Best Films of 2010
Animated films rule. At least they did in 2010. Every two months or so, just when there seemed to be pretty slim pickings at the theater, along came a stellar animated film that proved the studios still knew how to make a product that could be hailed by the harshest critic and the most cynical audience member. Early in the year it was “How to Train Your Dragon,” the summer offered “Toy Story 3,” and “Despicable Me.” The fall brought “Megamind” to pick up the slack and “Tangled” was a shining star in an otherwise lackluster holiday season.
The fact that all of these films also incorporated excellent 3D treatments bodes well for the technology that is making a significant contribution at the box office. Why so much high quality from this genre? Likely it is the intense competition, the self-imposed standards for excellence, a determination to think outside the box, and because of the financial stakes involved, the ability to hire Hollywood’s best and brightest creative and technical personnel.
But there were other excellent films in 2010. Here’s a rundown on the cream of the crop-as usual, in no particular order:
Inception: Chris Nolan’s vision of a team of dream weavers is that rare film that amazes even as it confounds yet entertains on every, um, level.
The Social Network:strong> A cyber-thriller and cautionary tale all in one that chronicles the rise of Facebook and crackles with relevancy, aided by a razor-sharp script.
Rabbit Hole: This quietly powerful drama about a couple that copes with a tragic loss features career-defining performances by Aaron Eckhart and Nicole Kidman.
Toy Story 3: Not just effective because of its familiarity but because of its emotional heft and penetrating peril, as Woody and friends break out of the day care center from Hades.
Waiting for Superman: This documentary on our educational system rings with urgency yet avoids demonizing and generalizing while using personal stories that pack an unforgettable punch.
How to Train Your Dragon: Dreamworks’ tale of young dragon whisperer Hiccup is impressive visually, contains thrilling action sequences, and earns its lump-in-your-throat charm.
True Grit: The Coen brothers’ most accessible film is much more than an update on a classic; it’s a rewarding, expertly written, moving and oft-hilarious homage to the Classic Western.
Flipped: This little seen gem is a 60s era coming-of-age story that’s shamelessly sentimental but all the more effective for its lack of cynicism while dealing with its serious subject material.
The Fighter: More profane and gritty than your average fight film, but nonetheless memorable as a redemption story of a 90s fighter and, more poignantly, his crack-head brother played with stunning nuance by Christian Bale.
Tangled: Disney’s almost overlooked, old-fashioned musical proves there’s still life in this formula, especially with songs this good and wit this appealing.
Just missed the cut: “Winter’s Bone,” “127 Hours,” “The Town,” “Oceans,” “Despicable Me,” “Conviction,” “Unstoppable,” “Let Me In.”
Best Date Movie: “Life As We Know It.”
Underrated: “The Karate Kid,” “Dear John,” “Knight and Day,” “Robin Hood.”
Best All-Star Cast in a Good Action Movie: “Red.”
Best All-Star Cast in a Bad Action Movie: “The Expendables.”
Worst Film of the Year: “8: The Mormon Proposition” Not because of its subject, which deserves intellectual debate, but because of its embarrassingly shallow, fear-mongering style.
Here’s Hoping the Rumors Are True: A state-of-the-art, megabucks film production studio and a major chain multiplex may be coming to southern Utah.