So what if I’m still a little stuck in 2010 (And have to bring you this list five days into 2011 and admittedly still have a handful of films to watch from the past year)? I’d relive it over and over again by rewatching these outstanding movies. 2010 was quite a remarkable year for cinema: A beloved animated feature series came to an incredibly heartwrenching end, while an unconventional twist on a princess tale ushered in a new era for Disney. Facebook further exercised its power on the 21st century crowd, as the true-life drama about its founding unfolded on screen. We fell into dreams and delusions with mind thieves, a U.S. marshal, and a ballerina, causing us to question our own realities. Even if better films are to grace the big screen in this upcoming year, these are the films that can define only 2010. And these are the films that shall be adored and appreciated beyond the last year.
Here, I count down ten of my favorite films released in 2010. Relive your favorites, discover the ones you haven’t seen yet, and let me know what makes your list!
10. Shutter Island
Martin Scorsese directed this suspenseful psychological thriller about a U.S. marshal sent to investigate the disappearance of a patient from a secluded mental hospital. However, the marshal ends up finding more than he bargains for, including a dark, startling secret about himself. Its twists will make your jaw drop. Leonardo DiCaprio (Pictured with Michelle Williams), in his fourth film directed by Scorsese, gives one of his most admirable career performances and deservedly seals in his status as the King of the Box Office in 2010.
9. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
A graphic novel literally comes to life in this funny fantasy starring Michael Cera as the title character and co-starring Anna Kendrick, Chris Evans, Kieran Culkin, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. You won’t be able to help but be captivated and laugh out loud as the awkward Scott battles his girlfriend’s seven evil exes, all of which are shot and executed like bouts in a futuristic Capcom video game. The special effects are amongst the best in 2010 film but more than that, it is bound to entertain you.
8. The Town
In a very impressive foray into directing, Ben Affleck pulls double duty as the man behind-the-camera and the leading man on screen of this heist drama, which tells the story of bank robbers in a Boston community. With a riveting story and script, loud action sequences, and raw emotion, especially based on falling friendships and relationships due to criminal life, this film is not one to overlook. Affleck is only one in the incredible cast, which includes an astounding Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm (Pictured with Affleck), Rebecca Hall, Blake Lively, and the late Pete Postlethwaite.
7. The King’s Speech
Based on the life of King George VI, this polished historical drama is anything but when it comes to the main character’s struggle with his speech. With the support of an unorthodox therapist and his wife, he begins to gain his confidence as he rises to the throne–or can he? Delightful and inspiring, The King’s Speech is simple in story, but well-acted and a journey for those who watch. Colin Firth (Pictured with Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter) will seemingly be crowned the king of awards season with his rousing performance as the stammering and reluctant monarch.
And so Rapunzel fell in love with a…bandit? It is indeed so in this hip adaptation of the classic tale, which features the voice talent of Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi. But despite the new animation, a different take on the story, and more adventure, Tangled also manages to bring back the good days of old Disney princess movies with wistful and joyful songs by Alan Menken (Who penned the songs of the likes of Beauty and the Beast) and of course, lovable characters of both the human and non-human kind. I can’t lie–that Flynn Rider’s a babe!
5. The Fighter
With heavyweight star performances, real-as-you-can-get fights in the ring, and a rough-talkin’ screenplay to take us into blue-collar Massachusetts and the life of a family there, this biopic packs hard punches. Based on the life of junior welterweight ‘Irish’ Micky Ward, The Fighter is not only about the fragile career of a boxer working hard to rise above, but also the difficult life of his fellow former boxer half-brother Dicky Eklund and the personal and professional conflicts with their manager mother. Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, and Melissa Leo drive this movie forward with their gritty portrayals and deliver a raw and poignant fight into moviegoers’ souls.
4. The Social Network
Driven by intelligent dialogue and its intriguing and relevant real-life background, ‘the Facebook movie’ isn’t necessarily about Facebook, but rather the power struggles that wear and tear the friendship between its founders and others who believe the power is theirs. Jesse Eisenberg and breakout star Andrew Garfield (Pictured with Joseph Mazello and Patrick Maple) play Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin, whose impulsive nerdy ideas at Harvard manifest into the machine millions now know as Facebook. The on-screen story is dark, intense, and dramatic, but fans and critics alike have managed to like it (No pun intended)–and we’re forever wired.
3. Black Swan
Filled with stunning cinematography, psychological horrors, disturbing sensuality, and a look into a darker realm where ballet is prime, Darren Aronofsky’s film is a twisted fantasy that demands multiple viewings. Natalie Portman plays a struggling dancer who wants to meet her darker side because she believes it’ll make her the perfect performer, only to fall too deep into that darker side and to a point of self-destruction. Despite frightening moments, it’s hard to look away–and sooner or later, you’ll realize the tragic beauty of the story Aronofsky attempts to convey. Portman gives the performance of her life in dual roles and soars away with our hearts–then drops and shatters them.
2. Toy Story 3
Almost ten years since its predecessor hit theaters, the final installment of Toy Story came to us this past summer. With toy owner Andy going off to college, Woody, Buzz, and company ponder their fates, but not before they get a taste of day care. New adorable and quirky characters are introduced and action, comedy, and drama all make up our last adventure with the toys. There was no other film in 2010 that could make us laugh hard, keep us on the edge of our seats, and sob meaningful and sentimental tears–then manage to piece us back together again. It’s simply difficult not to relate to the trials and tribulations of growing up and apart from our favorite things, which explains the heart of Toy Story 3. At least it was an ending that was flawless and unforgettable.
Though a forgotten middle child birthed before the string of Oscar bait released in the last few months, there was nothing as original, clever, mindblowing, and damn enjoyable in 2010 film as Christopher Nolan’s artsy summer blockbuster. Combining elements of a sci-fi thriller, an action drama, and a bit of a bad romance, Inception is a pleasant chill-inducing breathtaker. Not just because Ellen Page could fold Paris in half telepathically or because Joseph Gordon-Levitt could fight projections in zero gravity (Though those were pretty cool too)–it explored the concept of the dream, sharing them and stealing and implanting ideas, in substantial style and with immense creativity. Along with “King” Leonardo DiCaprio (Refer to #10 on this list), Page, and Gordon-Levitt, the international cast featuring Marion Cotillard, Ken Watanabe, Tom Hardy, and Cillian Murphy truly was a dream team. Inception was a film fun enough for its cliffhanger action scenes, stunning visual effects, and even subtle comedy here and there, but deep enough to make people think about its story and their own dreams and realities and feel emotion for the film’s characters. It made for a perfect balance for a perfect cinematic centerpiece. So, did the top keep spinning or what?