Despite not being a giant fan of the perennial Top 10 lists that are spewed out at the conclusion of each year, I will try with all sincere earnestness (and with an inner, silenced, hysterical shrill) and attempt a top ten of 2010.
Reading Matt Riviera’s nicely composed list of films released, made me confirm the sad status of my cinema patronage. The list of films that I missed in theatrical release is frighteningly long, but I’m going to single out The Tree, I Am Love, Exit Through the Gift Shop, Red Hill and A, Prophet as my must see ASAP list!)
(*NB – List will refer to films theatrically released from Jan 1, 2010 – Dec 31, 2010, with a couple of major films such as The King’s Speech not seen, and other less promising titles such as The Tourist being included in said category.)
10. Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work (dir: Ricki Stern, Anne Sundberg, USA)
Perhaps the most compelling and inside-looks at celebrity and show business that I think I’ve seen captured on film. Brutally honest, riotously uproarious and quite moving, Rivers’ is presented as one of the hardest working women in the biz, who constantly reinvents herself, and constantly pushes boundaries.
9. Love, Lust and Lies (dir: Gillian Armstrong, Australia)
Even without seeing any of the four previous films in the series, Armstrong reveals through flashbacks such a beautiful piece, with the most accurate title of the year. As strong as the 7-Up series, Kerry, Diana and Josie’s lives have been documented through the lens with such sincerity and integrity.
8. A Single Man (scr/dir: Tom Ford, scr: David Scearce, USA)
Tom Ford’s directorial debut opens with images that could be either be turned into an exhibition, or been placed on billboards throughout the world. An intricate and focused aesthetic look through the lens is matched with a brilliant story and a career defining performance from Colin Firth in his Oscar nominated role. Also featuring the always amazing, and severely underrated Julianne Moore.
7. I Love You Phillip Morris (scr/dir: Glenn Riccara, John Requa, USA)
I really was toying with this inclusion, as technically it was only screened a couple of times at the Melbourne International Film Festival, rather than being distributed. But you know what, it’s my list, so if “he who dares, wins” then consider me a winner. Best performance by Jim Carrey to date! One of the most shocking films too, and not for its depiction of anal romping, but through its manipulative cunning and deceptive storytelling.
6. Somewhere (wri/dir: Sofia Coppola, USA)
Sticking with familiar ideas of excessive fame, impending responsibility, disconnection with the present and an odd coupling (seen in her three previous efforts), Coppola manages to say so much, in so few words. The result stuck with me for days, as did the sounds of Phoenix with songs from their latest album thrown in. Also, with the most poignant swimming pool scene, accompanied by the sounds of The Strokes….it is just heavenly….
5. Blue Valentine (wri/dir: Derek Cianfrance, USA)
Gritty, in your face, Ryan Gosling’s face in Michelle Williams, Michelle Williams in Ryan Gosling’s face, yelling, crying, screaming, falling in love, getting drunk in sleazy hotel rooms….I really should construct a couple of sentences besides these random words escaping from my fingers, but it just feels too real to even comprehend. The most honest and daring film of the year. An emotional roller coaster, with enough humour and warmth to come out without a frown, but in need of some therapy.
4. The Social Network (dir: David Fincher, scr: Aaron Sorkin, USA)
If I could speak Aaron Sorkin’s dialogue as fast as Jesse Eisenberg ejects it, then this quick paragraph would be ten times longer, and much more compelling. Fincher has made the film of the year, noted by most critics, and what I can see as an Oscar winning Best Film, come a few months time. A film that’s pacing keeps up with the rapid script provided by the genius Sorkin. Excellent performances from Eisenberg, Garfield, those twins who are really one guy’s head on two bodies, and even Timberlake!!
3. Toy Story 3 (dir: Lee Unkrich, scr: Michael Arndt, sto: Lasseter, Stanton, Unkrich, USA)
A film on the pulse of a popular theme this year: growing up (evidenced even by this list: look at #10, 9, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1). The first Toy Story changed my life (in terms of paranoia, where I still believe my toys are real. Also see What Women Want and The Truman Show for similarly traumatic effects). There is of course a huge weight that comes with moving on from childhood to almost adulthood. A generation of kids, now in their early 20s, went out in droves, and left in tears, similar to this writer, feeling the effects of one of the most emotionally poignant, funny and cute films of the year.
2. Animal Kingdom (wri/dir: David Michod, Australia)
As we follow J’s life, entering a world of a criminal family, we see an ensemble group of actors who smash the nail on the head, thanks for Michod’s amazing script and utterly brilliant direction. An internationally recognised performance has been created by Jacki Weaver, thanks to Michod, Weaver herself, and the marketing geniuses behind Sony Pictures Classics. With critics such as Kenneth Turan calling it his #2 film of the year, and the awards campaign fever for Weaver, a lot more people will be seeing this Australian gem. And thank god for that!
1. The Kids Are All Right (wri/dir: Lisa Cholodenko, wri: Stuart Blumberg, USA)
An emotionally funny, heart warming, and picturesque postcard of a family in strife, dysfunction has never looked so hysterically beautiful before. Without playing it as THE major issue of the film, a lesbian couple is acknowledged on film, as having a loving family, and still getting caught up in emotional ties that sever and bind. Ultimately, this film is about love. What happens when love isn’t enough, when love is too much, and how we deal with that everyday. A perfect 10/10 film. Bravura performances by Annette Bening and Julianne Moore. Surround this film with as much gold as possible, Academy voters. It is time.