Eric's 2010 Year in Review
2010 was one of the worst years in film. Again we were bombarded with forgettable sequels and remakes. Top filmmakers such as the Coen brothers, Ridley Scott, Darren Aronofsky and (now serial sell-out) Tim Burton produced disappointing movies. I did manage to find some standouts though:
Rookie filmmaker Debra Granik managed to create the western I wanted veteran filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen to make. You couldnt help but notice actors and sets in the manicured and sterile True Grit. Winter's Bone takes place in the gritty, suspicious Ozarks, where young kids are forced to grow up early. In the year's best performance, Jennifer Lawrence searched the lawless backwoods for her father. And who knew Eastbound and Down's John Hawkes (Kenny Power's brother) could act? Hawkes gives a chilly performance as a violent relative we arent sure can be trusted. The polar opposite of the disappointing, conventional True Grit- thrilling, dark and realistic. Its a western, detective and mafia movie all rolled into one. Coens and Haile Steinfeld take note.
Dont be put of by the plot- a retelling of the origins of Facebook. David Fincher redeems himself after the Benjamin Button fiasco with the engrossing story about the power of an idea. Aaron Sorkin's rapid fire script is truly one of a kind. To make a thrilling film about a series of conversations is very impressive.
Ben Stiller is capable of delivering a great performance in the hands of a skilled director (especially himself). Filmmaker Noah Baumbach never does wrong in my book ever since writing "The Life Aquatic..."with Wes Anderson. Stiller's Greenberg is neurotic, irritable and narcissistic. His failed musician returns to LA to housesit for his brother and then ruins any scene he visits. Baumbach's films and pain-in-the-ass protagonists make you feel uncomfortable, but their despicable leads are fun to laugh at. They always make for great character studies and no one learns a thing (sometimes you gotta love when that happens). No more Fockers, Stiller!
Danny Boyle is also a reliably great filmmaker. Told he couldnt make a thrilling film about a guy with his arm stuck in a rock for two hours, he delivered just that. I even admired James Franco's performance, though I'm usually annoyed with this poster boy for multi-hyphenate actors. An inventive film about the importance of relationships and having a connection to nature.
David O. Russel is another director who does no wrong. Dont be fooled by the trailer- this is no conventional underdog sports film. Russell tells the true story of a Boston boxer who must escape his large, loony and obnoxious family in order to succeed in the ring. An excellent supporting cast and I loved the HBO-style video cinematography during the great boxing scenes.
My other favorites were TOY STORY 3 (loved the inspired nods to classic prison escape and mafia films),THE KINGS SPEECH (yes, it was an Oscary theatrical British drama, but good story, good acting), INCEPTION (dont watch it more than once though- youll see its mainly exposition and not much action. But its undeniably original and includes the best fight scene in years) and SHUTTER ISLAND.
In the So Bad Theyre Good category, THE WOLFMAN, PIRANHA and THE EXPENDABLES produced enjoyable camp. 80s/90s Shoot-Em-Ups (see: Eastwood, Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Van Damme, Seagal, ect) and Creature Rampage genres are some of my favorites.These ones delivered everything I was looking for and (seemed to) know the ridiculous limits they were pushing. Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins gives his worst performance since Instinct and at one point dons a wolfman outfit in an over-the-top battle with Benicio del Toro! Such good wolf battles! As you can see, with these three on my top list, it wasnt such a good film year was it?
Staff writer: Eric Palmer