For your convenience and approval, this examiner has decide to attempt something that is actually less a ‘best of’ and more of a ‘favorites of 2010.’
It’s important to realize that there are plenty of DVDs that snuck by me and will be seen in future years, prompting me to wish that I had included them on this list. The goal wasn’t to give a definitive ‘best of 2010’ list. That is beyond my capabilities. Instead, it attempts to recall DVDs that were seen/reviewed so you can read more detailed accounts of why they are here
Keep in mind that many of the most-praised films tend to hit theaters toward the end of the year, so those will not be eligible for consideration here until they hit DVD next year.
Throughout the year there are also many classic films that see re-releases on DVD and Blu Ray which are probably much better than the first time around, but that is really just looking backward. I try to emphasize what is new to DVD.
So please take this list for what it is: the incomplete, flawed, and extremely selective two cents from an admitted film-snob.
In no particular order:
‘Toy Story 3’- What more can be said about the highest-grossing animated film of all time? The consistently groundbreaking animated series does it again, perhaps letting its beloved characters ride of into the sunset in such an appropriate way.
‘The Road’- It seems like Cormac McCarthy novels are a safe choice for film adaptations. This one is borderline depressing, but it’s so good, it’s hard to look away. The images and ideas from this will probably stick with you for quite some time after it ends.
‘Scott Pilgrim Vs The World’- On the other end of the spectrum, this is the cinematic equivalent to eating an entire box of candy by yourself and washing it down with a gallon of sugar water. Arresting visuals give the impression of watching someone else play a video game while you read a comic book.
‘The Town’- It’s not a genre-defining work, but this meat and potatoes heist flick keeps things effectively simple when so many movies confuse ‘complicated’ for ‘good’.
‘Inception’- Speaking of complicated, we have Christopher Nolan’s latest tale which explores dreams. You can call it willfully convoluted and overly long, but I’ll call it one of my favorites of the year.
‘MacGruber’- One of the best of 2010? Not in a critical or commercial sense at all. One of the best made films of the year? Also, not by a long shot. Did it make this examiner giggle himself silly? Yes. Yes it did.
‘Kick-Ass’- If you think about it, most superhero movies are perilously close to being comedies. Adults running around in spandex suits using gadgets/superpowers against mutants/social outcasts with grandiose plans to take over the world. From many perspectives, it’s all quite silly. This works because it takes subtle jabs at the genre without going overboard and when it does go overboard, it’s in terms of the action content.
‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’- The book series has officially taken over the planet and Hollywood finally caught on. The American version is a little while away, so stick with the original Swedish version of the crime thriller. It will likely be much better. Don’t be scared off by the subtitles. At the very least, you can hear the English dubbed audio track. Subsequent installments may be a case of diminishing returns, but this ‘Girl…’ is at least worth a first date if you like mystery/suspense. It’s probably one of the best of its genre to come out over the last few years.
‘The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus’- This might confuse some people for its inclusion and it has flaws that are tough to overlook, but isn’t it reassuring to see Terry Gilliam make even a modest comeback in a creative sense? No one should expect ‘Brazil 2’ but given the film’s extenuating circumstances, this turned out to be very watchable.
‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’- Wes Anderson is known for off-beat comedies. Stop-motion seemed like a leap, and it was. His gamble paid off and his incarnation of the Roald Dahl story has more going for it in the narrative than almost any other stop-motion film in recent memory. Kids and adults can enjoy this together.
‘Ponyo’- Why on earth would you re-work ‘The Little Mermaid’? Because if you’re Hayao Miyazaki, you can attempt almost anything and it will probably turn to gold. This isn’t the story you remember from years ago, but you and your family will probably love all of the new stuff that is going on.
‘Zombieland’- Yet another semi-parody that takes genre conventions head on. Do you want to see an action movie, a horror movie or a comedy tonight? With ‘Zombieland’ you can have all three without compromising.
‘Whip It’- While some of the ‘girl power’ message may be lost on me, what isn’t lost is that this is an intelligent coming of age tale that should have enough laughs for everyone in the room.
‘The Hurt Locker- It was gratifying to see ‘The Hurt Locker’ beat ‘Avatar’ at the Oscars. Of course the latter was given richly deserved praise for its visuals, but the former is just better in every other aspect. Both movies will be talked about for many years to come, but this just resonated with me a lot more.
‘Moon’- Often, if you want a science fiction film, you have to sacrifice certain dramatic elements like character development in favor of action and special effects. Those who can enjoy mellow meditations on mood and who don’t mind a claustrophobic setting can find a lot to like about this. It has similarities to ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ in terms of setting and approach, though certainly not in scale.
‘Adam’- Romantic comedies usually make this examiner’s stomach turn, but when a different approach is used, that’s when some interest can be generated. Adam is a young man who is fascinated by the stars. He just so happens to have Asperger’s Syndrome. It’s more a journey of self-discovery and overcoming limitations than anything, but there is an awkward romance present.
I wanted to be able to include ‘A Serious Man’ which was very good, but is just too hard to recommend for wide audiences because some of the subject matter might be difficult for non-Jewish viewers to relate to. It was the Coen brothers trying to achieve success by using their intuition for dark comedy in a different realm of filmmaking and they certainly do that here.
The limited appeal argument also goes for ‘A Single Man.’ While the movie was well-made, it was more a brave performance by Colin Firth than anything else. The homosexual subject matter might make some social conservatives uneasy and we wouldn’t want that, would we?
These films are just one man’s opinion and are as good a place as any to start a debate.
Feel like something was missed? Feel like something doesn’t belong? Feel free to comment.
All of these films are currently available to rent/purchase in Allentown, the Lehigh Valley and beyond.