16. The Girl With the Dragon Tatto (Oplev, Niels)

May 18, 2011

Imdb says this is a 2009 film, but it didn’t get a wide release in the States till 2010, so I’m counting this as a 2010 film. Anyways this film is really carried by the phenomenal performance from Noomi Rapace. She portrays the character of Lisbeth Salander, one of the most intriguing characters to come out of 2010. She is an incredibly strong women who has done many brutal things. However, she is also a victim of rape and other abuses. The film rests firmly on her back and on the back of Mikael Blomkvist who begins a tenuous relationship with Lisbeth. The film takes a bit to get going as it sets up these two characters, but when it does it’s enthralling. At it’s heart Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is just a really good “who done it” murder mystery. Lisbeth and Mikael make a great team and you really see the growth of these two characters. The plot at times is pretty pulpy and sometimes outrageous, but Lisbeth herself is an outrageous character. Rapace makes her larger than life and yet still makes her very human and relatable. This anchors down the film, if we’re willing to believe someone like Lisbeth can exist why shouldn’t the rest of this world exist? A really great thriller. *This is also being re-made by David Fincher with Rooney Mara set to take on the role of Lisbeth Salander. Release is set for this December. I’m very excited to see what these two bring to the story.*

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17. Restrepo (Hetherington, Tim)

May 18, 2011

Restrepo is a film dealing with a platoon of soldiers deployed in the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan. This documentary does an incredible job at documenting these men’s lives. From the day to day routines to the battlefield, we see it all. Restrepo also never makes any comments or critiques anything. It simply sits back and lets us form our own opinions of these soldiers and what they’re doing out here. This is such a refreshing approach after seeing so many documentaries that are either far left or far right. Restrepo is bold and brilliant because it doesn’t try to tell us what to believe. The film’s name comes from Private Restrepo, a man who dies early in the film and whose spirit seems to inhabit the small encampment along with the men for the remainder of the film. Restrepo is a great film that shows the horrors of war and the problems with our encampment in the Middle East. We see numerous cultural differences and misunderstandings, along with some truly touching scenes. One of the best documentaries of the year for sure.


18. The King’s Speech (Hooper, Tom)

May 18, 2011

The King’s Speech is the film that swept away the competition at this past years academy awards. Winning Best Picture, Actor, and Director amongst other awards. The King’s Speech is a great film and deserves recognition. But as you can see I think there were plenty of better films that came out this year. The king’s speech was based on a stage play and you can instantly tell that. The film is anchored down by amazing performances by Colin Firth and Geoffry Rush. The dynamics between these two men is incredible. Neither one will back down and neither of them feel the need to change their styles. This conflict makes this film so much more interesting than if it was just focused solely on the king. The only problem I have with the film is that there isn’t a lot to talk about. It’s a great film with a great cast, but it’s all done paint by numbers and there isn’t really anything to make you come back to it again. I can recognize that it’s a great film, but it just didn’t grip me as much as the 17 others on this list.


19. Animal Kingdom (Michod, David)

May 13, 2011

Animal Kingdom is a film that holds back nothing. It’s not a spoiler to say that the protagonists mother dies of a heroine overdose because that happens in the first scene of the film. Joshua Cody is a 17 year old kid and he is forced to move in with his relatives who are all criminals of some sort. The matriarch of the family is played by Jacki Weaver (who got an Academy Award nom for her performance) with particular malice and glee. She is fascinating in the role as she tries to keep her family from crumbling apart completely. The film raises some very interesting questions about family and how important it is. Joshua has nothing left in his life except for this family of murderers and psychos, but they’re still his family. The audience is tossed into the family, just like Josh, with no idea who these people are or if one can trust them. The film shows the desperation of all the characters in the family as they all have ulterior motives and all of them have their own plans and beliefs. Each one of them is trying to escape the law in their own way. The film is fascinating, however, the big problem comes in the form of the character of Josh. While his whole family is dynamic and unhinged he is set firmly in place. To be blunt Josh doesn’t really do anything throughout the film. We never see him display any thoughts or beliefs. We don’t know if he’s angry, sad, or happy with the way things are going for him. While this adds a great deal of uncertainty to the conclusion of the film it undercuts some of the earlier scenes because the audience is waiting on Josh to display some emotion or some cues that he feels something. Maybe this was all the intention of the filmmaker, but a boring protagonist usually makes for a boring film. However, the rest of the family more than makes up for one character’s lack of emotion and Guy Pearce turns in a wonderful performance as always. Overall this is a great crime drama that isn’t quite as good as it could have been. Still a fantastic film though.


Top Twenty Films of 2010: 20. How to Train Your Dragon (Sanders, Chris)

May 13, 2011

This is a great movie. If a certain other animated film from 2010 didn’t exist this would be my favorite animated film of the year. It tells a story that has been told many, many times before. A young misfit tries to change who he is to fit into his father’s ideal version of him. The film actually grapples with a lot of issues like this where Hiccup must choose between disappointing himself or disappointing his father. The film never makes this decision into an easy choice and we actually see the growth and change that occurs in his character throughout the film. Of course this is a kid’s film and it isn’t all serious decisions and heartbreak. This movie is a lot of fun. Dragons flying around, vikings fighting them, and a solid dose of comedy all add to the already great mix of themes this film has. In addition to this it has a great cast with Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse.