Best of 2010

The Best Movies of 2010

by Alan Rapp on January 2, 2011

in Top Tens & Lists

This wasn’t a year to wow you. 2010 may have been somewhat of an off year for movies, but there are several quality films that hit theaters this year which are worth noting. A couple things struck me as I was putting together this list. First, how actresses stepped up huge this year. Whether in lead or supporting roles, it was a year dominated by the performances of the fairer sex. And second, 2010 was a year of raw emotion, almost visceral, brought to screen. You might argue that one or two of my choices didn’t have elaborate plots, but each delivered on an emotional level.

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The King’s Speech

by Alan Rapp on December 25, 2010

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: The King’s Speech
  • IMDB: link

In the age of the Internet and high speed wireless devices comes a tale about radio. When you’ve got you’re entire music library on a MP3 player, and can get your news from any number of 24-hour cable news channels, it’s easy to forget how vital a communication device radio was, and how a single speech could change the tide of history.

The King’s Speech begins and ends with speeches by Prince Albert, Duke of York (Colin Firth) who would go on to rule the British Empire as King George VI. The differences between the speech he gives at at the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley as the King’s son and the famous speech he gave as King to the British people, uniting them as they marched to war, is what the film is all about.

Written by David Seidler and directed by Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech gives us a rousing performance by an actor at the height of his game, and a traditional story masterfully retold.

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Somewhere

by Alan Rapp on December 25, 2010

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Somewhere
  • IMDB: link

Slow-paced, and deeply personal, writer/director Sofia Coppola‘s latest project isn’t for everyone, but it suits me fine. This semi-autobiographical, intimate look at a young daughter’s relationship to her celebrity father opens with fifteen minutes (of the films 96 minute running time) without any dialogue. American audiences may well struggle with the very old school European style of storytelling, but if you have the patience Somewhere has much to share.

Stephen Dorff stars as Hollywood star Johnny Marco. Johnny’s life consists mainly of making movies, attending press conferences, living out of a hotel (the Chateau Marmont, where much of the film was shot), paying strippers (Kristina and Karissa Shannon) to perform in his home, hosting parties, sleeping with a variety of sexy strangers, and spending time with his pre-teen daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning). Every detail of Johnny’s professional life is planned by an unseen voice over the phone (Amanda Anka) telling him when and where he’s needed, and his personal life consists mostly of waiting for his next set of instructions.

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True Grit (2010)

by Alan Rapp on December 22, 2010

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: True Grit
  • IMDB: link

More than four decades ago John Wayne won an Academy Award for his performance in True Grit as the drunken U.S. Marshall hired by a young woman to track down the man responsible for killing her father. It would be the first, and only, time the actor would take home an Oscar.

Deciding to remake the film, the Coen brothers went back to the original novel by Charles Portis to give us their reinterpretation of the story. The result is the brothers most mainstream film to date: a traditional western filled with strong performances and splashes of the filmmakers’ trademark wit.

The film begins and ends with the narration (provided by Elizabeth Marvel, who plays the character in later scenes) of Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld), who at the age of 14 travels to collect the body of her recently deceased father and hire a bounty hunter to track down his murderer (Josh Brolin).

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Black Swan

by Alan Rapp on December 17, 2010

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Black Swan
  • IMDB: link

Darren Aronofsky is a weird dude. Talented, but weird. The latest from the director who has given us The Fountain, Pi, and Reqiuem for a Dream is a journey into madness. Black Swan, his companion piece to The Wrestler, examines the the insular world of ballet through the tormented mind of a rising star.

Nina (Natalie Portman), a sheltered but talented ballet dancer, is on the cusp of stardom after being chosen by a demanding director (Vincent Cassel) for the lead role in his new interpretation of Swan Lake. The pressure of the role added to the smothering affection of an over-attentive mother (Barbara Hershey), and the arrival of a talented new dancer (Mila Kunis) begin to fracture Nina’s world as she starts to have experiences that cannot be rationally explained. These include, but are not limited to, hallucinations of strange bird-like creatures, seeing herself on the street, a growing paranoia, and an odd rash on her back as well as fingers which bleed without cause. No one else notices what is happening to her.

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Never Let Me Go

by Alan Rapp on October 8, 2010

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Never Let Me Go
  • IMDB: link

Most of us never know what our purpose is or why we’re here. The same can’t be said of the characters of Never Let Me Go, adapted from Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel of the same name. As children they understand more about their roles in the world than most who live a full century.

The story is told through the perspective of Kathy H. (Carey Mulligan) thinking back over her childhood at Hailsham boarding school and her two best friends Tommy (Andrew Garfield) and Ruth (Keira Knightley). Hailsham isn’t your average school. And these aren’t your average youngsters. Here the guardians (not teachers or headmistresses) encourage the children’s creative expression, enforce strict discipline, and prepare the students for a life already chosen for them.

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The Social Network

by Alan Rapp on October 1, 2010

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: The Social Network
  • IMDB: link

Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) is an asshole, or he’s at least trying his damnedest to be one. That seems to be the central point of The Social Network which gives us a traditional tale (genius without people skills, rise to power by stepping on your friends) with a fresh take, several good performances, and some darn fine dialogue by screenwriter Aaron Sorkin.

In the film director David Fincher and Sorkin team-up to adapt Ben Mezrich‘s 2009 nonfiction novel The Accidental Billionaires about Zuckerberg’s life and the creation of a little thing called Facebook (maybe you’ve heard of it?). The film tackles everything from friendship to cut-throat business tactics and class warfare.

We begin with a lengthy pre-credit scene involving Zuckerberg’s break-up with his girlfriend Rooney Mara which will lead to the drunken creation of his first social networking site later that night, and lay the foundation for the later creation of Facebook. It’s a great scene to start, though both actors seem to struggle initially with the pace and tempo of a very wordy Sorkin scene.

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Hubble 3D

by Alan Rapp on August 20, 2010

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Hubble 3D
  • IMDB: link

What is it about space that so captures our imagination? Is it the vastness that seems to becon, almost tease us, upward and outwards to explore its seemly endless wonders, or is it simply how it allows us another perspective in order to see how small and relatively unimportant one tiny blue dot is in the grand scheme of things? Whatever the reason, since man first turned his gaze to the sky we’ve been captivated with that final frontier just outside our grasp.

Since it’s launch two decades ago the Hubble Space Telescope has been responsible for several breakthroughs in the areas of astronomy and an increased understanding of the known universe. The new IMAX documentary Hubble 3D gives us a short history on the telescope, and its early struggles, before exploring the final service mission of to repair the telescope by the Atlantis crew.

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Inception

by Alan Rapp on July 16, 2010

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Inception
  • IMDB: link

The latest from writer/director Christopher Nolan is complicated, reality bending, multi-layered look inside the world of unconscious imagination. In the near future the ability to enter into an individual’s dreams and extract information has become a profitable, but highly illegal, enterprise. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Dom Cobb the leader of a group of experts who are the best at this type of information extraction.

As Cobb’s past catches up with him, both in the real world and that of his dreams, he’s offered a single chance to reclaim the life which was taken from him if he can perform the impossible: Inception. The idea is not to steal information from the latest subject, the heir to a business empire (Cillian Murphy), but instead implant an idea in his mind which will grow naturally and change one choice in the real world which could mean billions for Cobb’s client.

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Toy Story 3

by Alan Rapp on June 18, 2010

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Toy Story 3
  • IMDB: link

With Toy Story 3 Pixar moves into uncharted territory. The studio has shied away from movie franchises and, other than Toy Story 2, has even stayed away from sequels. It’s been 15 years since the original Toy Story hit theaters and an entire generation has grown up with these characters. So the question is: Does the third film do the franchise proud?

The answer, thankfully, is yes.

As the third film opens Andy (John Morris) is no longer so young. Over the past decade-and-a-half the young boy who played with Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and the rest of the toys has grown up. About to leave for college Andy is forced to make decisions on what vestiges of his youth to keep.

Without giving too much away, through a series of misadventures the toys find themselves packed away to a local daycare. The situation divides the group as to whether they should return to Andy or make new lives for themselves with the young children eager to play with them.

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