Communication and identity were big themes in 2010 (and every other year), right alongside isolationism on top and kids (and their toys) growing up to mounting uncertainty. The films, as they always do, reflect that. The best ones had none of the problems that their characters often face, and though there are thousands of tireless idiosyncrasies among this year’s releases, it’s the bigger connections that are important, and we’ve left one out. All of the films on this list are wonderful, if each in their own way. So here’s a toast to the great, the weird, the insightful, the funny, and the heartbreaking, and here’s hoping Transformers 3 doesn’t prevent 2011 from being just as good if not better.
1. Black Swan- Taking lessons from classics like The Red Shoes and Repulsion and then adding in more frantic body horror, Darren Aronofsky has us follow Nina the ballerina on her nightmarish journey toward perfection in her preparation for the leads in Swan Lake. In this unlikely companion piece to 2008’s The Wrestler, we dive deeper into the depths of an athlete’s mind and body at war with itself while Nina tries to find her inner dark side to play the Black Swan. The battle is projected onto the environment with hallucinations and onto Nina’s weary body in the form of scratches, bruises, and emerging feathers. Aronofsky himself wages a successful battle between perfect technique and dark, brooding instinct. He, along with a never-better Natalie Portman, creates a new masterpiece full of feverish dance sequences, controlling mothers, and fierce competition for his catalog. Like his protagonist, he flies past the competition and lands atop the pile of 2010’s best films. Read Full Review Continue reading →
Verdict: The film is titanic in every way, from its dazzling images and special effects to its messages and attention to detail. But with big budget comes big demand, meaning Cameron must make a crowd-pleaser. Dumbing down the dialogue, character depth and dynamics, he creates a universal story the whole world can understand and enjoy. Avatar is whatever movie you want it to be, a love story, a message movie, or an visually imaginative heyday, but to sophisticated moviegoers it’s only meh. Grade: B- Full Review Here
The Blind Side
Verdict: John Lee Hancock’s bombastic, preachy and watered down The Blind Side is the one movie nominated for Best Picture this year that didn’t deserve its slot. This is the crowd-pleasing, melodramatic sports movie that moved both the Monday Night Football crowd and Sarah Palin wannabes to tears. Hancock directs this film with a style right out of the sports film playbook, taking no chances and milking every crowd-pleasing scenario for maximum fluff. Grade: D Full Review Here
Verdict: District 9 is the greatest display of gritty sci-fi, with its scathing political undertones and pulse pounding action. Blomkamp is able to mesh aliens seamlessly into a very real human world that echoes our own. While the obvious political undertones make this an allegory for apartheid, more conceptual parallels can be made with our current human rights, terrorism, and corporate moral dilemma. It’s expert movie making from top to bottom. Grade: AFull Review HereContinue reading →
CyniCritcs reviewer Matt Erspamer posted his Oscar predictions and hopefuls a while ago here. For a second opinion on the main categories and a look at some of the technical awards, Luke Miller posts his picks and favorites here.
The Blind Side
The Hurt Locker
A Serious Man
Up In the Air
Will Win: The Hurt Locker. Avatar may have audiences at home swooned away with its big glitzy effects, but with the new preferential voting system in place, The Hurt Locker has a lot less haters than Avatar which makes me believe it will be found on more number two and three place ballots of those who get cut in the early rounds. Avatar winning at this point would be one big upset after losing at the PGA, WGA, DGA and BAFTA which are all huge precursors to the Oscars.
Should Win: Up In the Air. I can’t really summarize how great this film is without ranting into a whole essay. You can read about it here in my review however.
Left Out: The following films that are better than The Blind Side: Star Trek, Away We Go, Moon, (500) Days of Summer, Public Enemies, State of Play, The Road, or Where the Wild Things Are. Personally, I would have chosen a comedy to put in this bunch and Away We Go had the best blend of funny and heart to rank it up with Juno or Little Miss Sunshine. Continue reading →