10 Fun Film Superlatives for 2010

Two things. One is that with 2010 now complete, everyone’s Top 10 lists have been coming out. I can’t do this just yet as there are still a handful of films I need to see before composing my own. I never like to rush such a list as I take it kind of seriously (too seriously, if you ask me) and it takes a while for me to figure it all out. So my personal Top 10 List of 2010 will probably be posted in the next few weeks.

Second nugget. I don’t follow any Awards shows, but have been glued to the Oscars since I was a child. I watch them each year without fail and many close to me refer to the Oscars telecast as my Christmas. I know they are very political in nature, but this does not seem to deter my passion for following them. Each year that the nominees are announced, I (like most of my film blogging companions) am left feeling happy for some who are recognized and angered at the omissions who I feel were worthy of great praise. I see where all of the marketing, campaigning and politicking take effect and taint the list of nominees. So, I have come up with my own solution. Now that I wield such enormous power with this Film Blog, I will start my very own listing of Awards — The Magic Lantern Awards. I will post my own list of nominees in the “major” categories and decide upon a winner, who will be awarded the prestigious Lantern (small print: actual award not real). Sure it will all be just one movie buff’s opinion, but I shall not be swayed by anything doled out by the media or other awards ceremonies. So I will be working on that and releasing the nominees quite soon (I know – you are all waiting with bated breath).

In the meantime, here are 10 superlatives (or stand-outs) in film for the 2010 year – 6 very positive and 4 that are…well, not so positive. As always, your comments and feedback are encouraged. And here we go!

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT

Awarded To: The Red Riding Trilogy

This honor does not go to a terrible film that I wasn’t expecting much from in the first place (see Grown Ups or Cop Out). This is for a movie I thought would be great and turned out to be a big let-down. When I saw the trailers for The Red Riding trilogy, I couldn’t wait to see all three films (1974, 1980, 1983) that centered around the Yorkshire killer. It looked suspenseful, exciting and dark. Turns out that it was all one big snoozefest. I couldn’t believe how slow and uninteresting it all was. What a downer.

MOST OVERRATED FILM

Awarded To: Inception

I have already come to terms with the fact that Christopher Nolan’s opus is going to garner a slew of awards and nominations in the months ahead. I want to make clear that I don’t think this was a bad film at all. There were some great aspects to it (see my review here). I just never got on the bandwagon that many bloggers and critics hitched to declaring it to be some kind of masterpiece. It was visually stunning and challenged its audience. But there was a lot left to be desired, such as plot holes, poor characterization, and much needless over-indulgence on Nolan’s part. Again, not a bad flick – just so highly overrated.

Honorable mention should go to all the praise that Jesse Eisenberg is getting for his lead role in The Social Network. I really liked this movie and he was fine in it – but he really didn’t do anything he hasn’t already done in his other films. Same delivery, same persona, same style. I am hoping that a ‘Best Actor’ Oscar slot isn’t wasted on this mediocre performance.

BIGGEST PIECE OF SELF INDULGENCE

Awarded To:     Prodigal Sons

I wanted to go with Casey Affleck’s I’m Still Here – absolutely fitting in that it seemed as if Joaquin Phoenix and Affleck served only to gratify themselves here with this ho-hum project. In the end, I had to go with Prodigal Sons, a documentary by Kimberly Reed. Reed happily turns the camera on herself (and her family) in her return to Montana for her high school reunion where she was once a star athlete, and yes, a young man. In her long absence away from home, she had a sex change operation which has caused much friction between herself and her adopted brother, Marc. Marc made for a fascinating subject, but Reed is so overly concerned with herself throughout the film that we are left wanting more of an exploration on Marc. It is oh-so-obvious that she wants so desperately to get dramatic reactions from her old classmates when they now see her as a woman. It backfires, as everyone seems more than fine with the extreme transformation. The whole time I kept thinking this came off as a glorified home video made by someone who wants much more attention than she deserves. A real, “Look At Me!” piece of filmmaking.

BIGGEST WASTE OF MY VALUABLE TIME

Awarded To:     Catfish

Again, I’d love to go with Grown Ups here, but I kinda knew what I was in for walking into the theater. Instead, I’ll go with the “documentary” that led viewers to think one thing in the trailer and provide something completely unsatisfying with the end product. I have made my strong feelings pretty clear in earlier postings (see here), so I will try not to repeat myself. Suffice it to say that this was a manipulative, anti-climatic and insulting film. And after the appearance made by its creators (Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman, & Nev Schulman) on the nationally televised “20/20,” I still say that they’re hypocrites (see why here). This was a tremendous waste of 87 minutes that I will never get back – 87 minutes that I would have rather spent doing something else that I hate…like trying to repair something or ironing all of my trousers…even turn on any of the crap that airs on primetime TV would have been a welcome reprieve.

And Now For The Good….

 

BEST ENSEMBLE CAST

Awarded To:     The Fighter

Marc Wahlberg, as the struggling boxer Mickey Ward, is very good as the centerpiece to David O. Russell’s powerful film….the supporting cast around him is nothing short of extraordinary. The casting could not have been more ideal here. Melissa Leo again proves that she is one of our most gifted actors (though often overlooked) in a towering performance as matriarch of her clan. Though the character doesn’t win our sympathy, Leo certainly owns the screen and commands our attention. Jack McGee plays her husband and is terrific as a man torn between his loyalty towards his wife and his dilemma-ridden son. All of the Eklund sisters are cast beautifully and have the look and feel of Lowell, Massachusetts. It is also a pleasure to watch Amy Adams finally take off the princess tiara and get her hands dirty in a meaty role that she takes complete advantage of. Adams is wonderful and is a force to be reckoned with as she battles wits with her boyfriend’s over-protective mother. She is also pretty damn sexy to watch as well. But the real standout among this talented ensemble is Christian Bale. Now, I am not a fan and I really don’t much care for the guy, but I never let my personal feelings inhibit my critique and what this gifted actor does as Dicky Eklund, the drug-addicted former boxer clinging to a what-might-have-been past, is nothing short of spectacular. Sitting in the theatre, I could not believe what Bale was doing and he had my complete attention. A marvelous performance that is deserving of every accolade I am sure it will get. A stellar job by a top-notch cast.

Honorable Mentions - The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and You will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger

BIGGEST WAKE-UP CALL

Awarded To:     Waiting for Superman

As I said in my initial review (which you can view here), if you have a child or want to see how pathetic the education system is in this country (as opposed to others who are ahead of us by leaps and bounds), then you must see this eye-opening documentary by Davis Guggenheim. The statistics here are startling as teachers and school systems across the country continue to fail the generations of tomorrow. Unlike Guggenheim’s An Inconvenient Truth, which I considered to be a somewhat biased documentary with some errors in facts presented, Waiting for Superman is not subjective at all and lets the facts do all the talking. The film explores our joke of a tenure system as well as those educational crusaders who know how to turn the madness around and educate our children properly – but fight tremendous opposition and a futile uphill battle. Like Food, Inc., The Cove and Jesus Camp, this is an alarming wake-up call for anyone who is willing to open their eyes.

MOST IMPRESSIVE BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE

Awarded To:     Noomi Rapace (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo)

This was a toughie as the distinction could just as easily go to Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone), Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit), or Chloe Moretz (Kick-Ass; Let Me In) – all doing astounding work in 2010. I must also add that it is nice to actually embrace and feel good about the success of a child star…I was getting so used to experiencing my knee-jerk reaction of wanting to turn off the TV if my eyes landed on Dakota Fanning.

In the end though, I was left most impressed by the work of Swedish actress, Noomi Rapace for her jaw-dropping performance in the Stieg Larsson trilogy (mostly for its 1st installment, which I still can’t get out of my mind). Rapace turned in one of the most courageous performances by a leading actress that I have seen in years (Tilda Swinton in Julia or Mimi Rogers in The Rapture come to mind). As the troubled and fearless computer hacker Lisbeth Salander, Rapace is flawless and is more than up to the ever-demanding task of everything this poor character has to endure. And it’s not simply what Rapace must portray, but her every move, however subtle, is right on the money. It angers and upsets me that her name is barely being mentioned by critics throughout all of the year-end Awards hoopla. Was the first film released too soon in the year? Is everyone’s memory that poor? Or is it because she is a foreign actress that we are not acknowledging this remarkable talent? Whatever the case, the American version of this trilogy is (sadly) in the works and I don’t even have to see it to feel secure in the fact that no matter how effective Rooney Mara may be, she won’t come close to what Rapace was able to capture here.

MOST DESERVING OF AN OSCAR NOMINATION
(Though Will Likely Be Snubbed)

Awarded To:     Noomi Rapace (see above)

                   

You can also include Michael Nyqvist for the same film, who many overlook and is overshadowed by the “showier” role of Lisbeth. I also fear that Hye-ja Kim’s fascinating performance in Joon-ho Bong’s compelling Mother will go unnoticed, due to either forgetfulness and/or sheer ignorance. Jeff Bridges rightfully won the Oscar for ‘Best Actor’ last year and I hope that doesn’t deter those in power to nominate him once again for his magnificent turn as the drunken U.S. Marshal, Rooster Cogburn in the Coen Brothers’ impressive remake of True Grit. It should come as a shock to no one that Bridges is the epitome of awesomeness in this gripping western.

BEST FILM YOU HAVEN’T SEEN

Awarded To:    Cemetery Junction

I was getting used to seeing Ricky Gervais in ridiculously funny comedies, but here, he and co-writer/director Stephen Merchant present us with a more touching and heartfelt dramatic comedy. This is one of the films that I can’t imagine anyone watching and not enjoying it. Set in the 1970’s in a blue-collar English town, the movie revolves around 3 young friends, with one (Christian Cooke as Freddie) dying to get out and onto bigger and better things. The supporting cast is great, which includes a stuffy Ralph Fiennes, Emily Watson, Felicity Jones and Gervais himself in a backseat role as Freddie’s father. I also appreciated the depth given to all of the supporting characters and what they were going through too. Gervais’ scenes are quite amusing, but the film is a moving drama at heart that showcases the scope and talent of Gervais and Merchant. I don’t recall ever seeing this in U.S. movie theaters, but I rented and did a write-up of it (see here) because I was so happily surprised at how good it was. Charming and poignant, the movie tackles such themes as love, family, friendship, and loyalty. A great little film that unfortunately, I don’t think many have seen just yet.

Honorable MentionsMy Dog Tulip and La Barbe Bleue (Bluebeard)

MOST DELIGHTFUL SURPRISE

Awarded To: Kick-Ass and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (TIE

                                    

These two films were such pleasant surprises to me and among the year’s best films. Matthew Vaughn’s highly entertaining Kick-Ass took me completely off-guard with its intelligence, humor and unpredictability. Chloe Moretz rocked in this movie as Hit Girl and Aaron Johnson made a charming lead as the awkward teenager who has fantasies about becoming a real life superhero. Nicolas Cage hammed up his supporting role – and I mean that in the best way possible. Judging by the way it ended, a sequel is surely in the works and this time, I won’t wait to rent it. I have high hopes now.

As far as Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, word of mouth led me to finally watch this one. I’m not big on Michael Cera. I mean, he’s funny at what he does, but he only does one thing. Here, he is pretty much the same (albeit a different hoodie), but the film is just done in such a unique, stylish fashion. Adapted from a graphic novel, Scott must defeat his new girlfriend’s 7 evil exes if he has any shot at staying with her. Sounds silly, but I loved it. The screenplay (like Kick-Ass) is clever and the supporting cast is great. If you haven’t seen either of these films and you’re in the mood for a comedy, I would surely recommend both — as they had me laughing out loud.

So that’s it. Ten fun movie superlatives to kick-off the end of 2010. Now to get to those few films I have yet to see – and work on my exalted Top 10 List…and the nominees for the 1st Annual Lantern Awards! I know…you can’t wait, right?

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20 Responses to 10 Fun Film Superlatives for 2010

  1. pay day loan says:

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  2. mcarteratthemovies says:

    I’d have to award Most Overrated to “The Social Network,” which is a good film but not, as so many people have called it, the film that speaks for a generation. “Inception” came very close to being overrated for me, but since I liked it as much as everyone said, I gave it a pass.

    • I see your point. This is what happens in years where there are very few (if any) truly remarkable films released. I can see the point in calling Social Network a film for our times – regarding its themes and content…but I don’t believe it speaks for its generation. I have to see Inception again and give it another viewing…

      • John says:

        Part of what bugs me about “Social Network” is how hard it tries to be a movie that “speaks to the generation”. It’s not very subtle about it in any way. It practically screams at you. I thought it was a fine film, to be sure, and I don’t mind it being nominated for best picture in the least. But I don’t think it should win.

        The same goes for “Inception”. I liked it a great deal, it’s a fine film, I’m glad it was nominated, but it simply isn’t best picture material.

        I could do something similar with almost all of the nominees this year. There are a lot of flaws on the best picture list.

        • again, a year with no pure standout. I agree with your opinions here. Part of the flaw of TSN is Aaron Sorkin, whose writing is always painstakingly heavy-handed and “made for TV” (“YOU CAN’T HAMDLE THE TRUTH!” and other lines that would never be spoken in a real-life courtroom). Sorkin gets praise, but his dialogue is melodramatic and not authentic.

          King’s Speech made a big statement. Oscar voters love Brits with smart accents.

          • John says:

            I’ll never understand the American infatuation with British monarchs.

            Having said that, I was pretty impressed by The King’s Speech.

            • Yes, i was impressed too. I enjoyed it very much. But at the end of the day, I thought, OK…it’s a movie about the Duke (then King) who had a speech problem and tried to overcome it. Meh. Not much else — but Rush and Firth were wonderful. All the design elements were also very strong.

  3. rtm says:

    Great idea for a list, Peter! Was hoping to see The Fighter this weekend, alas it’d have to wait ’til next week. I’ve heard great things about Cemetery Junction, have to put that one on my Netflix. Oh, too bad about Red Riding Trilogy… it does look so exciting from the trailer.

    • Thanks Ruth!!! Did you get to see The Fighter yet? Would love to see what you think. And yes, I would rent Cemetery Junction…a very sweet little film. Don’t get sucked into the Red Riding trailer…I did and it stunk! :-)

  4. Richard says:

    There’s a lot of stuff here I haven’t seen yet, but I’m definitely with you on Noomi Rapace. I’m looking forward to following her career, both in English and Swedish cinema. Rooney Mara has some big shoes to fill.

    Great post, Peter. Some useful pointers and equally useful point-aways. ;-)

    • Thanks, Richard! I am so shocked that Rapace has fallen off everyone’s radar and not sure why that is. Perhaps the following 2 films hurt what would have been a single standout…not sure. Rapace will hopefully have a remarkable career and I hope we get to see more of her here in America.

  5. Marc says:

    Hey Peter! Glad to see you back on the grid!!

    Great idea for your best of the year (I did something kind of like this right down to very fitting superlatives). Awesome calls on Cemetery Junction as Best Film You Haven’t Seen and huge props for calling Scott Pilgrim a Delightful Surprise…great minds Peter, great minds:)

    I didn’t buy into the Inception hype so I loved it and walked away glowing…but I feel your pain for Catfish. Wanted to see it but then a 20/20 special spoiled the whole thing and ruined it for me. Did save nine bucks though:P

    • Thanks, Marc! Much appreciated. Glad to hear more love for Cemetery Junction and Scott Pilgrim…two wonderful surprises in 2010 for me. Glad you got to keep your $9….now I must write up my Top 10 of the year…fell a little behind…

  6. Pingback: Open Bar: January 6, 2011 — ANOMALOUS MATERIAL

  7. Aiden R. says:

    Bummer about Red Riding, still wanna see that. Right there with ya’ on The Fighter though, I think Bale’s got that one in the bag. I really need to see Dragon Tattoo though, huh? Read the book and everything, no clue what’s taking me so long.

    • Well, if you do see Red Riding, let me know what you think. I found it all so slow and uninteresting. And yes, I hateto admit it, but Bale was phenomenal. I hope Melissa Leo gets the Oscar too! You must see the first Larsson film — my favorite of the year so far.

  8. John says:

    I just saw a really great article about “Inception” today. I found it via @KelliMarshall on the Twitters:

    http://blogs.suntimes.com/scanners/2011/01/locating_the_difference_betwee.html

    Anyway, your comment about it being overrated dovetailed nicely with the article. And I concur. I liked it a ton. Just not as much as a lot of other folks did.

    • Great article and thank you for sending. I passed along to others who simply love it just to show them I am not nuts. I appreciate you posting it here – and the links within the article are also very intriguing.

  9. Amy says:

    Kick-Ass 2-Balls to the Wall was announced last year. How did you not hear about that? That movie really should have been called Hit Girl. She owned that movie. Chloe Moretz has stood out in every movie she has done. I first noticed her in the remake of Amityville Horror and again in Wicked Little Things. Not the greatest of movie but her performances were top notch for such a small child. She has grown up gracefully and excelled in her acting skills.

    I agree with the Red Riding Trilogy-huge letdown.

    I will be adding Cemetery Junction to my list of must sees. If it sucks I will blame you.

    • haha!!! I don’t read much movie news and “productions-in-the-making” kind of thing, but thanks for the heads up. Moretz did own the movie and it was the 1st time I saw her. She is remarkable. Hope she has a great career. Glad to hear that another feels the same way about Red Riding….Cemetery Junction is a sweet film. Nothing crazy…just a touching, personal film. It is uplifting and inspiring. Loved the script. If you haven’t seen Scott Pilgrim, see it. It’s hilarious.

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