A funny thing happened to The Dilemma and I on the way to the movie theatre… we decided to watch Netflix instead, or play our PS3s, or go to dinner, or watch a game, or hit up Pirate’s Bay. For me, 2010 was to movies what 2003 was to music. It was a year when technology finally, and irreversibly, changed the way I related to the art form. No longer was I willing to plunk down my money on an overpriced product… I went to some of the movies I really wanted to see and viewed the ones I wasn’t sure about at home, usually over the Internet thanks to Netflix and Pirate’s Bay.
Just as with music, which was in the doldrums in the early 2000’s, movies put the latest nail in their own coffin. In their panic to keep as many eyeballs on opening weekend as possible, Hollywood has reduced most of its product to a lowest common denominator unimaginable by critics were complaining about the same thing in the ’80s. Additionally, many of the most exciting names in cinema, like Tarantino, Anderson (both of them), Schnabel, Jonze and Kaufman, didn’t have a film out this year. The lack of quality and the jump in technology meant that I’ll be seeing more of 2010’s movies the year after than was true for any previous year.
However, that doesn’t mean that I didn’t see any signs of life in 2010. Since I don’t deserve a Top Ten, I’ll give you the nine best films I saw this year. And the nine movies I’m glad I skipped.
In No Particular Order:
The Top 9 Movies I Actually Saw In 2010:
The Social Network: I’m a long time fan of Aaron Sorkin. I love A Few Good Men, The American President, Sports Night and The West Wing. I remain bitter about Studio 60, a show that shook my faith in Mr. Sorkin to its core. So it’s nice to see him recast himself as historical interpreter with this film and Charlie Wilson’s War. They might not hit the heights of his earlier work, but his great sense of dialogue and story structure needs to be in the game.
Inception: A really great movie that gets extra credit for being a wholly original idea from a top-tier director. Any movie that could easily fit in next to Kubrick and is made in the blockbuster and branding culture of 2010 Hollywood is beyond impressive. (That said, I really wish Chris Nolan hadn’t ended with the “top-spinning shot”. It caused alot of buzz but I still say it’s inelegant).
Exit Through The Gift Shop: This “documentary” by British street artist Banksy is the most interesting movie I saw this year. He tracks the rise of graffiti art and its co-opting by the art community through a character who may or may not be real.
Greenberg: A new Noah Baumbach film is usually worth a trip to the theatre. This understated offering explores what it’s like to literally begin your life at 40. Ben Stiller is surprisingly OK, and the beautiful Greta Gerwig is great in selling the May/December romance.
The Two Escobars: This was on ESPN as part of 30 for 30, but since I watch most movies on television now anyway I’m counting it. The best documentary yet about Pablo Escobar, who is a pretty fucking compelling documentary subject.
Shutter Island: Not my favorite Leo/Marty entry (that would be The Aviator), but a pretty solid movie nevertheless. It has the bad luck of coming out the same year as Inception, which has the same lead actor, same mindfuck aspirations and is much better.
Casino Jack and the United States of Money: Alex Gibney is quickly becoming one of my favorite documentarians. This film about Jack Abramoff finds a way to make finance fun to watch, but doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to exposing the clusterfuck that is lobbying.
The Girl Who Played With Fire: Maybe it’s not as good as Dragon Tattoo, but anytime I get to see Noomi Repace as Lisbeth Salander, I’m happy.
The Worst 9 Movies I Didn’t See In 2010:
Sex In The City 2:
Eat Pray Love: