The year’s nearly over and the season of turkey beckons. As 2010 draws to a close, what better time to pick over the films of the last 12 months? Here, then, are the writers of Den Of Geek’s five favourite films of the year, along with their most despised misfire of 2010.
And at the bottom, we’ve got the round-up of the overall top ten (it’ll take a bit of scrolling if you want to go directly there!). So, what’s our absolute favourite movie of the year? Read on to find out…
Top 51. Agora2. Inception3. Toy Story 34. Robin Hood5. The Social Network
Stinker of the year: The Other Guys
I love a good historical epic, and in a summer dominated by sequels, remakes and reboots, it was a breath of fresh air to not only see something different, but that didn’t speak down to the viewer. Despite being the most expensive Spanish film ever made, Agora was barely seen on any UK cinemas and I only got to see via LoveFilm, but I am glad I did.
This film is astounding. Not only does it breathtakingly show ancient Alexandria, its legendary lighthouse and its library in flawless CGI, but also the religious intolerance and Christian fundamentalism that was just taking hold.
As the Roman Empire is fading into history, the garrison has hardly any control, and as such, it is the religious fundamentalists that have the real power. As blood begets blood and intolerance breeds hatred, trapped in the middle is the rational philosopher and astronomer Hypatia (Rachel Weisz), who, as arguably the most reasonable person in the city, can only watch in disbelief at what is going on around her, in a performance that’s amazing to watch.
It is a damning portrayal of fundamentalism, intolerance and taking things on blind faith. As Hypatia tells one of her former pupils, “Synesius, you don’t question what you believe. You cannot. I must.”
It’s a fantastic film that not only shows how ancient minds questioned their role in the universe, but how religious intolerance has barely moved on at all. I was also impressed by Oscar Issac, who displayed far less ham than he did in Robin Hood as King John, and who gave a genuinely moving performance.
I can only nominate what I saw, and I never saw the likes of Jonah Hex, The Spy Next Door or The Switch, so I am going to have to nominate The Other Guys for stinker of the year. It wasn’t the worst film ever made, but when you have a film from the people behind Anchorman and you only laugh twice, things are wrong.
Top 51. Exit Through The Gift Shop2. Scott Pilgrim Vs The World3. Inception4. Dogtooth5. A Prophet
Stinker of the year: A Boy Called Dad
There’s too much good-to-great stuff this year to put into a top five: The Social Network, Four Lions, White Material, Enter The Void and Black Dynamite were hovering about, but these five stuck with me the most. Deserving nods go to A Prophet, for Audiard’s tight storytelling, Dogtooth, for its dryly observed nasty surprises, Inception, which made me cry three times (old Mal/Dom, the totem cliffhanger, embarrassingly the zero-gravity fight), Scott Pilgrim Vs The World, for the most breathless fun spent in a cinema since Kung Fu Hustle, and Exit, for somehow saying everything about everything and for living on as a red herring nine months after its release.
I missed covering the Edinburgh Film Festival this year for DoG, and although it wasn’t a vintage year, I found two great flicks, Col Spector’s hilarious Honeymooner and Alberto Calvacanti’s They Made Me A Fugitive, a deeply underrated British noir from 1947.
Also big for me in 2010: Esther Rots’ feverish Can Go Through Skin, an Encounters discovery, the films of Jafar Panahi, Turner Classic Movies on Sky, and my best friend (and DoG writer!) Carl England’s engagement.
On a sombre note, my Stirling University film tutor Mark Brownrigg passed away suddenly this month. Without his classes and his infectious love of film, I doubt I’d feel the same way about the world right now. He will be greatly missed.
Top 51. Toy Story 32. How To Train Your Dragon3. Despicable Me4. Kick-Ass5. Inception
Stinker of the year: Clash Of The Titans
I really hope people grasp that we’re living through a new golden age of animation, which is why all my top three films are of that kind. Toy Story 3 was a technical perfect storm, where great storytelling, visual gags, characters came together. Pixar also put in place a strong emotional foundation, underpinning the whole movie in a way that highlighted for me how many productions these days entirely fail to connect with their audience.
How to Train Your Dragon was the dark horse here, as DreamWorks has a very inconsistent track record in the family entertainment stakes. I was genuinely shocked how good this film was, and if you’ve not seen it, I’d certainly recommend you make the time to watch it.Finally, Kick-Ass takes the whole superhero genre and kicks it smartly in the crotch, and about time too.
Top 51. Toy Story 32. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World3. Inception4. The Social Network5. The Secret In Their Eyes
Stinker of the year: Vampires Suck
Is there another trilogy as note-for-note perfect as the Toy Story series? It finished off in spectacular style in 2010, and it’s now hotly tipped as the first animated film to win the Oscar for Best Picture.
In an underpowered summer, it was nice to see that my three favourite films of the year were all playing in cinemas at the same time. Then again, I’m a big fan of Christopher Nolan, Edgar Wright and Pixar, so perhaps the top three was inevitable. For instance, although I think The Social Network is probably the best film of the year, it’s not my favourite.
Rounding out my top five was the deserving winner of last year’s Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, The Secret In Their Eyes, of which much less has been said, compared to my other four choices. It’s a romance and a murder mystery in equal measure, properly balancing those transgeneric elements through to a really great climax.
MATTHEW SHEPPARDTop 51. Scott Pilgrim Vs The World2. Exit Through The Gift Shop3. Toy Story 34. Resident Evil: Afterlife5. Kick-Ass/The Losers
Stinker of the year: Clash Of The Titans
Scott Pilgrim Vs The World was a great film with a spot on cast, but what made it my top film was that it really managed to capture the charming spirit of the comic so well.
Exit Through The Gift Shop was a fascinating documentary for two reasons, exposing the unseen side of graffiti and street art and the sheer madness of Thierry Guetta and his becoming an ‘artist’. If you have any interest in art, this is a must-watch.
A great film with characters that you feel you’ve grown with, Toy Story 3 saw Pixar at its creative best. And the ending? Not a dry eye in the house.
I was expecting to be very disappointed by Resident Evil: Afterlife, but found it great fun. Yes, it’s a bad film, but it knows it’s a bad film and doesn’t really care.
As for my number five choice, I can’t decide. Kick-Ass is a better film than the comic and The Losers is a better comic than the film, but I enjoyed them both hugely.
Top 51. Toy Story 32. Four Lions3. Daybreakers4. Kick-Ass5. Iron Man 2
Stinker of the year: Scott Pilgrim Vs The World
Toy Story 3 (Tagline: “You’ll believe a man can cry.”) was easily the best film of 2010, bucking the trend of diminishing returns and providing a touching, funny and clever send-off for some much-loved characters and Jessie the cowgirl.
Elsewhere, Chris Morris walked skilfully along the fine line between comedy and tragedy with his compelling cinematic and controversial debut, Four Lions, earning second place.
Next up is Daybreakers, a sci-fi thriller which didn’t do huge numbers at the box office, but which gave the vampire genre a much-needed kick up the backside. (Yes, Twilight, I’m looking at you.)
Rounding off the list are superheroes Kick-Ass and Iron Man, because, let’s face it, who doesn’t love a good superhero movie?
Finally, space prevents me going into detail regarding just what I didn’t like with Scott Pilgrim Vs The World, but it was a film where I was willing the end credits to roll. A really lightweight film, for me.
CAMERON K MCEWAN
Top 51. Ponyo2. Mysteries Of Lisbon3. Inception4. Toy Story 35. The Princess And The Frog
Stinker of the year: The A-Team
It’s been a bumper year for animated features, particularly those of quality. And despite the continuing barrage of CG cartoonery, good ole fashioned 2D animation showed its younger, flashier brothers and sisters that storytelling and beauty are more than a match for pixels and bang.
Having said that, Toy Story 3 did highlight the pluses of the genre, but it took the incomparable tale merchantry of genuine filmmaking genius Hayao Miyazaki to show the world of cinema that fantastical realism combined with a childlike simplicity ensures the kind of heart-warming experience that one wishes every studio, writer and director could emulate.
In the live-action department, fellow maverick storyteller Raúl Ruiz blazed across the big screen over almost five hours in Mysteries Of Lisbon. Adapted from his Portuguese television series of the same name, Ruiz displays, once again, that he is truly a master of the art of the moving image. Not bad for an exiled Chilean kicking on the door of seventy years old. One wonders how Inception’s director Christopher Nolan will be faring in thirty years or so. Let’s hope he’s still making his self-defined art house blockbuster.
But top plaudits for 2010 must go to Miyazaki. Ponyo may not be his best work, but the opening undersea wonderland scenes aptly demonstrate that Japan’s finest has much more to give to cinema.
CHARLOTTE STEARTop 51. Scott Pilgrim Vs The World2. The Social Network3. All About Evil4. Micmacs5. Kick-Ass
Stinker of the year: Sex And The City 2
By a mile, Scott Pilgrim has to be my standout film of 2010. After obsessing over the graphic novels, analysing each trailer to death, worrying about how a film could live up to the incredible high standards I had set it, my anxieties were finally laid to rest as I watched the greatest book adaptation ever made and a wonderful piece of cinematic perfection.
Next in line was the amazingly atmospheric Social Network. Brilliant performances (Justin Timberlake proving Alpha Dog wasn’t his only great performance. I’m totally serious!) and an amazing soundtrack by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross made this a standout film of the year.
A few months ago, I was introduced to the mastery of Peaches Christ with her film debut, All About Evil. Full of grotesque gore and camp horror, it’s a brilliant B-movie shocker.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet came back in style this year with Micmacs, a brilliant piece of oddity and strange living. The whole film seemed to have an air of the silent era to it, completely bizarre but beautiful.
Kick-Ass delivered all it promised: shocking violence, amazing visuals and the best use of swear words I’ve heard in a long time. It’s a shame (along with Scott Pilgrim) it didn’t perform as well at the box office, as these are truly some of the best films to hit our screens in a long time.
There isn’t enough room on the Internet to explain why Sex And The City 2 is the worst film of the year. The only thing it succeeded in doing was ruining five series of what I had regarded as a good TV show.
Top 51. The Social Network2. The Expendables3. Kick Ass4. Machete5. The American
Stinker of the year: The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
When considering the best movies of 2010, a great number of potential movies came to mind. I thought over my choices for a bit and then I realized that they’re all less than mainstream movies. Even the most ‘normal’ movie on the list, The Social Network, is kind of a Super Friends for movie nerds, teaming cult favorites David Fincher, Aaron Sorkin, and Jesse Eisenberg.
Then there’s a flashy 80s action flick where the bullets fly like one-liners, a south-of-the-border take on the blaxploitation classics of the 70s, a postmodern superhero film where the hero’s only power is his ability to get beaten to a pulp, and an action-packed spy thriller with very little action and even less dialogue.
As for the worst movie of the year, I hate to beat a dead horse. Unfortunately for me, the sparkly teenage vampires of Twilight just refuse to die like the horse did. Just when I think the movies can’t get any worse, the next Twilight film oozes down the silver screen like Axe body lard on a shirtless werewolf and limbos right under those already low standards.
Top 51. The American2. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World3. Whip It4. Black Death5. Inception
Stinker of the year: The Expendables
On reflection, this has been a great year for movies and any pessimist who says otherwise clearly hasn’t been watching. There are fantastic films out there if you get beyond the scum on the surface and dive into the ocean of wonders that lies beneath. There are great depths to discover and looking over my own top five I see ‘depth’ as a key word.
They’re all stylish, immersive, enjoyable stories that really resonate, for me personally at least, because they also engage with deep stuff, vast concepts and ideas and grapple with the human condition. They are all doing intelligent things and not insulting audiences.
Black Death is terrifyingly raw real-feeling history. Inception is an audaciously cerebral crime thriller unravelled through layers of lucid dream and Whip It is a feminist coming-of-age roller derby riot.
Scott Pilgrim is pure awesomeness incarnate and the sheer heart, personality and imaginative outlook of our confused, pop culture-affected generation realised on screen, but I’ll give The American top spot. Anton Corbijn’s meditative film about a lost and isolated man trying to find humanity is, in my view, a perfect motion picture, a timeless and moving masterpiece.
PAUL MARTINOVICTop 51. Four Lions2. Toy Story 33. The Social Network4. A Prophet5. Winter’s Bone
Stinker of the year: The Tourist
For reasons I can’t quite articulate, it’s felt like a quietly underwhelming year for film, yet, in compiling a top five, it’s clear that the best movies of 2010 can go up against pretty much any year you care to name and come out swinging. There wasn’t even room for Inception and Scott Pilgrim Vs The World, two technical masterpieces with a fair share of heart to boot, both sure to go down in movie lore as all-time geek favourites.
Socio-realist drama Winter’s Bone was a quiet revelation, using the meth-addled backwoods of middle America as the setting for a riveting noir-esque thriller. Featuring in Ree Dolly the most dignified and sympathetic female lead since Marge Gunderson, its impossibly bleak and brilliant visuals were unforgettable.
A Prophet came out at the very beginning of 2010, but deserves to be remembered, as it manages to marry the hoary old staples of the prison film and the gangster film together to create something entirely original without a single clichéd or hackneyed moment, while still remaining as elementally thrilling as the best pulp.
The Social Network will deservedly be most people’s film of the year, bringing to life one of the 21st century’s most important stories with Jesse Eisenberg’s magnificent central performance, David Fincher’s typically stylish direction and, of course, the reams of achingly cool, rapid-fire repartee that have given Aaron Sorkin serious claim to be the greatest living screenwriter. Their immense combined talents produced a film that was met with almost universal derision when it was announced, into the one that nearly everybody can agree on.
With the exception of Toy Story 3, of course, where Pixar continued their, frankly, ridiculous winning streak. It’s starting to feel like a Pixar film will be a prerequisite in every end of year best list until the end of time. Funny, clever, moving, with the best cast of characters of any film this year, it could well be the best Toy Story, which automatically makes it one of the best films ever made.
Finally, Four Lions. A suicide bomber comedy from Chris Morris sounds likes a one-joke film, a deliberate provocation from the creator of the Brass Eye paedophilia special. That it isn’t is due to Morris’ surprisingly assured and understated direction, the wonderfully nuanced and witty script from Morris and Peep Show scribes Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain, and uniformly fantastic performances, but with the stunningly good MC Riz as a standout. When asked if he was happy with the resulting film, Morris, never one for false modesty, described it as “frame-perfect”. He’s right, you know.
Top 51. Monsters2. Buried3. World’s Greatest Dad4. The Social Network5. Inception
Stinker of the year: Resident Evil: Afterlife
I’ve always loved science fiction, even if it is the most frustrating genre in cinema. For every classic film like Moon (my top film of last year), we get a dozen clunky, brainless disasters like Skyline. Thank God, then, for Inception, a film that wears its sci-fi cloak lightly but intelligently. Its third act was too long, and Nolan’s direction a little too cool to be emotionally engaging, but it was nevertheless full of great ideas and superb performances from Leonardo DiCaprio and Marion Cotillard.
The Social Network was another brilliantly constructed, excellently acted film. World’s Greatest Dad is, without doubt, one of the blackest of black comedies yet made, and Robin Williams was stunning in a role many actors wouldn’t even have touched. Buried was a Poe nightmare for the mobile phone age, and Ryan Reynolds performed the apparently impossible task of carrying an entire feature by himself, proof that, with a good enough actor, you really can make a classic thriller with a pine box and a movie camera.
My film of the year, meanwhile, is definitely Monsters. Beautifully shot and acted, it’s a sci-fi movie with a heart and soul as well as great ideas, and like last year’s Moon, exemplifies everything that’s great about the genre.
Top 51. A Single Man2. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World3. Precious4. Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call – New Orleans5. I’m Still Here
Stinker of the year: The Blind Side
A Single Man is a beautiful greyscale portrait of a repressed and depressed homosexual in the early 60s, with a pitch perfect heart-squeezing performance from Colin Firth. It’s a film which is both dull and vivid, depressing and liberating. Julianne Moore and Nicholas Hoult are solid in support, but the film is all about Firth’s quivering college professor, whose resolve to end his own life is thrown into doubt by the innocent, but sexually charged intervention of a bright-eyed student. The film is a little light on narrative, but you feel acutely every turning cog in George’s mind as he moves tantalisingly further and further from misery.
The rest are a pick-and-mix bag of emotions. Scott Pilgrim is a popcorn lightning bolt of awesome funitude, while Precious is a testing vision of aching persecution with great acting and no small amount of spirit. A gloriously insane Nicholas Cage provided my most ebullient cinematic experience of the year in wierdo cop-thriller Bad Lieutenant and Joaquin Phoenix’s ‘is he/isn’t he’ conundrum in I’m Still Here was hideously watchable. Even after Casey Affleck casually gave the game away, it remains an intriguing window into the madness of celebrity.
Top 51. Scott Pilgrim2. Inception3. Toy Story 34. Shutter Island5. Whip It
Stinker of the year: A Nightmare On Elm Street
I didn’t get to see everything I would have liked to this year, and that extends beyond cinema. I would love to have seen a grizzly bear have an altercation with Michael Bay, for example. However, sticking to the subject, these are my favourite five films of the year, in the order of how favourite they are.
Scott Pilgrim was my most favourite film of the year. It was as terrific an adaptation of the comic series as I could have hoped for. It was loud, colourful, pretty and sweet, with lots of fighting.
Second most favourite was Inception for several reasons, none more important than a zero gravity fight in a hotel corridor.
Toy Story 3 comes next, which Pixar used to showcase its super villain-like power of turning testosterone-heavy masculinity machines into weeping puddles of wreckage.
Shutter Island is a freaky horror film that Martin Scorsese made and so was guaranteed a spot on this list even before I knew that it was brilliant. The twist ending wasn’t ideal, but the emotional punch right afterwards made up for it. Last on my list of favourites is Whip It, which was loaded with passion, great performances and violent sports.
Last summer’s blockbuster season was so poor that this year I decided to do away with my normal policy of ‘see everything’. Anything that looked awful, I ignored and for the most part, I’ve hardly seen any terrible films this year. Unfortunately, being a dedicated Fred-head meant that I was obliged to check in with the remake of A Nightmare On Elm Street, which is the worst film I’ve seen this year. There are so many faults with the film that rather than wasting all of our time listing them, I’m just going to boo loudly. Booooo!
Top 51. Inception2. Up In The Air3. Scott Pilgrim Vs The World4. Toy Story 35. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Stinker of the year: Predators
I’d be surprised if many of this year’s top film lists didn’t start with Inception. For the past ten years, Christopher Nolan has been cementing himself as one of the finest directors in the game with his own brand of thought provoking, classy cinema, and Inception is his best piece yet.
George Clooney and the entire cast of Up In The Air provoked head turning performances at the start of the year, as did Noomi Rapace in Män Som Hatar Kvinnor/The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (a film that I doubt any Fincher remake will best).
Scott Pilgrim Vs The World proved a hit for film/comic/videogame/indie music nerds everywhere with a hyperactive combo of comic visuals and witty humour.
The comeback kid award surely goes to Toy Story 3, which returned to our screens eleven years after the previous instalment, and succeeded in being just as good as its predecessors.
My worst film of the year was Predators, not only for such terrible use of the franchise, but also for such terrible use the actor, Danny Trejo. A painfully forgettable film, whose premise showed such potential.
NICK HORTON Top 51. A Prophet2. Winter’s Bone3. Monsters4. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World5. Inception
Stinker of the year: Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time
Compared to last year, 2010 has been a very good year for film overall. Having said that, however, there was only ever going to be one winner of my films of the year.
A Prophet is quite simply a masterpiece. The first thing I said after watching it was that I had seen something important. And the great thing is I still don’t know quite what. It is an ephemeral creation which floats just at the edge of my consciousness. I feel that I can almost grasp all the meanings and subtext before it floats away again. And that’s not counting the incredible crime story it tells when not dealing in unquantifiable metaphors. It’s not just the finest film of this year. It’s one of the finest films of recent years.
One other mention I must make of my list is the recent Monsters. It’s a British film, people! And it was made for the price of a weekly shop, but looks better than many blockbusters, while having a story and characters you genuinely care about. Which, when you think about it, is nothing short of a miracle.
Top 51. The Expendables2. Solomon Kane3. How To Train Your Dragon4. The Losers5. Predators
Stinker of the year: A Nightmare On Elm Street (2010)
Now, before anyone gets carried away, I’ll disclose that, in conventional terms of cinematic greatness, my list would contain The Social Network and Toy Story 3 (at the time of writing I’ve still yet to see Inception), but I decided to pick films that are special to me in their own way.
The Expendables, regardless of content, was a film that fulfilled a childhood dream by putting so many of my heroes in one film. In essence, just the short scene with Stallone, Schwarzenegger and Willis would have made the top of the list, even if they were just talking about the weather, objectivity be damned.
I’ve been championing Solomon Kane since the start of the year, having reviewed it twice on this very website. It hasn’t been given the recognition it deserves and has proved utterly rewatchable, as has The Losers, which appealed to the 80s action movie throwback that I am and has been a regular addition to movie nights.
How To Train Your Dragon absolutely blew me away, as I had no real expectations. It’s funny, touching and rousing (thanks, in part, to the score by the ever excellent John Powell) and I’d recommend it to everyone, especially on Christmas Day.
Predators, on the other hand, I missed at the cinema as it vanished so quickly, while friends seemed let down by its mediocrity as an homage to Arnie’s original. With my enthusiasm slightly tempered, I finally watched it on Blu-ray and loved it (constant line referencing apart). I thought it was raised by its cast (especially Walton Goggins), explosive violence and the Berserker Predator. Just a good, solid action film.
Top 51. A Town Called Panic2. Toy Story 33. Kick-Ass4. Four Lions5. The Social Network
Stinker of the year: Burke and Hare
Essentially a big screen adaptation of the Cravendale milk adverts, A Town Called Panic was, without doubt, the most imaginative, completely bonkers cinematic experience of the year.
The film follows the increasingly surreal exploits of Cowboy, Indian and Horse, a trio of self-explanatory toys in a Magic Roundabout-esque world of madness. Deciding to build a barbecue as a gift for Horse’s birthday, Cowboy and Indian accidentally order 50 million bricks off the Internet, the weight of which destroys their home, which keeps getting stolen wall by wall, following every attempt to rebuild it, which forces them to journey to the centre of the Earth, literally , to retrieve it, which leads to the group finding themselves kidnapped inside a giant, mechanical, snowball-throwing snowman. The plot really is as incomprehensible as it seems, and delightfully so. Created using weirdly off-kilter stop motion animation, and delivered at breakneck pace, A Town Called Panic has to be seen to be believed.
As for disappointments, Burke And Hare was a huge letdown. What should have been a macabre cult classic somehow resulted in a depressingly predictable, middle-of-the-road humour vacuum. Everything was misjudged, from Isla Fisher’s accent to Michael Winner’s out of place cameo. A frustrating failure, indeed.
Top 51. Kick-Ass2. Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call – New Orleans3. Up in the Air4. The Town5. Monsters
Stinker of the year: Tron: Legacy
I should start with an admission: the two biggies this year, The Social Network and Toy Story 3, have passed me by. Terrible, I know. I did buy a ticket for the former, only to have Vue Fulham Broadway mess up the screening. I ended up walking home and buying a dust pan and brush instead. Not a great afternoon. On the other, I’ve never been a big fan of Toy Story. Give me The Incredibles any day.
So, my top five is headed by two Cage epics. Kick-Ass wins it by a country mile (add your own Hit Girl inflection there). It was just so much fun it was hard not to be swept away by it. And although it’s been a year and a bit since I saw Bad Lieutenant at London Film Festival 2009, no other film since has had me laughing so much, or had so inspired a final ten minutes.
Up In The Air was really good (that’s all I’ve got time for), The Town equally so (when Affleck isn’t doing ensemble guff like He’s Just Not That Into You or Smokin’ Aces, he can direct a film as well as anyone), and Monsters was not at all what I was expecting, but still very exciting in its own way.
There’s no Inception here. But I have my reasons. It was the first Nolan film that left me cold. Big and beautiful, yes, but also so caught up in its own tricksy narrative that it didn’t really engage me enough. And Michael Marshall Smith must be wondering where his ‘story by’ credit is.
At the other end, Tron: Legacy kinda blew. Sorry to dash any expectations. I fell asleep a bit.
Top 51. Scott Pilgrim Vs The World2. Four Lions3. Kick-Ass4. Toy Story 35. Inception
Stinker of the year: The Last Airbender
2010 spoiled us a great deal. Christopher Nolan confused us with the rather brilliant Inception, Scott Pilgrim and Kick-Ass gave us a new way to look at comic book movies, Chris Morris gave us a view of suicide bombers we didn’t expect and Toy Story 3 wowed us with it’s ability to make thirty-odd-year-old men cry like rejected X Factor contestants.
Stinker of the year was a difficult one to call. I’d got it down to Twilight: Eclipse, the latest film in the disco vampire franchise featuring sullen, emo Jesus, Vampire heart-throb Edward Cullen and the highly emotive chin with a face that is Bella Swan. Thankfully for all the women who think stalking is a romantic thing for vampires to do, along came The Last Airbender, a film so bad it temporarily gave me tourettes’ syndrome.
It could be the school play level acting, the wildly variable quality of the special effects, the schizophrenic casting , haphazard editing or just the general all round dullness of the script and direction. Whatever it was, The Last Airbender was a failure of epic proportions, and testament to M. Night Shyamalan’s ability to turn a moving, funny, warm, epic and exciting animated series into the cinematic equivalent of something you would carefully step over in the street.
Top 51. Fish Story2. Youth In Revolt3. Four Lions4. Scott Pilgrim Vs The World5. Shutter Island
Stinker of the year: Twilight: Eclipse
It’s been a funny year for geek movies. Kick-Ass was the really big deal this year, wasn’t it? Except, in retrospect, it kinda wasn’t. And Iron Man 2 was fun, but not much more.
So, because I’ve yet to see Inception or The Social Network (movies I suspect might usurp the lower choices on my list) I’ll explain my top two picks. I’m sure you’ve seen the others.
Endearing Japanese flick, Fish Story, is one I had to dig deep for. I found it reading foreign language movie reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. As you do. It’s about a punk rock song, fate and the end of the world. Sci-fi fans will love it. Fans of slow burn indie comedy will love it. People who watch foreign movies so they can pretend to be clever will love it.
Youth In Revolt is the cusp-of-last-year comedy everyone seems to have missed. My admiration for it puts me in the embarrassing position of having to include two Michael Cera films in my top five. It’s not like I want to have his babies or anything, but both Scott Pilgrim and Youth in Revolt did that rare thing. They surprised me. It’s like JD Salinger rewritten by Jerry Lewis. You should seek it out.
Top 51. Toy Story 32. The Social Network3. Scott Pilgrim Vs The World4. Kick-Ass5. The Expendables
Stinker of the year: A Nightmare On Elm Street
What can I say about Toy Story 3 that hasn’t already been said? Yes, it is brilliant and funny and ultimately very touching, but what really made it my film of the year was the very last scene where a now grown up Andy plays with the toys one final time. The honesty and emotion of it was so well thought out that it brought more than just a tear to the eye and reminds me just how amazing Pixar are at what they do and why they really are the masters of the animated field.
Stinker of the year, if not the decade, has to go to A Nightmare On Elm Street. I’m pretty sure the only reason it was made was to line Michael Bay’s pockets with a bit more cash, because it seems as if no real thought went into it whatsoever. The story was an insult to the original, as were the special effects. The only saving grace? It was only 95 minutes long.
Top 51. Hot Tub Time Machine2. The Kids Are All Right3. Piranha 3D4. Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale5. Nowhere Boy
Stinker of the year: Edge Of Darkness
Laugh out loud comedy is a tough thing to deliver to cinema audiences in 2010. Too jaded are we by the rebuffs of Kutcher-fuelled rom-coms and lame romps starring Russell Brand. Hot Tub Time Machine was the first film, for me, in a long time to break this never-ending cycle of uninspired capers and to restore my faith in the possibilities of farce. I feel a bit bad admitting it, but Piranha 3D also made me laugh out loud this year, albeit for very different reasons. It’s probably the most exploitative piece of cinema I’ve ever sat through and I enjoyed every second of it!
It was difficult to choose between A Single Man and The Kids Are All Right, both of which star the impeccable Julianne Moore, but I figured A Single Man won a BAFTA, so it didn’t really need my approval. Moore was captivating as the confused lesbian mother, Jules, and Annette Bening put in a pitch-perfect performance as her over-protective partner, Nic.
I was utterly charmed by Nowhere Boy. Watching Aaron Johnson, Kristin Scott Thomas and Anne-Marie Duff meandering their way through emotional wrangles in vintage Liverpool had me smiling wryly, laughing and, at times, weeping.
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale is a sure sign, as if we needed one, that 80s kids have come of age and they’re ready to direct all-new 80s inspired masterpieces. That has to be good news.
Top 51. Inception2. Monsters3. The Social Network4. Mother5. Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call – New Orleans
Stinker of the year: The Last Airbender
Inevitably, when it comes time to compile such lists there will be talk about what a bad year it has been for films. But how many good films does there need to be for a year to be classed as a good year? It’s a tricky thing to quantify.
Personally, my shortlist contained over twenty titles and involved a lot of shuffling round until I was satisfied that my top five represented the films that had the biggest impact on me over the course of the year, and many films that I considered to be great had to be left off.Numbers 5 and 4 may have been available elsewhere prior to 2010, but as they received official UK releases in 2010, I had to include them. I regard the films on my list as brilliant pieces of work in very different ways, but all took fairly standard plot devices and produced something remarkable.
All of the films on the list are very much the product of their incredibly talented directors and the stinker of the year sees the efforts of a once promising director sink further into the pits of creative despair as he takes an exciting source and produces a dull and ridiculous adaptation.
JAMES PEATYTop 51. Inception2. Toy Story 33. Scott Pilgrim Vs The World4. The Social Network5. Tamara Drewe
Stinker of the year: Iron Man 2
Inception is an obvious choice, but with his seventh film, Christopher Nolan (and his first self-penned effort since 2001’s Memento) firmly established himself as the undisputed king of modern popular cinema with a story of identity, memory and the power of storytelling. Featuring Leonardo DiCaprio at his absolute best and excellent supporting turns from the ever excellent Tom Hardy and Ellen Page, Inception should get us all excited for what Nolan has planned for his upcoming farewell trip to Gotham City and anticipating what movies await us post-Batman.
As Mary Poppins would say, “Practically perfect in every way”, Toy Story 3 is the best three-quel Hollywood has ever produced and the first truly satisfying conclusion to a movie trilogy ever. Woody, Buzz and the gang are faced with the ultimate threat, old age, in a story that manages to be fun, dark, heartbreaking and hilarious in equal measure. Expertly handled by director Lee Unkrich and deftly scripted by Little Miss Sunshine‘s Michael Arndt, Toy Story 3 is, like Inception, Hollywood at its best.
Criminally overlooked by audiences on release, Scott Pilgrim is a tour de force from Edgar Wright. An 8-bit version of Kill Bill crossed with Walter Hill’s The Warriors and musicals like Grease. Working outside of a British millieu for the first time, Wright takes Bryan Lee O Malley’s black and white comic book series and brings it to vivid (though slightly surreal) life in a movie full of great performances, pithy one-liners and terrific action sequences.
David Fincher’s best film since Fight Club, The Social Network is a perfect capper to the noughties in much the same way as his previous masterpiece summed up the empty nihilism of the 90s. With a world class script by Aaron Sorkin, an amazing soundtrack by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross and star making turns from Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield and Armie Hammer, The Social Network is more than the sum of its parts and, unlike the toothless Wall Street sequel, says something very pertinent about American capitalism, culture and society at the turn of the millennium. And it’s funny, too, which always helps!
This fifth choice was the hardest. It could have been The Kids Are All Right for its performances, Cyrus for its oh-so-bleak, but brilliant take on dysfunctional families or even Greenberg for Noah Baumbach’s visually gorgeous and wonderfully underplayed story of midlife disappointment. Instead, I’m going to go for Stephen Frears’ Tamara Drewe. A subtle, very funny and very black comedy of manners based on Posy Simmonds graphic novel, Tamara Drewe finds Frears on top form and features a top notch British cast (including Roger Allam, Gemma Arteton, Tamsin Greig and Dominic Cooper) all bringing their a-game to the table. An overlooked gem of the year.
Stinker of the year? Iron Man 2 was the laziest, smuggest and most shapeless film of this past summer. Never has such a good cast been so poorly served by the material on offer.
Top 51. Despicable Me2. Inception3. Iron Man 24. Scott Pilgrim Vs The World5. Toy Story 3
Stinker of the year: Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time
While Inception, Iron Man 2 and Scott Pilgrim made my top five this year, my personal favourite (so far, I’ve yet to see Tron: Legacy) was Despicable Me. While not Oscar worthy, this was, in my opinion, the sleeper hit of this year.
Pixar had Toy Story 3, DreamWorks had Shrek 4, but for me, these pale in comparison (especially the abysmal Shrek) to the comedy and light-hearted fun bought to the screen by Gru and his army of minions. Whether it was the sheer genius of the evil contractions or the fixation with unicorns, the film just felt fun, neither weighed down by expectation or a history of prior movies to live up to and, in the same way Monsters Vs Aliens did, was happy to produce a unique story aimed at both adults with a wicked sense of humour, and children alike.
Vector’s thinly veiled attempts to disguise and hide the pyramid he stole and Gru’s kitten-based children’s book adventure, the artistic and vocal talents, not to mention a new set of ‘heroes’ created in the Tic Tac-inspired minions, outshone a lot of the bigger animated guns this year. And while Toy Story 3 was beautiful, moving and loving, Despicable Me was all those things,with an added layer of freshness, a sort of animated cherry on top, as it were, that just gave this movie the edge over Woody, Buzz and Co’s third outing.
Top 51. The Social Network2. Micmacs3. The Kids Are All Right4. World’s Greatest Dad5. I Am Love
Stinker of the year: The Last Airbender
Now, this is a tough one. Even excluding the ace films I saw at the London Film Festival that won’t see general release until 2011 (Black Swan, Blue Valentine, Never Let Me Go), I still have over 15 end of year list-worthy films, which just goes to show that, if you thought 2010 was an underwhelming year for cinema, you simply weren’t trying hard enough.
Therefore, I’ve had to demote the likes of Scott Pilgrim, Down Terrace, Bad Lieutenant, Dogtooth, Shutter Island, Up In The Air, Kick-Ass, Rare Exports, Still Walking and A Prophet, and it was such a closely-run race, that I can’t pinpoint any flaws that differentiate those from the five I’ve chosen.
That said, The Social Network is the obvious one for me. It moulded genre to its whim, effectively playing out as a character drama, a procedural, an origin story and a dissection of our relationship with the Internet. And it was packed with delightful production polish: Fincher’s direction, Sorkin’s nimble script, nuanced performances across the board, and a score from Reznor and Ross that’s as unconventional as it is perfect.
From there, four uniquely surprising films: Micmacs showed Jeunet reconnecting with his love of oddball design ideas in the context of a charmingly comic caper, The Kids Are All Right avoided all LGBT Hollywood cliché, and offered a deeply involving family drama, World’s Greatest Dad gave Robin Williams his best role in years and revolved around the darkest, most unexpected of comic twists, yet still delivered more than just surprise, and I Am Love tantalised with visual poetry, a feast of cinematography that gelled with the hyper-kinetic passion of its John Adams score, as Tilda Swinton’s upper-class Italian housewife blossomed into radiant sexuality.
For the duffer, I would love to have the gall to say Inception, but even that messy, unimaginative misfire of a film is sublime when laid alongside The Last Airbender.
SIMON BREWTop 51. The Social Network2. Four Lions3. Toy Story 34. Catfish5. Cemetery Junction
Stinker of the year: I’m Still Here (although it wouldn’t be, had the ‘big secret’ not been revealed the day before I saw it)
My favourite film of the year, truthfully, isn’t on this list, but then it didn’t get a UK cinema release, so it doesn’t count. Waking Sleeping Beauty, the astounding documentary about the fall, rise and sort-of fall of Disney animation, would have had my top spot, but instead, I’m going for the terrific The Social Network, and it’s disturbing and natural companion piece, Catfish.
But do seek out, if you haven’t already, a pair of terrific British films. Four Lions and Cemetery Junction I liked an awful lot, warts and all, and both deserved more than they got. The same goes for Down Terrace, which couldn’t squeeze onto my list, but got damn close. World’s Greatest Dad just missed the list for me, too, but really, really deserves to be seen.
AND FINALLY: OUR OVERALL TOP 10
Here’s our accumulated list of our favourite films of the year…
10. A Prophet9. Exit Through The Gift Shop8. The Expendables7. Monsters6. Four Lions5. Kick-Ass4. Inception3. The Social Network2. Scott Pilgrim Vs The World1. Toy Story 3
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