Sunday, January 2, 2011

Maggie's Top 10 Movies of 2010

I watched just over 300 films last year, though the bulk of them were older numbers, and I didn't get to see certain films around which there is still a tremendous amount of buzz--so before getting indignant about Black Swan and The Social Network not being on this list, didn't see 'em! Sure they're fantastic! Will get around to them in time.

In the meantime, what I did see from this past year was pretty darn awesome:

1. Toy Story 3



An existentialist children's film with shockingly well wrought symbolism and metaphor. 'Nuff said! (Chris said it best anyhow!)

2. A Prophet



Jacques Audiard's stunning treatise on the function of prison in creating hardened criminals. Full review here.

3. The Secret in their Eyes



A tremendously graceful fluidity between past and present marks this Argentinian film about a retired legal counsel's pursuit of a long-unresolved murder investigation. The stylization of this film brings viewers quite unawares to its chillingly conceived resolution. Sadly, I only wrote my review for this film in my head, but I'm sure a couple of the reviews here aren't entirely brain-numbing!

4. My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done?



A lifetime's narratives are condensed in this latest work by Werner Herzog. Full review here.

5. Exit Through the Gift Shop



This documentary follows the man whose compulsion for filming brought him to the world of street art, and Banksy. Or is this film at all what it seems? Full review here.

6. Inception



I gripe a lot about suspension of disbelief being key for my enjoyment of film. Well, Nolan masterfully handles a concept of immense fantasy in a gripping and detail-oriented manner. It doesn't matter that you know where this film is going to take you. It matters that this film makes you more aware of the devices at work in story-formation throughout all contemporary film. Sadly, I didn't get around to reviewing this film at the time, but the internet is abuzz with people still trying to "make sense" of the piece. (Hint: It doesn't need to be analysed to be enjoyed, so if you don't "get" it, you're fine. Relax already.)

7. True Grit



Everything I didn't like about A Serious Man--the intelligently wrought scenes pushing towards an overwrought argument for the absurdity of trying to find meaning in our lives--was honed to a point in this startlingly self-aware western. Again the Coen Brothers prove to be experts, too, at literary adaptation. I don't have the most accessible of reviews for this piece, because it immediately set off the literary critic in me, but I do have a review of sorts here, if you don't mind the academic tone.

8. The Kids Are All Right



This film, following a lesbian couple as their full-grown children seek to reconnect with their biological father, is an eminently familiar "dramedy" with a few expert twists on age-old genre crises. Full, nit-picking review here.

9. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World



Our abiding desire to find what is good in life amid the hyperbole of modern technology finds a beautiful home in this graphic novel adaptation (set explicitly in Toronto!) about a meek band member and videogame geek who suddenly has to defeat seven evil ex-boyfriends. Playful, sweet, and self-effacing, this film is eminently re-watchable. In fact, I was too busy re-watching it to review it. Sorry!

10. Restrepo



Documenting a combat scenario in which we are currently embroiled is never an easy task, but this effort is impressive. Its approach to foregrounding footage of a year with one platoon stationed on Afghanistan's deadliest front line cannot fail to sober viewers as much as it informs them of the complexities of this unending, unjustified, and un-winnable war. I didn't even know where to begin with a review for this piece, so let me just emphasize that this is a hard, but essential film to watch.

YOUR TURN, FOLKS! What did you watch and enjoy most from 2010?