Our Favorite Movies of 2010

Published 3 years ago by , Updated January 3rd, 2011 at 9:39 am,

Inception2 Our Favorite Movies of 2010

We’ve spent the last few days carrying on about the worst films of 2010 and the biggest disappointments in the hopes of healing our and your collective psyches from the damage sustained after watching inane movies like Jonah Hex or Furry Vengeance (*shudder*).

Now we turn our attention to the high points of 2010 – namely, the movies that met or exceeded our expectations and entertained us enough so as to earn a permanent spot on our personal favorites films list.

While a favorite movies list does not strictly correspond with a best movies list (case in point – flicks like Citizen Kane or The Seventh Seal aren’t traditionally considered proper choices for a fun Saturday night viewing), there’s certainly a good deal of crossover between the two. A number of this year’s critical darlings were not only aesthetically and technically proficient pieces of cinematic artistry, but made for an overall memorable two or so hours of entertainment as well.

Here are seven of our favorite films of 2010 (as agreed upon by our staff), followed by some additional choices from individual members of the Screen Rant team:

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Screen Rant‘s Favorite Movies of 2010

Inception

inception review Our Favorite Movies of 2010

Yeah, you saw this one coming, but what can we say? Inception is a thrilling, thought-provoking blockbuster that utilizes some of the most innovative and breathtaking filmmaking techniques of the year to produce a truly creative action pic. Engaging performances, an intellectually stimulating plot, astonishing practical effects mixed with CGI – Christopher Nolan’s latest has it all.

It’s the manner in which Inception weds the modern Hollywood popcorn flick with art house cinema that is truly impressive. Nolan’s big-budget production succeeds at being a beautifully-shot heist movie in the vein of classics like Heat or the original Italian Job and serves as a reminder that filmgoers can handle a movie that demands their attention. Rest assured, none of us will ever trust our dreams or look at hotel hallways the same way again.

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True Grit

True Grit Theatrical Trailer Our Favorite Movies of 2010

Leave it to Joel and Ethan Coen to not only prove that there’s life left in the western genre, but once again deliver a film filled with dark humor and rich characters. True Grit boasts a star-making debut for Hailee Steinfeld as the plucky Mattie Ross; another memorable turn by “The Dude” himself, Jeff Bridges; picturesque cinematography by the incomparable Roger Deakins; impeccable production design; and something that the Coen brothers’ work sometimes lacks – heart.

There are few filmmakers currently active that are as prolific, diverse, and accomplished as the Coens and True Grit is certainly proof of that. Not to mention – who else in Hollywood could come up with a character as memorably odd as “The Bear Man”?

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Toy Story 3

Toy Story 3 movie image 14 Our Favorite Movies of 2010

Another obvious choice, but Toy Story 3 really is one of the best films that hit theaters in 2010. Combining everything you could want from a movie – exciting action, genuinely funny dialogue, a well-written story – with beautiful animation and colorful characters, the final installment in Pixar’s first and most-loved franchise is arguably the company’s best film ever – and that is saying something.

Pixar is the undisputed modern king of cinematic animation and it has yet to release a movie that is universally acknowledged as being an artistic failure. Toy Story 3 kept the studio’s win streak alive and also demonstrated that even a computer-generated flick that revolves around a plastic toy cowboy, spaceman, and their plaything associates can be as moving and emotionally-touching as the average drama featuring flesh and blood stars.

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127 Hours

127 Hours Review Between a Rock and a Hard Place Our Favorite Movies of 2010

That’s right – a true-life tale about a guy who spends several days with his arm stuck under a rock before he decides to lop the sucker off was one of our favorite movies released in 2010. 127 Hours proved that it takes nothing more than an intriguing premise and unique storytelling strategy to engage the audience. Danny Boyle fearlessly plays with the medium and employed a dynamic visual style to recreate the reality of mountain climber Aron Ralston’s life-changing experience.

What really distinguishes 127 Hours is how it delves into the depths of genuine emotion without alienating or manipulating moviegoers via insincere sentiment. This is a true tale of survival that reveals not only how far a person will go to survive, but what drives them to stay alive. Take that, Jigsaw.

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The Social Network

the social network image7 Our Favorite Movies of 2010

This time last year The Social Network was universally referred to as “The Facebook Movie,” and most moviegoers were highly skeptical of the idea that a story that revolves around a public figure who could be considered (pardon the term) the ultimate nerdball, Facebook co-creator Mark Elliot Zuckerberg, would be anything but a bore. So how did this project go so right?

Director David Fincher combined his deliciously dark visual style and meticulous filmmaking technique with Aaron Sorkin’s script, which crackles with witty, hip dialogue throughout, to make The Social Network a film to remember. That’s on top of the great supporting performances by the likes of Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake – along with Jesse Eisenberg, who turned Zuckerberg into one of the cleverest, most complicated geek badasses to grace the big screen in years.

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The Fighter

The Fighter movie reviews Our Favorite Movies of 2010

The Fighter is an interesting picture that demonstrates how sometimes a story itself isn’t always as important as the voice of who’s telling it. This true-life account of boxer Micky Ward’s heroic rise inside and outside the ring looked like yet another conventional inspirational sports drama on paper, and yet the film plays out like anything but that.

It helps that indie director David O. Russell’s quirky sense of humor shows through the seams of this underdog story and that The Fighter features a scene-stealing turn by Christian Bale as Micky’s half-brother, Dicky, alongside solid supporting performances by actresses Amy Adams and Melissa Leo. Far from being Oscar bait, The Fighter is one of the more raw and stripped-down dramas that hit theaters in 2010.

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Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

scott pilgrim spoilers Our Favorite Movies of 2010

From the list of our shared favorite 2010 movies, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is the one we can all but guarantee won’t snag a Best Picture Oscar nod. It was a financial flop at the box office and appealed primarily to a small but devoted group of moviegoers – namely, either 20-somethings and/or those that spent the 80s reading comic books, playing video games, and engaging in other rather nerdy activities. That said – who exactly do you think makes up most of the Screen Rant team? icon smile Our Favorite Movies of 2010

Even its detractors admit Scott Pilgrim vs. The World features eye-popping action, strikingly creative visuals, infectiously funny dialogue, and one of this year’s best soundtracks. Leave it to director Edgar Wright to deliver a movie in which Michael Cera gets to perform martial arts stunts that would’ve left Bruce Lee impressed.

Continue to individual favorite picks of the Screen Rant staff…

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Vic Holtreman – Owner/Editor-in-Chief

Flipped

flipped movie review Our Favorite Movies of 2010

I’d never heard of the book “Flipped” by author Wendelin Van Draanen, but when I showed the trailer for the Rob Reiner-directed film to my daughter she exclaimed it was on of her favorite books. I was fortunate enough to see this wonderful little gem of a film about the coming of age of a young boy and girl – but sadly it never received a wide theatrical release. It was pitch-perfect in tone, story and the performances by the two lead actors Callan McAuliffe and Madeline Carroll.

RED

red movie review Our Favorite Movies of 2010

RED always looked like it was going to be a fun little action movie, but it surpassed my expectations by a mile. Bruce Willis was at his best here, even though he played a personality opposite of John McClane from the Die Hard series: Calm and cool, even in the most extreme situations. The film had a stellar, older cast, wonderful dialogue, humor and great action to boot. Of course it received bonus points from me (an older guy) for portraying a bunch of supposedly over the hill actors (including Helen Mirren) as total badasses.

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Kofi Outlaw – Senior Editor

Blue Valentine

Blue Valentine Reviews Our Favorite Movies of 2010

Blue Valentine proved that a romantic drama can still move us when it’s done in a raw, truthful manner that reflects the reality of modern romance. The performances by Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams prove they are two of the best actors of their generation. For more on this great film, read my full Blue Valentine review.

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Ben Kendrick – Editor

Monsters

Monsters andrew sam Our Favorite Movies of 2010

Gareth Edwards’ thoughtful look at love, desperation, and fear of the unknown in a gritty world following an alien “invasion” quickly wracked up comparisons to Neill Blomkamp’s sci-fi drama, District 9. However, what makes Monsters a standout film of 2010 is that it successfully marries art-house indie drama with a fully-realized sci-fi landscape – proving that it doesn’t take headline actors, the studio system, or millions of dollars to make a compelling character-focused drama… featuring CGI aliens. Shot with only two principle actors and a skeleton crew, Monsters tells a quality human (and alien) story that isn’t dominated by the tropes of blockbuster aliens-invade-earth films.

Buried

Buried Ryan Reynolds1 Our Favorite Movies of 2010

While not an award-season favorite, Buried is certainly one of the most ambitious films of the year, as the entire 95 minute runtime is confined to the inside of a dark wooden box. Ryan Reynolds succeeds in playing off of voices at the other end of a glowing cell phone and director Rodrigo Cortés keeps the tension high through these disembodied characters – without ever having to show viewers the greater conflict outside the box. Despite the confines of the set, Buried manages to tell an intriguing and intense story that quickly invests audiences in the main character, the fight for his life, and his heartbreaking lack of options.

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Ross Miller

Another Year

Another Year movie image Our Favorite Movies of 2010

While 2010 provided some thrilling blockbusters, Mike Leigh’s subtle, affecting, and keenly observed seasonal drama Another Year was one of THE best films of the year for me.Using the convenient narrative structure of the four seasons, it takes us through the lives of a group of family and friends and how their actions – or lack thereof – affect one another. The film’s impact is helped largely by the performances from the likes of Jim Broadbent, Imelda Staunton, and particularly Lesley Manville as a single alcoholic 40-something latching onto any sort of attention and love that’s thrown her way.

Do yourself a favor and seek out Leigh’s latest dramatic offering – I promise you won’t regret it.

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Paul Young

Ip Man

Ip Man movie image Our Favorite Movies of 2010

Not many people have seen this action/period drama but those who have will tell you that Ip Man is quite possibly the best martial arts film to come out of Hong Kong in the past 10 years. Donnie Yen plays the title role of Ip Man, a Wing Chun master, living in 1940s China with his wife and son. Teaching the locals the ways of his Kung Fu, Ip Man is a pacifist, choosing only to fight when there is absolutely no other choice.

When Imperialist Japan invades and takes control of his village, Ip Man makes the decision to fight back – which leads to an intense battle of martial arts, pitting his Wing Chun against the Karate skills of a sadistic Japanese general. Beautifully shot, impressively choreographed and a compelling story all combine to make Ip Man my favorite movie of 2010.

Ca$h

CAH movie image Our Favorite Movies of 2010

Stephen Millburn Anderson wrote and directed this indie crime-drama starring Sean Bean and Thor‘s Chris Hemsworth in his first American made film ever (Star Trek was his first to be released but Ca$h was the first one he made). Bean plays twin brothers, one who commits crimes brashly and the other, Pyke Kubic, who does things smoothly and under the radar. When the spoils of a robbery commited by Pyke’s brother end up in the hands of Sam Phelan (Hemsworth) and his wife, Pyke enters their life to recover every last cent – and together, the trio takes a wild trip that reveals aspects of their inner selves that none of them knew existed.

Sean Bean, as always, is fantastic in Ca$h and is one of the main reasons, besides the interesting story, why this movie succeeds.

Continue to the rest of the Screen Rant staff picks…

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Mike Eisenberg

Black Swan

Natalie Portman Black Swan TV spot Our Favorite Movies of 2010

Inception may be my favorite film of 2010, but Black Swan is the best. Darren Aronofsky’s thriller is a genre-merging work of art that features one of Hollywood’s brightest starlets turning in her best work since she was a young girl in The Professional. Every aspect of the film lived up to my own hype and gave me something to chew on for days after I left the theater.

Kick-Ass

kick ass movie image 5 Our Favorite Movies of 2010

Few movies leave you completely surprised and ready for round two like Kick-Ass. It is full of adrenaline, humor and never-before-seen ass-kickery that deserved a place on the big screen. Chloe Moretz needed no introduction, but those who were unfamiliar with her work before Kick-Ass are now sure that she is one of most promising child actors in Hollywood today.

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Christopher Schrader

The Town

The Town Movie Image 2  Our Favorite Movies of 2010

Here’s indisputable proof that Gone Baby Gone was no fluke. Ben Affleck is a bona fide filmmaker and The Town is the real deal. While it has all the familiar trappings of a typical heist movie, it’s elevated by a smart script, solid performances, and Affleck’s confident direction.

Winter’s Bone

Winters Bone movie image Our Favorite Movies of 2010

One of the only films I saw this year that literally made my jaw drop several times. I knew almost nothing about the movie going into it and was completely blown away by Debra Granik’s direction and Jennifer Lawrence’s performance. This is a gut punch of a film that I was still thinking about for weeks after I’d seen it.

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Rob Frappier

Catfish

Catfish Nev Megan Our Favorite Movies of 2010

This intriguing documentary, with its mysterious and “too crazy to be true” plot divided many critics, but I believe that no film to date has better captured the incredible power and influence of social media technology in our lives. In their film, Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman do more than expose an intriguing mystery – they shine a light into the seedy underbelly of our Web-obsessed culture, where you can become anyone you want with few ramifications.

How to Train Your Dragon

how to train your dragon 3d Our Favorite Movies of 2010

DreamWorks Animation’s superb film about a boy and his pet dragon was an unexpected surprise. Not only was the animation breathtaking – rivaling the riveting flight sequences of James Cameron’s Avatar – but the story was well-written and offered an engaging plot with characters that you actually cared about. For years, Disney/Pixar has dominated original animation in Hollywood. With How to Train Your Dragon, DreamWorks indisputably proved that it belongs in to conversation too.

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Benjamin Andrew Moore

Bay Rong (Clash)

Clash movie image Our Favorite Movies of 2010

Despite the ridiculous, overly sentimental nature of the story and the fact that said story shamelessly rips off both Ronin and Kill Bill and seems to exist, at least in part, to sell some strange Vietnamese energy supplement called Enervon…despite all of that, I’ve rarely enjoyed myself more at a movie theater than I did at Clash.

Clash‘s martial arts scenes are so brutal and real and raw that you’ll be gasping and squealing with every landed punch, kick, headbutt, and MMA move, of which there are many. Watch any American action movie from the last few years, then watch this – the difference is palpable. And sad. Action scenes should hurt and make your teeth chatter like they do in Clash. Maybe one day, Hollywood.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

Harry Potter Deathly Hallows Our Favorite Movies of 2010

I was one of those guys who said, “Why are they splitting the seventh Harry Potter movie in half when a good forty percent of the book depicted Harry, Hermione, and Ron wandering around aimlessly in the wilderness?” How wrong I was.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 isn’t an action-adventure movie, but neither is it supposed to be. Rather, it’s an emotional journey. It’s about the characters more than anything else. It’s a survivor-horror movie where the protagonists manage to survive, just barely, because of the bonds and friendships they’ve made along the way.

[SPOILER ALERT]

I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried like a big, fat baby when Dobby the House Elf died in Harry Potter’s pale, ghastly, ghoul-like arms. Hell, I’m kind of proud.

[END SPOILER ALERT]

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Roth Cornet

The King’s Speech

The Kings Speech International Trailer Our Favorite Movies of 2010

The Kings Speech is not the story of a man fighting for his throne in the face of invaders and spies. This is a man fighting to belong in a position that was never meant for him and that he never would have chosen. A man reconciling himself to his own limitations, both perceived and legitimate. A King with a speech impediment in a time of war, only able to offer one thing to his subjects – a comforting, unifying word.

The raw vulnerability of Colin Firth’s performance is mesmerizing; the humor, joy, and understated depth of feeling that exists in the relationships in the film is beautifully crafted; and the story offers a vision of humanity that is as perplexing and nonsensical as it is beautiful.

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That’s it for us. What was your favorite movie that hit theaters in 2010?

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TAGS: 127 hours, another year, black swan, blue valentine, buried, cash, catfish, clash, defendor, flipped, harry potter, how to train your dragon, inception, ip man, kick ass, monsters, red, scott pilgrim, the fighter, the king's speech, the social network, the town, toy story 3, true grit

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  1. Just when I thought it was another useless Best Of 2010 post by SR folks, you all surprised me. A mention of Ip Man. Nice.

    Other than that…

    One day, there will be a Best Of Direct To Video top ten.
    (Planet Hulk, for example)

    • My Fave Films of 2010 were:

      Toy Story 3
      The Town
      Inception
      Winter’s Bone
      The Last Song
      Shutter Island
      City Island
      Vahalla Rising
      Predators
      Tron Legacy

      Honored mentions:
      Ip Man, Kids Are Alright, Daybreakers, True Grit, The Runaways, Dinner for Schmucks and Easy A.

      Noteworthy DTV: Planet Hulk, Universal Soldier Regeneration, 30 Days Of Night Dark Days.

    • darren,

      “another useless Best of 2010 post by SR folks”

      Wow, really? WHY do you continue to read this site if it annoys you so much?

      The reaction to our end of the year posts has been extremely positive and has generated a ton of discussion.

      Vic

      • I’m losing count Vic. This post is near redundant (I still look it over in case I’m wrong and missed something) because of the previous posts in the past few days.

        But Vic…I didn’t say this was a complete waste of time.
        No. The waste of time was spent watching Kick Ass…

        • In addition, Vic. one or two posts from one or two authors does not mean I find fault with the site itself Big difference, Vic, by leaps and bounds.

          • darren,

            Wow, really? I think we’ve done FOUR list posts over the last few days, and we’ve tried to make them a bit interesting/unique.

            Go visit some other sites (*cough* Cinematical *cough*) and see how many end of year lists THEY’VE written up in the last week. 8)

            Vic

            • I think what Darren meant was that EVERYONE was doing a “Best of” or “Worst of” list post and between every site it tends to be a redundant list of the exact same movies…no outliers at all.

              We however have a wild and varied taste in films between all the writers on our site so it shocked him to see some movies no one else has mentioned :)

              Correct me if I’m wrong Darren but isn’t THAT what you meant?

  2. Thanks for putting FLIPPED on your list!

  3. My favorite was The King’s Speech. The only film I saw all year that packed the house and where the audience clapped at the end. I expect it to bring home 3 or 4 Oscars.

  4. Nice list! I liked just about all them. Glad Ip Man made the list but the best in ten years?? That’s quite a bold statement I thought Hero, True Legend, Painted Skin, and 7 Swords were all pretty awesome films too. I actually thought the second Ip was better than the first but that’s just my humble opinion…

    • Haven’t had a chance to watch the Ip Man 2 yet because it’s only released overseas I think. I could be wrong though I haven’t seen it available in Florida yet :)

      Yeah I realize it was a pretty bold statement but I felt safe in saying it. I’ve yet to meet anyone that has watched the film tell me they weren’t blown away by it.

      • I hear you Ip Man was awesome but I thought Hero was a much better film all around, and as far as fight scenes go Flashpoint was terrible but the fight scene at the end was one of the best i’ve ever seen period…(witch happened to be Donnie) but like i said that’s my humble opinion.

      • Ip Man 2 is available on yesasia.com for $17.

      • Ip Man was a great martial arts film! I used to watch martial arts films religiously, and this incredible movie reignited my passion.

        I have seen Ip Man 2, and it is also great! I saw it is getting a theatrical release in the US later this month, and I would highly recommend it. I would say some of the fight scenes surpass the original.

        • yeah right! the scene with Sammo and Donnie on the table was crazy!

  5. Black Swan and Harry Potter 7

  6. I only ever saw the first Harry Potter and Inception was pretty amazing but I’m not as much of a science fiction kind of movie goer so I don’ think I loved it like some did. I would pick Catfish, Black Swan and 127 Hours. I think I’d pick some others if I’d seen them, they are on my list now though, thank you.

  7. Wowwww I thinks I only like bad movies, cause i’d liked mosto of the bad list movies that the best movies of 2010, Is’t only me??

  8. Great list of films, great year for films, and I cannot wait for an even better year in the cinema next year!! My top 15 of 2010 is –

    1. Toy Story 3
    2. Kick-Ass
    3. Due Date
    4. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
    5. Inception
    6. How To Train Your Dragon
    7. Easy A
    8. Cemetery Junction
    9. The Social Network
    10. Catfish
    11. Up In The Air
    12. Buried
    13. The Death And Life Of Charlie St. Cloud
    14. The Town
    15. Shutter Island

    Other special mentions must also go to Despicable Me, Brothers, A Single Man, The Killer Inside Me, Going The Distance, Let Me In, Youth In Revolt, Chloe and Dinner For Schmucks!!

    Can’t wait to see The Fighter, Black Swan, The Kings Speech, 127 Hours and True Grit of the next few weeks aswel :-)

  9. Toy Story, Inception, Potter, and How to Train Your Dragon are where it’s at.

  10. 1. The King’s Speech
    2. Winter’s Bone
    3. Black Swan
    4. The Social Network
    5. Blue Valentine
    6. The Fighter
    7. True Grit
    8. The Kids Are All Right
    9. Inception
    10. 127 Hours

  11. Great list of movies. Seen a few and have to see the rest. But my favorite on the list is Inception!

  12. Meh! To each their own, but the only movies that I really liked in the year 2010 were “The Kids Are All Right”, “Winter’s Bone”, “Shutter Island” (although that was a little overrated, imo.), and “Billy The Kid”.

    I’m really not a big fan of “The Town”, because it was way too over the top in many ways, had a poor script, an immature romance between Doug and Claire, plus it conveys the message to me, personally, that anything goes as long as people get what they want, and that people don’t have to be held accountable for the actions and behaviors.