Thursday, 30 December 2010

Top 10 Films of 2010

I've not posted anything here for a few weeks but just before the year ends I'd like to squeeze in my top 10 films of 2010. When I thought about compiling this list I felt like I'd watched a lot of really great films this year, but in fact they were almost all from 2009! So I guess it's not been a really strong year for films as such, but there are a still some that have become some of my all time favourites. It's not my intention to review the films, but to just say a few words on why I liked them etc... So here we go, in at number 10 it's:

10. Four Lions

Released: 7th May
Directed by: Chris Morris

Being such a big Chris Morris fan I was concerned that my high level of expectation would ruin this film but it didn't. Four Lions inevitably attracted a lot of negative attention (mostly from people who refused to see the film, I would imagine) due to its subject matter centred around a group of wannabe suicide bombers. The way the subject matter is handled is testament to Chris Morris' talent as a film maker and writer, although (as with Nathan Barley) the humour can be subtle at times and not so much hysterical laugh-out-loud (though it does have some of those moments too). Morris makes us really care for the characters because he makes us see what they really are; misguided idiots like the rest of us.

9. Due Date

Released: 5th November
Directed by: Todd Phillips

As with 'The Hangover', Zack Galifianakis carries this film. Don't get me wrong, Robert Downey Jr is a great actor and he's great in this, but it's fairly easy to imagine someone else playing his role (although the scene where he punches a young child in the stomach is worth the admission fee alone). Some people might be wondering why I put this film above Four Lions; purely because of Zack Galifianakis, I'm just such a huge fan. I first saw him on 'Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job!' as acting mentor Tairy Greene and also as The Snuggler, then followed by a couple of his stand up shows. His brand of humour may not be for everyone as he can come across as being pretty creepy at times, but for me, those are the moments he's at his best.

8. Kick Ass

Released: 26th March
Directed by: Matthew Vaughn

First off I'll start by saying 'the comic is better - much better', but this is still a great film. For me, when I first read the comic, it seemed like it was one of those ideas that seemed so obvious; as in, why hadn't this been done already? Sure it's a post modernist take on the idea of a superhero, but this could have been done in the 80's surely? The film just seems to lack a little of what made the comic so cool; the dialogue and the unflinching, uncompromising, gratuitous violence. I also didn't care for the ending of the film too much. So why is this film even in my top ten?! Because the comic set the bar a little too high in my opinion, but yet it still manages to kick ass.

7. Iron Man 2

Released: 30th April
Directed by: Jon Favreau

I never used to be all that bothered by Iron Man, Tony Stark was Marvel's Bruce Wayne as far as I was concerned, and I prefer Batman any day of the week. I also used to not really think much of Marvel's films; that they were just throw away and not really worth my attention (apart from Spiderman - but that was because Sam Raimi was on-board, obviously). But now it seems Marvel have upped their game. The special effects actually look great and fully integrated into the action and not just a means to an end. The first Iron Man film was great, but this one is better, and that's down to the casting. Mickey Rourke as Ivan Vanko is inspired, it's hard to take your eyes away from the screen whenever he makes an appearance (although I'm not sure why you would as you're watching a film, nevermind). I'm still a little unsure about Samuel L Jackson as Nick Fury though, seems like a strange choice to me. There is a lot to like about this film, plus there's some good mech action too.

6. Tron: Legacy

Released: 17th December
Directed by: Joseph Kosinski

OK, I want to see this again on a small screen, perhaps even tiny, in black and white with the sound reproduced through at telephone, just to check it still stands up. I saw this on the IMAX in 3D and it blew me away. Pure, unadulterated, visual ****-fest. It was everything I hoped it would be, and more. But it wasn't just a visual eye-gasm, the film had great characters, great story and Jeff Bridges. The only part I didn't like was the overuse of Daft Punk in the club scene. A quick cut to them would have been sufficient, quite cool even. But to keep returning to them; pretending to make music or DJ or whatever it was just didn't work for me. Also, Disney should have put a few extra quid aside and paid David Bowie to play Castor instead of Michael Sheen (preferably in the costume worn in Labyrinth - he could have even duetted with Daft Punk; now that would have been good).

5. The Social Network

Released: 15th October
Directed by: David Fincher

David Fincher made my favourite film of all time - Zodiac. That film is a masterpiece, but this isn't the place. Benjamin Button was a detour, perhaps even a blip in an otherwise amazing career (ok, Benjamin Button wasn't so terrible, but it was just a little bit pants though wasn't it?) Anyway, the Social Network left me dizzy and out of breath, it was like the Gilmour Girls turned up to 11 - but, like, good. If you slowed the film down to it's actual real-time speed, the length of the film is actually a fortnight. This film is engrossing, I was completely swallowed up for the entirety of its duration, it's a master-class in film-making; a truly modern film. If you're into writing, this film would be worthy of investigation I'm sure. A truly, truly great piece of cinema.

4. Black Swan

Released: 21st January 2011
Directed by: Darren Aronofsky

Wasn't sure whether to put this in or not because, as you can see, it's not out until the 3rd week in January. But hey, I watched it in 2010, so er, that'll do for me. So again, another director who can't seem to do much wrong, and again following on from a successful mainstream film, The Wrestler. For me, Black Swan is a return to Aronofsky's inimitable style of claustrophobia, despair and mental illness; as it should be. His use of the camera is exquisite, at times reminding me of Martin Scorcese, if Martin Scorcese was a mentally ill stalking sex-offender. Natalie Portman is superb, as is Vincent Cassel, two actors who seem to be getting better with every new film I see them in. The (potentially) good news is that Darren Aronofsky is down to do the next Wolverine film, which I have to say I am salivating at the very thought of, bub.

3. Grant Morrison: Talking With Gods

Released: 26th October
Directed by: Patrick Meaney

The only documentary film in my top 10 and what a documentary it is. It's the story of a man who started out as a complete social recluse, lost in a work of comic books (I can relate to this film for some reason) who begins to write his own and becomes very rich off the back of a certain 80's superhero film. At the age of 30 he decides to start experiencing life and so begins to drink, take drugs and travel around the world. His experiences then began to seep into his comic book stories and his comic book stories began to seep into his real life. This is a great documentary, how you take Grant Morrison is entirely your decision, but to me he comes across as a really nice, warm, genuine but eccentric man.

2. Inception

Released: 16th July
Directed by: Christopher Nolan

"Ooh, it's too complicated, ohh, I don't get it, etc..." Just try paying attention, it's all there. In a previous post I basically copied and pasted some writing by Philip K Dick about what makes 'good' science fiction. Essentially it's the idea. And Inception, at its root, is a very good idea. The inevitable, and slightly predictable; is he asleep / is he awake ending could have been better I feel, but it certainly got people talking. But what lies at the heart of this film is an idea. Something that surely fascinates and stirs something in every human; dreams. In order to completely enjoy this film, you don't necessarily have to 'open your mind' because essentially the concept isn't that unbelievable, you just have to trust the world in which this film exists. It's all about ideas and concepts, stop being so practical and relax, let go and enjoy. There's an architect that designs worlds for you to dream in and then your subconscious fills the world; makes it believable. Just like the dreams in our own heads, dreams that in the moment can seem so real that upon waking, you are able to feel such strong emotion for a place or time that never existed but in the depths of your own mind. For me, Inception obviously raises more questions than it answers, but these questions aren't questions to do with the film-making or the special effects, but are of a theoretical nature, and that is what all good science fiction should do.

1. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Released: 25th August
Directed by: Edgar Wright

First off I'll start by saying 'the comic isn't as good - the film is much better', controversial? Don't know, don't care, this is a great film. Edgar Wright is one of my many heroes, I've watched Spaced many, many times and his style is dripping all over this film, in a good way. So what's wrong with the comic, I hear you say? Well, not much really, the story's good, the characters are great; I don't really care for the drawing style too much though, but perhaps that will grow on me in the future. But the film just brings the comic to life in a way that Kick Ass could only dream about in it's er, wildest dreams. Michael Cera is perfectly cast as Scott Pilgrim, essentially playing the same role he's played since Arrested Development but with more enthusiasm. And that's a good thing. From start to finish this film is an absolute joy to watch and the writing is superb. But for me, without Edgar Wright's passion for all things good, this film would have probably been nowhere near as, er, good.

So that's it, my top 10 of 2010, no doubt you won't agree, but this is my blog, so you know what you can do... Just, like, let me know and we can probably discuss it or something. Thanks.