Top Ten Films of 2010

I’ve got to say, this may be one of the finest years for film in recent memory. There were so many, many excellent films that came out this year. While I still have yet to see “Fair Game”, “127 Hours”, and “Blue Valentine” I decided to make my list, and if need be, after seeing these films that I haven’t watched yet – I’ll amend my list.

10. “TRON: Legacy”

I know there are a lot of you haters out there. “Oh it’s not Avatar!” or “the screenplay sucks!” Well you know what motherfuckers? No movie will ever be another Avatar, until James Cameron releases Avatar 2 though 10. As for the screenplay – what did you expect? This film is built upon its special effects and branches out from there. The special effects are amazing, and too me – it’s more imaginative than “Avatar”, but that’s just me. I gave this movie a 9/10, and I saw it a second time and my rating still held up. Get over yourself haters. Go eat sushi and talk about how intuitive and deep “The Social Network” is while you try and keep wasabi out of your recycled Urban Outfitter’s scarf.


9. “The Social Network”

This is not the best film of the year. Jesse Eisenberg does not give the best performance of the year. This is not David Fincher’s first of second best film. Andrew Garfield is not getting snubbed for a nomination, Armie Hammer is. What this film does have to offer us, is a story about an uppity little brat who thinks he’s entitled to everything in the world. It displays an air tight screenplay by Aaron Sorkin (I loved him before all you fucks did, so don’t start with me) and a great score. While I did think this was a good film, and I did enjoy it – I think a Fincher/Sorkin collaboration would have been better suited for the Bill Gates/Steve Jobs story. I have a feeling all the people that are banging the drum for this film were the same ones who thought “The Hurt Locker” was an amazing and incredible film. Get over it.


8. “Life During Wartime”

“Life During Wartime” doesn’t deal with a tangible war, it deals with the proverbial war that we fight with our family, our friends and within ourselves. It deals with forgiveness, absolution and retribution. The themes of this film run in toe with the themes of our American culture. I’m so glad that I got a chance to see this film while flipping through the channels late at night.


7. “The Town”

“The Town” is a slick fusion of “Heat” and “Point Break”. It’s a near perfect heist film that was masterfully helmed by Ben Affleck and has a great ensemble. Renner seems to be the favorite for a Best Supporting Actor nomination, but I prefer Jon Hamm in the film. Even though some elements and situations in the film tend to be a bit stretched, I still think this a very effective and taught film.


6. “Inception”

I don’t know whether or not “Inception” is Nolan’s best film. I still have my preference of his smaller films, “Insomnia” and “The Prestige”. “Inception” is the perfect combination of a summer blockbuster and a thinking man’s movie. The climax of the film is incredible, the four simultaneous dream arcs smashing the screen at the same time is flawless and brilliant. The performances in this film are all a great ensemble, and please people – get over Tom Hardy. He served his purpose but nothing more. Still, “Inception” is a landmark film. Nolan also scores major points for not making it 3-D.


5. “True Grit”

The Coen Brothers deliver again. With their second collaboration with Jeff Bridges, they bring us a great authentic western. Jeff Bridges gives the performance of the year, and along with Josh Brolin and Hailee Steinfeld, they deliver a great, great film. Yeah, I do have a Jeff Bridges “bias” but that’s because he’s amazing and doesn’t get enough credit. True Grit is excellent.


4. “Solitary Man”

Michael Douglas delivers one of the finest performances of his career and one of the top performances of this year as Ben – a womanizer, alcoholic and dishonest solitary man. People have compared his performance to the likes of Gordon Gekko. That’s false. His character is Gekko-esq, but he does have a heart. This is a very, very small and ultra cliché riddled film – but it’s near flawless. Michael Douglas deserves a nomination for this film.


3. “The King’s Speech”

Colin Firth has become one of my favorite actors – yet I am not very versed in his back catalog of his performances. With his performances from last year’s “A Single Man” and this year in “The King’s Speech” – everything with Firth seems so effortless. He gives a triumphant performance along with Geoffrey Rush. This is one of the most inspirational films I have seen in a long, long time. This is a rare cinematic treat that blends a period piece epic and a very small character study.


2. “The Fighter”

Everything about “The Fighter” just lightly touches upon perfection. This is a film that I truly underestimated. I thought it would be good, but not great. Marky Mark’s project is incredible and he gives us a masterpiece. He gives his best performance as does Amy Adams and Melissa Leo. As for Christian Bale – he’s nothing less than flawless perfection. He gives us an incredible tour-de-force performance as the main characters crack addicted, once “great” older brother and mentor.


1) “Black Swan”

Speaking of masterpieces. Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan” is incredible. I haven’t felt for Natalie Portman’s character like that in a long, long time. I was beyond sympathetic. The eerie and terribly creepy feeling of paranoia was masterfully displayed by Aronofsky. The ensemble cast is a true work of art. Vincent Cassel and Barbra Hershey’s supporting performances were incredible. This film is one dark trip into painfully brutal beauty.


“TRON: Legacy” 3-D IMAX Experience – 2010. Dir. Joseph Konsinski

With Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde with Michael Sheen with Cilian Murphy and Bruce Boxleitner

Music by Daft Punk

“The Grid. A digital frontier. I tried to picture clusters of information as they traveled through the computer. Ships, motorcycles. With the circuits like freeways. I kept dreaming of a world I thought I’d never see. And then, one day – I got in.” – Kevin Flynn

 

So you’ve probably seen all these mixed reviews of the film, you might have even read that “TRON: Legacy” made $3.5 million at its midnight premier (which is more than “Inception” made). So you also could be wondering if the fact that I (a really, really pompous film snob) went to the midnight showing, paid $16 for a 3-D IMAX ticket, and had to get up at 5:45am for work – was worth it.

Fuck yeah it was.

The plot is thin, yet I was drawn into it and really enjoyed the direction the film was taken. It starts out in 1989 with a young Kevin Flynn (an incredible reversed aged and voiced Jeff Bridges) talking to his young son Sam about TRON, about the future, about computers. It’s a nice little explanation for those who hadn’t seen the original “TRON” film.

Flynn now has his rightful place as the CEO of Encom and is building software that will be free of charge, so that anyone and everyone have access to the future. But on the night Flynn sits with his son, it’s the last night that anyone will ever see Flynn.

Flash-forward to current day, there is a meeting at Encom late at night; the board is sitting in a fancy conference table in the ultra fancy building. They are minutes away from unveiling their latest operating platform. The board is filled with a bunch of snobby elitist that would make Dick Cheney proud. This time we see an older Sam (Garret Hedlund) breaking into Encom with hopes to sabotage the announcement of the new operating platform.

The board is all ra ra with their plans to essentially rip the public off, everyone by Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) is happy. He pipes up and announces his unrest with the new “vision” of Encom, and chastises the board telling them that Kevin Flynn aspired to make all this software freeware – making it available to all of the public. The Chairman of the Board essentially ignores Bradley and applauds Edward Dillinger (in a cameo by Cilian Murphy) who was the lead designer on the new software. Of course Murphy looks like a slime ball – and don’t forget (or for those of you who haven’t seen the original film) Edward is the son of Ed Dillinger the villain of the first film.

Sam successfully sabotages Encom’s unveiling and get arrested and then returns to a cozy little garage he calls home. While he cracks open a Coors Beer (drinking in a Disney movie!?) Bradley is inside of Sam’s “home”, and they go through some banter about how Bradley is Sam’s surrogate father figure – yada yada yada. Bradley tells Sam that he got a page from his father’s office, and tosses Sam the keys.

Sam goes to investigate the rundown and barren Flynn’s Arcade. He turns the power on and Journey starts to blast from a juke box. He looks around, discovers the TRON video game, and then a secret door. Needless to say, Sam accidentally stumbles into Flynn’s office, and gets laser beamed into The Grid.

This is where the movie gets kicked into high fucking gear. The Grid is unlike the old version; it’s a cold, dark and electronic virtual reality. It looks fabulous. Sam gets scooped up, and forced to play games against other programs. Instead of the Master Computer and Dillinger being the villain, its Flynn’s program he made back in 1989, Clu (which is the reversed aged and voiced Jeff Bridges). And Clu is fucking nasty.

While Sam fights his way through the games, he eventually gets challenged to a light cycle race by Clu. Clu is whooping shit, and he’s cheating (because he can), and Sam gets saved in the nick of time by Quorra (Olivia Wilde) who is the protégé to Flynn who lives in exile just outside of The Grid.

Once we see Flynn, he’s old and grey and has a beard. He wears a robe and is meditating. He’s very much Zen-like, and he uses words like “radical” and calls his son “man” – so pretty much Flynn is still very much a beatnik. Sam and Flynn devise a plan to escape to the portal that Sam entered in that will be closing soon, while trying to elude Clu, who’s master plan is to build an army and enter the portal and transcend to reality.

This film does have somewhat of a skimpy plot, but once we listen to Flynn tell us how he created The Grid, and “life began to manifest” – it becomes this mythical story, a fable and Flynn assumes the Christ-like figure of creating a world and creating life, while Clu the program that was trusted to help him – turns on him and seizes control of The Grid (a reflection of Judas).

While the screenplay may not be all that great, the special effects and the dual performance by Bridges more than makes up for it. Bridges churns out another solid performance as the prophet Flynn, while taking a step back and playing an evil computer program that isn’t a far cry from a fascist leader. There is an excellent scene prior to the climax where Clu gives a speech to a mass number of programs that are in square formations, and he boasts and yells about how they are about to cross over, they are going to take over their programs because they (the programs) are more efficient.

The highlight of the film is the beginning of the second act, where Clu challenges Sam to a light cycle game. The special effects were the best I’ve ever seen (remember or not, I never saw “Avatar” – fuck you James Cameron). The 3-D was sharp and popped from the screen, the sound, the images, the engineering of this sequence are executed flawlessly.

Another highlight is Michael Sheen in a small role of Zeus, who is an ally to Quorra, who is a homoerotic flamboyant club owner who distracts the evil programs with beautiful women and music (Daft Punk makes a cameo as the DJ’s of his club). Sheen is excellent in his small and pivotal role.

This film isn’t without its problems. Aside from the screenplay, some of the acting is a little stiff and seems forced. Garrett Hedlund who plays Sam isn’t terrible – but he’s not that great either. Let’s just say he hits a homerun compared to Hayden Christensen in the new Star Wars trilogy. Olivia Wilde is good, but she’s mainly there because she looks GREAT.

Clu has a masked henchman, and without ruining the identity, when you figure out who is behind the mask, they kind of bitch out by not using the same technology that they used on Jeff Bridges for that character. I thought that was just a poor choice.

While watching the film, I couldn’t help but feel bad for Bruce Boxleitner. I was really glad he was in the film, and I he was good in his limited role, but don’t forget that his character Alan Bradley’s program is TRON. He’s TRON! Yet it’s Bridges who gets all the glory. But after all, he is Jeff Bridges. Duhh.

Yet another reason to see the film is for Daft Punk’s amazing score. It flows and hums, it sizzles and cracks – it’s the perfect sound for this film. It’s incredibly electronic and buzzing. I’m going to buy the original score to this film, it’s that good.

The last thing I would like to say about my theater experience was that there were these beat off kids sitting behind me and my party. And every time, I mean every single fucking time Jeff Bridges (Flynn, not Clu) opened his mouth they would utter out their best Keanu Reeves’ impression “yeahhhhh Duuuuude!” Hey I think it’s cool that you guys are seeing TRON at midnight, and I think it’s cool that you guys dig “The Big Lebowski” – but listen here motherfuckers, Jeff Bridges was the Dude before the Dude. Nough said.

Rating: 9/10

 

Jeff Bridges is Rooster Cogburn

Here we go boys and girls – the very first image of OSCAR WINNER (I love saying this now) Jeff Bridges as Marshall Rooster Cogburn in the updated Coen Brother’s film “True Grit”. I am so super excited for December this year with Bridges headlining both “True Grit” and “Tron Legacy”. Who else is super excited?

2010 films that have me JAZZERSIZED!

Let us look forward!

In no particular order:

“The Expendibles”

How could an action film with Sylvester Stallone, Mickey Rourke, Steve Austin, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, Jason Stratham (ehh), Eric Roberts and cameos by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis suck that bad?

“Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps”

This is the film I’m most skeptical of. I love Oliver Stone, but “The World Trade Center” I thought was a disaster of a film, and “W” could have been epically great (it’s still enjoyable). Even though I’m leery of Shia LeBeauf in the film, the fact it takes place in our current economic climate and has Michael Douglas, Charlie Sheen and Martin Sheen returning has me very excited. The addition of Frank Langella and Josh Brolin is equally as great along with Carey Mulligan. I was hoping Stone would also bring back Terrence Stamp, John C. McGinley and Hal Holbrook too.

“The Tree of Life”

Terrence Malick directing a 1950’s period piece about a boy witnessing “the loss of innocence” with Sean Penn (again!) and Brad Pitt. ‘Nough said!

Jeff Bridges' artwork for "True Grit".

“True Grit”

The Coen Brother’s making a western! A real western reuniting them with Jeff Bridges! I feel a sixth Oscar nomination for Bridges on this one. In addition to Bridges the Coen’s also bring Josh Brolin, Matt Damon and Barry Pepper to the table.

“Tron: Legacy”

Jeff Bridges in a new Tron movie… As if the special effects in the original film weren’t groundbreaking enough!

“Iron Man 2”

Robert Downey, Jr. is back as Tony Stark! This time he’s battling Mickey Rourke as a tattooed Russian who builds his own Iron Man suit. Hott! I want to make a prediction here that I told my friends Kevin and Peyton about after viewing the trailer for “Iron Man 2”, Mickey Rourke will get a nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

“Fair Game”

The story of Valerie Wilson’s (Naomi Watts) outing as a covert CIA Agent by the Bush administration because her husband, Ambassador Joe Wilson (played by Sean Penn) a registered Republican, spoke the truth in his report about Saddam Hussein not trying to purchase weapons of mass destruction.

“Love Ranch”

Taylor Hackford directing his wife Helen Mirren as the wife of Joe Pesci who play the couple that open the first legal brothel in Nevada, and it’s based on a true story.

“Machete”

Robert Rodriguez making a feature length film from his “Grindhouse” trailer with the best cast I’ve ever seen: Danny Trejo, Jessica Alba, Lindsey Lohan, Steven Segal, Don Johnson, Jeff Fahey and Robert DeNiro.

“Company Men”

A film about corporate America with Ben Affleck, Kevin Costner, Chris Cooper and Tommy Lee Jones. Awesome.

“The Special Relationship”

The film examines the relationship between President Bill Clinton (Dennis Quaid) and Hillary (Julianne Moore) with Tony Blair (Michael Sheen for his third portrayal as Blair).