Don't let the lackluster ho-hum holiday season cinema schlockfest fool you. 2010 was a stellar year for films. In a break from tradition, quality films did not only turn up during the Oscar-friendly month of December. On the flip side, many entertaining films and inspiring performances were seen in the first half of the year and fall -- so much so I think that's the reason December has been so blah humbug. Had films like The Town, Toy Story 3, or even Easy A opened in multiplexes in the height of the holiday season rather than The Tourist, Little Fockers, or Yogi Bear, it would've felt like a sweeter end to the 2010 film year. But, I'd prefer it this way. As an avid moviegoer, I'd much rather check out great flicks throughout the year rather than cramming as many as I could in a December to remember. Realizing you need another "best of" column from a blogger like you need another Focker sequel, I've kept my column short and to the point. Weigh in on yours!
My Ten Best
1. Black Swan: No film had a more lasting impression for me than Darren Aronofsky's suspenseful, deeply disturbing cinematic ballet. Natalie Portman delivers the performance of the year, while the supporting cast - notably Vincent Cassell, Mila Kunis and Barbara Hershey deliver career best turns. Clint Mansell's score haunts.
2. The Social Network: Finally, a film that lives up to its buzz. Best writing of the year with a star-making turn by Jesse "Don't Call Me Michael Cera" Eisenberg.
3. The Town: I really hope Jeremy Renner isn't the lone Oscar nominee for this film. Ben Affleck is a proven director and storyteller who delivered a fine performance here as well. Easily the best crime film since Heat.
4. Toy Story 3: The best of the series, and that's saying something. If Pixar delivered a new Toy Story film every three years, I'd be slaphappy.
5. Inception: Sure, it's got a lot of WTF moments, but Chris Nolan proves he's the most interesting and talented filmmaker working today. Love the ending -- don't care what anyone says.
6. The Ghost Writer: Roman Polanski's grossly underrated film features the finest performance of Pierce Brosnan's career matched with killer suspense.
7. The King's Speech: Colin Firth is sensational, but Geoffrey Rush walks away with this delightful and inspiring British import with a less flashy turn.
8. Despicable Me: If not for Toy Story 3, I'd likely tell you this film is the best animated flick since the first Toy Story. Steve Carell guides this heartfelt and hilarious film with an offbeat Austrian accent.
9. 127 Hours: James Franco's star-making turn is what's getting all the press (and rightfully so) but the film really works thanks to Danny Boyle's skillful direction.
10. Machete: Yeah, I'm going with an offbeat pick here. Full disclosure -- I haven't seen Blue Valentine yet so until I do this over-the-top romp featuring Danny Trejo, Steven Seagal and Robert De Niro gets the honor. Coolest cast in a film since Pulp Fiction.
The Rest In Brief...
Five Movies That Not Many Liked But I Did
Alice in Wonderland
Knight and Day
Five Worst of the Year
Hot Tub Time Machine
You Will Meet A Tall, Dark Stranger
My 25 Best Performances of 2010
1. Natalie Portman - Black Swan
2. Jesse Eisenberg - The Social Network
3. Christian Bale - The Fighter
4. Geoffrey Rush - The King's Speech
5. Matt Damon - Hereafter
6. Andrew Garfield - The Social Network
7. James Franco - 127 Hours
8. Mila Kunis - Black Swan
9. Jeff Bridges - True Grit
10. Leonardo DiCaprio - Shutter Island
11. Pierce Brosnan - The Ghost Writer
12. Ann Guilbert - Please Give
13. Colin Firth - The King's Speech
14. Helena Bonham Carter - Alice in Wonderland
15. Ben Affleck - The Town
16. Emma Stone - Easy A
17. Jeremy Renner - The Town
18. Nicole Kidman - Rabbit Hole
19. Annette Benning - The Kids Are All Right
20. John C. Reilly - Cyrus
21. Mark Ruffalo - The Kids Are All Right
22.Barbara Hershey - Black Swan
23. Jennifer Lawrence - Winter's Bone
24. Amy Adams - The Fighter*
25. Dolph Lundgren - The Expendables*
* Reserved for Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams for Blue Valentine