Tuesday, 21 December 2010

2010 Checkin' In and Looking Back on Most Anticipated Films of the Year

It's getting to the end of the year, which means we are officially in list season. I love lists. LOVE them. I make them for everything. Although paper is preferable, I also like to make lists in Excel so I can A-Z sort them in terms of priority. True story. I'm a geek like that.

I find this time of a year a challenge because I want to write, share and celebrate lists but we still have 2 Fridays of releases and there are films in theatres I haven't seen yet, so I feel like I don't quite want to talk about things until I've 'seen' everything. But I can't hold the lists back anymore. I can't. I have too many to share that I have to start getting them out there while it's still 2010.

I thought the best way to start would be to look back at my Most Anticipated Lists from 2010 and how those films faired (see Most Anticipated Lists Part 1 & Part 2). I've seen all but 2 of those films (one comes out this week), so although there could be some shifting in the next 2 weeks, it's nominal.

Disqualified (1 Film)

Resident Evil: Afterlife (ranked #13 in Part 2)
Unfortunately the screening I went to had the audio cut out 20 minutes from the end of the film, and I didn't make it out to see the remainder of the film at any point. From what I saw, I actually quite enjoyed and it might even have made exceeded expectations, which could be the oddest film thing of 2010!

Haven't Seen Yet (2 Films)

The Tempest (ranked #5 in Part 2)
I'm chomping at the bit to see Julie Taymor's take on with this Shakespearean adaptation starring Helen Mirren as Prospera alongsite with such a spectacular cast: Djimon Hounsou (Gladiator, Blood Diamond), Ben Whishaw (Bright Star) Alfred Molina, Chris Cooper, David Strathairn, Alan Cummings and Felicity Jones. It was delayed a week and was released Dec 16 instead of 10, but I still hope to see it before the end of the year.

True Grit (ranked #17 in Part 2)
The Coen Brother's remake of the 1969 western True Grit with a casted including Jeff Bridges in the role of Cogburn (played in the original by John Wayne) Matt Damon as La Boeuf, Josh Brolin, Barry Pepper and Hailee Steinfeld. Will be released December 22, 2010. Eventually seen - check out my review here.

Below Expectations (7 films)

Let Me In (ranked #16 in Part 2)
I went through a tidal wave of emotions on the release of this film, first being in the land of thinking it's crazy to remake the glorious 2008 Swedish Vampire film Let the Right One In / Låt den rätte komma in, then being okay with the idea as it was suppose to be a book-to-film adaptation, not film-to-film adaptations and wanting to give it a chance. But I fell back into the first boat thinking it was a redundant remake, especially so soon after such a wonderful (and championed!) film. And it was a film-to-film remake, no question.

Splice (ranked #19 in Part 1)
I had really high hopes for this one, and stayed well away from the trailers and reviews to keep an open mind on this genetic splicing scifi thriller. But, the gender stuff made it unenjoyable, but not in the stereotypical way, in a whole new variety of ways. But, I loved how great (and stylish) Adrien Brody & Sarah Polley were in the film, and it is very slick. Just wasn't for me.

(ranked #12 in Part 2)
I really love Ryan Reynolds and had no problem with the trapped in a coffin limited premise of the film, but out of all things I didn't expect not to *like* his character. That was bizarre. Plus, I laughed a few times at the wrong moments, it was pretty commentary-esque and American-ish, which I wasn't expecting either.

Crazy Heart (ranked #6 in Part 1)
It almost seems unfair to put this film here as Jeff Bridges won the Oscar for it, and he does a great job (although I was rooting for Jeremy Renner), but I just feel like it's a story we've heard many, many times before. Almost on last legs addict of some kind artist has one more chance. It can be a very inspiring story, which is why we get it a lot, but I wasn't connecting to it here. Great music though.

The Girl Who Played with Fire / Flickan som lekte med elden (ranked #8 in Part 2)
This is likely the biggest disappointment of the year, mostly because after the spectacular but harsh Swedish film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The / Män som hatar kvinnor completely blew me away. Only after the fact did I find out that this one (and part 3) were made for TV, not film, and they have not only very different tones and production values, the plots are less intricate and less engaging. The series overall is still one of the highlights of the year, but less that what it felt like it could have been.

Gunless (ranked #5 in Part 1)
This Canadian western was a lot of fun, but it was just that - a lot of *fun*. Very goofy comedy throughout was what took me by surprize and just made it not what I would have expected. I'm sure I'll enjoy it on repeat watching, but was expecting something a little less silly.

(ranked #20 in Part 1)
Another film it pains me to put here, but in truth I wanted more. It really did feel like the whimsy of Amelie in a Delicatessen, with a modern spin. I still love and will see anything by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, but this one just didn't quite hit the mark for me.

Not Quite Met Expectations, But Still Enjoyable (9 films)
A.K.A. I felt like I saw a different film than everyone else section...

Agora (no ranking as Canadian release date was TBD)
So, this is an odd one - because the film is phenomenal and I highly recommend it. It follows Hypatia (played wonderfully by Rachel Weisz), a philosopher, mathematician and non-Christian during the rise of Roman Egypt. Enter many kinds of intolerance, from religious to gender and beyond which made it really hard for me personally to watch, and I feel that intolerance is the root of so many awful things that happen. But the film is fantastic, and it's great to see such a strong female protagonist.

The A-Team (ranked #18 in Part 1)
I thought The A-Team was a lot of fun, but it was a little clunkier than I had expected, it felt a little too much set up and too little execution. I also was suprized at the nonchalant approach to very intentional violence. The cast is really great though, they made the film as fun as it possibly could be.

Centurion (no rank as no regular theatrical release)
I enjoyed this snow & sandals epic with a new feel from Neil Marshall, but I keep being suprized and dissapointed by gender crap in his films after seeing the amazingly femme-centric The Descent. Centurion was leaps and bounds above Doomsday, but I still wanted more. I did enjoy the film, especially Michael Fassbender and Liam Cunningham.

Clash of the Titans (2010) (ranked #4 in Part 1)
I did a whole Sword & Sandal Marathon in anticipation for Clash of the Titans redux, and although it had some shaky moments and a bit of a weird tone at times I still really enjoyed it.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (ranked #3 in Part 1 and #2 in Part 2)
Didn't quite have the magic of the first two films, lots of changes in the production side of things plus a focus on just 2 of the 4 Pevensie siblings. Still enjoyed it & will watch it again & again but hoped for more.

Inception (ranked #17 in Part 1 and #11 in Part 2)
I felt a bit of a loss at all the love for Inception. I get the visual stunning notations and score, but I'm a little mystified at how everyone felt it was so 'complex'. I really felt like what was going on was extremely clear, and I was almost bored and even looked at my watch several times during the film. But, if for nothing else I love that everyone is championing Tom Hardy (Bronson), and seeing him for the brilliant actor that he is.

Legion (ranked #8 in Part 1)
I keep joking that I'm in the 'Legion of 1' in favour of this film. I'm still not sure why people reacted so strongly against it. For a January horror-esque release, it was very entertaining!

A Nightmare on Elm Street (ranked #21 in Part 1)
This one actually kept me on my toes more than expected, which is why it makes the enjoyable list. I think they could have done a lot more, and not relied as much on the original, but it still was a fun horror flick.

The Wolfman (2010) (ranked #7 in Part 1)
Technically I would say that The Wolfman didn't quite meet my expectations overall, but it floored me with the art direction and cinematography which is why I'm ranking it a bit higher. Very innovated and surprizingly beautiful - 2 points for different happy surprizes!

Met Expectations (3 films)

The Crazies (ranked #10 in Part 1)
Loved the trailer for this one and quite enjoyed the film, although it was way gorier than anticipated. Joe Anderson really takes the cake here, and I'd recommend people see it just for his performance (if they can take the gore factor).

Machete (ranked #15 in Part 2)
This one really is an 'it-is-what-it-is" film. It's over the top on all cylinders, sometimes on cylinders. I'm a little surprized it even made my original list to be honest!

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (ranked #2 in Part 1)
Most people know I'm a huge Twilight fan (although New Moon was quite a disappointment), so was thrilled that I actually enjoyed Eclipse. It didn't blow me out of the water, but I did enjoy it and felt like it was a good film. So technically this would be that it didn't disappoint me, but I didn't want to make a category just for that! And for Twi-fans, I have a whole podcast about the Twilight universe.

Exceeded Expectations (4 films)

Alice in Wonderland (2010) (ranked #16 in Part 1)
Really enjoyed this one, a wonderous fantastical world and female protagonist to book (although all the marketing was very Johnny Depp-centric). Also loved Helen Bonham Carter. Loved her. Fun times.

Eat Pray Love (ranked #7 in Part 2)
I saw the film only after just recently finishing the book as a part of my 2010 Book to Film Challenge, and I loved experiencing them back-to-back because I resonated with different things in the book to different things in the film. I also think both the film and the book are a powerful statement about self-identity and self-fulfillment, and I believe that to be such an important concept that is not often expressed or addressed - especially not in film.

The Runaways (ranked #12 in Part 1)
I knew I would enjoy this biopic about the band The Runaways, but I ended up absolutely adoring it although it be fairer to say it's really about just Joan Jett (played by Kristen Stewart of Twilight) and Cherie Currie (played by Dakota Fanning), and the rest of the band isn't overly represented.

TRON: Legacy
The bias of recently could be playing a factor here, but I think the huge dive in hype recently got me questioning whether I'd be all woohoo about TRON: Legacy. Seems like all worry was for not as I really enjoyed this sequel to the 1982 TRON. And so much of the film is in the colour blue. And I LOVE films that are predominately blue.

Blew Me Away (8 films)

The Disappearance of Alice Creed (ranked #6 in Part 2)
This is a bit of a cheat as I saw the film at TIFF in 2009, but it wasn't released theatrically until 2010. It's one of those film that is a perfect storm of great concept, script and acting. I was with the characters at every moment in the film. It's a harsh one, so be aware of that, but it's a high recommend from me. I also love how people got all in on the not talking about it boat, and staying spoiler-free in their reviews. That warmed my heart.

Fish Tank (no rank as theatrical release was TBC)
This one totally blew me away. I was originally a little leery as Andrea Arnold's film felt so dark to me, but I was completely captivated by this coming-of-age film set amongst gritty UK apartment complexes. Fantastic performances by both Katie Jarvis and Michael Fassbender. It's a hands-down must-see.

Frozen (ranked #13 in Part 1)
Simple premise, brilliant execution. It's the total definition of a small horror film that could, and it not only coulds but it does. Fantastic performances, real human drama & relationships amongst the horrors of the elements. Love it. Will make my top 5 films of the year, easily.

Never Let Me Go (no rank as theatrical release was mostly TBD, but would have been top 5)
Based on the Kazuo Ishiguro novel (see book review here), which I'd highly recommend reading before seeing the film. It's hard to even say what it's about, it's one that I'd rather people just read the book or see it blind. Beautiful, haunting and heartbreaking. And a great cast including Carey Mulligan (An Education), Andrew Garfield (Boy A), Keira Knightly, Charlotte Rampling and Sally Hawkins (Happy-Go-Lucky) and is directed by Mark Romanek (One Hour Photo). See it.

Mr. Nobody (ranked #10 in Part 2)
I like to say that Mr. Nobody was my Inception of 2010. This is a film that is that blur of scifi and art house, with wild ideas and fantastical styles. Jared Leto is spectacular in it. And it made me think. A lot.

Nowhere Boy (ranked #9 in Part 2)
Another film that I anticipated to enjoy but didn't except to absolutely adore as it had such a strong emotional core to it. A John Lennon biopic starring Aaron Johnson (Kick-Ass) in the title role and also Kristin Scott Thomas and Ann-Marie Duff and directed by Sam Taylor Wood who directed the brilliant and award winning short Love You More.

The Trotsky (ranked #9 in Part 1)
Possibly the most Canadian film of the year, although if you aren't Canadian you might not pick up on that, which I think is all the more funny. Jay Baruchel stars a teen who thinks he's the reincarnation of Trotsky. Yeah, it's a world of awesome.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (ranked #1 in Part 1 & Part 2)
I almost didn't even consider that this film could exceed my expectations considering it was my most anticipated film of the year. Last year I did a countdown in anticipation for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince where I watched & reviewed the first 5 films and I re-read all the books this year in anticipation. It's fair to say this muggle is one heck of a fan. And I loved it. I loved it, especially how they honoured the friendship of Harry, Hermione and Ron. I can't wait until Part II.

This was the first year I've posted a Most Anticipated List, and after the dust has settled I'm a little struck by how it was mostly wide releases and how some of them didn't quite live up to the hype. So, I'm undecided if I should do another most anticipated list for 2011 and so many of my faves ended up being limited release gems that came our way. At least I have a few weeks to decide! Until then, here are a few that got away and a few that might end up on a 2011 list if I make one!

No Theatrical Releases (3 films)

44 Inch Chest (no theatrical Toronto release, although it's on DVD now)
Casting along has lured me in: Ray Winstone, John Hurt, Ian McShane, Tom Wilkinson, Stephen Dillane. Hesitation is it could be pretty freaking overly machismo. I still would love to see this one.

District 13: Ultimatum / Banlieue 13 - Ultimatum (no Toronto theatrical release, although it's on DVD now)
I actually got to see this one on DVD, it's a sequel to District B13 / Banlieue B13 and it was a lot of fun with more awesome parkour action

Dorian Gray (no Toronto theatrical release, although it's on DVD now)
I can't believe I still haven't seen this one yet! It's an new adaptation of the book this time starring Ben Barnes as Dorian Gray, Colin Firth as Henry and Ben Chaplin as Basil.

Until Next Time... the Release Dates Bumped List (4 films)

The Adjustment Bureau - bumped to 2011(ranked #4 in Part 2)
One of the few trailers this year that stopped me dead in my tracks, wanting to know more but not needing to know more because I knew I would see it. Stars Emily Blunt (The Wolfman (2010), The Devil Wears Prada) & Matt Damon (The Bourne Trilogy, Gerry) in a romance/sci-fi flick with a chance meeting of a politician & a ballerina lead to mysterious complications. Based on the short story by Philip K. Dick and directed by George Nolfi. (release date September 17, 2010. Bumped to March 4, 2011). Finally seen, loved and reviewed.

Beastly - bumped to 2011(ranked #11 in Part 1)
A new interpretation of Beauty and the Beast, set in New York. That was really all I needed to know. (previous release dates: Friday July 30, 2010. Revised: March 18, 2011)

Priest - Now to be released March 4, 2011 (ranked #15 in Part 1)
1 of the 2 films in 2010 where Scott Stewart is directing, Paul Bettany is starring and the film is of a fantastical / religious nature. Doesn't 2010 rock already? This one is a vampire film where a priest decides not to hunt them. Aw, we just love our vampires now don't well? Add to the awesomeness: Karl Urban (Star Trek) and Cam Gigandet (Twilight) are among the cast. (release date: Friday August 20, 2010, revised released date: Jan 14, 2011)

Warrior - bumped to 2011 (ranked #14 in Part 2)
Tom Hardy (Bronson), Joel Edgerton (The Square), MMA, troubled home life & training for a tournament. Gets better and better after each comma there. Also stars Nick Nolte & Jennifer Morrison, directed by Gavin O'Connor (Pride & Glory).
(release date September 17, 2010. Bumped to October 7, 2011)

Still No Release Date (1 film)

Hamlet - directed by Catherine Hardwick (Twilight) starring Emile Hirsch (no release date)


simoncolumb said...

Wow! FISH TANK is a great film - it sure-as-hell made my favourite films from last year. Also, ALICE CREED, again, a great film!

I love the way you broke it down by exceeded expexctations - so, EAT PRAY LOVE, rather than being a complete load of rubbish was, in fact, just a bad film... hmmm



Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

Cheeky monkey! I think folks really brushed Eat Pray Love off, and I'm not saying it's for everyone but it certainly speaks to a lot of folks.

Good to see we are in agreement on Fish Tank & Alice Creed though! Woot!!

Jamie Ridler said...

I just love that you went back and reflected on how what you anticipated panned out. So interesting! Lots of films in here I'd love to see!

Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

Creating, following up and checking in on this list has been one of the most interested processes this year - very different from what I anticipated (not only in results of the films themselves, but also in what I was focusing on and why). Fascinating.

I love looking at them as a set though, it's a wild way to look at the year.

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