Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2010 In Review - Movies

A few things before we get started.

In my music entry I wrote that I probably missed one album, but turned out I was wrong.  I missed two!

Transference - Spoon and The Chaos - The Futureheads.  Not sure how I forgot them as they're still in constant rotation on my iPod, but I'm basically an idiot so....yeah.

Also, for television I completely forgot to mention the 30 for 30 documentary series on ESPN.  Not all of them worked (the fantasy baseball one was nearly unwatchable) but for the most part they nailed it.  The SMU football program, the Esteban soccer one, the race car driver with AIDS (sorry, can't recall his name off the top of my head), and especially (for me) the Len Bias one which - while picking at old Celtic wounds - brought the tragedy to a much more personal level.

I debated even writing this entry since my movie watching habits are a year behind everyone else.  I don't enjoy going to the theater much due to annoying and/or obnoxious people so Netflix has become my movie land.

I reconsidered for what has become my single favorite movie of 2010, however.  Since most of you have probably never heard of it, I wanted to pass it along in the hopes I could convince one of you to check it out.  You can even watch it online if you have Netflix subscription.

Let's get to it.


The Good, The Bad, The Weird:  This Korean homage (the H is silent) to the spaghetti westerns is the most fun I've had watching a movie all year.  Paced like lightning, frequently hilarious, with exhilarating, over the top (do those guns ever run out of bullets?) action sequences and culminating in a chase straight out of a Mad Max movie. Just when I thought it couldn't get any more insane, the Japanese army is introduced.  Do yourself a favor and watch the first 15 minutes of this movie.  If you enjoy the train scene you'll get a kick out of the rest of it, as well.  Even the final showdown between the three main characters contains a punch line that I loved.  My Christmas gift to you.


The Hangover:  See what I mean?  Everyone else saw this in 2009. I saw this in January, but it still holds the place for funniest goddamn flick I've seen all year.  Rewatchability is off the charts and could be the most quoted movie of our life times.

Runner up

Get Him to the Greek:  While it turns into a bro-mance during the last thirty minutes, the first hour is hilarious.  See it for Sean (P-Diddy) Combs coming out party.  Whenever he's on screen, he's the funniest character.  'Do you feel my dick fucking your mind?'


DayBreakers:  How this original, film noirish vampire movie gets over looked for the Twilight saga bullshit is something I'll never figure out.  Extremely violent (especially the spectacular, blood soaked finale) yet haunting and emotionally involving in a way most movies could only wish to be.


North Face:  The true story of two teams trapped on the North Face of Eiger Mountain while trying to become the first to conquer it.  If you've ever wanted to know the challenges and vigors of mountain climbing from the safety of your living room couch, this is the movie to see.


Michael Sheen:  Not only nailing it in 'The Damned United' (see below), but brought cocky vulnerability and hidden insecurity to his portrayal of David Frost in 'Frost/Nixon'.

Runner up

Timothy Olyphant:  Starred in one of my favorite movies of the year ('The Crazies') and completely stole the show in 'A Perfect Getaway' with his rouge, deranged yet charming performance as a possible serial killer hiking the Hawaiian outback.


The Damned United:  Micheal Sheen cements himself as one of the best actors on the globe with his portrayal of egotistical, out of control, selfish soccer coach Brian Clough.  I finally understand what is meant when people say 'a player's coach' because Clough is the exact opposite of that.


Shutter Island:  Completely absorbing even though I had read the book and knew the ending before hand.  Can't get any more complimentary than that.  Between this and 'The Departed' I think DeCaprio and Scorsese should only work with each other from now on.  And only film in the Boston area.  You're two for two, guys.  Why mess up a good thing?

Runner up

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo:  This Swedish adaptation of the best seller remains faithful to the book while cutting out 100 pages of bullshit.  The rare example of the movie being better.


Bill Murray in 'ZombieLand': 'Just played nine holes on the Riviera.  Just walked in.  Nobody there'


The Ghost Writer:  Starts off harmlessly enough before layering on suspicion after suspicion; building to a climax that is shocking, logical in it's own way and highly disturbing.  This would also win for best ending of the year.  The final shot is still with me.  One other note: that Ewan McGregor comes off as charming and likable as he does here should be further proof that George Lucas is a terrible director of actors.  He barely had a personality as young Obi Wan in those Star Wars movies.


The Fantastic Mr Fox:  Hip, hilarious, intelligent and much more uplifting than the depressing 'Toy Story 3'. Honorable mention to 'How To Train Your Dragon' for the delirious flight sequences.


Kick Ass:  Violent, funny revenge tale put over the top with the addition of a deranged father and daughter crime fighting duo.  The little girl is as coarse and vulgar as any character ever put to film.  Not for everyone, but I really enjoyed this.


500 Days of Summer:  The scene after our male 'hero' exits his apartment after having sex with Summer for the first time.  He gets knowing looks from other women, high fives from random passing men, before the entire city around him breaks into dance routine.  Magic!


Waltz With Bashir:  While this was great movie making, it's hard to recommend it as required viewing.  It's sort of a documentary, but animated as many of the interviewees didn't want to be shown on camera.  The story involves the narrator trying to figure out why he's lost some memories of war.  The answer is not for the faint of heart (or stomach) and the animated style does nothing to ease the trauma.


Orphan:  Little girl adopted by upper class, annoyingly self centered family gets more than they bargained for when it turns out the 'little girl' is actually 35 years old.  See she suffers from 'dwarphism' so she looks little which doesn't explain why she likes pretending she's 12 and killing people.  Would have been more interesting if she was actually a psychopathic 12 year old.


Dead Snow:  Nazi zombies come back from the dead (uh...undead?) after their gold is stolen. Decapitations and intestines galore, but it's approached with humor and some legitimate suspense.  Not great, but if you're a horror fan, you'll enjoy this.


The Orphanage:  You'll never view a game of 'red light - green light' the same way again.

Runner up

Paranormal Activity:  Legitimate frights (esp the footsteps in the talcum powder) as a couple records some strange activity in their house.  Once again, however, the alternate ending works better than the one released in theaters.

and finally....


Knowing:  Nick Cage proves he will literally do anything for a buck by starring in this confusing and pointless flick about either A: the end of the world or B: aliens saving the human race.  Both movies suck.

Hope everyone enjoys their New Year's and got everything they wanted for Christmas.


Jum said...

Yup, Shutter Island was amazing. Goes well with the book. Between that and Inception (and building on The Departed a few years ago) Leo has completely won my heart over. I'm guessing you haven't seen Inception since it got no mention here?

Also, in Ewan McGregor's defense, Obi Wan isn't supposed to have much of a personality- that lack of charisma IS his personality, if that makes any sense. Just an opinion from a huge Star Wars nerd.

BeachBum said...

No, haven't seen Inception yet, but heard amazing things about it. I'm sure it will be on next year's list.

I would agree with you about Obi Wan, but that same lack of personality spread to Hayden Christensen, Natalie Portman and - of all people - Sam Jackson. That all of those actors went on to do better work elsewhere (check out Christensen in 'Glass') means the fault for those performances falls at Lucas' feet.

Not saying the Star Wars movies are terrible by any means, just that more effort seems to be in the special effects than pushing the actors and making the characters more human.

Jum said...

Oh yeah, couldn't agree more. Lucas definitely sucks at writing for characters. I thought you were knocking McGregor's performance, my bad.