Now that many of the limited release films have made their way to Richmond, VA (and other locales!), herein lies the top 10 films of last year given to you by us, the authors and pontificators of Sucker Punch Cinema! Included with some lists are reasonings behind each pick, some disappointments, and other little tidbits.
Any film chosen that has been reviewed on the site will be a link to that film’s page on Sucker Punch Cinema. Along with them are links to each author’s reviews.
Without further ado, I give you the First Annual (it can’t really be annual if you’ve only done it once, but you can Suck It American Journalist Handbook of 2010!) Sucker Punch Cinema Top 10 List!
Sean Collins-Smith (SpringsteenFan) -
(As forewarning, I’ve yet to see several critical darlings, including The Town, Black Swan, The Fighter or 127 Hours.)
1. The Social Network – The Social Network is, by most accounts, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s crowning achievement. (This coming from a writer who’s responsible for the Oscar-winning A Few Good Men and Emmy-Award winning series “Sports Night” and “The West Wing”.) In my review on this site, I heaped infinite praise on this sucker, saying it was:
“…a sharply written, fiercely paced examination of the last 20 years: an exploration of the quick-n-dirty tech start-ups, the pure vastness of the Internet, the illusion of online friendship and the unimaginable stupidity of putting everything about yourself on the web. It’s funny, it’s entertaining, it’s blazingly fast. But, at it’s core, The Social Network is an unapologetic anecdote on the asinine and angry – not to mention anonymous – nature of the online world.”
After having a little over 12 weeks to see the endless television spots for Network and watch it claim nearly every single award for Best Picture (including it’s latest commendation: the Golden Globe for Best Dramatic Feature), I can safely say it’s just as good as it was when I first saw it at midnight on October 1st. Sharpened and primed to go straight for the jugular, this bad boy will be long-remembered as the film that captured the zeitgeist of an entire generation.
2. The King’s Speech – An engrossing and entertaining historical drama that puts an emphasis on personal triumphs over broad storytelling. Geoffrey Rush and Colin Firth both deserve Oscars, and I’m torn as to whether or not I want Social Network or The King’s Speech to win. This is another film I wrote a review for for Sucker Punch Cinema, and in it I said:
“The title of the film refers to the 1939 radio broadcast Albert had to make following Britain’s declaration of war on Germany during World War II. It’s a remarkable piece of history to witness, and it further cements what many people might not realize: behind every occurrence at any point in our time has been a smaller story. A personal, political and practical story that’s yearning to be told.”
It does a great job of telling that story, and you should definitely check it out while you have the chance.
3. Toy Story 3 – The best animated film of last year also happens to be one of the best films of last year, period. There is no doubt in my mind that the people at Pixar – geniuses, magicians, artists, call ‘em whatever you want – are on one of the most wonderfully enjoyable cinematic streaks in film history. They give more emotional depth to characters created in a computer than most filmmakers can give to actual actors, and I can think of no higher praise than that.
4. Get Low - A small film that should’ve been released in the Winter months instead of the Summer, Get Low embodied everything that a well-made, independent feature should. Yet another film I’ve reviewed on this site:
“Currently winding down an unfortunately short cycle on the independent film circuit is a little gem of a film called “Get Low”. Helmed by first-time director Aaron Schneider and expertly anchored by subtle performances from Robert Duvall and Bill Murray, it’s an artistic feature that doesn’t fall into any of the stereotypically artsy crap that often accommodates independent, artistic works. It’s here to tell a story, not to navel gaze or engage in pretentious, self-importance.”
I predicted an Academy Award nomination for Get Low, but sadly I think it’s release date and small box office hampered it. Still, try to grab a look at the film if you can. It’s small enough so that it should be on Netflix or Comcast On Demand soon.
5. True Grit - There were a lot of reasons this movie shouldn’t have worked: it’s a western in a time when westerns aren’t very popular, it’s a PG-13 Coen Brothers film (the last one to do that ended up bombing), and the main actress is a nobody.
Make that was a nobody. After her portrayal in True Grit, Hailee Steinfeld should have no problem finding work for the next 10 years. And don’t even get me started on how addictively good Jeff Bridges is. On my review of True Grit a few weeks ago, I said:
“Someone opined to me that in the original True Grit (1969), John Wayne wasn’t playing Rooster Cogburn, he was playing John Wayne. Well in this remake, written and directed to quirky perfection by the Coen brothers, Jeff Bridges completely sheds his persona, embodying Rooster Cogburn to perfection. His incessant mumbling coupled with fantastic makeup (seriously, he looks and, one can imagine, smells like shit) make him a dead ringer for, as one villain quips, “a one-eyed fat man”.”
Usually you pick one or two reasons to see a film – with True Grit, you’ve got an unlimited supply of reasons: see it for Bridges, Steinfeld, the gorgeous cinematography, the understated musical score – it’s got everything.
6. Paranormal Activity 2 – Scary good time, on a budget.
7. The Other Guys – A sadly too-short cameo by Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is enough to lift this from mediocre to hilarious.
8. Date Night – Steve Carrell and Tina Fey have great chemistry – and they also happen to be two of the best comedic talents of the last 10 years. Reminded me of the classic black and white 1940s and 50s comedies.
9. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 1 - An evenly placed on-the-lam pic complete with cool action scenes and great acting from our trio of grown-up kids.
10. Inception – I give it props for two main reasons: the concept was badass (if not completely explored) and the acting was very, very good. Not as amazing as everyone thought originally, but I still think it’s a good, if not great, film.
1. Iron Man 2 – Nowhere near as fun, inventive, or intelligent as the first film, Iron Man 2 seemed to take everything that set the first film apart and burn it to the ground. Endless and mindless fight scenes felt numbing rather than exciting. Maybe getting a new director for the third film will make it better.
3. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
5. Inception (a quick explanation: I liked it, but with all the talent involved, I think it should’ve been better).
Michael L (St. Michael) -
1. The Social Network
More creation myth than biopic, Fincher paints brainiac Zuckerberg as something of a Gatsby; an avatar for isolation in the internet age, driven not by success, but by dreams of personal connection. If that’s something that his own Facebook renders meaningless, so be it.
Exciting, bitter, intelligent; it’s Fincher’s best (of a career of “bests”), and my favorite film of the year.
2. Black Swan
A dark whirlwind of cinematic bravado, Black Swan is wild and untamed, sick in the heart, desperate and sexy. It makes film seem organic; it makes cinema practically breathe. Like Hannibal Lecter ,”so rare to capture one alive.” And whatever you do, don’t let it get inside your head.
3. True Grit
Glassy, calm retelling of the Charles Portis novel feels like literature grown from wet earth. It’s lean; the fat’s burned off, ’til only teeth remain. The Dude is a great successor to the Duke, and little Hailee Steinfeld steals the show as this film’s hard little heart. Coen’s hit it out of the park again.
Danny Trejo’s face was meant for cinema; likewise, he deserves his own film, and what better than this Leone epic in grindhouse drag, smeared with barbecue sauce. Seeing kid actress Lindsey Lohan all grown up, strung out on smack and attempting amateur porn, before donning nun attire and packing a hand cannon, makes it worth watching alone.
5. Shutter Island
Beautiful, odd exploration of mental illness, masquerading as Spillane-esque pulp. The whole film’s in mourning, and if the denouement doesn’t quite satisfactorily justify the preceding, so be it: it’s still jam packed with some of the most poetically haunting imagery of the year. Moving, if imperfect: Scorsese has once more gifted cinema, and I’d hesitate before looking this gift horse in the mouth.
6. The Kids Are Alright
Sticky portrait of family in free-fall – Julianne Moore and Annette Benning play a lesbian couple trying to maintain the solidarity of their family when their kids request to meet their biological father: sperm-donor Mark Ruffalo. Well acted, painfully real; works so well structurally that it makes you forget “story”, in favor of the notion that the cinema, at its best, is simply picking portions from people’s real lives, documenting them for a seemingly arbitrary (and wonderfully rewarding) amount of time.
7. Easy A
John Hughes’ brand of teenage blues is given a 21st century facelift, physically manifest in Emma Stone: as troubled as her red-headed eighties counterpart, but infinitely more confident, sarcastic, self aware, and self-satisfied. She’s a joy to watch, and the movie is too. A satisfying middle finger to lobotomized teenage entertainment.
8. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
Is this lobotomized teenage entertainment?
I don’t think so.
Like the video game adaptation of The Social Network, Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim is texturally related: the story of a young adult filtering unpleasant experience through a digital medium.
However, if Facebook’s an external, the world of Scott Pilgrim’s all internal – his elixir is more pathological, suggesting that there is no longer a binary divide between media and reality: the two are now one and the same. I suspect it’s true, and I’m tickled pink by Michael Cera’s declaration that he needs to “get a life” before grabbing a “one up” from the air. The movie’s hilarious and exciting, and if it’s shrouding an uncomfortable truth, so be it.
9. Piranha 3D
What can I say? It was theatrically perfect: cinema as circus, all blood and sex and debauchery, in eye gouging 3D. I feel shallow putting it on this list, but I honestly enjoyed it more than most other movies I saw theatrically this year. It’s my id in jolly zen, pretty much tied neck and neck with…
10. Jackass 3D
Don’t judge me.
If it’s prurient, it’s also pretty much perfect, the Jackass crew being a talented comedy troupe as charismatic as they are physically…adept.
Steve-o strapped inside of an outhouse, slung shot miles into the sky is THE moment of the year, and brings humanity to all of the modern torrent of 3D gloss.
Why, everyone shits.
And I’ve never seen a movie so full of shit.
Other Movies I Really Enjoyed: Splice, Inception, Toy Story 3, Wall Street 2
Other Movies I Didn’t: Nightmare On Elm Street (sad face), Twilight: Eclipse, Predators, My Soul to Take
Ashamed I Missed: Let Me In, King’s Speech, 127 Hours, Harry Potter, The Town, How To Train Your Dragon, The Crazies
One I Think Deserves More Love: Resident Evil: Afterlife. Come on guys!!
Cory Tapia (CoryTapia)’s Top Ten
1. Toy Story 3: Almost couldn’t tell what the ending would bring.
I won’t spoil it, but the end is one of the most emotional parts in the entire movie, and the only time that an animated movie has tugged at my heartstrings. Easily the best movie (that I saw) from 2010.
2. Iron Man 2: General bad-assery all around, Robery Downey Jr. is once again perfect in the role (Its like Tony Stark’s character was written just for him). I still wish his character had a little more development, but it was a fast moving storyline. I also thought Mickey Rourke was perfect as whiplash, although again, I wish there was more of him throughout the movie…the battle scene in Monaco was really awesome, but I wish it would have went on for another 10 minutes…And somehow Rhodey transformed from Terrence Howard to Don Cheadle. I personally like Don Cheadle a little better…Howard tends to over-act. In any case, you automatically get points in my book anytime you include a giant Mech-battle at the end of your movie.
3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, pt. 1: I felt like this movie gave the characters room to breathe. It was nice to have a break from the usual HP formula of: Fight Muggle Uncle, Get rescued and taken to Hogwarts, defend the school from minor baddies, maybe play a Quiddich match or two, and then have a big boss showdown at the end. This was more of a chance to get to really show how the characters have grown up and evolved since we first met them, and I thought Emma Watson stole the show as Hermoine.
4. Shutter Island: I kind of knew the end within the first 15 minutes, but there was a point in the movie that made me question it. The ending still managed to throw some surprises at me. I love movies that make you question everything that you’ve been thinking throughout the story, and then flip things up and shake them around. This is one of those movies, albeit some of the storyline is predictable before you even get to the island.
5. Inception: Sort of an original idea for the movie…I was originally interested in this movie because I am a big fan of the Matrix, and this is somewhat along those lines. I love movies that I have to watch several times to fully grasp, and this is one of those movies.
6. Hot Tub Time Machine: I didn’t go into this movie expecting much at all, but it was actually really funny. So maybe going in with low expectations skewed my perception of this movie a little, but it was a good, fun, raunchy throwback to the 80s when most of us writing on this site were either still in diapers or playing with our Ninja Turtles and watching “Thundercats” (Or “Gem for the Ladies”).
7. Date Night: This was one of the few movies that my wife and I can agree on. You can’t go wrong with a Tina Fey/Steve Carrell combination, and although there weresome pretty campy parts in the script, overall it was pretty hilarious.
8. How To Train Your Dragon: Well-written, and the voice acting was top notch. I was expecting a lame-o kids flick and instead I got a really interesting story and great animation.
9. Chronicals of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader: Ive never read any of the other books in the Narnia series other than The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, and the first Narnia movie was still the best, but I felt like Dawn Treader was better than the second Narnia. Although they all have huge gaps in the storyline (I’m pretty sure I saw Mr. Tomnus on the Dawn Treader in one of the scenes…and he’s supposed to be dead…and how Prince Caspian can live so long even though everyone else in the Kingdom has died because thousands of years have gone by, and Aslan only decides to get involved only after almost every fairytale creature species has been wiped out, just to teach the sons of Adam a life lesson) it was still a good flick.
I also enjoyed getting to know Lucy and Edmund, because in past movies it was always about Peter, and to a lesser extent, Susan. It was nice to see the younger female shine in her role. Despite the obvious religious undertones being pushed on you at the end, I still enjoyed it.
10. Despicable Me: The story was decent…Two “villains” against each other, and one becoming the “hero” and with that learning to deal with 3 orphaned daughters. I thought that Steve Carrell’s voice was probably the most annoying part of this film…the faux Russian accent really got on my nerves…I never understood why they made the character Russian, or at least use someone who actually had a real accent. Other than that, I felt like they made this film just for the sake of having the little green charactersdo the slapstick comedy
routines. Overall, cute, but had potential to be a lot more. I think the little green characters could have their own spinoff movie…they are like Scrat from Ice Age.
Honorable Mention: Tron: Legacy – Something this hyped was doomed to fail. Mediocre storyline, it just felt like this movie was made just to be made. I have a really hard time believing that there are CEO’s son’s out there that spend their free time breaking into software companies that they already own, base jumping from the roofs of skyscrapers, and living in a giant metal crate.
I also had a hard time believing that the lead character, Sam Flynn, was SO good at the light discs duel AND the light cycles duel. At some point a n00b would need to have his ass handed to him.
This movie only made it into Honorable Mention because instead of Kevin Flynn, they brought back the Big Lebowski.
WORST OF 2010:
1. Sex and the City 2
2. Valentines Day
3. Little Fockers
Joseph Chirico (JMan)’s Top Ten -
2010 was a sad, sad year for cinema. I didn’t even see all the good ones. Toy Story 3 (mainly because I never saw Toy Story 2. I know, I know. Get off my back.), 127 Hours, The Kids Are All Right, The Town, and Waiting For “Superman”. There was a time when tons of filmmakers were producing great movies, but standards are dropping lately. How many flicks have there been in the Saw franchise? Anyway, here, in no particular order, are the best, disappointing and worst films I saw, or would not see, this year.
1. True Grit:Another amazing chapter in the career of the brothers Coen. Matt Damon and Jeff Bridges supply great performances, but newcomer Hailee Steinfeld outshines them both.
2. The Social Network: Aaron Sorkin never fails to entertain with his sharp and clever writing. Andrew Garfield, Jessie Eisenberg and Justin Timberlake make up an immensely talented cast.
3. The King’s Speech: With wonderful writing, acting and cinematography, this film will gain plenty of recognition come Oscar time.
4. The Crazies: A remake of the George A. Romero film of the same name, The Crazies holds its own in comparison. Frightening and suspenseful, this is what horror movies should be like. Great performances from Timothy Olyphant and Joe Anderson saved this film from easily becoming another piece of crap in the lackluster realm of modern “terror.” (As I’m writing this, The Crazies is coming on televison. I intend to watch it.)
5. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: It’s not Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, but Edgar Wright still manages to impress with his adaptation from the graphic novel of the same name. Connecting the real world with the virtual-reality of video games? All I can say is: “Wow!”
6. Get Low: Robert Duvall and Bill Murray star in this little-known gem. The subtle humor, camera work, and superb acting craft this film into a major contender for the Oscars.
7. Kick-Ass: Unapologetically violent and erupting with action, Kick-Ass is an adrenaline thrill ride about people who want to be superheroes. Watch out for the lead, played by Aaron Johnson; he might be something special in the coming years.
8. The A-Team: When there’s an older woman sitting next to you, laughing at everything in the movie, how can it not be a great film? If you’re looking for a fun movie that borders on the absurd, sit down and watch this.
9. The Other Guys:
Not a great film by any means, but there were three incredible elements. 1) Dwayne Johnson & Samuel L. Jackson’s characters (“Aim for the bushes.”); 2) The quiet fight; 3) The incredible bar scene montage.
10. Inception: Visually engrossing with an intriguing premise, this film is sure to impress. It may have its faults, but it allowed Tom Hardy entrance into Hollywood – hopefully for good.
1. Clash of the Titans: I expected this movie to be a let down, despite the cast. Sam Worthington’s talent is wasted on this CG faux-thrill ride. Someone loudly passing gas during the final moments of the film, though, made it all worthwhile. Especially when a woman who talked throughout the entire movie responded with: “Eww!” We couldn’t hear the dialogue for all our muffled laughter.
2. Resident Evil: Afterlife: I knew this film would be awful, especially with its unnecessary inclusion of 3D, which was only used a few times. With terrible writing, acting, cinematography (overall filmmaking, really), I thought this would be the final installment in a franchise that should have ended before the first movie did. I was wrong.
3. Green Zone: Matt Damon, Greg Kinear, Amy Ryan, Jason Isaacs and Brendan Gleeson? What a cast! Unfortunately, Paul Greengrass made this film look like a first-person perspective movie. Cloverfield had better cinematography than this, and it was also a superior film. I couldn’t tell what was happening during any of the action scenes. Not only did it look like it was shot while riding a bucking horse, but there were incessant amounts of cuts to fuel my confusion in this untidy heap of film.
4. Repo Men: Jude Law, Forrest Whitaker, Liev Schreiber, and the beautiful Alice Braga. Utterly violent, unexpected humor, great acting and a fantastic premise, this movie appeared to have potential. But with an ending that shattered the entire experience, my night was thoroughly ruined.
5. Iron Man 2: An unrelenting use of CG, explosions, and jokes that were too easy to write, this movie doesn’t even come close to matching its predecessor.
6. Shutter Island: How can you go wrong with Scorsese, DiCaprio, Ruffalo, Kingsley and a cameo from Jackie Earle Haley? While it may have its moments, this film is clearly not one of Scorsese’s best.
7. The Expendables: I don’t know what I expected. This movie was not great, not even good. A large cast of action stars, with hardly a script between them. Random scenes were tactlessly strapped together merely to give everyone screen time. And don’t even get me started on Mickey Rourke’s crying scene. For all the talent on the screen, this film truly missed its opportunity to be epic.
Worst Movies That I’ll Never Watch from 2010
1. Yogi Bear
2. The Karate Kid
3. The Last Airbender
4. Tooth Fairy
5. Step-Up 3D
6. Gulliver’s Travels
8. Lottery Ticket
9. Sex In The City 2
William Davenport (JozzyJ)’s Top Ten
1. True Grit. Possibly the most well made film of 2010.Fantastic down to the last detail.
2. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. This movie is great for big nerds like me.
3. Inception. The only film that left me awestruck in the theater as the credits rolled.
4. The Social Network. By far the best dialogue and screenplay of any ’10 film.
5. Toy Story 3. Made me cry. Seriously. Oscar for best picture. Fact.
6. Get Him to the Greek. Best comedy of the year. Had me in tears from laughter.
7. Universal Soldier: Regeneration. Finally a sequel worthy of the original. Plus noGoldberg.
8. Paranormal Activity 2. Good follow up. The only horror film that made me jump in 2010.
9. Youth in Revolt. Great comedy with classic lines and scenes. Also had a great cast.
10. The Other Guys. Most ridiculous comedy ’10. Plus it has Michael Keaton!
I am sure that Black Swan would be on this list near the top, but I have sadly still not been able to see this damn film.
Movies in which I was disappointed:
1. Repo Men
2. Clash of the Titans
5. The Wolfman
Matt Hoover (RocknMatty)’s Top Ten
1. Scott Pilgram vs. The World:
If you want to see what i thought of my number one movie of 2010, click on the link above to read my review!
2. Kick-Ass: Lots of action, lots o kill’n, way cool plot, true comic nerd movie.
3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1: love it love it love it
4. Iron Man 2: that one scene where he and War Machine are back to back blasting robobaddies…bad ass!
5. Despicable Me: IT’S SO FLUFFY!!!
6. Alice in Wonderland: Now i could watch Johnny Depp read the instruction manual to my microwave and like it, but the rest of the movie was so fucking weird that i can;t put it in the top 5.
7. The Expendables: Great cast of action stars, lots of kill’n, not much plot, true guy movie, thanks Sly.
8. Robin Hood: it was dirty and gritty, which i like, but i thought the plot moved too slow and Russel Crowe looked just like he did in Gladiator (dude grow your hair out some man).
9. Sex and the City 2: Again, i didn’t see and again my girl friend like it. i put it at nine because Kim Cattral is always hot.
10. Eat Pray Love: i didn’t watch this because it looks like crap, but my girl friend liked it, so i put it at number 10!
Michael Bolosan (Bolo)’s Top Ten
1. Black Swan
2. The Social Network
3. Toy Story 3
4. Winter’s Bone
5. True Grit
6. Wall Street 2
7. The Ghost Writer
9. The Town
10. Jackass 3D
Dallas Stakes (DalLaS)’s Top Ten
[In no particular order]
1. How to Train you Dragon
2. Kick Ass
3. Toy Story 3
4. Despicable Me
6. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
8. The Town
9. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 1
10. Legend of the Guardians
Spike Scarberry (The Spike)’s Top Ten -
1. Toy Story 3
2. The King’s Speech
3. Black Swan
5. The Fighter
6. Letters to Juliet
7. The Other Guys
9. The Book of Eli
10. Hot Tub Time Machine