A little later than promised my top five films of 2010. I find that my film taste is less subject to irrational mood swings and is generally easier to nail down. As always my usual caveat applies since I’ve not seen all the well-regarded releases in 2010, let alone all films!
1) The Social Network.
I remember how skeptical I was of this based on the concept and I still think the title is a little weak. This isn’t a film about facebook but a character piece on the man behind it. As soon as I saw the trailer though I knew it was a must see. The talent alone is enough to get me interested: David Fincher as director, Aaron Sorkin as screen writer and a Trent Reznor soundtrack. Some critics have said this is more a Aaron Sorkin film than a David Fincher work but I’m certain that with any other director we would not get the dark brooding visuals or quick-cut scene changes (Switching between the two simultaneous court cases).
The portrayal of Mark is fascinating and raises a lot of questions. I also reject the criticism that The Social Network is misogynistic, Mark Z may be, and any misoynism is the film’s portrayal of that. It’s interesting, enthralling, funny and my favourite film of the year.
This is one of the greatest action films of all time although I think the general complexity is overstated by viewers. Debates ranged on the internet for months after release: was it all a dream? The answer is the least important part of the film for me and one without definitive answer: we didn’t see the top fall because the ending was deliberately ambiguous. End.
The reason this film is an action movie truimph isn’t because the plot was complicated but because the characters had depth. The mysteries into Cobb and Fischer’s pasts were interesting and the conclusion to each of their character arcs emotionally rewarding.
The distinctive visual identities of each world never let the movie get too confusing even with the number of simultaneous action set pieces. I’ve enjoyed all the films by Christopher Nolan but this is perhaps the one I’ll come back to most alongside Memento.
3) El secreto de sus ojos a.k.a The Secrets In Their Eyes
This and Un prophète were the only two non-english speaking films I think I saw this year that really had a chance of making it into the top 5 although I’ve not yet seen Des hommes et des dieux (Of Gods and Men). Of those two this is the film that I both enjoyed and loved. I’m counting this as 2010 because this is when it was first shown in wide release in UK cinemas although I’m aware it won best foreign picture at the 82nd Academy Awards!
I’d describe this one as a mystery, the lead character, Benjamin, is a retired justice agent and he’s trying to find closure for a case that he got very personally involved in many years ago. The mystery unfolds at just the right pace with some real moments of humour and tragedy.
The film is exquisitely shot. Everyone who reviews it just has to mention the football stadium scene. A 5 minute continuous long shot that goes over the pitch through the players, through a large convincing crowd, on a chase and then back onto the pitch again. I’d probably advise seeing the film just for that alone to be quite honest. Very special.
The film finishes with a bang and a twist that just would not work in any other language. This is surely a film Hollywood can’t have a go at ruining!
4) Scott Pilgrim vs The World.
Liked but not loved by the majority of critics this film screams cult classic all over it. I was pretty wary of seeing this one, from what I’d read of the comics I knew the chances of the humour translating to the big screen were small. Whilst the cinema me and Robin went to see this in were quite divided I loved every minute.
All the characters were very vivid and looked absolutely spot-on. My particular favourite had to be Wallace, Scott’s gay roommate who he shares a futon with.
It’s amazing that this film managed to secure the funding that it did since it was always likely to find it difficult to attract the mainstream success needed to make the large budget financially viable. We’re richer for it’s failure though. Good one to stay in and watch with friends.
5) Winter’s Bone
I didn’t love this one but this certainly beats the likes of Toy Story 3 which is knocking hard to get in. A very slow piece of film noir that has atmosphere in huge quantities. A must see performance from Jennifer Lawrence. I imagine she’s a star we’ll be seeing more of in the future. Essentially this is a character piece about a young lady attempting to look after her family and find her dad against all adversity. It’s all filmed in Missouri amongst the Ozarks and the director made the right choice, it wouldn’t have worked anywhere else.
Good year for cinema all in all but with King’s Speech and Black Swan already on my horizon for 2011 I’m hoping this will be even better! Hoping to be a little more adventurous and get some more European cinema under my belt this year whilst I’m in London.