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Best Films Of 2010 (Matt’s List)

The good old best films of the year article. Everyone does one, everyone has one and everyone wants to read one. You'll see a couple popping up on our site but here is mine. It has been an interesting year for film. 3D took over theatres, Christopher Nolan once again blew our minds, we saw some phenomenal young talent break onto the scene and as always, only a small handful of films really impressed me.

The good old best films of the year article. Everyone does one, everyone has one and everyone wants to read one. You’ll see a couple popping up on our site but here is mine. It has been an interesting year for film. 3D took over theatres, Christopher Nolan once again blew our minds, we saw some phenomenal young talent break onto the scene and as always, only a small handful of films really impressed me.

To be honest, I wasn’t terribly pleased with many films this year. Even on this list, there are only maybe 2 or 3 films that really impressed me. It was a weak year for film. A couple of the films here only stand out because it was a such a bad year in the movie industry.

I’ve seen 137 of the films that are on IMDB’s release calendar for 2010. Most of the films I missed were either films that received very limited releases or films that just looked like pure garbage. I should mention though that I still have not seen 127 Hours which is probably the only film I missed that would be taken into consideration for this type of list. Also, keep in mind, best of lists are purely opinion based. You may not agree, and that’s fine, but just remember that different films appeal to different people.

So here you have it, my top 10 films of 2010 (while some of these may have been made in 2009 or further back, they all received a theatrical release in 2010 according to IMDB).

#10. The Ghost Writer

Director Roman Polanski’s latest film arrived in theatres almost a year ago, back in February. Backed by a strong cast and helmed by a talented director, expectations for this one were high. And to be honest, there was very little chance it would turn out poorly. When it did finally arrive in theatres, expectations were met and audiences were treated to a very well made film, on all fronts.

Despite being low on action, The Ghost Writer still managed to pin us to our seats with suspense. Through the music and editing, the film invokes a sense of dubiousness as we feel that nothing really seems right. A sense of unease creeps up in every scene and each character that The Ghost encounters seems to be hiding something.

Polanski is clearly trying to emulate Hitchcock. Through the way he frames scenes, his usage of various camera angles, his meticulously choreographed camera movements and discrete touches, he crafts a great atmosphere where paranoia is everywhere. Polanski is very skilled at staging discomfort and most of the scenes are unsettling even if it is just at a subliminal level.

That’s mainly why The Ghost Writer was so effective as a thriller, because of its atmosphere and the consistent levels of tension and unease. Throw in some great performances and an intriguing story and you’ve got yourself a winner.

#9. The Fighter

David O. Russell, Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale, all working together on one film. Boy would I have loved to been on the set for that. You knew the three would make a great film though, despite whatever went on behind the scenes. And while The Fighter may not be the future Best Picture winner that everyone is making it out to be, it is undoubtedly a very strong film and extremely well acted.

Christian Bale is easily the strongest. In his role as Dicky he is a true revelation. His performance is sheer brilliance, nothing less. Losing a ton of weight for the role, he gives a performance that is raw, moving and astonishingly real. Bale wholly inhabits the character of Dicky and you get so lost in his performance that sometimes you forget you’re watching Bale on screen. His gaunt appearance renders him almost unrecognizable and it’s the best performance of his career, eclipsing his performance in American Psycho.

Bale simply aces the role. The physical and psychological challenges of the part are no match for him. He nails it all. As crack addict Dicky he gets it all right. The bugged out eyes constantly darting back and forth, the ticks and twitches, the splayed walk, everything. He brings a certain pathos to the character and you can’t help but to feel bad for him. It’s truly a remarkable performance and the man deserves some Oscar gold.

Melissa Leo is an actress who rarely gives a bad performance and this time isn’t any different. In The Fighter she is at the top of her game. Self-absorbed, raging and manipulative, she brings to Alice not only a devious side but she also brings heart to the role.

Wahlberg’s performance is subtle, modest and passive. He’s almost a spectator and in some cases, it’s easy to forget the film is about his character Micky. He’s quiet and the role is anything but showy. That being said, he’s still excellent and like the others in the cast, gives his best performance to date. Constantly shot in states of worry and fear, we understand what Micky is going through, as Wahlberg subtly conveys the true Micky, the one that is hiding behind all the muscle and toughness on the exterior.

Playing against type, Adams is also very good in her role as Charlene, Micky’s girlfriend, constantly surprising us and proving herself in the role. Strong willed and determined she brings with her a strong screen presence and is a pleasure to watch in the film.

At the end of the day, The Fighter is a very strong film and the performances are all flawless. It suffers from a few flaws that hold it back from being a Best Picture contender, in my eyes at least, but it is still worth seeing and it’s definitely one of the better movies I’ve seen this year.

#8. Get Him To The Greek

In what is easily the funniest movie of the year, Russell Brand brings his Aldous Snow character back to the silver screen for a second time. If the name Aldous Snow sounds familiar it’s probably because you’ve seen Forgetting Sarah Marshall, a film where Brand played the same character. Turns out Mr. Snow was popular enough to get his own film and it comes in the form of Get Him To The Greek.

The duo of Hill and Brand works exceptionally well. In this sort-of sequel, Brand clearly carries the film but Hill offers a better than expected performance and supports Brand perfectly. Brand reprises his role from Forgetting Sarah Marshall and he is essentially playing a toned down version of himself. He really gives off a genuine rock star persona and he pulls off the role wonderfully. He’s also incredibly funny and his chemistry with Hill is a joy to watch.

As mentioned before, Hill is also great. It’s probably one of his best roles and although he’s still slowly easing out of the ‘Superbad’ stage, it’s clear that the kid has some talent. He plays off of Brand’s character very well and every scene between the two of them is absolutely hilarious.

There are honestly some brilliant comedic moments here and like in most Apatow films, things are taken very far, but they still work. The plain outrageous nature of some of the events that occur simply make it all the more humorous. It truly is a laugh out loud film.

A couple scenes in particular will induce pleasant memories from The Hangover as some of the Vegas scenes here are just as crazy. Get Him To The Greek never tries to be The Hangover though. It implements a different style of humour, one that like The Hangover, will have you in tears at some parts.

As an added bonus, all the music in the film is actually really well written. The lyrics are hilarious, the tunes are catchy and Brand and Byrne pull off all their songs really well. I’ve listened to the soundtrack many times and it never gets old.

It’s a clever satire and at the same time an over the top, no holds barred, wild ride though the world of of the music business. Stoller does a great job at spoofing it, hitting all the right notes and making sure anyone involved in the industry will pick up on more than a few inside jokes

Get Him To The Greek is the funniest movie I saw all year and anyone who enjoys laughing (which is probably everyone) owes it to themselves to see this comedic gem.

#7. Toy Story 3

Let me start off by saying that Pixar has done it again. They’ve created a film that is truly astonishing in almost every regard. From the phenomenal voice acting, to the brilliant script, to the stunning animations and everything else, Toy Story 3 proves that it is one of, if not the best, Pixar film around.

Part of the reason the film works so well is because we are so familiar with the characters and we are so attached to them. For those of us who grew up watching the films, we get a real sentimental and at times, nostalgic feel while watching Toy Story 3. This time around, we get to see it all as the characters experience true peril, exciting adventure, genuine emotion, and the importance of love in one’s life. There is so much heart and soul behind the film and it is truly a beautiful and heartfelt swan song to a classic franchise.

The film is consistently funny, with almost every gag and joke hitting its mark, the film will evoke as much laughter from you as it does sadness. It’s wildly inventive and keeps its deep and sophisticated plot while still offering something for everyone. Toy Story 3 offers a genuine joyous occasion.

Unflinchingly honest, undeniably funny, genuinely moving and a beautiful farewell to a beloved series,Toy Story 3 is a movie you must see. There really isn’t much wrong with it. It’s easily the best Pixar film I’ve seen and probably the best animated movie also.

#6. Mesrine

I know this film technically came out in 2008 but until 2010, it only played at film festivals and in a few European countries. I’m also aware that there are two parts, but they are technically the same film, just split up due to length, so for the purpose of this article, I’m going to count them as one film.

In this riveting and often gritty and brutal crime drama, director Jean-Francois Richet takes us through Mesrine’s criminal career and attempts to show us a man who was considered a public hero by some, but a dangerous psychopath by others.

Vincent Cassell is electrifying in his role as Mesrine. Convincing and haunting, he brings an astonishing realism to the role and gives a tour de force performance. With every scene he fully captures your attention. He so fluently switches gears from charming and suave to cold blooded and ruthless and his performance is really phenomenal.

Director Jean Francois Richet does superb work behind the camera as he takes a page from various Hollywood directors like Michael Mann and Brian De Palma. He drives the film forward with a high energy and makes sure there’s never a dull moment. The action scenes are all very well staged and they create the appropriate amount of tension.

In the end, everything comes together. The compelling story, excellent direction, powerhouse acting etc. It all amounts to a haunting and gripping finale that even though we know how it all ends, still strikes a chord with us. The final scene was shot appropriately and it’s one of the film’s more intense and powerful scenes.

As a whole, the two part biopic is superb. Cassel is tremendous in the role and Richet directs everything almost perfectly. It’s an epic gangster film that deserves to be placed amongst the best.

#5. The Town

The Town is a very strong directorial effort from Ben Affleck, his assured direction mixed with some superb performances from the cast and some compelling material, makes for one of the year’s best films.

The story is really the backbone of The Town, it’s what drives the film. It’s incredibly engaging and the film is very well written, filled with sizzling dialogue and tense action sequences throughout. Characters are all fully developed and well acted. Affleck takes his time to fully flesh out the characters to ensure that we as the audience care about them, because without the human drama, the film wouldn’t have worked.

The Town also wouldn’t have worked out as well had it not been for the superb acting. I’m not a big fan of Affleck as an actor but I’ll be the first to admit that he’s great in his role here. Mature and confident, Affleck does a fine job as the leading man and is able to efficiently carry the film.

Hall also does great work as she gives Claire a sense of vulnerability and susceptibility that keeps audiences engaged and invested. Renner’s edgy turn as Jem works perfectly as he gives a dynamite performance, exuding ferocity and showing us he wasn’t just a one hit wonder.

Hamm is superb as the no nonsense FBI Agent, leaving behind Don Draper he provides intensity throughout and aces the role of the hard-nosed Agent Frawley. Blake Lively plays Doug’s ex-girlfriend Krista, who is a drug dealer and addict. Despite having a smaller role, Lively puts forth a stellar effort, taking what could have been just another typical junkie role and giving it some humanity. Affleck also calls in the big guns, giving small supporting roles to Chris Cooper and Pete Postlethwaite, both of whom steal all the scenes they’re in, as expected.

The constant cat and mouse game between Frawley and Doug helps create tension the whole way through and Affleck’s confident direction of stylish and well choreographed shootouts, thrilling chases and expertly staged heists keep things moving at a great pace.

Ultimately, The Town is a gritty crime film that Michael Mann would be proud to call his own. It’s electric and thrilling the whole way through and the acting is particularly strong. Instead of repeatedly hitting you over the head with a multitude of big action set pieces, The Town provides a strong story and compelling characters, punctuated with some excellent action. And the mix works perfectly. It finds the perfect balance between providing authentic thrills and action and still staying grounded enough to provide a riveting story and characters we can invest in.

#4. True Grit

True Grit is the first Coen brothers movie that I’ve ever enjoyed. That’s got to count for something right? Unlike most critics, I’ve never been impressed with films like A Serious Man, No Country For Old Men, Burn After Reading etc. For some reason the Coen brothers’ films have just never done much for me, that is until True Grit came along. After playing around with Western elements for so long, the Coens have finally given us their first true picture in the genre.

While offering an engaging story, True Grit really shines when it comes to the characters and the world they inhabit. This is due not only to some great writing but also to some standout acting. In Hailee Steinfeld they have found a true acting talent. Similar to Chloe Moretz in Kick-Ass, Steinfeld, only 13 at the time of filming, gives a performance that is simply terrific and at such a young age, her maturity is astonishing. She steals every scene she’s in as the stylized language proves no match for her. Mattie’s determination and no-nonsense attitude is portrayed effectively and Steinfeld is is truly superb. She holds her own against esteemed actors like Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon, ruling the screen in every frame. You can expect to see her name on the Oscar ballot this year.

The other lead, Jeff Bridges, hot off an Oscar win for Best Actor, gives an authentic performance that could see him landing Oscar gold for a second year in a row. Grizzled and speaking in drunken slurs, he gives us an exciting (although a bit hammed up) performance that is one of his finest. Losing himself in the role, he provides a great anti-hero in Cogburn.

Damon while not given as much screen time as the two leads, also provides solid work in his supporting role. He provides some laughs and the verbal battles between him and Bridges are especially funny. Bridges and Steinfeld do eclipse him and it’s far from his best performance, but it does work and is far better than Glen Campbell’s take on the character. As the villain, Brolin provides a menacing character, who is fun to watch, for the short time he’s on screen.

It’s a wildly entertaining film that is well made in all aspects. It shines on all technical fronts, whether it be score, costumes, production design, cinematography etc. Every shot has a purpose, every line of dialogue works, every scene plays out well and overall, everything just clicks. True Grit is a classic revenge tale with some outstanding performances. Coen fans will be pleased as all their classic trademarks like the dark humor, Roger Deakins’ cinematography, Carter Burwell’s score etc. The Coens have made a splendid adaptation that deserves to be seen and one that will surely please audiences.

#3. Kick-Ass

With Kick-Ass, director Matthew Vaughn has sprung himself onto the A-list of directors. Undeniably thrilling, extremely violent and truly funny, Vaughn pulls no punches in his latest film. Without studio execs breathing down his back (Vaughn privatley raised the film`s $30 million budget, an audacious move to say the least) Kick-Ass really pushes the envelope on a few fronts and it provides for a wildly entertaining experience.

Chloe Moretz, the actress who plays Hit Girl, is nothing short of phenomenal. Possessing a maturity far beyond her years (she was only 12 at the time of filming) she masterfully captures the character of Hit Girl, turning her into one of the best female superheros that we’ve seen in a long time. Moretz is flawless here. She is full of talent and an actress who will surely go far.

Another tremendous asset to the film is Vaughn himself. His passion for the project comes through in every frame of the film. He has a real knack for visual flair and akin to John Woo, he stages action scenes that pack a real punch. Visceral and expertly staged, like a swift kick in the face, the exhilarating actions scenes go by as fast as they come. They’re quick, heart pounding and straight up a blast to watch. Kick-Ass basks in its bloody nature and it never tones it down.

When all is said and done, we get a jetpack with gatling guns, mid air reloads, strobe-light gunfights and the coolest assisted suicide ever put on film (and I mean that in a good way), what more can you ask for? Half Watchmen, half Superbad, mixed with a touch of Kill Bill and a thin layer of Pulp Fiction. Kick-Ass turns out to be an unadulterated barrage of awesomeness. Throw in a few nice pop culture references and a rocking soundtrack and it makes for an absolutely electrifying film.

#2. The Social Network

David Fincher is a man who directs good movies, there’s really no way to argue that fact. The man’s filmography is exemplary and he has crafted some truly extraordinary films. With Fincher behind the camera, you knew The Social Network would be good, and with Aaron Sorkin penning the script, you knew it might even be amazing.

In an almost Rashomon like style, The Social Network lets us see the story from everyone’s perspective. We get to see Mark’s point of view, Eduardo’s point of view and the Winklevoss twin’s point of view. Most of us know how the story ends but that doesn’t stop us from being on the edge of our seats the whole way through.

There is never a dull moment in The Social Network. It moves at such a brisk pace that it dares you to keep up with it. Sorkin’s script is flawless and dazzles you with dialogue that is sharp as can be. The writing here is brilliant and it is without a doubt the best script of the year. In an almost mesmerizing fashion, characters spit out the witty and scintillating dialogue, captivating you in every scene. Between the crackling dialogue, the lightning speed pacing and the haunting and hypnotic score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, it all comes together to produce a feverish energy that drives the film.

For a film that is pretty much all talking, it never gets tedious. The Social Network manages to feel as thrilling as Se7en and as refreshing as Fight Club. It’s witty and fast paced but by the time we get to the last shot, we almost feel a sense of sadness.

At the end of the day, The Social Network plays out much like a thriller. It’s intense and gripping as this tale of revenge, betrayal, fame and fortune is drawn out on screen. It offers an uncompromising look at our society and examines human behavior. It presents it in a fascinating manner that is so shockingly true that it really resonates with you.

In a world where social status is everything and in a world where we’re, as Peter Travers puts it ‘a nation of narcissists’, Fincher and Sorkin collaborate to craft a film that’s as brilliant as its protagonist. Freakishly smart, seriously funny, masterfully directed and expertly acted, The Social Network is a genre defining film, it shows precisely what its like to be a youth in society today. Fincher chronicles our generation and our society so well that The Social Network is almost as scary as some of Fincher’s other films like Zodiac and Se7en.

It’s a film that is never less than perfect. It defines a generation just like Network, Rebel Without A Cause and so many films before it did. The storytelling is unparalleled and with precision and flair, Fincher and Sorkin bring us the story of Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook. A story that serves as both a metaphor and a snapshot, a snapshot of our time and society.

#1. Inception

Inception is an astonishing achievement in filmmaking. It’s inventive and creative to a degree that I’ve never before seen in film. Director Christopher Nolan has outdone himself, forget The Dark Knight, this is his masterpiece, with Inception he has truly crafted a work of art.

From the extravagant set pieces and enthralling action sequences to the captivating visuals and top notch acting, everything about Inception screams impeccable. Inception isn’t just a film that meets our expectations, it transcends them and in every way possible. It’s a brilliant tour de force and is director Christopher Nolan’s magnum opus.

As the director, Nolan manages to produce an unparalleled level of intensity in Inception. The whole movie is exciting but especially in the later scenes it’s almost impossible not to be hanging onto the edge of your seat. The film completely envelops you and draws you in. At times it’s almost exhausting trying to keep up with everything that is going on but it proves for one hell of a ride. Not only is the relentless action completely engaging but Nolan has given Inception some true heart.

Drawing evidently from films like James Bond and The Matrix, Nolan directs the film like a true professional. He unassailably draws you into this world as he symphonically creates a stunning work of art.  Inception isn’t a film you should see, it is a film you must see. Oozing with originality, infused with inventiveness, and undeniably brilliant, Inception is the best movie I’ve seen in a very very long time.

Honourable Mentions

For providing pure fun, excitement and thrills, from start to finish: From Paris With Love, District 13: Ultimatum, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Takers, Centurion, Green Zone

For being fascinating, gripping and engaging throughout, aka great documentaries: Exit Through The Gift Shop, Teenage Paparazzo

For being the best foreign films of the year: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Secret In Their Eyes, A Prophet

For giving Toy Story 3 a run for its money: Despicable Me

For fantastic acting: The King’s Speech, Conviction

So there you go. My top 10 films of the year. What do you think? Did I miss anything? Do you agree with my picks?

About the author

Matt Joseph

Matt Joseph is the co-founder, owner and Editor in Chief of We Got This Covered. He currently attends the University of Western Ontario and is studying at the Richard Ivey School of Business. He works on We Got This Covered in his spare time and enjoys writing for the site.