Yesterday I began my list of my Top 10 Movies from 2010. Here now are numbers 5-1!
5. Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work – This documentary totally took me by surprise and completely changed the way I look at Joan Rivers. As the cameras follow Ms. Rivers for a year of her life, we see the struggles of this aging comedienne who wants, above all else, to keep working, working, working. The film gives one ample opportunities to analyze just why Ms. Rivers is so intent on remaining in the public eye, whether that be by doing stand-up in clubs, hawking merchandise on the Home Shopping Network, or appearing on Celebrity Apprentice. But whatever one’s conclusions, positive or negative, I found it impossible not to be astounded by this woman’s endurance and stamina. The film is well-crafted, and presents what I felt was an extraordinarily well-rounded picture of this iconic and polarizing figure. (Click here for my full review.)
4. Toy Story 3 — One of these days the folks at Pixar are going to make a bad movie (I’m afraid it might be Cars 2, but we’ll see…) but for now I can only relish in their unparalleled recent win-streak of amazing films: Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Up, and now Toy Story 3. This movie is simply deliriously entertaining. It’s incredibly funny and also extraordinarily poignant. While the ending certainly isn’t tragic, I nevertheless found it to be devastatingly sad. It’s a wonderfully emotional climax to the story of Woody, Buzz and the gang, and pretty much every note is exactly perfect. The voice cast is stupendous, and the animation is absolutely beautiful (as are the 3-D effects). Pixar, my hat is off to you. (Click here for my full review.)
3. Black Swan — I’ve been an admirer of Darren Aronofsky’s work for a while now, but this film made me a fan for life. I couldn’t believe I’d ever go see a film about wrestling, let alone love a film about wrestling as much as I did Mr. Aronofsky’s last film, The Wrestler (click here for my review). And I DOUBLY wouldn’t have believed I’d ever go see a film about ballet dancers, let alone have been as head-over-heels in love with one as I am with Black Swan. The film is magnificent. Natalie Portman dazzles in the lead role of Nina Sayers, the young dancer cast in the lead role of Swan Lake, who just might be losing her mind as she struggles to take her dancing to the next level. The film is viscerally intense, with an escalating what-is-going-to-happen-NEXT mania that builds to a completely bonkers and indescribably wonderful final act. I can not wait to see it again. (Click here for my full review.)
2. The Social Network – I suppose I shouldn’t have had any doubt that Aaron Sorkin plus David Fincher would result in something special, but nonetheless this film exceeded my already high expectations. The film focuses on Mark Zuckerberg’s creation of facebook — and the hurt feelings, thrown elbows, and outright betrayals that followed — but, really, it could be the story of the struggles involved in the creation of any great business or innovation. The film’s themes are universal, even as it’s specific subject is incredibly of-the-moment. That’s the film’s special power, and it’s only enhanced by Mr. Sorkin’s wonderfully smart and witty script, an incredible ensemble of actors lead by Jesse Eizenberg as Mark Zuckerberg, absolutely terrific you’ll-never-notice-them visual effects (the jaw-droppingly seamless use of one actor — Armie Hammer — to play both Winklevoss twins), and gorgeous direction by David Fincher. This is an incredibly re-watchable film, and one I look forward to revisiting for many years to come. (Click here for my full review.)
Speaking of films that I look forward to revisiting for many years to come, we arrive at last at my favorite film of 2010, and this was BY FAR the easiest choice of this entire list:
1. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World – I think I raised some eyebrows with my number one choice last year, Where the Wild Things Are, and I KNOW I’m going to raise some eyebrows with this year’s choice. But I stand by last year’s selection, and for weeks now I’ve had absolutely no doubt that Edgar Wright’s superlative film would be my top choice for this year. These past few weeks, as I saw lots and lots of 2010 movies in preparation for compiling this list, it only became more apparent just how head-and-shoulders above all of the other movies released this year Scott Pilgrim was. Adapted from the graphic novel series by Bryan Lee O’Malley, the film tells the story of a fairly listless young musician, Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera), who becomes infatuated with a girl he meets, Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). But before they can date, Scott learns that he must first defeat her League of Seven Evil Exes. It’s a brilliant externalization of every young person’s struggle to overcome the shadow of the relationships that lie in any partner’s past. The film is one part teen comedy and many many parts crazy video-game/super-hero insane epic. Edgar Wright fills every inch of every single frame with an extraordinary amount of creative energy and wit, both figuratively (in terms of his skill at telling such a large-scale story while keeping the stakes very personal and human) and literally (in terms of the brilliant use of visual effects to add all sorts of video-game and comic-book flares to the images on-screen). The cast is amazing: Michael Cera has never been better in a movie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead is perfect as the beautiful but elusive Ramona, and every single other member of the film’s large ensemble knocks it out of the park: Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza, Kieran Culkin, Chris Evans, Brandon Routh, Jason Schwartzman, Alison Pill, Michael Webber, Johnny Simmons, Ellen Wong, and so many more, are all perfection. You might not know all of those names, but I’ll bet you’d recognize a lot of their faces — and I guarantee that after seeing this film you’ll be a big fan of every single one of them. The film is a riot, but it also has enormous heart. If you haven’t seen it (and I’d wager that many of you reading this haven’t), go remedy that immediately. I promise you won’t regret it! (Click here for my full review.)
I’ll be back soon with my list of my Top 10 DVDs of 2010, Top 15 Comic Books of 2010, and Top 10 Episodes of TV from 2010!