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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Bay Rong (Clash)
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
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.
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]
The King's Speech
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.
That's it for us. What was your favorite movie that hit theaters in 2010?