Marcus's Top 10 2010
Marcus Doidge lists his favourite films of 2010 as well as few other topics...
2010. A year that started slow in regards to genuinely great movies, but when it found its feet offered up some crackers. Below are my favourites for this year, with a few reasons why and hopefully some topics for discussion.
The UK is still awaiting well received US movies like Black Swan and True Grit, so don’t expect to see some of the yet to be seen titles on my list, but here is my Top 10 movies of 2010 as well as a few other sections to cover the year's movie releases. As always, feel free to leave your own lists on the comments section and discuss the hits and misses.
First up, let's take a brief look at the ones that just missed my Top 10; the ones that I’ve liked lots and felt bad leaving off the list, or the ones that might take a second viewing in order to nudge their way into the Top 10.
I was pleasantly surprised with the Gervais/Merchant dramatic theatrical debut Cemetery Junction. It offered up the goods, the laughs and had a fine group of characters that I loved spending time with. The Last Station was a review disc I received that I thought would be nothing, but ended up being fantastic, heartfelt and full of some great performances. Easy A made my ever growing love of Emma Stone take yet another giant leap forward and offered up not only a great comedy for 2010, but a stand out performance from Stone (hopefully she’ll bring the same to Gwen Stacey in the Spider-man reboot.). [REC]2 was everything I wanted out of sequel for the awesome original movie and even after multiple viewing I’m still super excited as they all head straight to the penthouse suite. Runaways offered up yet another fantastic performance from Kristen Stewart as well as a coming of age role for Dakota Fanning. Another surprise was How to Train Your Dragon, which had Dreamworks providing another King Fu Panda as opposed to another lousy Monsters vs. Aliens. I so want that dragon. Lastly there was Monsters, a movie I’m still not totally sure about, but on the first viewing I just walked away a little bit in awe of it without really knowing why. Nothing really happens until you get to the end but somewhere in that movie something caught me and I’m looking forward to the Blu-ray release in 2011 to see if it clicks that well on repeat viewings.
So without further ado, let’s get started with number 10 shall we?
“Ponyo Ponto Little Fishy in the Sea”.
Released way back in 2008 in Japan, the UK got a release of the adorable Studio Ghibli tale of a fish who wants to be a real girl in 2010 and for my family at least it became an all time classic almost immediately.
This heart warming tale filled with heart meltingly lovable characters shines off the screen with its hand drawn animation and visuals that pop out of an HD presentation to fill your imagination to the brim with jaw dropping beauty. Little Ponyo instantly becomes yet another Ghibli character that you can’t help but fall in love with, and even though the story is aimed at a slightly younger audience than their usual, there’s something about the innocence of this tale that wraps you up in a warm hug.
With this traditional hand drawn animation working on all cylinders and knocking out visuals that are so stunning you could pause almost any moment of the entire movie and frame it on your wall, (seriously look at the storm scene with the fish waves. Wow!!) Studio Ghibli once again prove they are without a doubt the finest craftsmen of family adventures the world has ever seen and with a new HD format to show off their work, future releases of their back catalogue can’t came around quick enough.
Check out my full review of the UK release here and Gabe's US review here.
"I Want to Tickle Your Belly Button... from the Inside".
Not being part of this mythical anti Michael Cera league that seemed to appear in 2010, Youth in Revolt was the first 2010 entry for Mr. Cera and what a start it was. Spinning Cera’s usual likable nice guy persona and giving it a thoroughly enjoyable dark edge proved to add up to one of my favourite comedies of 2010.
I loved the dialogue coming out of his character Nick Twisp’s mouth and the interaction with his love interest was fantastic. On top of that and adding a whole new element to the game was Twisp’s alter ego Francois Dillinger. The moustached, dark eyed, take no shit side of Twisp, took this movie from its already great-greatness into one of my favourite rewatches of the year. Adding even more to the story are a few great supporting roles from Zach Galifianakis, Steve Buscemi, Ray Liotta and an awesomely laid back Justin Long.
All in all Youth in Revolt was an intelligent, well paced and downright funny comedy that had some crackin’ one liners and a whole host of character interactions that make me chuckle. 2010 felt a little drab in the comedy arena but this one more than made up for the lack of genuine laughs out there and just writing about it here now makes me want to sit down and watch it again.
Check out Gabe’s review of the disc here.
"Let's go apeshit!"
This one hit me early in the year and never really let go. Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut proved to have the perfect measure of drama, fun, laughs and Andrew Wilson. Ellen Page once again proved to be a leading lady who can do no wrong and the world of all girl roller derby opens its doors and let us all in with real charm.
The cast here are just great to be around. Drew’s ‘Smashley Simpson’ is only a small role, but her balls out punch you in the face attitude was the funniest Drew’s been in a while. Juliette Lewis played the perfect baddy, Kristen Wiig the perfect new best friend, Alia Shawkat the perfect existing best friend, and with Andrew Wilson rustling up one of the best characters of 2010 in his character Razor (seriously every word out of his mouth makes me laugh), Whip It had the makings of just the sort of movie I fall in love with.
Multiple viewings later, Whip It has become the perfect Friday night choice and is an easy entry for my top ten. I hope it finds a bit more of an audience as 2011 rolls on.
Check out my review of the DVD here.
I wouldn’t usually put aside a section specifically dedicated to documentaries, but 2010 offered up lots of real gems. For starters the Blur: No Distance Left to Run documentary was just a blinder for any Blur fan. Loaded with stories, archive footage, performances and a real insight into the whole mid nineties Britpop explosion from one of my favourite bands. It was a joy to watch and I’ve found myself throwing it on for a rewatch countless times this year.
Next up, there was the fascinating Tales from the Script, which offered up look into the Hollywood systems mistreatment of screenwriters (as well as a few stories of barely believable tales of success). Filled with names and faces you’ll all recognise, this one was a real enjoyable look into such an important part of movie making and well worth seeking out.
Also there was the fascinating look at the street art world, Exit Through the Giftshop from infamous artist Banksy, which was oodles of fun packed with the big ol' question of "what is art?" Also the economic nightmare tale that was Collapse was scary as hell but absorbing and full of cutting stories than make the current "save the environment" argument seem a little more pressing.
Rounding up are the two feel good documentaries of the 2010. Firstly Waking Sleeping Beauty, the story of Disney animation studios in the mid eighties through to the mid nineties, and how those in charge nearly sunk the animation house altogether and how the talent rose out of the murk’s of under-achievement into the heights of the modern Disney we know today. Told in the same style as the Pixar documentaries that highlight the team's attitude as they struggled against the odds, this looks into the evolution of Disney in a time where they could quite as easily gone under was fantastic.
The second of the feel good docs is Secret Origin: The Story of DC Comics. In much the same style as the short documentaries on the DC Universe animation titles, this look at DC comics as a whole and how superheroes entered the mainstream and is just plain awesome. With writers, editors and artists all giving their input and loads and loads of clips, art work and glimpse at the history of company Secret Origin was the perfect ninety minutes of comic book celebration and for those that have seen it, those last ten/fifteen minutes where the pace picks up and the clips of the TV shows and comic artwork increases, any comic book fan couldn't help but feel a warm glow and find themselves itching for the upcoming Green Lantern movie, as well as Superman’s reboot and Batman rising once again.
"Hi, I'm Johnny Knoxville. Welcome to Jackass".
I know, I know, Jackass isn’t exactly a critic’s darling, but you won’t catch me apologising for my enjoyment of the Jackass boys (quite literally) hitting our screens again. For me, Jackass 3D was the best out of their three movies and all this talk of “the guys getting old” or “they should give up now” was absolute bullshit. Knoxville and the gang haven’t been so on form in ages, with almost every single sketch/stunt/ prank was pulled off with a real sense of fun like the TV show used to offer up. Gone were the more extreme acts of the second movie and back were the sorts of stunts you connect to. The sort of stunts you probably would have tried as a kid for a laugh.
Beehive swingball, the giant high five, the 3D show off stunts and the pranks they pull on each other on location had me in stitches. I don’t think I laughed this hard at a Jackass movie, and I loved the last ones loads. Pissing about with jet engines, trapping Bam in a pit full of snakes and the poo volcano all caused me to fall apart laughing and with the home release due out soon, I honestly can’t wait for a rewatch (especially without the 3D which frankly I’m so over now).
Jackass 3D was without a doubt the most fun I’ve had with a movie in 2010 and it was an absolute no brainer for the Top Ten of the year listing.
"I got in".
Tron Legacy wasn’t the movie I thought it would be. After the first trailer, for absolutely no reason considering how iffy the original is, Tron Legacy somehow felt like it would be the best movie ever made. The mood, the visuals, that hint at the Daft Punk soundtrack all added to my excitement levels. A Tron sequel really shouldn't have offered this much goodness considering how dated and frankly hard to watch the original is nowadays.
Anyway, Tron Legacy isn’t what I hoped it would be but weirdly it provided something I didn’t even realise I was craving. A large scale, big screen adventure that was... wait for it... fun. I know it sounds weird but the last few years have been a shitstream of lukewarm bloated cinematic outings that forget how to entertain. Bad sequels, disappointing comic book movies and action flicks that are just plan dull have left my love of big screen adventures a little jaded but Tron Legacy with its neon lights and Daft Punk beats changed all that around and that’s just the start of it.
I just entered the grid and it never let me go. I really liked Sam Flynn. But then I really like Anakin Skywalker too. I loved old man Flynn and his little Yoda moments, I loved the character of Clu, and it was nice to have a villain whose motivations I could get behind. Quorra was adorable and pretty good to look at, I simply adored Tron and his Maul-ness, and yeah I guess at this point I guess it’s obvious that I loved Tron Legacy for its Star Wars-ness.
Tron Legacy looked and felt awesome (who doesn’t crave the Blu-ray at this point?). The Daft Punk score fit like a glove and the scene in quirky Michael Sheen’s club was one of the scenes of the year for me. Tron Legacy was just plain awesome and I really hope it marks a return to good old fashioned fun big screen adventures as well as maybe providing a sequel that’s more like what I’d hoped this instalment would be.
"I've seen E.T. three times."
Taika Waititi‘s joyous movie about Boy, a New Zealand child who wants to see his father again. It’s 1984 and Michael Jackson is Boy’s idol. Looking after his family when his Gran leaves for a week, Boy’s father returns and Boy’s dream comes true. That is, until he begins to realise that his father isn’t the legend he painted him as and Boy begins to see the truth. This little known gem of a movie is Waititi's follow up to Eagle vs. Shark, which is another I liked but nowhere near as much as I do Boy.
After happening upon the trailer early in the year, I tracked down this movie as soon as I could (via a friend who’s from NZ) and it was one of the best movie viewings of the year for me. Boy is just delightful. The characters are a blast to be around and most of the dialogue delivered in that fantastic rural New Zealand accent makes for more smiles than the majority of comedies that came out in 2010. I just loved hanging out in this little story. The little references to Michael Jackson and even more so E.T. took an already heart warming tale and added the feel good factor.
I have no idea how easy this is to get hold of outside of New Zealand. I don’t know when it will ever hit the US or UK but I really want the Blu-ray soon and can hardly wait for a rewatch. Boy had me grinning for its entire runtime, mainly down to the lead performance from little James Rolleston and Taika Waititi himself playing Boy’s father with comes with more quirk than the quirkiest of quirky roles (can’t wait to see him as Hal Jordan’s man in Green Lantern next year) and that alone was enough for it to feature in this top ten listing. Boy is such a great little flick.
"Drop the "the". Just "Facebook". It's cleaner."
David Fincher feels like he’s on Fight Club mode here and who doesn’t want two scoops full of that? The Social Network sounded like the worse idea ever to me when it was first announced but then I found out it was David Fincher doing an Aaron Sorkin screenplay and the project suddenly became a must-see. Follow that with a series of frankly incredible trailers composed of either Facebook chats, well edited dialogue or choral versions of Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ and this ultra modern subject which felt unnecessary became unmissable.
And Fincher did it again. He makes the subject compelling. He somehow turned a subject no one really cared that much about into something we suddenly all wanted to know the story behind. With plenty of help, Jessie Eisenberg, who draws you in with a complex and genuinely interesting performance and future Peter Parker, Andrew Garfield bouncing off of him as the pitch perfect disgruntled ex-best friend, The Social Network becomes fascinating (and all this with a great supporting role from Justin Timberlake).
Facebook once again joins everyone together and as the focus to this movie, it weirdly doesn’t feel like a fad or a cash-in, but a relevant bit of storytelling. This is a story that sort of came out of nowhere for me as I had no interest on “where Facebook came from”, but after seeing The Social Network I feel like my subconscious did want to know this stuff (however factual the story may or may not actually be). I’m actually intrigued to see if the movie itself holds up on repeat viewing as I’m pretty sure I got all the detail I needed to get on the first viewing but at this point in the year, The Social Network has Fincher working on the sort of mode I love seeing him on and Fincher’s filmography just keeps evolving into wonderful places.
Right then, before we hit the Top 3, I’m gonna take a bit of time to highlight the movies that had the opposite effect; those movies that really disappointed me in 2010, kicking off with The Bounty Hunter, which was the hardest watch of the year for me. Just plain dull. Smokin' Aces 2 is everything straight to DVD sequels get a bad name for. Alice in Wonderland, a movie that was on the cards for Tim Burton for ages but proved to be nothing but awful and for me became the first Burton film I never want to see again. Date Night was painful for the most part, Twilight continued to baffle me as I can’t be the only one that’s seeing the god awfulness of those flicks yet box office numbers tell me otherwise. Likewise for Nic Cage’s Bad Lieutenant. The reviews for that flick were stellar yet all I could do was scratch my head to what people were on. This one really passed me by. Peter Jackson took ages to release The Lovely Bones, but only the first twenty minutes were actually any good. Clash of the Titans and Prince of Persia blurred together into one big boring mess for me. Knight and Day should have worked but barely managed to and, and...
I should stop. I’ve vented enough to cleanse my memory of my low-lights of 2010, it’s time to get back to the good stuff and the last three are absolute corkers.
"Andy's going to college. Can you believe it?"
In at three, is the third Toy Story movie. The sequel that for me at least felt like it was destined for failure. The project felt forced in its birth, the trailers left me lukewarm and felt as if Pixar were about to start repeating themselves. The third Toy Story should have had me excited for the months of build up and it just didn’t. Then I saw it.
Toy Story 3 is just a master class in treating its audience with the respect they deserve. We’ve all grown with these characters and for most of us we adore these toys, so dropping them in a situation where Andy is getting too old for his toys kicks off proceedings in a place that tugs the heartstrings and keeps us in the palm of its hands. For me you only need the ever so slight hint that Bo Peep is no longer in the toy box and Woody’s moment of sadness and the drama is there—but Pixar take it even further.
Now I’ll admit the middle act really is just a celebration of what’s come before. The toys' mission isn’t really re-inventing the wheel and Lotso is a little too close to Stinky Pete for my liking, but there’s still plenty to enjoy (Mr Potato Head’s element is particularly fun and Ken and Barbie are awesome). It’s when the toys leave the nursery and end up in the junk yard that Toy Story 3 goes somewhere new. Somewhere never really touched on in what is essentially a kids movie and when the toys reach the incinerator room, Toy Story transcends from a total worthy sequel to a whole new plateau of awesome. The silent moment where the toys reach out for each other in what they believe is the end, is simply astonishing. You just feel it and you’re right there with the characters in a way most live action movies fail at and for a second or two you genuinely feel that Pixar might very well end the franchise in the most gut wrenching way they could... even on repeat viewings.
Toy Story 3 is just a perfect close to the fantastic trilogy, Andy passing on his toys is a scene full of equal measure of happiness and sadness and even though I don’t want to see another Toy Story movie (mainly it's because of the fear that there’s no way they can pull this off again) there’s something in me that feels like these toy’s adventures could run and run and Pixar seems to have cracked a movie making code that no one else has been privy too before.
The Blu-ray is just perfection and a new standard setter for me. It’s a shame there wasn’t one massive documentary to cover the entire trilogy, but there’s enough of the good stuff on the disc to be happy with.
"You have to dream bigger darling."
Christopher Nolan’s movies between his kick ass Batman adventures seem to have the director pushing the envelope rather than coasting between his big event movies. The Prestige is a movie I kept watching for all the subtleties and Inception ramped that up another notch. Nolan took the success of The Dark Knight and convinced Warner Bros to seemingly let him go and play. Inception delivered something new to us in 2010 and even though it deals with a lot of the same subjects as movies like The Matrix, Nolan didn’t need to put sunglasses on it to make it cool.
Inception, on first viewing hit me so hard that I left the cinema feeling as if I may have just seen one of the best films ever made. How the hell Nolan pulled off the effects, the ease of telling a complicated story and the ability to fit a fairly long movie into what felt like a heartbeat of time was something to be in awe of. Then came the dissection of what I’d just seen and the weeks of theories about what was real, how much of it could be a dream, and just how much of what I’d seen could mean that that totem would continue to spin forever as the credits roll filled my conversations with friends and I was itching rewatches.
The Blu-ray came along and I was on it like a shot. The presentation was stunning and I have to say that on the repeat viewing, I am more inclined to go with what we’re shown is in fact what’s actually happening and the theories of “but what if..” have all but been put to one side. The more I watch it, the more I love Cobb’s entire team rather than just him as the central focus. The playful relationship Arthur and Eames have is brilliant. I love everything about Mal’s presence in the film and those closing scenes and the choice of score just makes for a fantastic finale. Inception not only has Nolan progressed as a director but it was finally an intelligent movie that made money at the box office. On a personal note, seeing as Nolan seems to get better with every movie I am now itching to see where the next Batman movie turns out.
I WAS SO READY FOR THIS MOVIE. I’d been in love with the Scott Pilgrim comic books for the past year or so and after that first trailer I was floored. Edgar Wright had totally got it. Michael Cera felt like Scott and the entire cast just brought the best comic book series of the last decade to life. But remember, one trailer don’t mean the movie will be good. The build up began. The last comic book ruled. The soundtrack ruled, the merchandise kicked ass, the game was a retro delight and even the game’s soundtrack was a masterpiece. Seriously by the time the movie came around, if it was a failure it would have been the biggest bummer of all time. So with Scott Pilgrim vs. the World utterly sweeping me off my feet within the first ten minutes this movie was pretty much cemented at the top of my list for 2010.
Now without taking any credit away from Edgar Wright, who brings this to life in a big bad way and he’s made one of the most rewatchable movies in my entire collection, the biggest chunk of credit here really needs to go to Brian O’Malley who made the gloriousness of the world of Scott Pilgrim already in black and white (with a few pages of colour) before it hit our screens. Those comic books are near perfect pieces of comic book and all of those characters were sitting waiting for someone to get them on screen. Edgar totally got it and judging by the Blu-ray features as well as the odd podcasts his movie adaptation grew with the making of the books and everything just came together in the perfect way.
Any fan of the books must have been in seventh heaven when they saw this movie. The great dialogue is intact, the changes feel right and the characters are spot on. Kim Pine on screen is as dry as she is in the books, Stephen Stiles and Young Neil feel more alive than they did on the page, Ramona is every bit as cool as she needs to be and Knives is as adorable. Gideon Graves is in the safe hands of Jason Schwartzman, whose work here is phenomenally enjoyable and every single one of the evil exes bring their own flavour in insanely enjoyable ways (oh and on a side note the vegan police were a delight). But front and centre is our star. Scott Pilgrim and Michael Cera got it bang on. Pilgrim is obviously confident and for me at least, he captures some genuine/ludicrous insecurities that this young adult has bouncing around his head. Scott Pilgrim may be a relative newbie on the scene but for me he’s already one of my favourite comic book characters ever, so seeing him brought to life so well on screen felt like a personal treat.
With my love affair with Scott Pilgrim at its peak I find it hard to believe that there’s no one that didn’t have a total blast with this flick, but I know that’s not the case. Pilgrim may very well be for the select few but those select few have a movie they can truly cherish and watch and watch and watch again with every single viewing being as awesome as the last. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is far and away my favourite film of 2010. The Blu-ray release is absolutely astonishing across the board with A/V and extras to die for and I can see this movie becoming a new default choice when someone suggests... ”What do you fancy watching?” Scott Pilgrim vs. the World owned my 2010 and I may very well go watch it again now. K-0!
So there we go, my Top 10 of 2010. Generally I’d say that despite some real gems, 2010 as a whole was disappointing for the world of movies. The summer was a near write off, but the odd movies that got it right, got it right in a big bad way. Also in a year that raved about 3D, my love of the new technology all but died and I don’t know about you guys but I’m so over it already (especially the paying extra at the cinema). Blu-ray moved forward a bit more with Avatar setting a new standard in visuals, Toy Story 3 keeping CGI animation perfection going and Scott Pilgrim setting a standard for what Blu-ray packages need to do to impress.
But what’s next? What does 2011 hold? Let’s take a peek...
Well the super heroes are back with a vengeance. Marvel throw us the next wave of avengers with Captain America and Thor and X-Men First Class too (please be more like the comics than Singer’s were and please don’t be Wolverine-bad). DC finally put Batman and Superman to one side for a bit and give us another big hitter Green Lantern. Oh and don’t forget Green Hornet, which despite being written off before it's even released actually looks pretty cool to me, and by what I’ve seen of Super we might be in for a treat there too.
Other big loud movies like Drive Angry, Real Steel and Suckerpunch look like they could be a whole lot of fun, as does Battle: Los Angeles. Big sequels are on the way too, Scream 4 looks fun, Kung Fu Panda 2 left me a bit cold as does Cars 2, but I would like to be surprised. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides needs to be more like the original and almost nothing like those lousy sequels to win me over. Transformers 3 had better come out fighting and all the talk of making up for the second movie better be true because that teaser trailer was a dud. The Potter franchise left me behind after the fourth one and part one of The Deathly Hollows was just a two hour camping trip but I’m up for an exciting finale with Part 2. Lastly there’s Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol. MI:3 was frickin’ awesome, so more of that please Mr. Cruise.
Rounding up comedies like Hangover 2 and Your Highness should bring the chuckles, The new Muppet movie deserves to be fantastic and despite knowing it’ll probably suck, the kid in me wants Smurfs to be awesome and not the blue version of the Chipmunks (which so far it looks like). Other bits that look great are Tree of Life and JJ’s Super 8 as well as the return of Spielberg with War Horse and of course Star Wars on Blu-ray as well as trailers for Star Wars 3D and details of the new Batman and Superman movies for 2012.
So all in all there’ll be plenty to get excited about in 2011 and we all deserve a good run of summer movies because the last few have been pretty weak. Anyway, see you all in 2011 to see what the year has in store for us... HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Editorial by Marcus Doidge
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