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:
Screen Rant‘s 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.
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”?
Toy Story 3
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.
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.
The Social Network
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.
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.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
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? :-)
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.