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Laramie Movie Scope:
Top, bottom films, etc. of 2010

Best, worst and ruminations on 2010 films

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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January 21, 2010 -- Here is my list of the best and worst films, best actors, etc. from the year of 2010, with the usual caveats. There are a few Oscar contenders I have not seen for various reasons, and I have definitely missed (on purpose) most of the year's worst films. My picks for the best and worst films and many other categories, such as best actor, director, etc. are listed below.

Among the films missing from my “best of” lists are “The Social Network” and “Inception.” Both were good films which were wildly overrated for different reasons. “The Social Network” tells liberals what they want to hear: Successful people who create multi billion dollar businesses out of nothing, like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, are bad. “Inception,” like “Memento,” or “The Sixth Sense,” is a very popular gimmick film. Moviegoers like gimmicks and they are popular, but that doesn't make them great films, just gimmicky. The gimmick, by the way is the same as the gimmick in “Black Swan,” another film that didn't make my top 10 list, you can't tell where the hallucinations leave off and the reality starts. “Inception” is a good film, but all those stupid rules about spinning tops and “kicks” are just irritating. The characters, aside from Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) are not interesting.

Below the list of top films are a list of honorable mentions, followed by lists of my picks for top director, top actor, top foreign film, etc. Those lists are followed by lists of the worst films, overrated films, funniest, saddest, etc. I've added a couple of Dubious Distinction awards as a satirical comment on certain awards that seem to be based on factors that are literally skin deep. My top 10 lists include more comedy and films starring black actors, two varieties of movies absent from most top 10 lists. Drama is easy, but comedy is tough to get right. This is a good year for documentary films. I've got five in my top 10 list and there are plenty of other good ones this year as well.

Page navigation: Honorable mention Best of by category Funniest movie,   Saddest movie Overrated movies,   Best movies you haven't heard of,   Worst movies, Dubious Distinctions.

Best 10 films of 2010

1. Winter's Bone[4 stars]

This film has a main character, Ree Dolly (played by Jennifer Lawrence), who has more grit than any character in True Grit, or any other film this year. It is an electrifying performance in a gritty film about family love and life in the Ozarks.

2. Rabbit Hole[4 stars]

This is a heartrending drama about tragedy and loss. It has two searing performances by Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart, among the best by any actors this year.

3. Restrepo[4 stars]

This documentary film about soldiers in the deadly Korangal Valley of Afghanistan features both daredevil photography and empathy with the soldiers on their hopeless mission.

4. Cyrus[4 stars]

This is the best comedy of the year, although you could call it a dramedy, since there is a lot of drama in it, too. Great acting performances by John C. Reilly and Jonah Hill.

5. Secretariat[4 stars]

This is the best horse racing film since “Seabiscuit” and nearly as good as that classic film, and I don't particularly like horses, but I love these two films.

6. Waiting For Superman[4 stars]

This very moving documentary follows kids from failing schools as they try to get into schools where they might actually get a decent education. Even more heartbreaking is the heroic efforts of their parents and guardians to try everything in their power to get their kids out of failing schools and into better ones.

7. How to Train Your Dragon[4 stars]

Although it won't win the best animated film Oscar, because a Pixar film always wins that prize (the inevitable Pixar winner this time is “Toy Story 3”), it will be nominated, and it definitely is the year's best animated film, regardless of what you hear from the Pixar herd.

8. The King's Speech[4 stars]

I almost didn't get to see this in 2010 because it was released so late in the year, and in so few venues, but I'm glad I did finally get to see it. It is an excellent film with two wonderful performances by Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush. Some think it will win the Best Picture Oscar, but it will probably be smashed, along with other, better films by a lesser film, “The Social Network” for political reasons.

9. Casino Jack and the United States of Money[4 stars]

One of the year's best documentaries, this film shows what is wrong with American politics, where votes in Congress are bought and sold every day by powerful interest groups and large corporations.

10. (tie) Client-9[4 stars] and
Exit Through the Gift Shop[4 stars]

Client-9 isn't just about Spitzer, it also about political influence in federal investigations, which makes it a much more important documentary. Exit Through the Gift Shop is a sort of art merchandising exposé, as well as a portrait of some very interesting street artists. This is a very controversial documentary, but also a very good one.

Honorable Mention

Mother[3.5 stars]

This is the best foreign language film of 2010 I've seen so far. It features a great performance by Hye-ja Kim as a woman willing to do anything to free her son from jail. Made in Korea.

Let Me In[3.5 stars]

This is the best horror film of 2010. It is an almost exact remake of a Swedish film with a similar name (“Let the Right One In” or Låt den rätte komma in) from a couple of years ago, but unlike most remakes, it is as good as the original film, maybe even better, thanks to some great performances, including the one by Richard Jenkins.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World[3.5 stars]

This wildly stylized film about a boy who must battle five evil ex-boyfriends of the girl he loves, comic book style, was the year's most inventive film. It is also very witty and clever. This will probably become something of a cult film, and deservedly so.

Carlos[3.5 stars]

It isn't really fair to label this thing as a movie. It is really a TV miniseries, nearly six hours long. It is very ambitious, but it can afford to be with all that time to work with. It presents a searing portrait of a terrorist, Carlos the Jackal, torn between his initial idealism and his increasing desire for money, sex and power.

Solitary Man[3.5 stars]

Michael Douglas gives one of his finest performances in this film about a man whose life falls apart as he faces death. Douglas, who is fighting cancer in real life, is perfect in this role as a despicable man that you can't quite hate because he is so compelling a character.

Tangled[3.5 stars]

This Disney animated feature loosely based on the German folk tale of Rapunzel is both funny and romantic, as well as having beautiful artwork. This is a classic Disney animated fairy tale, and sadly, its last, at least for the immediate future.

The Town[3.5 stars]

This is a very good movie about criminals in the Charlestown neighborhood of Boston. It reminded me of “Heat” in its portrayal of relationships between criminals and outsiders.

Never Let Me Go[3.5 stars]

This haunting film set in England of an alternate universe gives a thought-provoking look at what happens when humans are cloned for the purpose of supplying organs for medical transplants. It gives a new spin on the debate of stem cell research.

Easy A[3.5 stars]

This clever high school sex comedy, loosely based on Nathaniel Hawthorn's book “The Scarlet Letter” is very smart and very funny. The film makes as many references to filmmaker John Hughes as it does to Hawthorne. I think Hughes, for one would be flattered by this sincere imitation of a Hughes film.

Toy Story 3[3.5 stars]

This film probably will win the Academy Award for best animated feature because it is a Pixar film and Pixar tends to win these kinds of contests. It is a very good film, with an especially good ending. The rest of the plot is a bit short on inspiration.

The Kids are All Right[3.5 stars]

This drama has quite a bit of comedy in it, but it is actually more of a drama. It is about an unusual family, headed by two lesbians, that encounters unusual problems, heterosexual infidelity, and a sperm donor who wants to be regarded as a kind of family to the kids who sprang from his seed. Great performances by Annette Bening and Julianne Moore have already gotten these two a lot of recognition and awards.

More lists below

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Links to reviews of all the films below are indexed in the following web pages:

A through B   C through D   E through G   H through L
M through Q   R through S   T through Z

Best director

1. Debra Granik -- Winter's Bone
2. John Cameron Mitchell -- Rabbit Hole
3. Jay Duplass and Mark Duplass -- Cyrus
4. Randall Wallace -- Secretariat
5. Dean DeBlois & Chris Sanders (-) How to Train Your Dragon

Best actor

1. Michael Douglas -- Solitary Man
2. Colin Firth -- The King's Speech
3. Aaron Eckhart -- The Rabbit Hole
4. Jake Gyllenhaal -- Love and Other Drugs
5. John C. Reilly -- Cyrus

Best actress

1. Jennifer Lawrence -- Winter's Bone
2. Nicole Kidman -- The Rabbit Hole
3. Diane Lane -- Secretariat
4. Hye-ja Kim -- Mother
5. Anne Hathaway -- Love and Other Drugs

Best supporting actor

1. Geoffrey Rush -- The King's Speech
2. Jonah Hill -- Cyrus
3. Jeremy Renner -- The Town
4. Sam Rockwell -- Conviction
5. Andrew Garfield -- Never Let Me Go

Best supporting actress

1. Mila Kunis -- Black Swan
2. Dianne Wiest -- Rabbit Hole
3. Dale Dickey -- Winter's Bone
4. Whoopi Goldberg -- for Colored Girls
5. Margo Martindale -- Secretariat

Best adapted screenplay

1. Winter's Bone -- Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini
2. Rabbit Hole -- David Lindsay-Abaire
3. Secretariat -- Mike Rich
4. How to Train Your Dragon -- Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders
5. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World -- Michael Bacall and Edgar Wright

Best original screenplay

1. Cyrus -- Jay and Mark Duplass
2. King's Speech, The -- David Seidler
3. Mother -- Eun-kyo Park, Joon-ho Bong and Wun-kyo Park
4. Easy A -- Bert V. Royal
Kids are All Right, The -- Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg

Best cinematography

1. True Grit
2. Black Swan
3. Restrepo
4. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
5. Winter's Bone

Best editing

1. Restrepo
2. Carlos
3. Casino Jack and the United States of Money
4. Client-9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer
5. Exit Through the Gift Shop

Best music

1. Mark Kilian -- La Mission
2. Alexandre Desplat -- The King's Speech
3. Carter Burwell -- True Grit
4. Nick Glennie-Smith -- Secretariat
5. Clint Mansell -- Black Swan

Best documentary feature

1. Restrepo
2. Waiting for Superman
3. Casino Jack and the United States of Money
4. Exit Through the Gift Shop
5. Client-9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer

Best animated feature

1. How to Train Your Dragon
2. Tangled
3. Toy Story 3
4. Despicable Me
5. Megamind

Best foreign language film

1. Mother
2. Carlos
3. The Secret in Their Eyes
4. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
5. The Girl Who Played with Fire

Links to reviews of all films on this site are indexed below:

A through B   C through D   E through G   H through L
M through Q   R through S   T through Z

Funniest film of the year

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World[3.5 stars]

Saddest film of the year

Never Let Me Go[3.5 stars]

The year's most overrated films

All of these films have won awards or have been highly rated by some critics groups, or have won praise at some film festivals. These are listed alphabetically.
Inception[3 stars]
The Social Network[3 stars]
Somewhere[2.5 stars]
White Material[1 star]
The White Ribbon (Das weisse Band - Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte)[no stars]

The year's best films you've never heard of

Winter's Bone[4 stars]
Restrepo[4 stars]
Cyrus[4 stars]
Casino Jack and the United States of Money[4 stars]
Client-9[4 stars]
Exit Through the Gift Shop[4 stars]
Mother[3.5 stars]
Let Me In[3.5 stars]
Carlos[3.5 stars]
Solitary Man[3.5 stars]
Never Let Me Go[3.5 stars]

The Worst Films of 2010

While I saw most of the best films of the year, I purposefully missed nearly all of the reportedly bad films, including Vampires Suck, Killers, The Bounty Hunter, Furry Vengeance, Saw 3D, My Soul to Take, When in Rome, Case 39 and Skyline. Those are all wide release films which made it to most cities and town in the U.S. I also missed most of the limited release bad films, among many others, so this is not in any way a list of the worst of the worst films, just the worst of the films I saw. After all, I don't get into the movies for free, and I don't like to waste my money. I did see The Last Airbender, which is included on many worst movie lists, but I actually liked it. Careful as I am, I did get fooled into watching the following bad films anyway:

The White Ribbon (Das weisse Band - Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte)[no stars]

This film is one of the worst films I've seen lately, tied with Season of the Witch. It was technically released in 2009, but that was only in a couple of U.S. theaters on Dec. 30, so most people, like me, didn't see this until 2010, so I include it in this year's crop of crappers. This film won some major awards, but I found it agonizing to sit through, so it also makes my overrated list.

White Material[1 star]

This is a highly-praised art film that has won some awards, so it is massively overrated. It is very slow-moving, very depressing and extremely predictable. You know something awful is going to happen right away, and it does, but it seems to take forever to get where it is going.

Four Lions[1 star]

Believe it or not, this film attempts to make a comedy out of Islamic suicide bombers who murder people in London terrorist attacks. Maybe Monty Python can get away with something like this, but this film fails to rise to that level. There are some funny scenes, but it stops being funny when people start dying.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part One)[2 stars]

The studio hacked the last of the Harry Potter series of books in half and tried to make a movie out of it. It didn't work, but it made tons of money, which is actually the whole point.

Stone[2 stars]

This is another bad “art” film. While it has good acting performances by a talented cast, which includes Robert De Niro and Edward Norton, the story wanders along so pointlessly one quickly loses interest in where it is going, if anywhere.

The Road[2 stars]

Easily the worst of the trilogy of films adapted by the novels of Cormac McCarthy, this dreary, colorless, pointless, apocalyptic movie goes nowhere very slowly.

Everyone Else (Alle Anderen)[2 stars]

Another failed art film with self-centered characters brooding their way slowly through a plot where nothing much happens.

The Expendables[2 stars]

A great idea for a movie, but the execution was deeply flawed by a bad script the worst action scenes and special effects I've seen in such a high profile movie.

Robin Hood (2010)[2 stars]

Movies about Robin Hood are supposed to be fun. This one is not.

Dubious Distinctions

The honorary Roman Polanski Juicy Jail Bait Award, also known as the “Breakthrough Actor” award or the “Newcomer” award (insert Beavis and Butthead snickering here) is the first dubious distinction award. The second dubious distinction is the Marilyn Chambers Memorial Nudity Award.

The jail bait award is usually won by very attractive, very young women, or girls, some of whom are pre pubescent, or at who least look like they might be, and who get high praise from critics for performances which aren't all that great. Why is this you ask? Because most film critics are men and most men (especially older men) have trouble remembering actors at the end of the year for awards purposes unless they are very young and pretty. O.K., so they are dirty old men.

Past winners are Saoirse Ronan for “Atonement,” Anna Paquin for “The Piano,” Ziyi Zhang for “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” of course Polanski's old flame, Natasha Kinski for “Tess,” and most of the cast of “Thirteen.”

The award this year goes to Hailee Steinfeld for “True Grit”. She has been widely praised for her performance in this film, even though her performance wasn't all that exceptional. This could be due to her being very young and pretty, the juicy jail bait factor, and the critical reverence for the Coens may have rubbed off on her, too. We'll have to wait and see if she keeps getting this same level of high praise when she gets older. Most past winners of this award have not had exceptional careers after aging past their teen “prime.” Chloe Moretz of the film “Let Me In” might have won the award this year, but she was overlooked for her fine performance, not only in this film, but in “Kick Ass” because she didn't have any nude scenes like her predecessor, Lina Leandersson, our 2008 winner. Chloe plays the same role in the remake of “Let the Right One In” as Lina did in the original. Of course if theaters in this country ran a film which shows the vagina of a 12-year-old girl, people might riot and burn down movie theaters. That might be considered child porn for some reason. I guess they got away with that brief scene in “Let the Right One In” because it was a Swedish film that relatively few people in this country saw, and it was considered “art,” not just another sleazy film. The remake, “Let Me In” was not sexually sleazy and it generated less critical excitement.

The second dubious distinction is the Marilyn Chambers Memorial Nudity Award (If I have to take my clothes off to win an award, then so be it):

Anne Hathaway wins the 2010 nudity award for her topless steamy sex scenes in “Love and Other Drugs.” There were also some interesting nude scenes in “Machete” that were reportedly faked. There were also some nude scenes in “Carlos,” but I like Hathaway the best. One of her topless scenes was even played for laughs. Besides that, her performance in this film, clothed or otherwise, was one of the year's best. Past winners of the nudity award include, Kate Winslet for “The Reader,” Rinko Kikuchi for “Babel,” and Maria Bello for “A History of Violence.”

Links to reviews of all the films are indexed below:

A through B   C through D   E through G   H through I
J through L   M through N   O through Q   R through S   T through Z

Page navigation: Honorable mention Best of by category Funniest movie,   Saddest movie Overrated movies Best movies you haven't heard of,   Worst movies, Dubious Distinctions.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2011 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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