Thursday, December 30, 2010

Best Films of 2010

Top 10 Films of 2010

      If you're like me, then it is always a good practice to quantify things by developing top ten lists.  Maybe ten is an arbitrary number, but for most, it is a uniformly agreed upon starting point for valuing highly competent works.  Realizing that standards may inevitably differ across the overwrought cyberspace of film critiques, I am preparing to field off an onslaught of contentious debate regarding my selections.  The staunch lines of sensibility have been irrevocably drawn.  Opinions have been readying for my impending execution.  Target acquired.  Unleash the vitriol.
      Before any formal attacks can be mounted though, I must provide a little more insight into the formation of my list.  Quite frankly, the first ... really two-thirds of 2010 have offered up a fairly sobering array of movies—which unrequited film fans like myself forcibly and painfully must endure before getting to the quality cinema.  There was an extremely inordinate amount of mediocre films to sift through including such timeless classics as: The Clash of the Titans, Prince of Persia, Last Airbender, and Lovely Bones.  However, all of this middling, jarringly bad film crap that I subjected myself to lead to a burgeoning, pent-up desire for seeing great film.  Finally, the fourth quarter of 2010 allowed me to suppress this overwhelming feeling of detached skepticism and reconstitute my love for cinema as great films began furiously pouring out week by week. 
      Though I have not been fortunate enough to have seen every exceptionally made film of 2010—I missed out on a smattering of indie-films, in addition to a host of internationally based productions—my list is still concrete and will occupy a more Americanized bent.  Despite the fact that I may see a film made this year at some point in the future, adamantly believing said film earnestly belongs on my top 10 of 2010 list, I cannot go back and make any revisions.  This is a list as ironclad as the likelihood of Mike "The Situation" rejoining the cast of Jersey Shore for a third season of debauchery based shenanigans.  Call it cheap entertainment and I'll agree with you, but the guy makes the show watchable...and his paycheck is too extravagant to forfeit.  If all I had to do is shamelessly show my abs off, talk with an overly exaggerated Italian machismo accent, all while simultaneously playing the part of the comedic, alcohol gluttonous host, I would say where to do I sign.  I am kidding of course but I digress.
      Without further ado, I will jump right into my list starting with number 10.  Undoubtedly number 10 (sounds like a character in a James Bond or Tarantino flick) was the most competitive spot to nab as this film beat out a host of deserving just missed the cut candidates.  

*If you click each movie title (for example: The Town just below), you will be linked to an Official YouTube Trailer for each film.

      Lately these days, it seems that Ben Affleck is more suited for work behind the camera than in front of it.  Considering the robust surplus of praise levied upon his directorial debut, Gone Baby Gone, Affleck has surpassed the initial test of the actor gone one-hit-wonder director by delivering the equally raw and gritty action film, The Town.  It is a compelling heist-genre film suffused with great emotional tonality. Strong performances and an emotionally wrought character-driven engine help establish it as a must watch film.  
      Many cynics may deride The Town as another poorly executed rendition of sucker-stylized action and drama.  But these cynics make these accusations from afar; if you were able to watch The Town in a local theater setting, you can gauge from the enthusiastic audience responses that it effectively strikes a chord with every town in America. 
      I may have taken a slight shot at Affleck with my initial statement, but his directing expertise does not preclude him from giving a meaningful character portrayal.  His role as Doug MacRay is played with minimalistic sophistication and potent conviction, aided by an authentic Boston personage.  Moreover, Jeremy Renner's spirited depiction of the criminal lifer is as riveting as it is frustrating.  A destructive quality is inherent in Renner's character, James Coughlin, which makes each of his seconds on screen fully immersing.  
     The Town's crowning achievement is evidenced in its brilliantly realized cinematic direction.  The Charlestown setting is delineated beautifully in an almost rugged and rundown manner.  Fueled by smartly engineered pacing, the action sequences keep you fastened to the butt of your seat.  It is almost as if Ben Affleck took a page from Robert Ludlum—the brainchild of the Bourne Trilogy which features Affleck's best bud, Matt Damon—in masterminding the believably gripping action of the number ten film on my list.

9). Shutter Island 

      It was an extremely difficult decision to include Shutter Island on my list and conspicuously neglect Buried; I truly loved both films on almost similar levels.  Admittedly though, I could not justify Cortés' finely crafted psychological and survival thriller because of its extreme lack of a re-watch-ability factor.  The same argument can be made for Shutter Island ... hat is, if you have not been fortunate to catch it a second time on blu-ray.  Another important caveat for this vital difference between the two films comes from the fact that Shutter Island more effectively creates a standalone, memorably inventive cinematic experience.  Immediately from the outset, I was enthralled with the story of Teddy Daniels, who is played so exemplary by Leonardo DiCaprio.  On the contrary, Ryan Reynolds character from Buried, Paul Conroy, requires too much exposition (mostly dictated over the phone) to gain my attention.  And this disconnect occurs despite the fact that Conroy is involved in a rapidly dire, harrowing circumstance. 
      The true intrinsic value of Shutter Island is derived from the experience of repeat viewings.  It plays so much more effectively and sincerely that one is not distracted by the impending revelation of the film.  Scorsese is incredible at brokering an emotional investment with his audience.  His wield of cinematic power reaches such great depths. The emotional core of Shutter Island is enhanced by the strong acting of DiCaprio who completely enraptures you as he treads along this compelling psychological journey of a guy trying to discover who he is.  There is such an elegant, yet profound style and execution to the film, which has become requisite with any Scorsese production.  The classically omnipresent film noir aspects, particularly with the flashback sequences thoroughly captivated me.  The story of the fractured or self probing mind is explored beautifully.  I have come to expect nothing less from the kismet dynamic duo pairing of Scorsese and DiCaprio which I hope never departs.

8).  Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

      Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is a film that is characterized by an immense, gravitational energy that pulls you right into its colorfully rendered story.  From an objective level, it is not the best film made in 2010.  But in terms of its stylistic adaption of the comic book theme, it is best understood as a hipster flick, emblematic of the wired 2.0 generation.  In fact, the focal point of the plot revolves around the existence of seven evil exes that control the future of Romona's (played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead) love life.  Moreover, Michael Cera was born to play the titular character—all of the quirky, physically comedic, densely expressive elements of Pilgrim exude from Cera's pores.  
      Scott Pilgrim is spectacularly unique cinema that is relentlessly paced.  Edgar Wright is an incredibly talented Director whose impressive resume includes such dynamite classics as Election and Shaun of the Dead.  Wright takes a literalistic temperature gauge of today's culture of gaming and parody based humor and both encapsulates and satirizes these elemental sensibilities—which are cornerstones of my generation.  Wright's sense of comedic timing in the visual space is unrivaled.  
      Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is an incredible work of cinema that functions on myriad levels: it's beautifully enjoyed as a fun comedic-action movie with an impressive musical score (Beck, Metric, Broken Social Scene) and more importantly, Scott Pilgrim is the kind of film that effectively defines our generation as well as ... well scan further down my list to find the true generational significant film.

7).  127 Hours

      It does not take 127 continuous hours to realize that a film directed by Danny Boyle and starring James Franco has tremendous potential.  127 Hours is an inventive biographical film tracing the harrowing circumstances of real life mountain climber Aron Ralston as he gets trapped by a boulder.  The film brilliantly illustrates that a static premise with a dominant, mostly solo in-your-face character portrayal can be both intensely moving and imbued with electricity.  It is precisely the kind of film worth seeing in theaters.  I will not give it away but "the momentous scene" gives you an intensity you just cannot mimic in a home theater setting.  
      James Franco's acting career has undergone an upward momentum that has seen his last few works gain increasing critical acclaim (Howl is a fine example of Franco's acting chops).  127 Hours solidifies Franco's ability as an actor to completely immerse himself in a character under the full methodical approach.  Benefiting by the prodigious direction of Danny Boyle (who has produced a number of critically praised classics including Trainspotting, Sunshine and recently, Slumdog Millionaire), Franco's portrayal of Ralston is blissfully engaging.  127 Hours should serve as a blueprint, not in terms of a harrowing survivor tale of a finite timeline but instead, as a blueprint for its strict disciplinarian adherence to a simple, but often ignored rule of strong filmmaking; all it takes to effect great cinema is the coalescence of talents from both a gifted Actor and  masterful Director.

6).  True Grit 

      It is not necessary that an individual be comprised of "true grit" to realize that the latest Coen Brothers film is exemplary.  True Grit, in its most infant state, is a fun movie that is not striving to be as ambitious as say, No Country For Old Men.  I am a big fan of traditional westerns as I have seen all the classics including the original True Grit.  Additionally, I am a big fan of the Coen Brothers who once again do not disappoint in applying their unique sensibility to True Grit's derivative western premise.  Though the ending of the film does not sit well with me in terms of climactic film finishes, the entirety of the film is without significant flaws.  
      The Coen Brothers invoke a certain polarity—in terms of criticism—by enlisting their off-beat, often times helter skelter filmmaking approach, True Grit serves as a fine addition to the library of any fan of the classic western genre.  The summation of the individual acting performances: including the seemingly omnipresent Jeff Bridges (who plays the John Wayne role, Rooster Cogburn), the smartly competent Matt Damon (Texas Ranger La Boeuf), and precocious Hailee Steinfeld (as Mattie Ross)—help establish True Grit as an enjoyable, superbly acted exhibition.  The erratically competent visionaries also known as the Coen Brothers may have directed True Grit, but more surprisingly, they re-created a film classic by delivering a first-rate, true-to-genre western.  In the spirit of such an ingenious about-face on a come-to-be-expected Coen Brothers work of art, True Grit deserves an about-face as it pertains to the predominantly niche fan base of western genre films.  In fact, I anticipate the emergence of an increasingly fervent fan movement charged with the task of influencing the re-creation of other Western classics. 
5).  Exit Through the Gift Shop 

      Is it a documentary or a fictionally pieced together account of varying real life events?  No one critic can be too sure at this point.  But whether what we see is real or not or whether the film qualifies as a documentary is irrelevant.  Exit Through the Gift Shop is a fantastic cinematic ride that does in fact exude an unmistakable element of truth concerning bigger questions. 
      Exit Through the Gift Shop is a documentary about a failed documentary about graffiti art about an aspiring documentarian's graffiti art.  What all this sequential storytelling results in is quite markedly, one of the most involving story driven documentaries I have ever seen.  The film gives stark insights into street art while simultaneously providing a scathing criticism of the proliferating art scene.  Consequently, questions about the nature and motivation of art begin to ferment.  The bottom line is that the intended meaning behind art is realized through its own disparate and numerously translatable offerings. 
      Whether the real life characters of Thierry Guetta, Banksy, or Shepard Fairey are part of a well crafted manipulative hoax or a truly inspiring real life tale is not important.  What is important is all of these characters provide compelling and complex performances that make Exit Through the Gift Shop a can't miss stop as one journey's through the elaborate medium of cinematic arts.

4).  Black Swan 

      Besides being the accomplished author of the best ending of a film this year. Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan is a uniquely sensational melodrama—and for once, being a melodrama is a good thing.  Characterized by an unmistakable yet piercingly absorbing operatic bent, Black Swan is theatrical not for the sake of being artsy but in the sense of providing a mirror to the duel reliant world of ultra-competitive ballet and inexorable ambition. 
      Natalie Portman gives a phenomenal performance as Nina Sayers and helps establish Black Swan as an intensely enriching movie experience.  The inability to discern what's reality and is not is central to Aronofsky's psychological tale and precisely points to his vast skill in direction.  The visual ambiance of Black Swan demands a staged performance type illustration and the theater is a great approximation of that dynamic. Therefore, I implore you to watch this film in a theater if you can.  The intensely passionate, visually stunning, psychologically moving elements of Black Swan will yield your undivided attention.  Aronofsky's genius as a director is put on stage with this film and he delivers a "break your legs" type riveting performance that demands the supreme attention of every serious moviegoer.    

*For a more in-depth analysis, check out my review for Black Swan under my "reviews" section.
3). The Fighter

      Christian Bale delivered tremendously impressive performances with American Psycho and The Prestige, while giving underwhelming and disappointing performances with Terminator Salvation and The Batman Series (only to the extent that his wacky Batman voice is distracting).  But with The Fighter, Bale has emphatically returned to form and in so doing, elevated his stellar acting pedigree by playing the crack-addicted "Pride of Lowell" boxer/trainer, Dicky Eklund.   Bale has tremendous acting power, insomuch that the power of Dicky's right hand—that may or may not have knocked down Sugar Ray Leonard—fails to deliver as much potency.  
      Director David O. Russell returns to his past film success (I loved Three Kings) with The Fighter by seamlessly fusing the underdog boxing story (of Micky Ward, played excellently by Mark Wahlberg) with an intense family drama.  Russell accomplishes this by evoking a consistently deliverable comedic tone throughout the film.  For me, The Fighter generates as much euphoric love for the movie going experience as Inception.  These films remind me of how going to movies can be both fun and energizing.  The Fighter manages to encapsulate this sentiment while simultaneously providing a mainstream crowd pleaser with an oft kilter sensibility.

*For a more in-depth analysis, check out my review for The Fighter under my "reviews" section.

2).  Inception

Boldness adj., showing or requiring a fearless daring spirit; standing out prominently. 

      The best descriptor for Christopher Nolan's latest film achievement, Inception, is the symbiotic idea of boldness as defined above.  Though the choreographed action sequences may be inscrutable at times and the dialogue is often heavy on exposition, Inception is a truly gratifying cinematic adventure.  In the true sense of the medium—the movie going experience—particularly in the case of big budget blockbuster films, is all about championing sentiments of escapism and shock and awe style visual displays.  Inception wonderfully captures this movie going spirit and effectively slams a Ruthian style home run out of the park. 
      "What's the most resilient parasite? An Idea. A single idea from the human mind can build cities. An idea can transform the world and rewrite all the rules."    These are the thought provoking words uttered by Cobb, the dream manipulator played magnificently by Leonardo DiCaprio, that forms the basis of a film that successfully undertakes an exploratory examination of the mind.  Many detractors may conclude that Inception thinks it's smarter than it actually is.  But Christopher Nolan is that friggen smart.   
      Inception is simply a cool movie.  What other movie can boast elaborately crafted sequences of guys dressed in designer suits killing projections at a lighting pace faster than Usain Bolt's 100 meter Olympic sprint.  Inception's grandiose success foretells something tremendously auspicious for Hollywood: when you extend an unlimited budget to an extremely talented director, Inception is the kind of ilk, the kind of standard of a movie you can ultimately get.  
      The visuals in Inception are amazing; in fact, this daring attempt to incorporate complex visual artistry is quite rare—some of the memorable examples include the "hallway fight scene," which is almost a fitting homage to its cinematic precursor of special effects, The Matrix Trilogy.  Such elaborate sequences require tremendous editing as the characters (and the audience must keep up in a sensible manner) are traveling between multiple layers at the same time.  Inception also provides an invigorating score that beautifully accentuates the bold action and special effect driven sequences.      
      Undoubtedly though, my favorite scene in a film this year was the anti-gravity scenes with Joseph Gordon Levitt.  These are truly one-of-a-kind sequences that left my friends and I in complete jaw dropping awe.  I guess my most unforgivable problem with Inception is that it shows us these brilliant, amazing anti-gravity scenes and simply just does not give us enough of it. 

1).  The Social Network 

      I do not know who opined that number one is always the cat's meow in any listing.  But my brain underwent a near mental breakdown in trying to determine what film of 2010 coveted the number one title.  The answer became easier to discern once I accepted an important tenet of great filmmaking: great films materialize when a prodigiously talented director teams up with an equally talented writer.  More specifically, the accomplished tandem of David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin fulfills this age-old tenet and what results is pure cinematic gold.  In fact, Sorkin contended that Shakespeare himself would have written The Social Network, for it deals with themes of friendship, loyalty, jealousy, power, money and social status—markedly powerful themes pertinent to any great human tragedy and raconteur.  
      The rapid fire, fustian trademark-style dialogue of Sorkin and the sonorous, flashy filmmaking style of Fincher make the menial exercise of talking in a room exciting.  The Social Network may be criticized for reasons unrelated to its merits—particularly, when it comes to a misunderstanding of Mark Zuckerberg who is a notoriously abstruse figure.  But Fincher avoids this seemingly dire trope by focusing his thematic direction on a search for deeper truths and what motivates people.  Moreover, the true crux of the film lies with the grand idea of social networking and how it navigates these truths.  
      The Social Network is going to win Best Picture at the Oscars this year.  Aided beautifully by an exceptional score, Fincher's film defines our generation more reasonably and truthfully than Edgar Wright's Scott Pilgrim vs The World or any other film of recent memory.  It is a thrilling, smartly crafted movie with a fascinating focal character in Mark Zuckerberg, who is symbolic of the niggling, manipulative genius. 
      The single greatest element of the film lies within its exploration of the Internet and how it drastically impacts our lives and the way we interact with another.  Fincher has an uncanny eye for defining the visual sensibility of a film.  Such a crafty eye is advantageous for a film package that includes a superb script where verbal sparring is continuously compelling throughout the film.  The Social Network is an impeccable model of a film that I can effortlessly defend, as its strengths are easily identifiable; and for eternity, praise it to the high heavens.

*Just missed the cut and frankly some pretty big omissions: Toy Story 3 (the Best Animated Feature of 2010), How to Train Your Dragon (Best 3D Movie of 2010), Buried (read below) and Kick-Ass (Just a fun, kick ass Movie).  I did not get a chance to see The King's Speech, Winter's Bone, Catfish, Animal Kingdom, and some other highly regarded films of 2010.


      Finally, a few lasting thoughts on Buried, it's Director and Ryan Reynolds because I want you all to see it.  Given its more dangerous and daring premise.  I absolutely bought into Director Rodrigo Cortés' claustrophobic narrative style.  If a film is administering a potion that is meant to project a specific tone and sense of time and place, I must be thoroughly absorbed in the story.
      Rodrigo Cortés likely provided the most shocking ending to a film this year, which refreshingly cements Rodrigo's place in Hollywood as an audaciously and originally sensible entity.  Hollywood needs more inventive and daring filmmakers.  Visually infused with both visceral suspense and gritty vitality, Buried successfully furnishes an idea that is articulated with momentous simplicity.
      Other than thunderously announcing the "I am talented" presence of Rodrigo Cortés, Buried also significantly augments another film career.  Ryan Reynold's career has been defined by leading roles in many trivial films, which has resulted in tremendous popularity among his growing legions of adoring fans—but it has also positioned his career, from a critical standpoint, closer to six feet under.  But his character in Buried as the frantic, trapped in a coffin lead role illustrates to scathing critics that he is a viable actor and can be taken seriously.  More than a rising star among fans of the box office hit The Proposal, Reynold's proves to critics that he possesses real acting chops and has the clout to carry a dramatic and suspenseful film. 

Thanks for reading!  I hope you enjoyed my list and feel free to comment ...


  1. I must admit my favourite film from 2010 was an animated one - HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON since I don't like the trend of dark and pessimistic movies and always support the ones which offer an abundance of positivity with great moral values :)

  2. Dezmond, that is a great choice and I struggled with not including HTTYD and Toy Story 3 in my top 10. Certainly, HTTYD was the best 3D film I have ever seen (even slightly beating out Avatar just for its extremely efficient command of 3D technology). I understand your penchant for uplifting, morally characteristic films. I love leaving a movie feeling good about the beauty of what life has to offer. I'm going to watch HTTYD a second time and I'm confident I will love it even more. Thanks for sharing your thoughts :)

  3. be welcome, MDV, and we are expecting you over at HOLLYWOOD SPY, drop a comment anytime you like a story over there ;)

  4. Absolutely. I have already given some time to checking out your blog, Hollywood Spy and I was very impressed. I'll be sure to keep the conversation going.

  5. First, I share Dezmond's fondness for How to Train Your Dragon. Ok, maybe not as deeply, but still. I would actually put How To Train Your Dragon over Toy Story 3 as best animated movie of the year, for me.

    Moving on to the list, good (if not standard) top 10 list of movies for the year. I would probably take issue with a couple things on that list. Or, at the very least, my list would just be a bit different.

    For starters, for me, Inception is movie of the year, with Black Swan being a real close second. However, I must ashamed admit that I have yet to see The Social Network.

    Another part is the inclusion of Scott Pilgrim. Well, maybe not so much the inclusion of that movie, but rather the inclusion of that while leaving out Kick-Ass. For me, while I absolutely loved both of them, I think I enjoyed Kick-Ass better than Scott Pilgrim. So if I could only include one of the two in my list, it would be Kick-Ass.

    Finally, I really think True Grit and The Fighter have been overrated this year. Yes, both are enjoyable and good movies, but they're lacking, especially The Fighter. True Grit I enjoyed well enough, though it seemed to drag in parts and Damon's character I didn't care for. And ultimately it seemed pretty anti-climatic.

    The Fighter, on the other hand, I thought was definitely overrated. To me it was one of those movies with great acting, but the movie itself wasn't anything beyond decent. I couldn't even feel inspired like I should at the end of the movie just due to the lack of being drawn in and connected to the main character. It wasn't that feel-good moment like Rocky or something. For me this took a LOT away from the movie (that absence of connection with the lead). The acting, though, was great. Bale was brilliant.

    My top 10 would probably look something more like:
    1. Inception
    2. Black Swan
    3. The Town
    4. 127 Hours
    5. Kick-Ass
    6. Paranormal Activity 2
    7. Scott Pilgrim
    8. True Grit
    9. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

    Now, this list is just a rough list off the top of my head. So it could change up if I were to actually sit down and give it some real thought. Also to note, the biggest factor for picking those movies is strictly enjoyment factor, not "cinematic achievement" or any critic/oscar-bait type element like that. So I guess it would be more of a Favorite Movies, rather than Best Movies list.

    Also to note, there are a few I haven't seen that would contend for spots on that list and there's a reason I left it at 9. Most notably: The Social Network and Buried. Something tells me, no doubt that those two would make my list.

    I'm inclined to say The King's Speech could stand a chance too. However, I'm also inclined to doubt that. Especially with the way people have been overrating Oscar-bait movies this year. The King's Speech just strikes me that it might be one of those ones with good performance but as a movie overall the enjoyability factor might be lacking for me.

    Animal Kingdom and Mesrine seem like two that could change my mind as well and seem like movies I could enjoy. Cyrus, Catfish and Blue Valentine round that list out.

    That being said, there are many that others include that I have seen but still wouldn't include on my list. Sorry, but The Fighter just doesn't make it (though it's not far off the back end). How to Train Your Dragon and Toy Story 3 are both close off the back end as well.

    The Kids Are All Right? Another highly overrated movie in my opinion that was ultimately a pretentious piece of crap that wasted my time. Winter's Bone was also overrated. I enjoyed it, don't get me wrong. But it's not movie of the year material. It was enjoyable, but just sort of average overall in the end. Jennifer Lawrence did give a great performance though.

  6. JBL,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the past year's film landscape. I appreciate the fact that you took the time to include your own makeshift Top 9 list and your well-reasoned arguments for your picks (and non-picks).

    Believe me, it was difficult not to emphatically label Inception as my favorite/best movie of the year. I have been a steady supporter of Nolan's work since Memento. The balance of technological achievement and intellectual depth of Inception makes it an unforgettable stand out film.

    Since you have not seen The Social Network, I advise you to go see it as soon as you can. It is getting a re-release (something like upwards of 600 theaters nationally), so I would look out for it. Since I can see that our lists are closely formulated, I can reasonably predict that you will love the film. My appreciation of Fincher's work is a result of his impeccable combination of visual artistry and narrative prowess -- in addition to a wealth of fantastic, A Few Good Men style dialogue thanks to Sorkin.

    I guess my biggest reason for not including Kick-Ass (and including Scott Pilgrim) has to do with the fact that I have seen SP twice and KA only once. My positive retention of Scott Pilgrim factored into my decision because frankly the two movies have a similarly colorful infrastructure -- so I had to rule out one. Also, I am a big fan of Edgar Wright's work dating back to Election and Shaun of the Dead. Wright's command of visual comedy is unrivaled. Nic Cage's character in Kick-Ass was memorable but not to the point that it beat out Scott Pilgrim.

    I can agree with your premise that 2010 has witnessed a diverse barage of overrated cinema. Winter's Bone is a film I have neglected thus far and it it mainly because I am suspicious of it's raving merits. I have read some dubious reviews of the film that lead me to believe it is not the filming masterpiece most have claimed.

    Animal Kingdom is a great film. I am going to write a full review of it in the coming days so look out for that. I also have to see Catfish (through a recommendation) and Blue Valentine.

    As far as my high appraisal of The Fighter, I will not budge even slightly. I loved this film. The balance of a dysfunctional family arc and Rocky-sized boxing story absolutely captivated me. Yes, Wahlberg's portrayal of Ward was mild, passive, and subdued. But that portrayal did not greatly affect me as I have come to expect that from Wahlberg, and have come to terms with his acting approach. Plus, Wahlberg's mild temperament beautifully contrasted with Bale's larger than life, charismatic portrayal of Dicky. The film worked for me and the group I watched it with, but your entitled to your opinion...which I respect.

    Thanks for your thoughts. And I am curious to see what your number ten film winds up being.

  7. @ JL -- sorry for the mistype of your name, I was researching the company Jabil Circuit, Inc. and their stock symbol is JBL.

  8. Not going to budge on The Fighter huh? Sure I can't convince you? lol Honestly though, we're all entitled to our own opinion. I respect yours if that's the way you feel. To keep it simple, my less than stellar view of The Fighter mainly stems from two parts: the main character and the storyline.

    Maybe I went in expecting too much of a Rocky story. However, the main character (I'm actually talking Ward here and not just Wahlberg's performance) was too passive of a guy and at most times seemed to just be an object of desire used in this frantic tug-of-war between his family and then his girlfriend/trainers/etc. For this reason, I was never able to care for the guy.

    The writing brought it down for me for the same reason. It always seemed to leave Ward as the bystander so to speak, while the focus was on his family and such. This, I felt, took away from the movie due to it being an underdog story. The very nature of an underdog story is to care so much for the main character that you're hoping against hope for their success yet in the bottom of your heart you know the odds are really stacked against them. Then, when they win, it's that much sweeter.

    I didn't have this feel-good moment at all in the end of The Fighter. This was, again, due to the writing and lack of connection to Ward, while focusing on the family.

    Don't get me wrong, I still thought it was an enjoyable movie. I liked it for what it was and I was absolutely captivated every time Bale was on screen. That guy is a beast and a genius with his work. Definitely one of my favorite actors around today, and one of the ones I respect most due to his dedication to his craft.

    So, while it was enjoyable, it just didn't do it for me. It set itself up to be an underdog story first and foremost. But then seemed to stray off course and never really deliver the pre-requisite emotional depth to the main character needed for an underdog story.

    Ok, sorry. Not trying to sway your opinion. I always end up typing far more than I intend lol.

    Moving on, Scott Pilgrim vs...Kick-Ass. I very much like Edgar Wright. I was never in love with Election, but Shaun of the Dead was absolutely awesome in my book. That's one of my favorite zombie movies in a while, followed by Zombieland. I think it also helped with Wright working with Pegg and Frost that drew me into that movie so much. I very much like that duo, which is why I'm pretty excited to see Paul coming soon.

    As for the two movies though, I very much enjoyed Scott Pilgrim and Kick-Ass both. They were both such refreshing takes on a genre that's quickly going stale. At the end of the day, just the sheer kick-ass-ness of Kick-Ass is what captivates me a tad bit more.

    The Social Network. I knew they were doing a re-release. I got the press release about that a little while back. However, I'm live in a fairly small city and limited releases like that never reach me. Fortunately, however, the movie is hitting DVD this coming Tuesday. I'll absolutely be there to pick it up that day.

    As much as I like Fincher (Fight Club still stands as one of my all-time favorites) and I have enjoyed some of Sorkin's work (anybody that enjoys courtroom dramas--as I do--has to love A Few Good Men), ultimately I think it's actually Jesse Eisenberg that draws me in the most. I really like him and he's been growing on me more and more. I'm also curious to get another glance at Rooney in order to evaluate her before she takes on the role of Lisbeth Salander, as I actually enjoyed The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, so I want to see how she might be able to do. And honestly, at the risk of ridicule (like I receive from friends anytime I mention this), I'm not at all mad about seeing Justin Timberlake either. I actually think the guy has turned out to be a fairly decent actor and can be captivating at times. I really enjoyed him in Alpha Dogs for example.

  9. Concerning your tepid appraisal of The Fighter, you actually present some compelling arguments. Wahlberg's noticeably subdued portrayal of Micky Ward (who you expect to be the prototypical alpha dog yearning for greatness) certainly forfeits some Rocky Balboa size appeal, which would have helped solidify The Fighter as a perfectly balanced fighter/family driven story. In your estimation, a true knockout could have been delivered if the expected payout from the boxing climax rested upon a more in-your-face, fully immersing protagonist's shoes. If you did not buy into Ward's underdog struggle, then it is hard to buy into his triumph. In your case, if Bale was playing Micky Ward (and carried himself with the same effervescent and impetuous gumption), your opinion of the film would be higher. The real star of The Fighter was the retired boxer, Dicky, so I can't argue with you too much on this end.

    Ultimately, The Fighter's climax registered with me. I was completely absorbed in the story of this dysfunctional family and even more tangibly, I was drawn into the fiery electricity of Bale's magnificent portrayal. Because I was so movingly drawn to Dicky, by default, I was also affected by Ward's struggle. Dicky's struggle for sobriety and his own sanity was a microcosm of the family's myriad struggles (trust being one of the foremost). Micky's quieting resolve to attain a semblance of greatness (his personal boxing struggle) was also factored into the family struggle -- a sort of reversal of mutual exclusivity. Micky's pursuit of boxing greatness required that he overcome the family strife -- Dicky, his Mother, his obnoxious and ostentatious Sisters). Therefore, I bought into the totality of the family drama. As a natural by-product, my absorption into Micky's personal boxing journey was fulfilled.

    Edgar Wright is a supreme craftsmen and I am glad you concur. Simon Pegg is also incredibly talented and surprisingly, deeply engaging. I also cannot wait for Paul -- a Sci-Fi nerd comedy with an impressive cast. I am thinking an ingenious balance of Superbad and Shaun of the Dead...I'm sold.

    Picking up The Social Network on DVD is the smarter long term investment. Fincher's unfettered examination of today's generation -- a true Shakespearean type theme -- is momentously riveting. I promise, you will not be remotely disappointed.

    I am embarrassed to admit that I have not seen The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, but it's on my radar of must watch films (over the next few weeks), so I cannot wait to delve into that one. And as for JT, just like the famous Michael Bay produced Milk commercial goes, the guys "got talent," not milk of course. His performance in The Social Network is contingent more upon perspective and weighty impression, than on any kind of tour de force acting display. He possesses an unavoidable charisma (that does not require much of any exposition) and yes, Alpha Dogs, was a surprisingly interesting film.