Continuing my look back on the movies that have most impressed me during 2010, we now proceed with the last two quarters of the year. With the summer blockbuster season in full swing, I still found time to discover smaller, but no less satisfying movies…
July – September
Acclaimed animator Hayao Miyazaki’s latest fable, Ponyo may appear on the surface, purely a children’s movie, but with beautiful hand-drawn animation and a heart-warming, feel good story borrowing heavily from Disney’s The Little Mermaid, this was a joy from beginning to end, making it one of my favourite Japanese animated movies to date.
Possibly the most talked about movie adaptation in recent memory was The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, based on the first in a trilogy of critically acclaimed and massively popular novels by deceased writer Stieg Larsson, this offers a truly gripping mystery plot and a stand-out performance from newcomer Noomi Rapace as a character that has now become one of the biggest female icons in modern literature – Lisbeth Salander.
District 9 was one of those movies that I did not know if I’d like or not. Shot in a documentary fashion similar to Cloverfield following a government inspector as he attempts to relocate a group of aliens living in the slums like illegal immigrants – this clever and surprising movie totally won me over – and with an action packed second half, and some spot on social commentary, this really impressed.
The movie that had the biggest emotional effect on me this year has to be 21 Grams, granted it’s a few years old now, but with its non-linear narrative, startling performances from Naomi Watts, Sean Penn and Benicio Del Toro and genius direction from Alejandro González Iñárritu – this is sure to become one of my favourite movies of all time.
For probably the best horror this year, the crown can easily be passed from last years Let The Right One In to another foreign export, [REC] 2. Building on everything that the first movie did so well, adding some great scares, a manic and claustrophobic atmosphere with a brilliant twist ending – this cemented directors Jaume Balagueró & Paco Plaza as new masters of the genre.
October to December
Christina Ricci’s quirky, strangely sexy turn in the morbid drama After / Life proved she’s still an actress of considerable merit, despite a career stuck in direct-to-DVD-hell these days. Add to this a creepy turn from Liam Neeson and some bizarre, freaky dream sequences – with an ending that keeps you guessing – this was certainly one to recommend.
Whip It again showed that teen star Ellen Page is quickly becoming one of the best actresses around, and with a thoroughly enjoyable sports comedy drama, Drew Barrymore flexed her debut directing muscles to create a movie that was both feel good and heart warming, regardless of its lack of originality.
Delivering probably one of the most mind-bending and enthralling movies of the year, Inception further proved that director Christopher Nolan didn’t just fluke it with The Dark Knight. Once again Leonardo DiCaprio delivers a powerful performance and with a great cast, stunning visuals and a plot that needs to be seen more than once to absorb its intricacies – this remains one of the big hitters on 2010.
One of the nicest surprises has to be Tim Burton’s thoroughly enjoyable Alice In Wonderland. I’d also count this as one of the best Blu-ray experiences I’ve had this year too. With Burton’s brilliant visuals on full display, excellent turns from Johnny Depp, Mila Wasikowska and Helena Bonham Carter … this was a perfectly timed (watched it at Christmas) treat.
One remaining movie for 2010 is Toy Story 3 which I will be watching over Christmas, and a review will appear soon after. I’ll be watching this before deciding on my final Top Ten, as I am sure it will be a contender.
So what will be number one?
What won’t make the list?
All will be revealed … soon!