Friday, January 7, 2011


I waffled over (a turn of phrase which I adore) these picks for at least three weeks before I was confident enough in my choices to post them. Movies ended up being very hard to choose this year and I still don't think I'm entirely sure about the ordering of my top five. People complained all year about how 2010 was a "weak year", but now that it's come and gone, I actually really enjoyed a lot of movies this year; certainly more than 2009. I'll proceed to count down from ten for 2010 until I hit my FAVORITE film of the year. I'm judging these purely based on what I enjoyed the most. That means I might be bias to my personal tastes.

10. Kick Ass.
Prior to this film's release I was sure this was hipster garbage/trendy bullshit/etc etc etc. I avoided it for a long time before Sarah got me to see it. Sure it is "popular" and trendy among teens because at the core it is a teen movie; but there's a lot of great satire in this film that pokes fun at the conventions of the superhero genre. Like any other comic book geek, I've spent a while wondering if I were to actually don a cape and cowl how would I go about doing it? Where do you even begin? It's an interesting premise; but rather than go for a realistic angle they went for over the top violence. It works pretty well and makes an entertaining movie. Also, I'm a huge fan of anything CAGE, so the fact that he plays "Batman" was a major plus. Oh...and the last line is a Jack Nicholson Joker quote. Kudos.

9. Tron.
I must admit a bias here seeing the movie under..."ideal" conditions. I'm not a fan of movies that only focus on sight-gags, like Avatar, but unlike Avatar, this movie doesn't try to pretend to be some highbrow poignant piece of art. It's just meant to be fun and sleek and cool...and JEFF BRIDGES.

8. Iron Man 2.
Yet ANOTHER movie I was so ready to despise and I was so satisfied with. This is just rock and roll bliss playing out on screen. Robert Downey is always believable and cool, and I enjoyed Paltrow, Cheadle and the other members of the supporting cast (EXCEPT SCARLETT BLECH) as well. Sam Rockwell really stole the show and made the movie for me as corporate jackass Justin Hammer; easily one of my favorite film characters of the year. The action is good and the tone of the movie knows just what a superhero film should be. It takes itself just seriously enough.

7. Easy A.
Teen movies can be pretty fun if they're done tastefull and if the script is solid. It's been a while since a touching and sincere one has come along, despite the goofy stereotypical portrayls of high school always found in cinema. The last one I loved was Mean Girls, which is almost difficult to criticize; and while I have some problems with characterization and suspension of disbelief, not to mention motivation of the main character in Easy A, the acting carries it. Emma Stone is a natural and Stanley Tucci somehow manages to steal the show despite only being in like three scenes.

6. Black Swan.
Oh. An art film. I guess I'm getting to the meat of the issue now huh? This movie was immersive, surrealist and totally psychotic; and I felt it was Natalie Portman's best acting role to date. It's nice to see she's graduated the George Lucas school of wooden acting and moved on to bigger and better things that really showcase her ability. She's about 90% of the movie and the other ten percent is mostly comprised of her reflection in various mirrors, but it's creepy and it actually has a good message about the impossibility of perfection.

5. 127 Hours.
Horrifying and kinetic, I didn't have great expectations for a Danny Boyle film, but James Franco was totally fantastic; and I feel he gave the best performance in a lead role of the year. It's so much more than a movie about a guy who falls down a hole and cuts off his arm, it's about a guy clinging to life but also struggling to figure out what's worth living for simultaneously and regretting all his careless misanthropic years while staring death in the face. I loved it.

4. Toy Story 3.
Until the most recent revisions to my list, this was fittingly number 3, but I realized my top 3 are all interchangable and I like them all just about evenly. Since I like this movie a little bit less than those, it has to get number 4, but that doesn't mean it's not brilliant. Pixar is just on top of their game with every release. Tear Jerkers for adults and adventure films for kids. I loved Lotso Huggin Bear, the antagonist of the movie as well. A perfect ending to a series I grew up with. If this won best picture, I'd be thrilled.

3. The Town.
I really don't know if this is my favorite or 2nd or 3rd. This was a HARD call, but I have to go by entertainment and gut reactions so this is going to have to get the number 3 spot. Amazing that Ben Affleck co-wrote and directed and acted (very well at that) in this local crime movie. It's a lot of fun to watch and while the plot kind of rips of "Heat" a lot of aspects are just as well done, if not better; especially the romantic aspect. Jeremy Renner is pretty great too, and the nun masks were awesome.

2. True Grit.
I previously said number one, and I may go back to that notion but I loved this movie. The Coen Bros. are always fantastic and quite possibly the most talented directors alive right now with their fantastic pacing and humor. Jeff Bridges, Josh Brolin, Matt Damon and most of all Hallie Steinfeld are oscar worthy in their respective roles and nothing feels over done or out of place. It's traces of Coen humor scattered across a bleak western with a fairly light hearted adventure story. Unlike a lot of the Coen's recent work, I feel like this one will please just about everyone (except my tasteless friends).

A top ten list ultimately comes down to what I personally had the most fun watching and enjoyed the most as a viewer, and watching Machete I was like a kid in a candy shop. This movie appeals to my sensibilities on so many levels: humor, glorified violence and "lame irony". The casting alone is an absurd joke despite strong leads from Danny Trejo and Michelle Rodriguez (forget Jessica Alba) with unexpected great performances from Steven Seagal, Lindsay Lohan, Robert DeNiro, Cheech Martin, and even cameos from the likes of special fx genius Tom Savini. After Grindhouse, the most fun I had at the movies in 2007 I was bloodthirsting for more and Machete delivered. Sure it's not a high concept thinking piece, but what the hell...I bothered to see it FOUR TIMES theatrically. Rodriguez makes the kind of movies that to me as an aspiring filmmaker seem like a ton of fun to work on and the end result just has the cast and audience sitting back and laughing together having a great time.

well there you have it. My wordy top ten, but I really put some thought into this list and I hope you enjoyed reading it. Here are my honorable mentions:

The Fighter
King Speech

and I still want to see Despicable Me, Exit Through the Gift Shop, Blue Valentine and Winter's Bone.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Only the finest of 2010...

I'm going to pick the things that I think matter (and repost this shit as a note on facebook) and pick my favorite (since best is sooo subjective lololol) "things" of 2010. I don't think I need much further preface.

I love it. Sure it's not the most Coen of the Coen Brothers movies, but that doesn't mean there isn't a lot of great things here. Bridges is always fantastic, as is Brolin. Damon gives a pretty good, if annoying at times supporting performance. The real star though is a 14 year old girl, who I'm sure will have a promising acting career in the future. A straight forward story laced with darkness, violence and of course ironic, sick humor; True Grit is really easy to like if you're not viewing it in an overly critical fashion. I was surprised to hear most of the people in America who DIDN'T like it are people who I, sadly, talk to.

I read one review that described Danny Boyle's newest film "127 hours" as "Kinetic". You know this is bullshit because if you talked to me as soon as I left the theater, I was using the very same word to describe it. It's a raw character drama. In the depths of the canyons, Franco gives a performance that I didn't even know he had in him as he struggles to free himself from a boulder that represents a summation of all his problems in life. In one memorable scene he wakes up broadcasting to his parents how sorry he is for the myriad of problems he's caused in the past, taking different perspectives to question himself like a game show host. Powerful, insantiy driven stuff.

I don't follow alot of shows with a successive plot. I mean I "follow" the Office in the sense that between television and hulu and Netflix instant I've probably seen every episode, but I don't sit down with eager anticipation and a tingling sensation between my legs every week to watch it. (what?) Same goes for Community, a show which really grew on me this year. I don't think I've ever been involved in the plot of a dramatic show this much since the Sopranos ended on HBO until BOARDWALK EMPIRE. Gangsters and prohibition are the theme of the show, but I think I'm drawn to it because it's a genuine freakshow. While Steve Buscemi is awesome as the lead, Atlantic City Treasurer Enoch Thompson, it's really the supporting cast that makes you come back week after week. I found each episode to be like a checklist and I was simply waiting to see my favorite lunatics return to the screen each week; or for new murderers to be introduced into the fold. This show also contained my favorite ACTING performance in a TV show this year...

He's so damn good. He's so fucking crazy. He's like the Javert (Les Miserables reference) of the prohibition era, obsessed to bringing Nucky Thompson to justice. Van Alden is the senior prohibition agent responsibile for drying out Atlantic City per his divine right to do so. He kills his partner via drowning him at a makeshift baptism purely out of suspicion in the height of his acting. He's socially awkward, masochistic and downright mad, and his downward spiral of sanity progresses throughout the season making him a totally compelling character to watch and wait for each episode. While TV and movies have to be a separate category, this is easily my favorite character/performance of the year period.

Rarely does a hip-hop album come out where you can instantly tell that it will leave a lasting impression on the rap game and set the bar higher for quality. Just when you've forgotten why you like Kanye, he puts out an album and it reminds us why he IS the king and has a right to wear the crown on his bizarre album artwork. With just about each album he's done, Kanye changes the face of the hip hop industry. If we're going by the sheer number of excellent tracks, I'd go so far as to say this is one of the strongest hip-hop albums of all time thanks to MONSTER (with a FANTASTIC Nicki Minaj verse), Gorgeous (with a hook from Cudi), Hell of A life, All of the Lights, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Lost in the World and Blame Game. Rarely do you get that many winners in one, tortured and deeply psychologically flawed bundle of christmas cheer. I think people need to start to realize that Kanye's just an insane musical genius and you have to let him blow off steam once in a while to continue to bring us this quality output.

Seems like a lot of people didn't like Plastic Beach a whole lot, maybe because it's different from the Gorillaz' prior work. That's ok with me, because different is sometimes better. Somehow this weird track featuring Lou Reed has made it to the number one most played song on my iTunes, with over 200 plays this year. I'm sure it won't be making it to any best songs of the year list, which is just fine because I like an original choice that resonates with me. It's got a fantastic beat (which might or might not have been sampled from something) and a very elemental, raw flow to it. It's amazing to me how Lou Reed can simply talk and say nonsensical ramblings about recycling and give it such a melodious quality. Runner up for this category is MONSTER by Kanye.

I play this shit like it's going out of style (which it never will with all the children on x box live). I don't think I need to explain myself further and most people will pick more ...intelligent games..., but COD appeals to my sensibilities on a very visceral level.