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The Best Movies of 2010

January 31, 2011

By John Corrado

Toy Story 3 Poster

A few weeks back, I offered my picks for the worst movies of 2010.  Now February 2011 is nearly upon us, and seeing as the Academy has already announced the list of films to be honoured with Oscars come February 27th, it seems like the perfect time to share my picks for the ten best movies I saw in 2010.

Although ones like The King’s Speech, Never Let Me Go and both of the animated films appearing on my list will always hold a special place in my heart, these are all great movies and highly significant achievements in their own right.  So without further ado, here are the ten best movies I saw in 2010:

#10: Inception: Christopher Nolan’s twisted trip inside the world of dreams undeniably provided some of the best movie-related conversations in 2010.  The brilliant final scene that leaves the entire movie up to debate is quite possibly one of the best things about the film, and the stunning and inspired visual effects will not soon be forgotten.

#9: True Grit: Playing as a genre classic through and through, this Coen Brothers western is a perfect mix of excellent acting, old west violence and very entertaining dark comedy.  The young Hailee Steinfeld deserves much praise for her outstanding performance as the central teenager who’s seeking justice for the death of her father.

#8: The Fighter: Working as both a moving family drama and a rousing sports movie, David O. Russell’s The Fighter is a complete package of excellent storytelling and outstanding performances from a stellar ensemble cast.  Christian Bale’s supporting work deserves the highest praise, but Mark Wahlberg, Melissa Leo and Amy Adams are also excellent.

#7: Black Swan: Darren Aronofsky’s riveting ballet thriller deserves the highest praise for the terrifying, sensual and beautifully fragile leading work of Natalie Portman.  She grounds the film in a disturbing reality, and keeps us watching even when we want to look away.

#6: 127 Hours: An endlessly moving and electric hymn to life from director Danny Boyle, that’s centred around an outstanding and demanding performance from James Franco.  127 Hours will shake you up, break you down, and every bit leave you glad to be alive.

#5: How To Train Your Dragon: Dreamworks Animation’s best film yet, How To Train Your Dragon has stuck with me since it first blew me away last March.  Aside from the breathtaking visuals, this is a perfect marriage of great storytelling that is aided by what is quite possibly the year’s best musical score, courtesy of John Powell.

#4: The Social Network: One of the finest thrillers ever made to never feature a single gun shot or explosion, David Fincher’s telling of the Facebook story is a quietly tense film anchored by excellent performances and a brilliantly incisive screenplay by Aaron Sorkin.

#3: Never Let Me Go: Kazuo Ishaguro’s 2005 novel of the same name is one of the best modern literary works I have read, and Mark Romanek’s masterful big screen adaptation is brought to life by three beautiful and transcendent performances.  As haunting as it is moving, this is by far the most under-appreciated film on my list.

#2: The King’s Speech: With an inspirational true story about overcoming social differences – and the best performance yet of Colin Firth’s endlessly impressive career, this triumphant period piece is a complete package of everything we look for when going to the movies.

(Note: Harvey Weinstein’s proposal to censor the language in The King’s Speech is ludicrous.  The swearing provides one of the funniest and most freeing scenes, and audiences seeing the movie are mature enough to hear those words.)

#1: Toy Story 3: Pixar’s masterfully crafted threequel to their groundbreaking first film appealed to a new generation of fans, but its melancholy and endlessly moving themes of moving on and letting go hit home hardest with those who’ve grown up with the series.

Honourable Mentions: Next up are fifteen titles from last year that I feel are still worth mentioning, even if they did miss my list.  I enjoyed a lot of what 2010 had to offer, so narrowing it down was hard and there will always be others that didn’t get their due.  But here’s a selected mix of guilty pleasures, worthy contenders and culturally significant titles, that ultimately ended up with a category all their own:

Catfish, Cemetery Junction, Cyrus, Defendor, Despicable Me, The Ghost Writer, Greenberg, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1, The Illusionist, Kick-Ass, Micmacs, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Score: A Hockey Musical, Secretariat, Tangled.

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