As is customary this time of year, here's a list of some of my favourites films from 2010. There's no doubt going to be other great films that came out in 2010 which aren't listed here simply because I haven't seen them yet, but these are the ones I have seen and enjoyed the most:
1. The Social Network
Of course, the film isn't exactly accurate. There are many plot points which are contrary to the evidence provided by articles from the time and comments made by the protagonists themselves, yet this doesn't detract from the substance of the film. Like all good semi-biographical films, history is dramatised to make it more interesting. In an interview with the New York Magazine, Aaron Sorkin freely admits that plot details are fabricated.
You come away from watching The Social Networking thinking that yes, Mark Zuckerberg is a genius, but he's also a bit of a dick. To what extent that is true will only be known by those who know him. But it serves the plot well - focusing on the irony of the world's largest social network being created by someone so lacking in social skills.
A film that makes you work in this way might put off some people, but it shouldn't. Even if you don't understand what's going on you can still sit back and enjoy what is a remarkable, truly original cinematic experience. Saying that, I actually think I enjoyed it more the second time round watching it on my TV at home than I did in the cinema. The reason for this is that the music was just too damn loud in the cinema. The score for this film is very heavily lathered on from beginning to end, much like it is in The Dark Knight, also directed by Christopher Nolan. Being able to turn the volume down slightly at home on the second viewing made for a much more enjoyable experience.
3. City Island
City Island is very much in the vein of American Beauty, about a dysfunctional family living on City Island - a small island in the New York City borough of the Bronx. This dark comedy starring Andy Garcia is a little gem. I'd never heard of the film before I came across it and had no idea of the plot before watching it. It's really funny and surprising. Definitely worth a watch.
4. The Special Relationship
5. The Ghost Writer
A few other films that I enjoyed this year include:
- Harry Brown. I'm a sucker for a good revenge thriller. Watching a decrepit (Michael Caine) kick the ass of a few hoodies in London makes for 2 very entertaining hours!
- Easy A. Not normally the type of film I'd bother with but after reading some good reviews I thought I'd give it a shot. I'm glad I did. Emma Stone in this reminded me very much of Carey Mulligan's performance in An Education - one of my favourite films from 2009.
- Four Lions. A comedy about suicide bombers. That's the way to tackle religious extremists - laugh at their incompetence! Lots of laughs and it was good to see Sheffield and Meadowhall for a bit of nostalgia.
- Shutter Island. Leonardo Di Caprio makes some really good choices when it comes to scripts. Here he again teams up with Martin Scorsese for another film which makes you work a little to understand what's going on.
- She's Out Of My League. I watched this on the plane over to LA. This year hasn't been that great for comedies but this was one of the better ones.
- Grown Ups. This received a lot of bad reviews but I actually enjoyed it. It certainly passed the laugh test for me. You can tell that it was written by Adam Sandler though. Very indulgent of him to cast his character as the funny guy who's also the hero.
- The American. Not sure if this belongs here because to tell you the truth I found it a bit boring. On purpose this film is very slow and minimalistic. However George Clooney is always good value and in this he plays a character very similar to that he played in Michael Clayton, which I enjoyed immensely. It was watchable but I'm not in a hurry to watch it again.
I'll Never Get Those Two Hours Back Again
Here's a list of some films from 2010 which I assign to the 'what a load of shit' category.
- From Paris with Love. Far too much style over substance. A disappointing action flick.
- Cop Out. I don't think I laughed once. Really lame
- When in Rome. Every now and again I have to do the husbandly duty and sit through a chick flick with Rachelle. Some I don't mind and are actually quite good, such as It's Complicated and Julie & Julia. When in Rome however is absolutely dire.
- Robin Hood. There's not many Ridley Scott or Russell Crowe films that I don't like. Frankly though, this new incarnation of Robin Hood was just too boring. It took me two sittings to get through it.
- The A Team. Pure sacrilege to make a crap job of a movie out of my childhood Saturday night viewing. Ridiculous and very forgettable
- The Expendables. The concept for this film was much better than the execution. What is it with Sylvester Stallone these days that he likes to revel in gore. Much like John Rambo, the violence was way over the top, even for an action film.
- Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. The original Wall Street is one of my favourite films. This on the other hand is a snore fest. How very disappointing.