I’m always torn when I make these lists, to either rank movies that I think are the “best” or rank them by how much I love them. Well, I try to balance them out, but I feel that my personal feelings outweigh the films I feel are a greater cinematic accomplishment. Anyway, here’s my list:
10. Black Swan
Nina lives the dream and then loses herself in her own fantasy in this twisted, horror film starring the incredible and beautiful Natalie Portman (a lock for Best Actress? Possibly). Darren Aronofsky creates yet another excellent film and has proven himself time after time he is one of our generation’s finest directors. Also, Vincent Cassel and Mila Kunis give fine performances.
9. The Fighter
Based on the life of professional boxer Mickey Ward, this film boasts arguably the best ensemble cast of the year. Stealing every scene was Christian Bale as Dicky Eklund, who was once known for knocking down Sugar Ray Leonard but now has fallen into the pitfalls of a crack addiction. Going toe-to-toe with Bale’s performance was Melissa Leo as Alice Eklund, Dicky and Micky’s mother. Also, Mark Wahlberg and Amy Adams give great performances. Watch this film rack up a lot of Oscar nominations.
8. The Kids Are All Right
This dramedy was an indie gem when it was released in July. Starring Annette Bening and Julianne Moore who play lesbian lovers parenting two kids, this is one of my favorite films of the year because of how it portrays the difficulty of sustaining any marriage, not just one with two mothers. Mark Ruffalo gives a solid performance, but the movie really relies on Bening to carry the emotional baggage of the movie.
7. True Grit
The Coen Brothers have done it again. This time, they stick with a classic Western story based on a 1968 novel by Charles Portis. Starring big names like Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, and Barry Pepper, the film had a lot of strengths including the Coen Brothers’ quirky dialogue. But the real star of the film is Hailee Steinfeld, who plays the lead role of Mattie Ross. This 14-year-old does a lot more than holds her own with some of Hollywood’s finest. She sure has awards recognition and a bright future ahead.
6. 127 Hours
Following up his Best Picture winning Slumdog Millionaire, Danny Boyle directs and co-writes 127 Hours, a film about real-life mountain climber Aron Ralston. Jame Franco gives the best performance of his career in the leading role. This is one of the most intense and moving films of the year and the first-time experience of this film is unmatched by any other this year (though I don’t plan on watching it again anytime soon).
5. The King’s Speech
This isn’t just an Oscar-bait film. The King’s Speech is an extremely well-made and highly entertaining film about King George VI’s speech impediment and his best friendship with his speech therapist Lionel Logue. Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush are extraordinary and deserve all the awards attention they will receive. There is simply a lot to enjoy from this film. Definitely a must-see if you haven’t yet.
4. Winter’s Bone
And the break-out star of the year goes to Jennifer Lawrence, the protagonist of this dark and bleak story of a 17-year-old girl named Ree Dolly who does everything she can to track down her father in the Ozarks to save her family. When surrounded by danger, Ree stands her ground with great courage with the understanding that her life and her family’s are at stake. Along with Lawrence, John Hawkes stands out as Teardrop. The brilliance of the film lies in the lingering hope that you’re left with.
3. Toy Story 3
Again, Pixar shines as the most successful studio with arguably their best film to date. All of your favorite toys return in the third (and most likely last) installment of the movie that began Pixar’s triumph. 15 years after Toy Story, Andy is off to college and the toys must decide what to do. There is more action, more heart, and more human emotion packed in this animated feature than most live-action films. With themes of coping with loss and moving forward, Toy Story 3 is an outstanding achievement.
2. The Social Network
Facebook defines the generation that we live in right now and The Social Network compliments that perfectly. Packed with amazing performances, quick and intelligent dialogue, and a story about corruption, greed, and the human condition… The Social Network is the film that will prove to the movie industry that this generation is more powerful than they imagined. When every kind of information is at your fingertips, at a blink of an eye, it’s hard to keep up. This is a message that says out with the old and in with the new. Not only is this film important, but it’s ridiculously entertaining. I’m not sure if the industry is ready to move on quite yet, but if there’s any film that will push it over the edge, it’s The Social Network.
Christopher Nolan has demanded your respect and your attention for every film he has made. Following up his insanely popular The Dark Knight, Nolan pulls you into a world that you will never forget. Inception is a ground-breaking film that pushes the limit of your imagination with cutting edge special effects and breathtaking action sequences. The film is so loud and explosive you almost forget about the superb cast, led by Leonardo DiCaprio and Marion Cotillard. This mind-bending thriller will leave you speechless for the moments after the film cuts to black, but then you won’t be able to shut up about it for the next few weeks. A remarkably memorable film and definitely one to be scrutinized for years.