Here are my top ten picks for my favorite films of 2010. I know I haven't seen everything I have wanted to see yet and it's possible this list could change but I'm sticking with it for now. Remember, these are ones that I have enjoyed not what I think are the best. These may not even be films I would recommend to other people. Just ones that really defined the year for me.
So my favorites are:
First off I want to give a special shoutout to a film which is not a new film but got an amazing restoration. So while I won't include it in my list I do want to mention it.
METROPOLIS - d: Fritz Lang - This is one of those movie miracles that is like mana from heaven in the film buff world. Long thought to be lost forever an extended version of 'Metropolis' on 16mm was found which adds a whopping 25 minutes to the film. Granted these elements are not in great shape but they add so much to the film. The existing parts have been restored to almost eye boggling purportions considering the age of the film. And getting the chance to see it in a theatre was just an incredible film experience. One that deserves to be recognized.
Now on to the list!
10. SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD - d: George A. Romero - I am sure I have a few head scratches right now. Well get out the Head And Shoulders and have that looked at because I loved this film. I realize I might be the only one that loved George Romero's latest excursion into zombie-ville but I found its lighter tone and different approach to be a really great change of pace. A sort of B story to his previous 'Diary Of The Dead' which follows a band of now on the run former National Guardsman trying to survive in the zombie ridden world by venturing out to this secluded island and are caught between the battle of two warring families who have different viewpoints on how to deal with the zombies. The main character appears briefly in 'Diary' but is the lead character in this one and I found this to be a really fun ride. Romero abandons the first person video gimmick of 'Diary' and just sets out to tell his story which was refreshing. As is the film which is why, again even if I am the only one, it is one of my favorites of the year.
9. SHUTTER ISLAND - d: Martin Scorsese -Going for more of a dramatic horror film to his follow up to the Academy Award winning 'The Departed' Martin Scorsese reteams with Leonardo DeCaprio with a mood piece about two Federal Marshalls sent to a mental institution for the criminally insane to find what happened to a missing prisoner. We discover that there is much more going on at the facility than it seems. This was a film where I figured out the ending pretty quick so it was not a shock. The amazing thing is the film works better the second time when you already know where it's going. Scorsese is at the top of his games with his master visual strokes and building of tension in even the smallest of situations. The whole film has a very uneasy feel to it. It's nice to see Scorsese venturing into this territory. I hope he goes here again.
8. THE SOCIAL NETWORK - d: David Fincher - The infamous film about Mark Zuckerberg who invented Facebook. What is real and what isn't doesn't really matter to me. I take it as a fictional account of a real situation. What really makes the film so incredible is having Fincher in the director's chair and the amazing cast assembled for this. The backstabbing, lying, fakeness, deceit, and disappointment is all here. Apparently inventing Facebook is just like making movies. And the ending is something that while may not be true is a true fact of life when it comes to people and sometimes the real reason they want to be so successful in life.
7. THE MILLENNIUM TRILOGY (THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE, THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET'S NEST) - d: Niels Arden Oplev (Dragon Tattoo), Daniel Alfredson (Played With Fire, The Hornet's Nest) - While this may feel like a cheat the fact is the three films actually do go together. An exciting trilogy of films about a girl who is (ahem) screwed over in life so she rebels and becomes this expert hacker unveiling everything about her attackers and her life in general. The unfolding which occurs over the course of all three films is really quite amazing and so well done. Hard not to get too specific without ruining certain things so I'll end it here. At the heart of the trilogy is a brilliant performance by Noomi Rapace who keeps the whole trilogy intact giving it the key elements that holds it all together.
6. THE FIGHTER - d: David O. Russell - Here is a big surprise for me. This modern 'Rocky' tale based on real life boxer Micky Ward is a really great film. Micky is surrounded by people who claim they are looking out for him but all have their own needs leaving Micky at the end of the stick. The struggle of an amateur boxer who only has so much time left to try for the top before he is too old is done so well and so true that you get swept up in it. Mark Wahlberg is great as Micky in a very subtle and understated performance. Amy Adams is wonderful as his fiesty girlfriend who is constantly trying to get Micky to do what is right for him despite his family set backs. The standout is Christian Bale who plays Micky's brother Dicky who once had his glory when he fought Sugar Ray Leonard but is now barely holding on with his drug addiction. An absolutely stunning performance that should not only get nominated for an Oscar but deserves to win it.
5. THE EXPENDABLES - d: Sylvester Stallone - Sometimes a fun action film is all I need and Sylvester Stallone delivered on that pulling together a great cast and letting it all go. A group of mercenaries gets more than they bargained for during their latest mission. That's pretty much all you need. Then just blow a ton of stuff up and I'm a happy camper. The kind that existed back during the 80's action film days. A throwback that I enjoyed taking and continue to.
4. BLACK SWAN - d: Darren Aronofsky - I loved this film about a ballet dancer battling obstacles to play the dual role in a production of Swan Lake. What I really enjoyed was the exploration into the process someone creative goes through to create something. Granted it is taken to the extremes in the film but the battle and hardship and demanding nature that creative people go through is something that not everyone understands. This is as good example as any. Natalie Portman gives an amazing performance. Special mention to Barbara Hershey who plays her over protective mother.
3. A SERBIAN FILM - d: Srdjan Spasojevic - The infamous film that has some people calling it an exploitative piece of garbage while others, like me, found it every bit as enthralling as it was appalling. A former porn star is given the opportunity for another job only he can't know what the film is about which leads him into the very dark world of snuff films. This film is as graphic as they come (including the infamous baby scene) but behind that is an absolute brilliant film which is shot and acted so well. The scary thing isn't how extreme the film gets but the fact that what is depicted does actually happen. This stayed with me long after it ended.
2. SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD - d: Edgar Wright - Having not read the graphic novel before going in I had almost no knowledge of this before sitting down to watch this. Boy was I blown away. Edgar Wright's outstanding take on the material about a boy who starts dating the girl of his dreams but must first defeat her seven evil exes is as fun and visually stunning as it is also quite touching. Plus it stars one of my celebrity crushes Mary Elizabeth Winstead. But that is not why it's one of my favorites of the year. It just helps.
1. INCEPTION - d: Christopher Nolan - My favorite film of the year because it is a clear example of the kind of film I would love to make. Christopher Nolan hot off The Dark Knight delivers a film that works on every level (no pun intended). People who infiltrate others dreams to steal or implant information which involves several levels of the dream world might sound like it's going to be confusing but it is told so perfectly that not only does it make sense but it delivers with fantastic action sequences and some very strong characters. An absolutely brilliant film and in my opinion the year's best.
And there is the wrap up of the year on my end. Here's to hopefully many more great films in 2011.