My Top Ten Movies of 2010

Other than my year in comedy review (will post next week), the only thing I have spent more time on is probably watching movies.  Yesterday I posted my ten worst movies of 2010, so today it is time for a rare burst of positivity from JLCauvin.com – the top ten movies of 2010. But first some honorable mention titles:

  • The Town– being a mash-up of The Departed and Heat may be unoriginal, but that doesn’t stop it from being quite good
  • Waiting for Superman – A touching and powerful documentary.  Would have been in the top ten if they had spent even five minutes discussing the one problem schools will not be able to stop – bad parents.  It is easy to feel bad for and touched by the children of devoted and struggling parents, but even if schools were perfect, there would be thousands of bad parents whose children would fall between the cracks.  Still a strong movie though
  • Countdown to Zero– scary documentary about nuclear weapons
  • Tangled – Second best animated movie of the year
  • True Grit – a solid movie with A+ performances, but the movie fell short of my expectations and of the top 10
  • The King’s Speech – British people during Nazi aggression – any way this doesn’t get 10 nominations.  A very good movie, but not great
  • Client No. 9– works best as a companion piece for the stellar documentary Inside Job.  After watching both you will be convinced that powerful interests were at play in exposing Elliot Spitzer.  At this point, for all the good he tried to do I’d be okay with him having prostitutes in the Governor’s mansion.
  • Fair Game– Sean Penn and Naomi Watts were great in this movie about Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame (though I was disappointed that Gollum from Lord of the Rings was not cast as Robert Novack).  There were some fictional add ons which degrade the movie as completely credible, but the basic story is true – Bush administration lied about yellow cake – Joe Wilson wrote about it – Bush administration exposed his wife as a covert CIA operative.  Where was the Tea Party during that?
  • The Other Guys – some people may question this choice, but I did not laugh at any movie more than this one this year. 

And without further adieu, here is my Top 10:

10. Green Zone

Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon teamed up before for the last two Bourne films, and Greengrass also directed one of the best movies ever made (United 93) and  this one did not disappoint.  Many people were disappointed in the lack of action throughout the movie, and the one-sided politics, but the story is clearly based on the true fact that the U.S. in its blood lust to seek justification to war with Iraq, trusted intelligence from a very untrustworthy single source.  Sometimes the truth is one-sided and Green Zone is outstanding and unapologetic.

9. Toy Story 3

The worst Toy Story movie is still excellent.  Pixar is basically assured of a spot on this list every year (though Cars 2 next year may be a push).

8. Let Me In

Normally I would be wary of a re-make of a film that just came out 2 years ago, but Let Me In, about a pre-teen vampire, is just as good as the excellent original, Let The Right One In.  And maybe liking this movie just fuels my disdain for a country that prefers poorly written and acted vampire films starring talentless turds.  Any other Twilight fans?

The lack of success for Let Me In shows that America has a fear of good films than vampires.

7. The Fighter

I have never thought Mark Wahlberg was a particularly good actor and yet, since 2006 4 of his films have made my list (if you count The Other Guys in the honorable mention – with The Departed and Invincible in 2006).  Of course, The Happening, was my worst film of 2008 so he is clearly hit and miss.  The Fighter is not Million Dollar Baby, but it is a very solid movie with no weak spots.  Christian Bale, Melissa Leo and Amy Adams are all excellent (Oscar for Bale is almost certain).  But is anyone tired of the Boston accent being so omnipresent in Hollywood now?

6. Catfish

In a year full of tremendous documentaries, this was the second best.  The Social  Network was a great movie making and very entertaining, but Catfish is so good at showing the real life implications of Facebook (what we all do, but to various, and for the most part, lesser degrees – living our lives on-line).  I cannot write too much about it because there is a twist.  And part of the twist is that it is a twist that you do not expect.  The final half hour of this movie is my favorite section of any movie this year that did not involve a van falling slow motion into a lake.

5. Carlos

The star of this film playing Carlos the Jackal, the infamous, but largely unsuccessful terrorist (I have dubbed him the Jennifer Aniston of terrorism) should definitely be nominated for best actor.  I only saw the 2 hour, 45 minute version of the movie (there was a 5+ hour version released briefly in theaters), but the movie is so epic, yet moves with a brisk pace that the best thing I can say is that I wish I could have seen the 5 hour version.

4. 127 Hours

Best actor – James Franco.  Done.  It may seem like a gimmick or a film school project to make a movie about a guy whose arm is stuck under a rock, but this is done so well and Franco is so engaging and entertaining (and the real life guy is a certified badass) that you forget how simple the movie is.  This movie could have been number one if I did not enjoy the top three so much.

You wouldn't think that this could make a great film. But you would be wrong.

3. The Social Network

I had wanted to write a pilot script about a year ago and around that time I began watching The West Wing.  8 weeks later I had made it through the entire season on DVD and was thoroughly discouraged.  Aaron Sorkin’s writing was so intimidatingly crisp and brilliant that I knew whatever I wrote would not measure up and would feel like a complete waste of time.  Well, Sorkin Wrote The Social Network and it was outstanding.  A great film with great performances (he has not gotten as much credit or hype, but I think the guy (one actor) who plays the twins should be nominated for best supporting actor.  The movie is 2 hours and it was one of the few films this year that I never checked my watch.  It just moved and flowed so well.  The only way to surpass Sorkin this year was to be even more creative or to just be a devastating true story.

2. Inception

The reason why the mere existence of movies like Twilight, the A-Team, Yogi Bear, Vin Diesel and Paul Walker films, etc.  is bearable is because there are still some big studio filmmakers like Christopher Nolan who are so inventive, creative and dedicated to make high quality work are around making films like Inception.  This move had, by far, the best sequence of any film this year.  That quadruple dream sequence with people floating and the van falling in slow motion was, for lack of a better phrase, fu*king awesome.  Great cast, great script (I look forward to the original screenplay showdown between Sorkin’s dialogue and Nolan’s brilliant overall concept), great film.  For those that said it was too confusing I say to you – enjoy Twilight, the A Team, Yogi Bear, Vin Diesel and Paul Walker films, etc.  Hell, you might as well go see a Kevin James movie while you are at it.  But a movie about people who steal your dreams could only get second best of 2010.  The best film is about people who are stealing your money.

Fu*king Awesome.

1. Inside Job

The last time I had this powerful a reaction to a movie I was watching the first 25 minutes of Saving Private Ryan.  For all the terrifying blood and fear of the battlefield that Steven Spielberg showed in SPR, that same feeling was brought out by the greed depicted and moral outrage I felt watching Inside Job.   When I saw Deep Impact I remember feeling terrified at how helpless we would be if a giant asteroid were headed towards Earth.  Well, the corporate greed in America and the government that is owned by them have steered America on what feels like an inevitable path of self-destruction.  Wealth disparity + government ownership = more wealth disparity +…

Both parties have been and are guilty, but the GOP is the principal actor and continues to manipulate the masses into believing that the American Dream is possible for everyone and that America is #1 in everything and anyone who contradicts that is un-American or unworthy of your vote or support.  And then behind closed doors they ensure that what they just promised all Americans is in fact, not possible.  This documentary is just a fact-by-fact explanation how unbridled capitalism has brought us to this place.  It certainly is not a feel good film, but I think it should be required viewing in ever 9th grade class in America.  When my girlfriend saw it on my recommendation she said that someone leaving the theater dismissed the film as “well, that was one-sided.”  Well sometimes the truth is one-sided.    We are too eager to find compromise on issues in this country because compromise always seems best, but not when one side is completely wrong.  That just means you are edging away from the truth.  I always thought it was some leftist, hippie cry that “corporations own the government.” Well it is not some liberal, hippie cry or some apathetic surrender – it is the truth and Inside Job is your guidebook.