As in previous years I've asked my Phoenix colleagues to contribute their Ten
(or Five) Best and (optional) Five Not Best lists, along with
comments if they are so inclined.
They have generously complied and I think you'll find their
insights into the past year in film enlightening and sometimes provocative.
Here is the first batch of lists
Also, you can find my Ten Best List here .
For those who want to be further informed
or irritated, my Five Not Best list can be found at the bottom of the post.
Top Movies of 2010
From what I'm told, 2010 was a phenomenal year for
documentaries. But that's not why I chose all docs for my list. I went this
route because, as a journalist first and critic second, I feel more comfortable
evaluating true stories and personality profiles than I do staged productions.
As such, nine out every ten movies that I watched this year was a documentary.
Here are my five favorites:
1. "The Parking Lot Movie"
Everything you need to know in life can be learned in the
Charlottesville Corner Parking Lot (CPL): the customer is always an asshole;
chicks in Lilly Pulitzer are privileged dips; to make a compelling documentary,
you don't need a big budget if you have a cast of grad students, poets,
philosophers, and "otherwise unemployable misfits" who engage in class warfare
on a daily basis.
2. "Winnebago Man"
Any internet meme could have been the subject of this film,
which documents director Ben Steinbauer's search for and friendship with viral
video legend Jack Rebney; surely a profile on the brunette from "2 Girls 1
Cup" would be interesting. With that said, Rebney, who's better known as
"Winnebago Man," is much more than just a one "shit" wonder.
3. "Casino Jack and the United States of Money"
Inspired by greed and Indiana Jones, shark lobbyist Jack Abramoff's influence once
reached the Bush White House, and, thanks to his high-profile lifestyle,
Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney had a revealing vantage point through which
to expose his evil soul.
4. "Teenage Paparazzo"
In his directorial debut, Adrien Grenier goes super meta to
explore the youngest guerilla street photographer in Hollywood. In the process, he gets way too
close to his subject, but in fixing the mess of his own making, the Entourage
star reveals that he had some coming of age to do himself.
5. "Inside Job"
Charles Ferguson's documentary details with painful
precision just how royally Wall Street screwed the planet. But don't be fooled.
Even with America's
sweetheart - Matt Damon - narrating, this is the feel-bad film of the year,
whether you're a Millionaire Ayn Rand worshipper or an Obama cheerleader who
thinks things are getting better.
1. "The Social Network"
and lawsuits, two of the most boring things to be on screen are made sharp and compelling by
Fincher's taut direction, Sorkin's barbed dialogue and several great
performances, not to mention Trent Reznor's moody score. And yes, Justin
Timberlake can act.
2. "Toy Story 3"
A fitting close to the storied franchise that has matured
and not lost any of its heart or intricate wit.
3. "Boxing Gym"
Another visual feast from Cambridge's own master of cinéma vérité,
4. "The Fighter"
It's not a boxing
film, it's a film about redemption and the cast of characters, including the
city of Lowell,
are indelible. Christian Bale is untouchable in a supporting role as a onetime
boxing great turned crack addict and the rest of the ensemble is near perfect
Imagine "Brokeback Mountain," minus the sex and done up in a
documentary vérité style and you'd have this compelling true saga. Some of the
shot to long shots, and vice versa, seem impossible for a modest documentary.
6. "White Material"
Claire Denis ("35 Shots of Rum" and "Trouble Every Day")
weaves a gripping, near epic tale of class, race and entitlement set against
Fab documentary about
an artist's need to prevail creatively after being beaten into a coma. You
can't make this stuff up. Haunting and uplifting.
Korean director Bong Joon-ho
("The Host") goes down a dark path in this story of a single mother, having a
hard time as it is making ends meet, who tries to solve the murder her half-wit
son is imprisoned for
About the closest thing one can imagine it is like to be in
combat. Some of the filmmaking feels arbitrary, but reflective interviews tie
it all together.
10. "I Am Love"
Italian machismo and entitlement challenged by the
wayward sexual desired of Tilda Swinton as a Russian émigré. Wonderfully staged
Other tough considerations that on another day could have
made this list: "Black Swan," "The Illusionist," and "The Red Riding Trilogy."
Bottom five in no order.
1. "Warrior's Way"
Kung Fu with too many computer FX and no soul.
2. "Jonah Hex"
"The Crow" as a dull Western. Not even a slinky Megan Fox
can add a rise.
Aston Kutcher as a
licensed-to-kill spy living in the burbs is a double-Oh-nothing.
4, "Saw 3D"
It copped out when it came time to wind it down, but the
series ran ob cobbled rails all the way along. At the beginning the premise and
gore struck a cord. RIP.
5. "I'm Still Here"
A hoax that makes all
involved look like sophomoric ninnies. The whole project probably had more
sexual abuse suits against it than positive reviews.
1. "Toy Story 3"
2. "The Social Network"
3. "True Grit"
4. "Exit Through the Gift Shop"
5. "Winter's Bone"
6. "How to Train Your Dragon"
7. "The Ghost Writer"
8. "The Town"
10. "I Love You Phillip Morris"
1. "Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of
2. "Remember Me"
3. "Saw 3D"
4. "Furry Vengeance"
5. "Jonah Hex"
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1. "The Social Network" Best Film of 2010
2. "The Best Worst Movie" Best Documentary
3. "Carlos" Best Foreign Film
4. "The Kids Are All Right"
5. "Blue Valentine"
6. "Toy Story 3"
7. "Another Year"
8. "Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench" Best Independent Film
9. "Inside Job"
10. "Please Give"
Ten Best, in no particular order:
1. "Winter's Bone"
2. "Never Let Me Go"
3. "Please Give"
4. "Another Year"
5. "Red Riding Trilogy"
7. "True Grit"
8. "The American"
9. "Toy Story 3"
Honorable Mentions: Let Me In, Carlos, Ondine, I am Love, 127 Hours,
Chloe, Blue Valentine, Client 9, Nowhere Boy, Hereafter, The Girl with the
Dragon Tattoo, Biutiful, Monsters, Wasteland, Shutter Island, Exit Through the
Five Not Best, in no particular order:
1. "It's Kind of a Funny Story" (except that scene where
they perform "Under Pressure")
2. "Sex and the City 2" (except the costumes)
3. "The Ghost Writer" (except Olivia Williams)
4. "The Wolfman" (except Emily Blunt)
5. "You Will Meet a Tall, Dark Stranger"
Five not best:
Note: These may not be the absolute worst films of the year.
Those films are simply terrible and aspired to nothing more tjan being terrible nor did anyone expect
anything else from them. Plus, since I
can assign such films to other writers (see above) to review, I probably didn't see them anyway. But
these are films that could have been better, or pretended to be better than they
1. "Furry Vengeance"
Forget what I just said. This is simply terrible.
2. "Gulliver's Travels"
A generation of children will now associate Jonathan Swift
with Jack Black's butt crack.
Lewis Carroll as sword and sorcery master. Tim Burton takes
his dream project and turns it into a Peter Jackson movie.
4. "Diary of a Wimpy Kid"
The film that almost negates Chloe Moretz's performances in
"Kick-Ass" and "Let Me
5. "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World"
Smug, inert, pretentious, pandering, empty. Everything a
film like "Kick-Ass" does right, it does wrong