Sunday, January 2, 2011

Honorable Mentions 2010

Films that didn't make my top ten list this year but might have in another year and are well worth seeing: 

  • "Cyrus,"
a sadly underseen comedy - with great work by John C. Reilly and Marisa Tomei - that couldn't quite sustain its edge in the final third; 
  • "Enter the Void,"
surely the best rave movie since "Go," with a ubiquitous-neon vision of Tokyo that will forever be etched in my memory;
  • "The Ghost Writer,"
Roman Polanski's cleverly constructed and highly absorbing thriller;
  • "Greenberg,"
Noah Baumbach's caustic social commentary, with a wise-beyond-her-years performance by Greta Gerwig; 
  • "Hot Tub Time Machine,"
the mainstream American comedy with the highest hit-to-miss ratio this year and a lot of big laughs;
Nicole Holofcener's 
  • "Please Give,"
which made any theater playing it a bullshit-free zone;
  • "Tangled,"
the best Disney animation in two decades and the family entertainment of the year;
  • "Tiny Furniture,"
an excitingly confident debut by Lena Dunham and a great New York movie; and
  • "True Grit,"
the most fun Western in a coon's age, in which Hailee Steinfeld gives those nasty boys all they want and then some.

Great Documentaries of 2010

2010 gave us a number of edutaining documentaries about public education, the financial crisis, and corruption in politics, but the half dozen I liked best were mostly profiles that gave private dimension to public (or semi-public) figures:

The Worst Movie of 2010

There was plenty of dreck at the cinema this year - as there always is - but I can't think of a movie by a talented director more disappointing than Stephen Frears' moronic and woman-hating 
  • "Tamara Drewe."
It will remain a mystery what drew Frears - who has given us such fine films as "Dangerous Liaisons," "The Grifters," "The Snapper," "Dirty Pretty Things," and "The Queen" - to this bad-sitcom level material, but the hateful characters, asinine situations and pervasive vulgarity made for as unpleasant a moviegoing experience as any this year. For shame.

A Few Words About My 2010 Top-Ten List

To be eligible for my list, a feature film must have opened theatrically in Los Angeles in 2010. Sometimes a film will have opened elsewhere earlier or will not open elsewhere until later - them's the breaks.
After trying to place my top ten into exact spots, I quickly realized I couldn't, so I'll cover #s 2-10 alphabetically in one note and #1, of which I am supremely confident, in another.
I try to avoid the fallacy of recency, but the majority of the year's best movies clearly came out after summer. Exclusion from my list may mean only that I didn't get around to a worthy entry, but inclusion this year indicates a film of rare quality.

In the next few notes, I'll list some honorable mentions, some of the year's best documentaries, and my vote for the worst movie of the year.

The #1 Film of 2010

Among some of my friends, the question was not whether you had seen "The Secret in Their Eyes," but how many times.

The #2-#10 Films of 2010

No other film this year is so comfortable in its skin as Mike Leigh's "Another Year," mainly due to the lived-in performances of Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen as a happily married couple, he a geologist and she a counselor, around whom swirl others - their son Peter, their friend Mary (the award-worthy Lesley Manville) - at various levels of happiness. "Another Year" is a film of rare honesty and insight in which - when I'm asked "What happens?" - no more and no less than life happens.

Saturday, January 1, 2011