of a company of soldiers deployed to the Helmand Province that felt like antiseptic to the distorted reality of mainstream news media who have so far failed to convey the true horror of the War On Terror.
4. Chico & Rita: Every year needs a great love story and it took a while to arrive but Chico & Rita certainly lived up to its hype. A beautifully animated and moving tale that embraced Cuban joie de vivre and raw emotion that didn’t leave a dry eye in the house.
5. Of Gods & Men: A powerful fable based on the real life execution of an order of French monks who lived in harmony with the local Muslim population until extremist fighters distrubed the peace.
6. My Afternoons With Margueritte: Gerard Depardieu proves why he was once France’s biggest star in this tale of the redemptive potential of art and the life changing effects of education. By no means perfect but undeniably one of the most pleasurable films of the year.
7. Journey To Mecca: IMAX enthusiasts were well rewarded this year with this cross-breed of dramatic reconstruction and documentary that juxtaposes the ancient and the modern Hajj to the Muslim world’s most holy place of worship. A spellbinding visual sensibility and a cast of extras larger than David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia make this short a classic of epic proportion.
8. Four Lions: Chris Morris tackles UK extremism in this funny and tragically sad look at the warped minds of suicide bombers whose ideologies slowly unravel as they come face to face with martyrdom. A film that will stick in the minds of many and annoy the sensibilities of everyone else, particularly The Daily Mail.
9. Toy Story 3 Woody and the gang return to say goodbye in another excellent installment of the Toy Story franchise. The narrative may have been too similar to its predecessor but for those who grew up watching the series it was an emotional farewell that few have witnessed at the end of a trilogy and, for some, the end of an era.
10: Trash Humpers: The guilty pleasure of the year and admittedly fairly awful for the majority of its screen time, Harmony Korine’s hissy fit in the face of big-budget Hollywood blockbusters is oddly hypnotic as the writer of Kids and his cohorts don grotesque masks and proceed to…hump trash. For 90 minutes.
1. Shutter Island: Forget the “..I guessed the ending after 20 minutes” crowd. This was a masterpiece from a master story-teller. With its chillingly unforgettable score it was easily the film of the year.
2. Tamara Drewe: The quintessentially English dramedy (that’s a drama/comedy before anyone starts going mental) from Stephen Friers was a triumph. It was like Four Weddings all over again.. for a bit.
3. Get Him To The Greek: Russell Brand and Jonah Hill complimented each other brilliantly in this slapstick but rather wry comedy. And then there was that cameo from P Diddy, Mind f**k indeed.
4. Toy Story 3: Unlike the fat bloke sitting next to me, I managed to hold back the tears for this one, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that this trilogy-closer was nothing but an unmitigated triumph. The Spanish Buzz alone should be worth a place in any top ten.
5. Inception: Okay, so I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for Leo… Not as good as the eerily similar Shutter Island, but still mind-blowing. A dream within a dream within a dream? Bloody right! Also, another pounding musical score. I’m noticing a pattern…
6. One Night In Turin: Released in a year that saw English football plumb new depths, this brilliant film-doc told the story of a transitional year that saw Gascoigne & Co. reclaim the national sport from the grip of hooliganism. Tissues may be required.
7. The Social Network: Could anyone turn Facebook into an entertaining movie? Yes they could. And with a great performance from the future Spidey as well. David Fincher isn’t exactly a stranger to tortured souls though..
8. American: The Bill Hicks Story: This man was a cult hero, socio-political crusader and poll-topping stand-up. Somehow Matt Harlock and Paul Thomas managed to create a film-doc that matched his brilliance.
9. The Brothers Bloom: This one wasn’t received to universal acclaim, but there was something wonderful about the low-key charm of it. A fabulous performance from Rachel Weisz didn’t hurt either.
10. Scott Pilgrim vs The World: Original, fast, witty. This was the film that the much-hyped but utterly disappointing Kick Ass wishes it was. I even enjoyed Michael Cera’s performance..
1. The Social Network: The West Wing’s scribe Aaron Sorkin delivers a heady, blow-by-blow chronicle of one of history’s most expensive rivalries. It’s also a heart-rending tale of a friendship torn apart by money.
2. Monsters: Shot on a budget less than the cost of an average home, this groundbreaking sci-fi shows that you can make convincing films of any genre using a few broken cars and spot of homespun CGI.
3. Kickass: Jonathan Ross may have descended to infamy, but his wife Jane Goldman is in on the action after co-writing this colourful romp. With YouTube now the most popular source of peripheral media, this comic-to-screen adaptation has inspired aspiring internet heroes across the globe.
4. I’m Still Here: Was it a hoax? Probably (Yes –Ed) but the very cyber-buzz surrounding Joaquin Phoenix’s supposed mental breakdown makes this documentary as funny as it is unusual. (And when hundreds of Americans are filming you on their iphones while you shout drunkenly and collapse off a stage, who cares if you meant to do it?)
5. Inception: With breathtaking CGI cleverly built up through multi-dimensional action sequences, this one is hard to ignore. ‘But is it really that clever?’ you sneer. Possibly not, but it looks so damn beautiful you could easily kid yourself it is.
6. Chatroom: Inception meets Skins? The dialogue may not sparkle like Santa’s un-winked eye, but as internet films go, this is very fresh territory. Hideo Nakata shows us what the Internet would look like if it were an infinite run-down hotel.
7. Bad Lieutenant: Very bad Lieutenant! Nicolas Cage on adrenaline overload in this neo-noir New Orleans ride. All the unnerving grit of Chinatown, with a refreshing dose of insane irony.
8. Greenberg: Noah Baumbach’s understated mumble-core vehicle for Ben Stiller. Well observed and as quirky as a Michael Cera movie, but without Michael Cera.
9. A Prophet: Jacques Audiard reinvents the prison drama with a surreal twist. Characteristically elegant, superbly acted and chilling in its depictions of violence, this is a layered and curiously opaque masterpiece.
10. Hot Tub Time Machine: It’s just about silly enough to be good. An inane slapstick treat, this twisted tale of reliving the 80s has echoes of The Hangover, (only The Hangover doesn’t have a hot tub time machine).