Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Best films of 2010

Hey-oh! And here we go!

Good news! Today’s the day! I have finally managed to wrap up and write up my little Best of 2010 list for all you good people out there in the hinterlands of the Internet. Celebrate! Woooo! Now, I should say this up front here, I definitely missed some films I wanted to see, ones that might have made the list. I included that list below the main attraction. That’s right. Two lists for the price of one, kids. Come on now, that's super awesome…

Oh-ho-ho, but wait a second, y’all, it gets better.

I also included a short list of films that ALMOST made the list AND an even shorter list of films I originally thought would suck donkey balls, so I avoided them and then, I saw them on a couple of different end of the year lists and I thought “hmmm… maybe I was wrong,” so I went back and checked them out and… nope… they sucked donkey balls. All those lists and more are toward the end, but in the meantime, between you and there, is the big dealio. That’s right… Can you feel it?

Ok then…

The official Jonathan Hansen’s Top Ten Best of List for 2010



Thank you… thank you… this is as much for me as it is for you... you're too kind.... no, really, thank you… thank you... really, thank you... Ok, that's enough... alright already. Ok, thanks. Thanks... Ok! Enough already! Hey! Zip it! God… ahem…

So, let’s begin.

10. Easy A
The ten spot on my list is always a bit of a strange one, there’s always a ton of films (really only three…) crowding around, jostling each other for position, and the final choice is usually one that you might hesitate to call “impressive”, if you know what I mean, it feels like an add on, like at least five of the Best Picture Oscar nominees… In actuality, the ten spot is always reserved for the unexpected treat, the film I didn’t expect to see or feel too strongly about, but ended up enjoying immensely. This year it almost went to How to Train your Dragon and it almost went to Lemmy, but in the end, Easy A stood tall. Why? Emma Stone, for one. I love her. Don’t you love her? You should love her. She is totally hot, she’s ridiculously sarcastic, and she seems like a bit of a dork. All good qualities. Watch this clip here. Heh. Anyway, Easy A is the story of… well, it’s kind of the Scarlet Letter meets Mean Girls, I guess, but trust me, with the help of a smart and funny script, it turned in a fun, charming movie filled with fun, charming performances. …What? Come on, what do you want? It was fun and charming. I can like fun and charming, shut up.

9. Iron Man 2 
You must be flabbergasted, right? I know! I liked Iron Man 2? Moi? It’s like the Sun has suddenly started to revolve around the Earth. What can I say, I am a man of simple needs and part of those simple needs is Robert Downey Jr. in red and gold armor, cracking wise and fighting robots! Preferably while drunk… fake drunk, of course, only acting, don’t ‘cha know, because he’s had some issues in real life, which was sad… Anywho, I saw it, I loved it, I want more of it. Did I have a problem with the Producers laying the seeds for the Avengers movie? What? NO! Look who you’re asking? I don’t even understand that complaint: “uh, they’re talking about other stuff that isn’t instantly paid off… wah.” Shut up. To me, Iron Man 1 AND 2 are brilliant representations of what I would consider as perfect popcorn flicks. This is what the less cerebral end of your big flashy summer flicks should look like: fun and loud, but still smart and aware. It looks good, it’s well casted, it’s well acted, and it’s well directed. It’s a good time that doesn’t require a lobotomy or a total lack of taste. Totally fun. Loved it.

8. The Social Network
Great trailer, right? I love that trailer. You do know I link to the trailers through each title, right? Ok, good. So, onward then, anyway, there’s been a lot of loose talk around the Internet lately by certain folks. They’re mad at this movie. They’re mad for several stated reasons, some more legitimate than others, but for the most part (much like a good portion of our President’s detractors) many of the people bitching (although no one I personally know) seem to have one underlining problem that they don’t like to admit: They hate this movie because in actuality, they hate Facebook. No, no, come on now, admit it… you know it’s true. But it’s alright. I hate Facebook too. It is a foul, noxious evil bastard of a beast and it has a death grip on my soul with its excrement-stained talons. So, yes, I hate Facebook. I hate Facebook in much the same way I hate the phone. They’re both ingrained in our lives and are now completely integral; we can’t get rid of them. Facebook and its dirty, stinking ilk changed the world and how we communicate and interact with one another and there’s no going back, so we might as well get used to it. Also, stop sending me Farmville requests; I’m not interested in that stupid fucking waste of time game. I play Backyard Monsters, you son of a bitch… God, I’m so much better than you… Anyway, Facebook, it’s here to stay and as such, with The Social Network, we are now presented with its creation myth, its “Mr. Watson, come here” tale. And it’s a good time, love or hate Facebook or Aaron Sorkin or Jesse Eisenburg, the flick is a damn good time. Now, I have no problem admitting that I love me some David Fincher movies, so I’m a bit biased, but really, who’d have thought the story of a gaggle of Harvard douche bags writing out some code together and then getting into a drawn out legal slap-fight would make such a tense and interesting little story. Is it THE movie of the Facebook generation… no. But are you surprised that some critics may have gone a bit around the bend with that? Yes? Well… what can I say, man? I am so sorry hyperbole has let you down yet again…

7. Exit through the Gift Shop
Banksy is a well known graffiti artist and I love his stuff, but what I love more is he likes to trap people, catch them off-foot. He likes to skewer the establishment and then turn around and expose the anti-establishment folks cheering him on as a bunch of dickheads too. That’s awesome. And then there’s this film… This film is about a short little French dude (Not Napoleon ) who likes to film shit and becomes obsessed with street art. His trip through the dark and seedy underbelly of the street art world leads him, finally, to Banksy, King Shit Supreme of Street-Art-polis and from there, Thierry (the Non Napoleon French dude) becomes a street art king in his own right, transforming himself into Mr. Brainwash, a figure both loved by the masses and derided as a meaningless consumer whore by his peers. It’s a great film, just a great film… and it may be nothing but a big prank. The whole thing. A set-up. A big bit of smoke and mirrors and mummery, and as for Mr. Brainwash? Play-acting. Maybe. So whats the answer? Is it real or fake? It certainly happens, it’s not staged, but in the end, is it real? And does it matter? No. Horrid little commercialized art machine or witting/unwitting puppet, the story of the creation of Mr. Brainwash is a fantastic experience. This is this year’s Doc, folks. I know most of you only see one a year, so if that's you, make it this one (Or Winnebago man…).

6. Black Swan
This was the last film I was trying to see before putting this list together and there’s a reason it was last. Short and sweet? Darren Aronofsky often leaves me cold. Click on his name. Look at him, with his stupid, snide little moustache… the bastard. I’d love to hold him down and shave that ridiculous little lip-ferret right off. Ye…ugh, you disgust me. …And often times, I have the same reaction to his films. Not always, of course, in fact sometimes, like the Wrestler, he delivers a phenomenal film and phenomenal performances, but most of the time? No, thank you. Well, Black Swan is one of his good ones. It’s the story of a young woman slowly cracking under the pressure of performing as the Swan Queen in a new production of Swan Lake and it’s all told using the story of Swan Lake. And let me tell you, cracking is putting it lightly. Natalie Portman loses her shit. She is amazing. When she turns into the Black Swan, it is clear and chilling, the difference in her stance, her face going from fragile eggshells to stone demon? Amazing. It is an amazing performance. Amazing. Vincent Cassel is great and I’m still pissed I haven’t seen Mesrine yet… Plus, it has Winona Ryder (we’ll always have Reality Bites, Cherie) as the aging Prima and new local favorite Mila Kunis as the dark and seductive twin/rival. Now, is it somewhat overwrought and a bit campy, of course it is, it’s Aronofsky and it’s about Ballet, I mean Barbara Hersey is shooting for what can only be described as Crawford-esqe levels here, but in spite of that or because of it, this film is brilliant and creepy (at times, really creepy) and completely worth your time. Go see it.

5. Scott Pilgrim
Now, I know this isn’t a super popular film with some of you great unwashed out there and to that, I say: Suck a big fat one. I love Scott Pilgrim. This is the story of boy meets girl. Of boy falling in love with girl. And of boy then being forced to fight her seven evil exs in crazy ass, video game, kung fu style fights. Yes, it’s a classic tale. And yes, I know, the movie didn’t capture the totality of character nuances the book series features, either. Yes, I’m flabbergasted. No, really. I am. That’s never happened before in the history of adaptations ever. And yes, I know, you’re tired of Michael Cera too. Listen, you guys created that monster, alright, so don’t come crying to me now that he’s out there, running around and nebbishly terrorizing the countryside. Not my problem. Besides this is a fun film. Have you seen it? Most of you haven’t. It’s a good time. It’s hilarious. Edgar Wright is awesome. There are guest stars up butt-hole. Visually stunning, Scott Pilgrim is a blast. Try it out and you’ll see and then, you can come back here and admit I was right all along… again…

4. Inception
Okay, so I’m going to start off talking about this film’s one problem, because there is one big problem with the film, then I’m going to fix that problem for you and move on… Ok, ready? So: “Does the top fall or not?” This is the big question, isn’t it? Yes, but it’s also the wrong question. It’s not the one you should be asking yourself as you leave the theatre. Now, I admit, the question of the top is a consuming one and THAT is the problem… No… not the fact that we never find out, but the fact that the scene is even included at all. Why? Because, honestly, the scene doesn’t matter and by including that last little moment, Director Christopher Nolan needlessly injects the audience with a frustrating level of anxiety and suddenly, the question of the top is all anyone remembers and talks about. That scene effectively wrecks the experience of the film for the majority of the audience and instead of what should be happening (people seeing a summer film showcasing the way summer films ought to be), they instead gripe and groan about how confusing the film is, when in fact, it is the opposite. Remember when I said Iron Man 2 is the perfect popcorn flick? Well, Inception ought to be the other side of the spectrum. The summer film that wows you, challenges you, shows you new things. This is a film that is entertaining and loud and unbelievable, but smart and cool as well. This is what Hollywood should be making every summer. Big, bold, fresh ideas with strong casts and crews and stronger scripts… but then there’s that Top spinning, spinning, spinning, isn’t there? Did it fall? How is that the wrong question? You want me to fix it? You want me to let you in on the right question? You want to know the key to determining the difference between what is the dream and what is reality? I’m not going to tell you outright…, but I will tell you the questions you should be asking. It’s not: Does the Top fall? It’s: Who does the Top belong too? Because the Totem only works for its owner, correct? Hmmm… so if it isn’t Cobb’s totem (and it’s not), then what IS his totem? Once you figure that out, you’ll release all that spinning top anxiety because suddenly you’ll see that whether or not the top falls doesn’t matter and you’ll find yourself left with a fantastic summer flick… just the way it was supposed to be. Enjoy.

3. Toy Story 3
Pixar is great. That’s all there is too it. They are great. Their worst film (Cars) is still better than the majority of films out there. Year after year, Pixar is consistently putting out the best storytelling in Hollywood. Hands down. The Incredibles is probably in my top ten of all time. Smart, funny, and able to entertain all ages, their movies shock and delight, you will literally laugh AND cry. If you avoid their movies because you think: ew… cartoons. Let me tell you, buddy, A. Pull your head out of your butt. B. If you like good movies you need to do yourself a favor and start checking these out. If, after that, you STILL don’t like Pixar… well… you have terrible taste and probably should stop listening to your own opinion or at the very least, try and be sure you never offer it in public or to other people… Anyway, Toy Story 3 is the final chapter in the story of Andy’s toys, where Andy is about to leave for college and the toys find themselves accidentally donated to a daycare and must work together to get home to him before he leaves, and it is a rare, rare beast, my friends, in fact, it might be the only one of its kind: it is the third film in a series and also, it is the best one of that series. Now, I’ve always enjoyed the Toy Story films, they’re funny and well told, but they were usually ranked below my other favorites like the Incredibles or Monsters, Inc. or Up or Ratatouille. But Number 3? The story of the slow and melancholy end of an age, the scramble for meaning in the face of your own mortality, the bonds of friendship that make us a family, plus an edge of your seat prison break movie? Yes, please. And, oh. Oh. Soooo good. Really. And then there’s that moment toward the end where the Toys finally find themselves without an escape and with no other option but to meet their fate together and they all reach out and take each other’s hand? It is a pure film moment. It pierces your heart. Yes, I know that’s some shameless shit I just wrote right there, I admit it, but that moment sticks with you, man, it speaks clearly without language. It will touch you. And the person who watches this film and makes it to that moment and yet finds still themselves unmoved… I don’t want to know them. This is a brilliant, brilliant movie. I was floored. Seriously, if you’re not well into the Pixar catalogue, you are wrong and no true film fan.

2. Winter’s Bone
Lost in the hullabaloo and brouhaha of summer, the flash and thunder of Hollywood unfettered, there was a tiny little bit of blink-and-you’ll-miss-it backwoods noir released: Winter’s Bone. And it was brilliant. I talked about it here, so this write up will be brief. In a nutshell: A great film. At times it’s a disturbing and hard to watch one, but still great. The only reason it didn’t make my number one this year is the shear entertainment value of the one that did… more on that later. So, anyway, Winter’s Bone is the story of a young teen in Appalachia named Ree, who is saddled with the caring of her younger siblings and mostly catatonic mother. Meanwhile, her meth-head Father has jumped bail, using the family home as collateral, and suddenly Ree has three days to bring him back in or lose the house and at that point, everything. What follows is a frightening journey through a dark woods world of dangerous hillbillies and meth-heads and the secrets they’ll kill to keep. Neither preachy nor voyeuristic poverty porn, it is simply an engrossing tale and star Jennifer Lawrence is a talent I expect to hear much more about in the future.

1. True Grit
This is probably not all that shocking for you regular readers out there. I loved this book and I’ve been chatting the flick up for probably the last 6 to 8 months. And it delivered. All the heart of the book. All the scruff and smile of the Coen brothers’ films. I will buy this and watch it again and again. It just flows, you know? It sweeps you away. And I think that’s why some people complain about the ending. Although completely true to the ending of the book, including where Maddy calls an aging Frank James trash because he didn’t stand for a lady (awesome), it is also a crash back to Earth. Maddy and Rooster and Lebeouf’s journey to apprehend the villainous drifter Tom Chaney seems like something out of an ancient fantasy and while it’s going you are happily strung along in its epic wake, and the eventual “day after” feel of the ending is a sad jolt back to reality, back to a world without happily-ever-afters, where the white knights become just men once again and stalwart friends and companions sometimes drift away. Easily, my number one. Easily. A great, great film. I loved it. Go see it.

EDIT: Looks like the Oscar noms are out and I've got a lot of cross-over. Interesting.

And for the completists out there…

The Almost made its:
1. How to Train your Dragon: No, really, it’s awesome.
2. The girl with/who… movies: The ones based on the Stieg Larsson books. I heard the books are... meh, but the films are good.
3. Kick-Ass: Got to love Hit Girl.
4. Red Riding: An ambitious trilogy about child murders and other dark deeds in Northern England in the late 70s and early 80s. English Noir. Good, but not quite a homerun.
5. Winnebago man: My 2nd favorite Doc of the year.
6. The American: A little slow, but good.
7. Lemmy: My 3rd favorite doc. You can’t watch this and not become a Motorhead fan… if you weren’t already.

The movies I didn’t see, but might have made the list from what I hear:
1. 127 hours? I should see this. I love Danny Boyle, but I hate these types of films…
2. Monsters? Looked fun. Aliens infecting an area of Mexico, an immigration allegory, kind of a bastard child of District 9. Reviews were split. It was here and gone, so… I missed it.
3. A Serbian Film? A lot of buzz. It’s this year’s Antichrist, as in: nightmarish and disturbing…
4. Four Lions? A comedy about bumbling suicide bombers… hmmm... sounds French, but it's actually English and apparently it’s good. We’ll see. I’m curious.
5. The King’s speech? Some people seem to love it. Others fall all over themselves to dramatically yawn whenever the film is mentioned. It’s getting nominations, so I’ll see it eventually.
6. The Kids are alright? “You know what’s awkward? Watching a pretty graphic lesbian sex scene with your mother.” -- Little Ms. Super-cute Wife.
7. Mesrine? I linked to this in the Black Swan blurb. Can’t wait to see it.
8. The fighter? Eh… I put this here only because some folks like it, but at a glance, this looks like this year’s Oscar bait to me, this year’s Invictus… Haven’t we seen this movie before? Aren’t we tired of it yet? Can we make a note this time?

Films I’ve seen on other people’s lists that I was surprised to see appearing, but then turned out to be crap like I had previously assumed:
1. Greenburg: Annoying crap. Ben Stiller sucks.
2. Ghost Writer: Over-blown and made no sense. How is a hidden message in an unpublished memoir any kind of proof of any wrong doing at all?
3. Takers: A film made by idiots for idiots. Fake. Stupid. Predictable. Terrible.

So there you have it, folks, stick a fork in 2010 because I am done. So, what'd you think? Did something not make my list that you would have included in yours? Let me know, otherwise I'll be back this week maybe with a new general projects update blog and maybe talk about my new Loft class too (which starts tonight... exciting...) and maybe I'll put some stuff up over at the Scribblerati blog as well.

Only time will tell,

Jon

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