I always think it's interesting to go back and see what one was into the year before, and why that might have been. Take last year for instance:
Fantastic Mr. Fox
(500) Days of Summer
A Serious Man
Julie & Julia
The Princess and the Frog
Up in the Air
I've always been into human relationships, of course, but love stories absolutely dominated last year, whether unrequited (Jennifer's Body), committed (Fantastic Mr. Fox, Bright Star, Julie & Julia), broken ((500) Days of Summer, Up in the Air, Easy Virtue) or Disney (The Princess and the Frog). I didn't realize it at the time, of course, but looking at it now, it's obvious.
This year, I have no idea what trends, if any, appear. I don't know what they say about my state of mind in 2010. All I know is this: these are the films that touched and tickled me, appropriately and sometimes naughtily, in 2010. In alphabetical order:
Sexy, psychotic, operatic, horrifying. Natalie Portman and Darren Aronofsky create a literal danse macabre together, and it is beautiful.
Emma Stone is hilarious in a star-making turn as Olive Penderghast. The genuinely witty screenplay helps, of course, as does the great supporting cast. I can honestly say this was the most fun I had in a theater all year.
How can a movie give us such frustrating characters like Alice and Dickie and still get us to sympathize with them? How can it get career-best work from an ensemble of already strong performers? How can it keep me on the edge of my seat even when I already know the ending? Impressive.
Tyler Perry finally dials it down and makes a genuinely great film, though with a few caveats. But as I said yesterday, there's a beauty to some imperfections. Perry's film delivers on cinematography, production design, costumes and directing (!!). Oh, and of course, there's the strong ensemble of actresses, including formerly dull Thandie Newton not only turning in a good performance, but delivering one of the best of the film.
Poetic. Operatic. Sheer beauty.
The King's Speech
Yeah, yeah, it's another movie about the royals, but it's more than that: it's a fish-out-of-water/buddy flick, with Geoffrey Rush's Australian commoner helping Colin Firth's British king overcome his crippling stammer. Inventively-shot, wittily-written, subtly-acted, The King's Speech is a genuine crowdpleaser.
Kim Hye-ja's lead performance alone is a wonder. Add Lee Byeong-woo's playful score and Bong Joon-ho's tight direction and script, and you've got a witty and suspenseful Hitchcockian thriller that surprises.
I saw something profound and haunting. That last shot... That scene with Keira Knightley in the bedroom... Charlotte Rampling's last scene... The boat... The score...
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
I like it more and more every time I see it, and that's going on four times now. Not just a great sense of fun, but a poignancy is there. I tear up every time those opening chords to "Ramona" play. And I'm sorry, anyone who says this is the same old Michael Cera isn't watching the movie.
The Social Network
Seriously, who knew a movie about Facebook would be this interesting, this masterfully-made? It's the story of my generation, of friendship betrayed, love lost, the cost of the American Dream. And the main cast are all under 30. Ha! Awesome!