Vic Holtreman – Owner/Editor-in-Chief
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 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.
Kofi Outlaw – Senior Editor
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.
Ben Kendrick – Editor
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.