Wednesday, January 12, 2011

End of 2010 Bonanza: Top 10 Favorite Movies of the Year

Hey all, and welcome back to Herr Wozzeck Reviews.

And this time, we still have one last thing to do before we send 2010 away and move on to 2011 in cinema. Yes, I've procrastinated on this list greatly, but now you finally get it...

This is... *drum roll*...

A list of my favorite films of the year!

Top 10 Favorite Movies of the Year

10. Splice

Starting us off on this list is the criminally underrated Splice. While it did suffer from a slightly confusing ending stemming from an abrupt tone shift, Splice is uncommon in that it's a sci-fi horror film with intelligence. It builds more on the dread of the situation and actually challenges the viewer to ask questions about the ethics of science by placing the problems with the insecurities of its characters, not on the science itself. It's intelligent horror at its best, and it's why I consider this movie the best horror film of the year.

9. Shutter Island

In terms of best suspense film, however, we have Martin Scorcese to thank for this. Can we tell the plot twist coming from a mile away? Possibly. But the great thing about Shutter Island is that Scorcese is still able to create an intensely suspenseful atmosphere that never lets go from the opening shot to the seconds right before the final twist. It's visceral in its suspense, and the fact that it successfully keeps hold of the audience in a vice-like grip makes it one of the year's best.

8. How To Train Your Dragon

Yes, Dreamworks, we know your studio's churning out a lot of movies this year. Of all of them, however, this one is definitely your best. The lack of any visible pop culture references in this movie's humor helps you out a lot, but I think it's the amount of subtlety given to everything in the production that ultimately works to the benefit of the entire movie. Yeah, we've seen most of the stuff we've seen here before, but the amount of subtlety put into the characters means it comes off as fresh. And that is why How To Train Your Dragon is the best picture Dreamworks has produced thus far, bar none.

7. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

Ah, good ol' Scott Pilgrim. You've got some of the best action sequences of the year, you've got the coolest style of the year... but you've also got quite a bit of heart. Yes, the lead character is unlikeable and whiny, but really, that's part of the point when he realizes he has to get his act together. And so, it's his quest to come to terms with himself that makes the entire enterprise mean something. It helps that it has an incredible sense of humor, too.

6. Toy Story 3

And Pixar gets another movie in the top ten list of movies I liked most this year. And for good reason: this movie is one of the few that made me cry at the end. I think that's a credit to the film when it can stand on its own merits and doesn't require the nostalgia glasses to be enjoyed. It was a rather dark installment, but it worked to the film's advantage as it intensified the already quite powerful emotional roller coaster ride that is this movie. So with an intensely effective emotional ride, this movie succeeded in being a great close for the Toy Story franchise.

5. The American

And... we jump right to the other end of the spectrum, where there are no emotions attached at all. But that's part of the point of this movie when you get down to it. Very little happens in it, but it does an excellent job of building George Clooney's character almost entirely from what isn't said or done by him or anybody around him. It's this characterstudy that keeps the movie engaging on almost every level, and when the suspense builds, it makes this one of the best movies of the year.

4. Winter's Bone

Again, a performance from a rising star helps this movie out, as does the atmosphere that the character is placed in. Winter's Bone is on this list because it does an exceptional job of building a living, breathing world that, while ugly, has its bright spots. It has enough grit for us to sympathize with Lawrence's amazing performance as Ree Dolly, but it has enough heart to remind us that there is a valid reason for her to hang on to the hope that she can find her father. And this incredible world-building helps create a fine movie, and one of this year's best.

3. The Social Network

I don't know what it is about the founding of Facebook that made good movie materials. But David Fincher showed that you can make a good movie out of something like this... no, not good movie. Great movie. This movie had exactly one overwhelming problem: it felt too short. The performances from everyone on the cast are exceptionally spellbinding, the direction is great, and Aaron Sorkin's screenplay is perhaps the best screenplay I've seen in years. All of these factors make The Social Network one of the best movies of the year, and it might come to define a generation in future years.

2. Black Swan

Natalie Portman makes this movie about a girl going insane incredible to watch. The amount of effort she puts into it is absolutely astounding, and she perfectly embodies the girl being torn apart by her own stresses and stuff. But what helps her out is everything around her. She's supported by an outstanding cast and impeccable direction from Darren Aronofsky. And symbolically, the duality of the story works well with the version of Swan Lake Cassel's character decides to tell, and it adds to a deeper symbolic level of the movie.

1. Inception

And at the top of my list, is the film that is the single hardest one to describe of the entire year. I've seen this movie four times as of this writing, and every time I watch it I notice something new. Chris Nolan made a very complex movie, but the true complexity doesn't make itself apparent until later viewings. And really, I can find nothing bad to say about this movie. It's got incredible performances, its action sequences are incredible, and the ideas that are executed throughout are nothing short of breathtaking. And this is why this movie is the best movie of the year.


And this is my list of my favorite movies of the year.

Well, that concludes everything on 2010 I have to talk about. It's been quite a year, and this year is shaping up to be something.

This is Herr Wozzeck Reviews, signing off on 2010. I'll see you guys next time!

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