Sunday, January 23, 2011

Movie Rankings 2010

For all the fuss I made about 2010 being the worst movie year in the history of the world, it does have one distinction: it is the first year to receive five "A+" grades since I started my rankings in 2004. That said, I've also seen less movies from 2010 than in any other previous year by the time I did my movie rankings. In short, 2010 was a top heavy year. We were treated to a number of magnificent films along with the usual array of junk but the biggest issue was the general lack of desirable content. How many weeks came and went last year and brought absolutely nothing that warranted a viewing? A handful of times I made a weekend trip to the theater not because I desperately wanted to see the newest release but because going to the movies is what I do. 2010 will be forever remembered as the year the writer's strike finally caught up with us. Adios, 2010. May your distinct brand of awfulness never make its presence known to us again.

"Inception" - Having thought long and hard about how to rank this top 5, I think that if I was given an Oscar vote, I would give Best Picture to "Inception." Never has that decision been as difficult as it was this year. When all is said and done, though, I think this was the best film experience I had in 2010.

"True Grit" - In a year that was almost entirely devoid of comedy, "True Grit" might have been the funniest film of the year. Strange, considering its subject matter. An all-around incredible movie.

"The King's Speech" - If you'd told me at the beginning of 2010 that a historical drama set in England would crack my end-of-year top 3, I would have slapped you in public. "Speech" holds the honor of being the only movie this year that I will see twice in theaters.

"The Social Network" - I expect "Social Network" to win Best Picture at most of the important award ceremonies. I can't really argue with that. I've said this a dozen times but from a technical perspective, this is a perfect film.

"Toy Story 3" - I feel bad that "TS3" fell this far. In all honesty, if it had opened in any of the last two or three years, I think it would have found itself atop my rankings. When I saw it in June I said it was the best movie I'd seen in years. I stand by that statement. It just so happened that four films came later in the year that all fit that bill.

"127 Hours"
"The Town" - For the last 12 years or so I have measured every serious heist movie against the wonder of "Heat." In that time, "The Town" is the first film that even compares. Not quite up to the high standard but a valiant effort nonetheless. In 10 years, I think we'll still be talking about how this film saved Ben Affleck's career.

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" - I fully admit my extreme bias towards the Harry Potter franchise. That said, I found this installment to be a stroke of genius. I understand why some fans of the movies/books cried foul but this movie left me wishing the rest of the Potter series had been given more runtime with which to work.

"How to Train Your Dragon" - "Dragon" took me completely by surprise early in the year. I went in expecting a typical DreamWorks production and instead found that the company had turned a corner. It's still not Pixar but come on, there's a reason why Pixar is Pixar. This is the best film DW animation has ever done.

"Winter’s Bone" - The first film on this list that I didn't see in a theater. Jennifer Lawrence NAILS her role as a backwoods teenager trying to get her siblings through a tough life in crystal meth country. It is rugged and tough to watch but nonetheless significant.

"It's Kind of a Funny Story"

"Tangled" - If DreamWorks found a new path with "Dragon," Disney animation rediscovered their old path with "Tangled." The first Disney movie to matter in years, I think the much maligned redesign by John Lassiter to make "Tangled" appeal to both sexes was a key factor in the studio's return to prominence.

"Animal Kingdom"

"The Fighter"

"Shutter Island" - I gave this a B+ back in February and was a tiny bit disappointed in the finished product. Like many excellent films before it, however, its strength has grown over time. The more I thought about the overall concept of "Shutter Island," the more I liked it.

"The A-Team" - My "Guilty Pleasure Movie of the Year," hands down

"Iron Man 2" - Originally graded out as an A-, some distance between myself and my original viewing has brought it back down to earth. This still might be too high for "IM 2" but I've watched it three times now and despite the flaws, I really enjoy it. It definitely deviates from the main focus of the film for about 20 minutes in the second act, but when it's all said and done, I'm a superhero nerd and Robert Downey, Jr. follower. So deal with it.

"Easy A"
"Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work"
"I’m Still Here"

"Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" - A runtime 20 minutes shorter could have bumped "Scott Pilgrim" up into the top 10 or 15. Just a little too much drag out towards the end. From an originality standpoint, however, you don't get much better than this video game movie. A lot of quirky fun.

"Date Night"
"Exit Through the Gift Shop"
"Black Swan"

"Due Date"
"Despicable Me"

"The Book of Eli" - A lot of people didn't like "Eli." In fact it showed up on more than a few "Worst of the Year" lists. The finished product is definitely flawed but I really, really enjoyed the vast majority of the movie. I'm a sucker for post-apocalyptic visions of the future, anyway, and this is one of the better concepts I've seen from that genre in a while.

"The Kids Are Alright"
"Exporting Raymond"
"Alice in Wonderland"

"The Other Guys" - Certainly not the best Will Ferrell-Adam McKay collaboration (duh) but in a year that seriously lacked humor, "The Other Guys" provided half a movie of hilarity and one of the more shocking (and comedic) death scenes in recent memory.

"Eat Pray Love"
"Shrek Forever After"
"The American"
"Knight and Day"

"Green Zone" - Matt Damon man crush aside, "Green Zone" could have been much better than it was. I think the filmmakers tried to tell a story without picking a political side and the end result was just plain dull. It is, in fact, the only movie I saw in theaters this year that I didn't review simply because I didn't have anything to say. I missed a couple due to business and a few because of my injury, but this one...I just didn't have 800 words worth of content. Not a bad movie but nothing to write home about.

"Robin Hood" - Not the worst movie I've ever seen but easily the most disappointing of the year for me. I love the Robin Hood story and thought for sure the Ridley Scott-Russell Crowe combination would make for an awesome new chapter. Instead, we got a mismatched, fairly boring, uninspired rendition.

"Tron: Legacy"
"Get Him to the Greek"
"Morning Glory"

"Going the Distance"The second best romantic-comedy of the year (behind "Date Night"), which is more an indictment of this genre as a whole than it is an endorsement of this film. "Distance" has its moments and there's a decent amount of humor but the chemistry between Justin Long and Drew Barrymore was off in my opinion.

"Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole"

"The Sorcerer’s Apprentice"
"Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time" - I put these two together because they're basically the same movie with the same formula: Jerry Bruckheimer + Disney + plus a video game-esque epic adventure + a valuing of style over substance = a mediocre movie that is good for a one time in-home viewing and not much more. I guess the formula brings money so...
"Cop Out"
"Dinner for Schmucks"
"The Company Men"
"Holy Rollers"

"The Losers" - I had "The Losers" graded higher until a few weeks after its release when I saw "The A-Team" when I thought to myself, "Oh, that's what "Losers" was supposed to be." The movie has a flair that could have been built upon but it was stifled by one of the worst villainous performances (Jason Patric) in recent memory. A serious waste.
"Edge of Darkness"

"The Expendables" - If I'm grading from a filmmaking perspective, "Expendables" is one of the worst movies...EVER. If I'm grading from a "How Much Fun Was it to Watch in a Theater Full of Testosteroned-Out Men," this is one of the best movies ever. I think a C+ is about perfect. It is without question the most ridiculous, poorly acted, poorly scripted thing I've ever enjoyed but man was it a stinking blast. So stupid and yet so fun.

"The Next Three Days"
"The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader"
"The Switch"

"Jonah Hex" - Not nearly as bad as people made it out to me. Was it an achievement in film? Of course not. But was it one of the worst movies of the year? Not even close. Josh Brolin may have been surrounded by absolutely nothing in the way of quality writing, directing, or supporting cast but he works hard in his role and the majority of the scenes he's in are more than tolerable from a throw-away-movie-on-a-Thursday-night perspective.

"Karate Kid" - Look, it's pretty simple: when Jackie Chan gives the best acting performance in a given movie, that movie sucks. Jaden Smith sent me into a 'Nam-like flashback with visions of Jake Lloyd flashing through my head. In addition, the focus of this movie is kung fu, not karate. So basically someone wrote a screenplay that had nothing to do with the Mister Miyagi-Daniel Son classic and the studio called it a "Karate Kid" reboot so help sell tickets. The fight scenes were fun but that's about the extent of this movie's merits.

"Clash of the Titans"


"Brooklyn’s Finest" - It's always a bad sign when you forget you even saw a movie. I honestly had to go back and search for "Brooklyn's Finest" on IMDB to remember anything about it other than the fact that Wesley Snipes was in the cast. Exceedingly below average.

"Harry Brown"
"Repo Men"

"The Wolfman" - Remember when Benicio del Toro was a rising star? Dude needs a new agent. "Wolfman" is just one screw up after another, culminating in a toneless, emotionless "horror" movie that fails on almost every level.

"Grown Ups" - I have always loved Adam Sandler. But seriously, this was an embarrassment. Absolutely nothing was right with this movie. NOTHING.

"Valentine’s Day" - There are almost not enough bad words to describe "Valentine's Day." The romantic comedy version of "Crash" contains some of the very best unlikeable, two dimensional characters that you could ever ask for. What the heck, Garry Marshall?1 You used to be the king of this genre! Best of all, if you missed this one, you'll get a second chance later this year when we get..."New Year's Eve"! Let the celebration begin!

"Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief" - Apparently some people who I generally trust actually sort-of liked this movie. I, on the other hand, wanted to choke a puppy. The kids CANNOT act, Christopher Columbus DID NOT direct, and in all honesty, having read the first couple of books in this series, there isn't much of a quality story to draw from. Just awful.

"The Last Airbender" - When I say that "Airbender" wasn't as bad as I expected, please understand that I expected the absolute worst movie of the last decade. It wasn't. I actually enjoyed perhaps 15 minutes of this thing. That said, it is, unquestionably, truly a miserable movie. Can we send out a search party for the real M. Night Shyamlan now? Clearly something bad has happened to him because there's no way that the guy who did "Sixth Sense" and "Signs" also created "The Happening" and "Airbender." Definitely the worst movie of the year for me but not the worst of recent memory (see: "Gentlemen Broncos"). (EDIT: No longer the worst movie of the year, thanks to "Skyline.")

"Skyline" - One of the very worst movies I have ever, ever seen.

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