The Best of 2010
Given that I still have to see many of the art house flicks enjoying late-season endorsements, such as The King's Speech, Winter's Bone, and Somewhere, it seems fair enough to offer a Top 5 instead of a Top 10.
- Inception – It's the complete package: An incredible story, a great cast, stunning visual effects, and a terrific score that revolves around Edith Piaf. Whose dream is it?
- Black Swan – It's not to be taken literally. It's a psychological allegory of what it takes to be a stage performer and it's a highly entertaining mix of ballet and horror.
- 127 Hours – Aron Ralston turns out to be a kindred spirit.
- Stone – Underrated and misunderstood, this is an excellent drama about what makes an individual a good person. Sincerity counts.
- Hereafter – Clint Eastwood's movie about the afterlife is really about following your bliss in the current life.
Best Animated Movie: Despicable Me – It's clever, the story works well, and those minions keep things wacky. And their utilitarianism is tremendous, like one minion cracking another minion's back in order to turn him into a glow stick. Sorry, Pixar, but that nostalgic Toy Story 3 ending that jerked tears out of so many saps was sad mostly because Pixar's cube farm is littered with toys and people who've never had to grow up. It's the biggest double-standard since Benjamin Button wrote his postcards encouraging people to stand their ground and not be bullied... while Button himself ran away from his troubles.
Best Sequel: Iron Man 2. Throw a butt-kicking Scarlett Johansson into the mix with Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow? I'm so there. (Oh... And sorry once again, Pixar.)
Best Christian Bale Movie: The Fighter – Okay. It was his only movie this year, but Bale scored a knockout as the drug-addled Dicky Eklund.
Best Action: Salt – This one rates high purely based on the hoot factor. A good old-fashioned spy thriller in which Russians want to destroy America, Salt benefited from the serendipitous timing of a real-life Russian spy ring bust, including the Russian hottie Anna Chapman. The plot needs to be taken with a grain of salt and it involves a nefarious scheme that implicates Lee Harvey Oswald. Now that's some kind of "hootzpah!" Angelina Jolie's return to action turf and the over-the-top action set pieces make it a fun spy flick.
Best Eye Candy: Alice in Wonderland – Tim Burton's imaginative, quirky visuals illuminate a good story of female empowerment.
The Flip Side
Year's Most Overrated Movie: The Social Network – Sure, it's entertaining and it has some good dialogue, but calling it a zeitgeist movie is quite a stretch, especially after considering only a tiny handful of Facebook's 500 million "friends" actually ponied up the money to see the movie. Maybe it's not a surprise this movie's most ardent proponents seem to be members of "old school" newspapers, the very same media that gave away the family store for free online while Mark Zuckerberg found a way to turn his Web site into a cash cow worth billions.