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Best of 2010: Movies February 24, 2011

Posted by David Card in Media.

Yikes, the Oscars are this weekend and I haven’t posted my usual “best of” yet. Here are my faves of 2010:

  • The Social Network. High craft. Will launch a thousand start-ups.
  • Toy Story 3. Huge heart. Up there with Pixar’s best.

I gave each of these 3.5 stars out of 5 on Flixster. Last year, I handed out five 3.5 star ratings and in 2008 one 4-star (The Dark Knight) and two 3.5’s. I reserve five stars for absolute classics like Casablanca, Duck Soup, The Big Sleep, and Chinatown.

Best of the rest (each gets a 3-star rating):

  • Winter’s Bone. Ozark neo-realist gothic.
  • I Am Love. Boy, those rich Milanese know how to live. And make sensuous, operatically over-the-top melodramas.
  • Red Riding Trilogy. Like a great Mystery series touched with evil: This is the North, where we do what we want.
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Quite possibly better than the book.
  • Kick-Ass. Silly, silly critics, it’s not a satire, it’s po-mo fanboy superheroics taken to their logical conclusion
  • Valhalla Rising. Undoubtedly awesome if one is on drugs: stoner Christian Vikings meet the heathen on the edge of the world.
  • The King’s Speech. Three good leads; takes no risks. Will win many Oscars.
  • Potter 7A. If you love our three heroes, you’ll love this installment; otherwise it may seem long and a little lonely.

I liked How to Train Your Dragon and Unstoppable also, but not quite enough to put ’em in the top 10. The Academy nominators agreed with four of my favorites, one less than last year. Like the newly enlarged Best Picture noms, I like a mix of movies aimed at kids and grown-ups, with a range of budgets and box office performance.

A slightly encouraging sign: some good movies for adults actually made money this year. Toy Story 3, that appeals to both kids and adults, topped the charts.

It’s always fun to look at the year’s box office. Not a lot of movement on the hits vs. long-tail, kids vs. grown-ups, or “Can’t Hollywood Do Anything Creative” fronts. Last year’s total dollar take was roughly flat with 2009, though boosted by 3D ticket prices. There was one $400 million hit in 2010, and roughly five $300 million sellers, with 29 over $100 million. In 2009, Avatar was a $750 million monster, with a single $400 million seller and a few at $300 (32 over $100 million). There were five or six franchises in the top 10 both years, though more animation in 2010.



1. Michael Wolf - February 24, 2011

No True Grit? I’m a Coen Brothers nerd, so I always include their stuff by default, but it was pretty darn good.

I was disappointed by Social Network – the hype in the tech world was so high, but to me it wasn’t a great movie, but just a good movie. Granted, a movie about a website is in itself a feat, but didn’t think it oscar-worthy.

David Card - February 24, 2011

I did like True Grit, but it wasn’t as different from the original as I expected. True, they both take a lot of dialogue directly from the book and spin it variously to John Wayne Western and Dry Humor modes, and with different interpretations for the endings.

I was pleasantly surprised by the actual emotion in The Social Network, which is rare in a Fincher movie. I have friends who say no one was likable – fair criticism – and I concede it’s not really about Facebook. But it captured some Silicon Valley energy, and I enjoyed its craft, soundtrack, performances and its energy in portraying some classic themes on class and friends’ betrayal.

Michael Wolf - February 24, 2011

I think Fincher and company did a good job at capturing the Facebook and Silcon Valley feel and story. Eisenberg did a good job with the Zuckerberg character as savant-ish/asperger tech founder type.

Some of the characters were a bit cardboardy though. I thought the Winklevoss characters could have been cut and pasted from a James Spader role in a John Hughes film.

The thing for me with True Grit was the acting. Both Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon hit it out of the park. Brolin wasn’t bad either.

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