As the year comes to a close, here's a look back at the films I got excited about in 2010; best films I saw this year.
Having not seen everything this year, this list is not a complete best of. It's a list of films that inspired me to make movies of my own, to pursue loftier goals in my Pixar work, made me wish I had made them. The jealousy barometer is the one I most closely trust nowadays, so here goes. The 'I wish I did that' list of 2010, in no particular order.
A movie about greed, ambition, and the cost of their pursuit using YOUR favorite social networking app as the medium for it's exploration. Fincher and Sorkin knock it out of the park here. I love 'relationships as plot' films and this is one of the best examples I can think of. The film functions as a social commentary, a historical document and an astute observation of the human condition and it's paradoxes. It's talking about real stuff here. There have been disputes about it's factual accuracy, but that is hardly the point, demonstrating once again the difference between fact and truth. A movie I love, respect and admire. David Fincher's best film IMO.
I'm a huge Darren Aronofsky fan. I saw Pi in college, it blew my mind and my thesis film from that year wears it's influence on it's sleeve. Black Swan is his most accessible film so far, despite being set in the notoriously insular world of modern ballet. The ideas at work are very similar to The Wrestler- how far are you willing to go to pursue your art?, where the Wrestler wins over Swan, is the Wrestler screenplay answers in very definite terms WHY, whereas Swan is content to shorthand that a bit. Despite some issues I've heard and can agree with in relation to the script, I think Aronofsky's inspired and brilliant direction more than makes up for them, and in some cases turns the potential weaknesses into strengths. The opening scene HAD me, and the film never let me go. Natalie Portman is staggeringly good in this film, giving one of the best performances I've seen in a while. Aronofsky is a modern American master director and one of the original voices working in film today.
If you were to make a list of stuff I like in movies, The Coen Brothers, Westerns and revenge movies would figure prominently. So...yeah. Loved it. It isn't what I expected AT ALL; I figured I was in for 'No Country for... Young...Women" or something, and I got the Big Lebowski in western gear. Which...is awesome by me. The Coens are the best filmmakers working today, bar none.
Another film featuring a tough,driven female heroine taking on a traditionally male role and nailing it to the wall. This is the film I think I most admire this year, all things considered. Brilliant and authentic, gritty but from a uniquely female perspective that gives the movie a really unique and refreshing quality. The 'you'll have to kill me to stop me' trope so often infused with simple macho bravado in lesser movies operates with such real, deep pathos and peril in Winter's Bone, that it takes a potentially standard chase, investigation film and turns it into exploration of identity, family, responsibility and personal sacrifice. A film about what we give up to become whole. Loved it.
How To Train Your Dragon
Great film, beautifully made, and well told. Elevated pretty well trod subject matters and themes with great visuals, interesting character dynamics, sublime animation and brilliant filmmaking. The film earns so much love from me for really taking it's time to build the relationship, and invest us in it.
The best film Dreamworks has made.
Toy Story 3
Super biased for this, but bear with me. More than anything, I always respected the ambition of the film to speak plainly and honestly about accepting one's mortality, and that to love fully means sometimes saying goodbye. These themes are at the heart of the conceit's central analogy and are absolutely universal; one of- if not the main- criteria I use to think about films. We ALL die, we ALL lose loved ones. What do we do about it? That's what Ts3 is shooting at.
I should say haven't seen the kings speech, 127 hours, blue valentine and a few others people are going nuts over.
I should also say that I loved Tangled and Inception for honorable mentions.
All in all. Great year for movies I thought.
What did you see/like/love?