Guest Post: 3 Best films of 2010 and 3 worst films from 2010

By Ted Saydalavong (read Ted’s profile)

So 2010 is coming to an end, hard to believe, movie fans and critics everywhere will have their list of best and worst films. For this post I’ll name my top 3 best films (Note: Different people have different tastes in films so this is MY personally favorite films of 2010). And I’ll name my top 3 worst films of 2010. Also, since I didn’t see all of the films that came out this year, I will only focus on the big budgeted ones that studio hoped it will either make a lot of money or earn some Oscar nominations.

I saw some good foreign films this year too that I would include in my top 3 but again since I decided to just focus on big budget Hollywood films, I can’t include them. Side note: In case you’re interested in some of those foreign films, please check out Mother from South Korea and A Prophet from France. Both were released in 2009 in their country but didn’t hit the states till early 2010. I will bet that those two films will get a remake from Hollywood real soon, so check them out before Hollywood will either ruin or maybe they’ll improve them. (Example: The Departed was an upgrade over the original Infernal Affairs from Hong Kong).

Anyhoo, here are my top 3 best/favorite films of 2010:

  1. The Social Network
    So how can you make a movie about how Facebook was created? Well first off you hire a good writer in Aaron Sorkin and a great director David Fincher and make one hell of great film. Whether you’re a Facebook user or not (I’m one of the 500 million users, in fact I signed up with them since they started accepting users from outside of college campuses around mid 2004, I think), you’ll enjoy the great cinematographer, sharp dialogs and great performances. I can’t say enough good things about this film, partly maybe because I’ve started a online company in my early twenties and was caught up in the excitement and/or maybe I was just thrill seeing a movie that didn’t have any shootouts or explosions yet I was on the edge of my seat while watching it. Will it win the best picture of the year, I won’t be surprised if it does, so far it won pretty much all of the prestigious critic awards and I believe most of the respected critics in the country have voted as one of their favorite films of the year.
  2. Inception
    This is by far one of the most ambitious and smartest summer tent pole films I’ve seen since well Nolan’s last film, The Dark Knight. It has great visual effects, soundtrack, performances and editing. This is a good example of how to make a good smart pop corn summer flick without insulting the audience (I’m looking at you Michael Bay, McG, M. Night and Brett Ratner). A lot of us have been complaining about how summer films tend to be either sequels, remakes or comic book based, so when a studio has the balls to release a big summer flick like this, I was truly appreciated.

    If The Dark Knight didn’t make as much money as it did, we probably would never have seen Inception on the big screen.Now with all that said, I do have some problems with the film. Mainly I think Nolan made the story more complicated than it should have been and he just couldn’t figure out how to solve it. Maybe he should’ve brought in his brother to clean up the mess. Also, I just think the main characters weren’t in any real danger even though they were being chase by the “bad guys”, maybe if Nolan had included another team who’s also going after the same thing and somehow they meet in the dream world or something like that, I don’t know. Those are just some minor complaints I have about this film.

    I think Time magazine had it wrong when they named M. Night the next Spielberg a few years ago. They should’ve waited a few more years and name Christopher Nolan instead, let’s face it, what has M. Night done since he was given that throne? Well he made The Village, Lady in the Water, The Happening and The Last Air Bender. Raise your hands if you actually think those films are “good” or even decent, anybody? I didn’t think so. Nolan on the other hand has made some good to great films around the time M. Night was on the cover of Time magazine. You may ask why I brought this up? Well I believe Nolan will have a career that’s similar to Spielberg’s. Steven Spielberg has made a lot of films that earned tons of cash at the box office but was never given any respect by his peers until he made Schindler’s List. Now look at Nolan’s career so far, the two Batman films have made well over a billion dollars, Inception made close to $300 million and of course the upcoming The Dark Knight Rises is a guarantee box office gold. Maybe in a few more years, Nolan will make THAT film and get some respect from his peers.
  3. True Grit
    I saw this film just a few days ago and it’s still fresh on my mind, when I see it again I may either move it up on the list or down, not sure yet. In any case, this is a great western from the Coen Bros., filled with great performances and dialog. It’s so surprising how funny it was and yes it does have the Coen Bros. signature violence in it, even though it got a PG-13 rating. I won’t ruin it for you but you’ll be shock at how brutal that scene was for a PG-13 film. The film was gorgeously shot by Roger Deakins, one of my favorite cinematographers. Seriously this man just doesn’t know how to make a movie look bad, he even shot M. Might’s awful film The Village and that film looked amazing.

    With the Coen Bros.’ direction and Deakins’ great cinematography, this is a highly recommended film. BTW, don’t expect to see a lot of shootouts in the movie, the marketing folks did a great job of making the film look like it’s an action adventure western. If that’s what you’re looking for then you’ll be truly disappointed, Tombstone it is not. For western, I would compare this to Unforgiven and for the Coen Bros. film, I would compare it to Blood Simple.

Now here are my 3 worst films of the year, again there are tons of bad films that came out in 2010 but I’m going to only focus on the high priced pictures Hollywood offered us.

  1. Green Zone
    This is by far the worst film I saw this year and it pains me to say it because Paul Greenglass is one of my favorite directors working in Hollywood today. I also like Matt Damon as actor quite a bit but somehow these two guys totally messed up this movie. I considered myself to be liberal when it comes to politics but wow this movie just rubbed me the wrong way. Not only was it preachy on a subject that most people in America already knew about but Greengrass kept hammering away at it and never lets up. If you saw the film then you know what I’m talking about. I also thought that the film came out a couple of years too late, I mean if the Bush administration were still in the office then maybe it would’ve been more relevant but it’s 2010 and Bush is long gone.

    A little history behind this movie, when it was first announced way back in 2007 the film was supposed to be a satire on the Irag War. But before they started shooting, Greengrass decided to change the script to a straight drama picture. Universal was actually quite excited about the new script and they even scheduled the movie to open on the holiday season of 2008 hoping for some Oscar nominations. Well a month or two into production, Greengrass again decided to change the script, now he wanted to be an action/drama and so they had to push the release date to 2009. With more changes to the script while the film was being shot, Universal didn’t have much faith in the picture so they decided to dump it in March of this year, a hit or miss month for film releases. Also, the film went well over its original $80 mil budget, it came in around $150 mil and of course it tanked at the box office.

    Again it pains me to call this the worst film of year because I know that Greengrass is such a talented filmmaker but I think his political beliefs has overtaken his mind and ruined this movie. Hopefully he’ll come back with a great film in a year or two. He’s currently in pre-production of a film called They Marched Into Sunlight, another political theme film set during the Vietnam war.
  2. Unstoppable
    I don’t know how Tony Scott convinced a movie studio to give him $100 mil to shoot a film about a runaway train and somehow he even convinced Denzel Washington to come on board. The film got some good reviews from critics and I was hoping for some good time when I went to see it. Boy was I wrong, the film has no dept and I didn’t care for any of the characters in the movie. I was so bore that I was sort falling asleep during one of the big action sequences. The film runs about an hour and a half but it felt like 3 hours to me.

    If you really want to see a better movie about runaway train, I suggest renting Runaway Train starring Jon Voight and Eric Roberts, it doesn’t have the cool action scenes like Unstoppable but it has way more interesting storyline and characters. Runaway Train was going to beAkira Kurosawa’s first directing debut here in the states but the project was canceled because the snowstorms were so bad, his crew could not work. The movie might have even better had Kurosawa directed it but I’ve never seen any of Kurosawa’s work so I’m just assuming here.
  3. Robin Hood
    This was one of the films I looked forward to back in the summer but wow I don’t know what happened. The film was a mess from start to finish and everyone in the film looked like they didn’t want to be there, well Cate Blanchet was pretty good in it. Crowe looked like he’d rather be doing something else than playing Robin Hood and Scott’s direction was downright awful. It pains me to say it because Ridley Scott is one of my favorite directors but I think he just made the movie for the money. The movie was supposed to be a prequel so why did they cast a forty something Crowe as Robin Hood? We’ll never know.

    The behind the scenes stuff was quite long with this film so maybe they should’ve shelf the project instead of spending close to $200 mil shooting it. My guess is that Universal spent so much money in pre-production that they have to make it and probably pushed Scott to finish it in time for an early May release. Originally it was scheduled for a November 2009 release but because of script changes, they had to move the release date to 2010.

I would’ve included the remake Clash of the Titans on my worst list but it was so bad that I couldn’t even finish watching it, I turned it off after half hour into the movie.

Well those are my best and worst list of 2010, feel free to agree or disagree and of course you can name your best and worst films from 2010.

Happy New Year!

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rtm’s note: I should have my own list up by later today this weekend. Well, any reaction to any of Ted’s choices? Please chime in below.

Memorial Weekend Roundup

Haven’t done a weekend roundup for a while, but this long weekend seems like a good a time as any to do so. Firstly, I just want to thank IMDb again for featuring my post London Tube & The Movies on Friday. It’s been a dream of mine to be featured on the Friday HitList (as it last through the entire weekend), and it came true nearly 2-weeks shy of FlixChatter’s birthday! Thanks for those who’ve stopped by and dropped a comment, always appreciate that!

I must say the new releases this memorial weekend is pretty lame, neither of the two major new releases (featuring a gravity-defying video-game prince and a quartet of glitter-loving, proud hedonists) is something I’d ever watch even if someone paid me. So, it’s a good thing I haven’t seen Robin Hood yet, so we finally caught up to it on a Saturday matinee show. Sure enough it didn’t come close to the glory of the first Scott/Crowe collaboration Gladiator. It’s safe to say this version of the medieval hero is a bit Gladiator-ized, and it’s as though Scott aimed the theme to be ‘The Outlaw that defied a Kingdom.’ I might review it sometime later, but let me just say that I’d have been happy if the title had been Robin & Marian, because Cate Blanchett’s performance tramples that of the brutish Crowe, and her Marian really ‘saves’ the movie for me.

Before I go on, I’d like to point out that yet another fun blog event is brewing, folks, and this one is guaranteed to tickle your funny bone (or get you all worked up in a tizzy depending on how you look at it). Red at the movie blogging community Anomalous Material is hosting the Greatest Comedy of All-Time Tournament. Check out the ever-growing list of nominees out there, it’s really a reader/fellow bloggers-driven list which makes it all the more fun! Starting sometime after next week, Red & co. will be conducting an interactive 128 movie tournament to try and decide the greatest comedy out there. Get your game on, folks!

After a hectic Sunday and active Monday morning, I finally had a chance to catch my breath last night to watch a period drama I’ve wanted to see for ages: Jane Austen’s Persuasion. It stars the fabulous character actor Ciarán Hinds as Capt. Frederick Wentworth and Amanda Root as the story’s heroine Anne Elliot. It’s a heartfelt and profound love story about second chances…summarized beautifully in this memorable quote:

All that I claim for my own sex… is that we love longest after all hope is gone.

Mr. Darcy welcomes you to the Jane Austen Centre

Persuasion is actually the only Austen book I managed to finish not too long ago. I started Pride & Prejudice but never got around to wrapping it up, but the story and character of Anne Elliot resonates more with me. I must say that after watching this adaptation, this has become my second favorite Jane Austen adaptation after Sense & Sensibility (sorry Mansfield Park!). It’s pretty cool to see shooting locations in Bath with all the beautiful limestone, Georgian architecture, as  I was just there a few weeks ago. I managed to go to the Jane Austen center where we’re given a quick history lesson of the life of the author. Apparently Persuasion was written in the last few years of Jane Austen’s life, and published only after her death in 1817. It’s no secret that miss Austen herself didn’t really like Bath, and from what I gathered from the local tour guide – as well as this movie – it’s easy to see why.

Those unfamiliar with the story, here’s a quick plot (courtesy of IMDb): Eight years earlier, Anne Elliot, the daughter of a financially troubled aristocratic family, was persuaded to break off her engagement to Frederick Wentworth, a young seaman, who, though promising, had poor family connections. When her father rents out the family estate to Admiral Croft, Anne is thrown into company with Frederick, because his sister is Mrs. Croft. Frederick is now a rich and successful Captain, and a highly eligible bachelor. Whom will he marry? One of Anne’s sister’s husband’s sisters? Or will he and Anne rekindle the old flame?

Funny, I’ve been kind of delaying my Top Ten Period Drama list in case I need to include this for some reason, and boy, was I right! This is a far superior version than the 2007 Masterpiece adaptation where they had Anne run around Bath to catch up with Wentworth, as if to catch up with the lightning pace of the whole adaptation! The pace of this 1995 version is just right, and best of all, the two leads have a nice chemistry together even with just a knowing glance.

So there, if you haven’t seen this movie and you’re in the mood for an understated but moving period drama, I can’t recommend this movie enough to you.

Random Thoughts: The AVATAR effect

I was at the movies Saturday nite and boy was it busy. When the windchill went as low as double digits below zero, there’s really not much one can do outside. We were there a good forty-five minutes early, but thinking Up in the Air is a few weeks’ old, we decided to wait until 10 minutes prior to showtime before going in. Lo and behold, the place was packed! We’re able to snatch a couple of seats right smack dab in the center two rows from the back (as perfect seating as you can get) just seconds before a throng more people came in. As I sat there watching a bunch of people struggling to find a decent seat, I couldn’t help wondering how many folks tried to get into a couple of sold-out AVATAR showings but ended up seeing this one instead. I mean, you’re already at the cinema so might as well catch another flix even if it’s not the one you want. I guess being nominated for several awards usually means a boost in attendance, but I really didn’t expect this type of flick like Up in the Air to be THAT busy. A colleague of mine told me that’s the only reason he and his parents went to see Have you heard about the Morgans? over Christmas break, as that’s the showtime is the closest to AVATAR’s. Now, I hardly think the Hugh Grant rom-com is the only one benefiting from Avatar’s stellar business.

Zoe Saldana as Princess Neytiri

One thing for sure though, the James Cameron mega blockbuster definitely sparks the 3-D phenomenon on the movie biz. Times Online reported that the sci-fi flick inspires 3-D makeover for major action classics (thanks Mike for the article!), with The Lord of the Rings trilogy and Star Wars being the first ones to be ‘retro-fitted’ with 3-D technology. There’s even rumors that Ridley Scott’s asked Universal Film additional $8 million to “add an extra dimension” to the film, but looks like the studio itself rebuffed the idea. I guess it’s safe to say AVATAR is changing our movie-going experience, how far that is remains to be seen. The Times article went so far as saying:

Experts now predict that 3-D will become the new multiplex standard within five years. This will be as dramatic a shift as when the “talkies” killed off silent movies in the early 20th century.

Now, as much as I’m excited to see Frodo, Aragorn, and the gang battle it out with evil Sauron in a whole new magnitude, I’m kind of skeptical how good it’d look as it wasn’t originally captured with the motion capture technology like Avatar did. An exec from one of only half a dozen companies that can turn reels of celluloid into 3-D digital movies said the demand is definitely increasing rapidly to revive their past glories, but not all 3D is created equal. “We can turn an older film into 3-D in around 16 weeks. It mostly suits action films, such as Top Gun or The Matrix, but Avatar proved it’s best to use the technology to immerse the audience in the story rather than throw things at them. This is the new, more sophisticated era of 3-D.” (On a sidenote, check out this nifty anatomy of a motion capture scene from Avatar at motion capture society website).

I agree that Avatar really immersed you into their world that I sometimes forget about the extra dimension I’m watching. Now some might complain that the 3-D just wasn’t ‘in your face’ enough like in those special showings in Disneyland, but I see it as a good thing that I no longer notice the technology as I’m being whisked away to Pandora. It was a seamless experience where I’m not constantly in awe of the science of the movie that it becomes distracting. It’d be cool if we lose the giant glasses if this three dimensional thing catches on though, it’s still kind of a bother to have this thing on my face every time we go to the movies… or at home as 3-D TV sets are arriving as early as this Summer, which I presume comes with those special glasses. Oh, another thing I’m not prepared to do is shelling out an extra three or five extra bucks on every single movie. It’s fine every once in a while, but even at $10 a pop for a regular 2-D flick is not exactly cheap.

My hope is that the quality of the story isn’t lost in all this techie mumbo-jumbo, that with every leap in technology, originality and the art of storytelling remains a priority, instead of being shoved into a corner or thrown away altogether. That’s not too much to ask, is it Hollywood?

Anyhoo, on a lighter note, apparently Avatar also sparks a whole string of fan-vids inspired by the movie, as well as the groundbreaking movie-making process. Check this one out that chronicles the Making of a Bootleg. Awesome stick figures, guys! 😀

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Back to the 3-D thing, as I just read this post on Cinematical after I hit publish. The question is: what movies should be re-released in 3-D next? My picks are LOTR, Nolan’s Batman flicks, 300, The Matrix, and the Superhero flicks such as Iron Man and Superman. Those would be cool to see popping out of the screens. So how about you folks? Any thoughts on this whole 3-D phenomenon?