Thursday, 30 December 2010

The 2010 Perfect List

Okay, it's time for the end-all, be-all list for 2010 films. The Best Of 2010 list. I've done this list a few different ways since my first list in 2006, and I'm sticking to the parameters of it any regular Toronto theatrical release qualifies to be one the list (I've seen 146 of the 353 releases), but beyond that I'm doing something a bit different this year. So, this is not a list of 10 because we had more than 10 great films. This is not a ranked list because something weird happens when I try to do that for than 10 films (although I caved and I'll give you my top 5). So, what the heck is this list, if it isn't all these other things I mentioned.

It's the PERFECT list. It's the list of the films I saw this year that felt were perfect. The films where I never felt anything was off, unfinished, unclear, too clear, underdone or overdone. Everything about the film was perfect. It was not too long nor too short for the experience it needed to be. The acting was spot on, the story was compelling and complete. Beauty, vision, message, ideas and action were all exactly as they should have been.

How or why did I come up with this lists? Well, I don't rate, grade or score films when I review films because I like to align audiences to films through clear, direct recommendations ("If you like thrillers... you'll like..."). But, this year I did actual rate all the 2010 release I saw out of 10. Then while giving them a number out of 10, I realized I wanted to define in words what that number meant so it would be more definitive and less subjective number. For 10/10 I wrote "10 is perfection". That's pretty freaking definitive! It has one qualifier: perfection. So, not only are these films that enjoyed (because if I didn't enjoy it, it wasn't perfect), but I also thought they were well done, but it also meant there was was nothing 'off' and nothing I would change or want to see changed. They are also all films that not only met but often exceeded expectations, even when those expectations were high. The list is long clocking in at 37 titles, but by that clear a definition it just isn't right to omit any film that meets such high a standard.

Due to the fact that so many titles can be rather overwhelming I will give you my top 5 films, then list all 37 titles alphabetically.

Shannon the Movie Moxie's Top 5 Films of 2010
1. I Am Love
2. Frozen
3. Last Station, The
4. Wild Hunt, The
5. Grown Up Movie Star

The 37 PERFECT films from 2010
  • Animal Kingdom: Pitch perfect, beautifully understated Australian crime/coming of age film.
  • Best Worst Movie Hilarious documentary with a 'where are they now' vibe to the people involved with the 'worst movie ever' Troll 2 and the surrounding fandom. Troll 2 knowledge completely not required to enjoy this film.
  • Burlesque This film is exactly what you would expect it to be from the trailer: firey, fun-spirited and fantastic.
  • City Island Rarely has a comedy taken me in so completely. This is a real actor-centric/appreciative film that will have you laughing and crying and the amazing juxtaposition of belief and disbelief.
  • Despicable Me Absolutely delightful family flick centred on evil guru and 3 of the cutest little girls, ever.
  • Disappearance of Alice Creed, The Perfect thriller. Literally perfect. Perfect script, perfect acting from 3 of my faves: Eddie Marsan, Martin Compston & Gemma Arterton. Definitely has harsh content, but it's very much worth the journey. Don't find out anything about more about it, just see it.
  • Donation, La / The Legacy A lovely completion of Bernard Émond's humanist trilogy exploring Faith (La neuvaine), Hope (Contre toute espérance) and now Charity with La Donation. Quietly beautiful and profound with a stellar performance from Élise Guilbault.
  • Down Terrace UK family crime drama that reads equally as brilliant as a dark comedy as it does as a family crime film.
  • Eclipse, The Understated Irish supernatural drama starring Ciarán Hinds that has a lovely everyday people feel to it.
  • Fish Tank Amazing coming-of-age film set amongst gritty UK apartment complexes featuring fantastic performances by both Katie Jarvis and Michael Fassbender. It's a hands-down must-see.
  • Frozen The total definition of a small horror film that could, and it not only coulds but it does. Simple premise, brilliant execution. Fantastic performances, real human drama & relationships amongst the horrors of the elements. Loved it.
  • Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The / Män som hatar kvinnor Gains entry for if nothing else but by making me see that mystery films can be fantastic, and also for having a great double protagonist team. Slightly bittersweet entry considering the disappointment of Part 2 (Girl Who Played with Fire, The / Flickan som lekte med elden) and Part 3 (Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, The / Luftslottet som sprängdes) of the trilogy, but still makes the list as Dragon Tattoo can been seen as a stand-alone film experience.
  • Good, the Bad, the Weird, The I finally got to see this South Korean western after 2 years of waiting, and it was just as good as everyone said.
  • Grown Up Movie Star Lovely East Coast Canadian coming of age film. I have to say it's so exciting to see so many great coming of age films this year telling girls stories from women directors, where the stories ring so true.
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 I almost didn't even consider that this film could exceed my expectations considering it was my most anticipated film of the year, but I loved it, especially how they honoured the friendship of Harry, Hermione & Ron and are not rushing the story. I can't wait until Part II.
  • How to Train Your Dragon Charming, positive, open-hearted and ... dragons.
  • I Am Love This Italian drama starring Tilda Swinton is my#1 of the year for being an absolutely, truly beautiful film about love. Gets me verklempt just thinking about it.
  • J'ai tué ma mère / I Killed My Mother Xavier Dolan's coming of age directorial debut is just as impressive as everyone said.
  • Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work What an amazing documentary. Joan Rivers is an inspiration. Fearless, workaholic and hilarious woman.
  • King's Speech, The Primed for being a big awards film this year, and thankfully completely deserving!
  • Last Exorcism, The Plays like a faux doc yet wins you over with human drama. Brilliant.
  • Last Station, The This Tolstoy biopic blindsided me on being actual about the beauty & power of love. Great performances from Helen Mirren, James McAvoy and Christopher Plummer.
  • Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole Still fresh on my mind from seeing it this week, I loved the emphasis on the power of story, belief and the animation is gorgeous to boot.
  • Losers, The Easily my most re-watched film of the year with a fun-spirit, great ensemble cast and the fact that these losers are really heroes.
  • Love at the Twilight Motel Powerful documentary exploring centred on the lives of people who frequent by the hour motels in Miami.
  • Mao's Last Dancer Sensitive and emotional biopic on ballet dancer Li Cunxin, following his live from a very early age training in China through to travelling in the States in the early 80's.
  • Misfortunates, The / De helaasheid der dingen Flemish mullets, inappropriate language and extreme drinking and just the tip of the iceberg of this Belgian beauty centred on finding the heart in the harshness of family drama.
  • Mr. Nobody I call Mr. Nobody my Inception from 2010, a smart science fiction film that asks a lot of questions, and has a lot of heart.
  • My Dear Enemy / Meotjin haruLovely unconventional South Korean road movie following two exes and collecting an old debt.
  • Never Let Me Go I only believed in my wildest dreams that the adaptation of the Kazuo Ishiguro novel could actually work. But it does. This one I highly recommend reading the book first - a book which I'd widely and highly recommend, as I do with the film.
  • Nowhere Boy This early days John Lennon biopic starring Aaron Johnson knocked it out of the park.
  • Prophet, A Fascinating yet harsh crime drama following that aptly portrays power dynamics, resilience, organized crime and drive.
  • Square, The This thriller is yet another entry in the awesome Australian films of the year.
  • Trigger Great dual protagonist film as two women of rock catch up after many years of a strained but true friendship with the back drop of Toronto and a unique shared history.
  • Trotsky, The Quintessentially Canadian film with Jay Baruchel portraying a Montreal high school student who is convinced he is the re-incarnation of Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky.
  • Unstoppable One of the happy surprizes of the year was the fun, high octane runaway train ride with Chris Pine and Denzel Washington.
  • Wild Hunt, The When role playing and the real world collide we see the beauty in vulnerability, the brutality of restrain and above all else extremely powerful storytelling.

Trends I've noticed from the list are really embracing the love of great storytelling and the power of story, films about love, coming of age films and biopics. Thrilled at the high proportion of Canadian film, we really had a great run this year and also happy to see we are getting more and more great Australian film.

While the list is mostly limited releases over wide, I'm sure the wide release on my list are very different that other lists kicking around. I did see Black Swan, Inception and The Social Network, but none of them met the perfect criteria, although Inception was the closest. There are a few I've not yet seen (The Tempest, The Fighter, Rabbit Hole & 127 Hours), but it's a lot fewer that I've missed than previous years. I feel like I had a very different year in terms of film experiences from many of my friends & colleague, but I loved 2010 and think that any way you slice it, it's been a great year for film.

And a Few, Not-So-Perfect
I also had a few not so perfect film moments this year. Three films I went to theatrically had major problems with them. The White Ribbon stopped twice, The Man From Nowhere has subtitles that were unreadable if there were 2 lines of text and Resident Evil: Afterlife stopped 15 minutes shy of the ending. I also missed the end of The Other Guys as I watched it on the plane home from San Francisco but ran out of time. Because of all those oddities, none of those films I felt like I could review, which is too bad as I did quite enjoy each of them in very different ways.

Favourite Films Seen in 2010 that Weren't Quite 2010 Films:
Finally got to see The Fall and adored it, the campy goodness of Canadian vampire film Suck, the awesomeness of Michael Jai White in Blood & Bone, the sweet spirited Bandslam and Australian drama Somersault. Also enjoyed 101 viewings of Boondock Saints, Rebecca (1940) and Godzilla. DVD releases that wowed me include action flick Hunt to Kill, espionage drama Espion(s) / Spy(ies) and dark comedy Perrier’s Bounty. Festival films that are yet to be release that blew me away include Ip Man 2, Heartless, Strella: A Woman's Way and documentaries Freetime Machos, This Way of Life, Steam of Life / Miesten vuoro, Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls and Regretters.

Those were my perfect films of the year. What made your list?


Suzie Ridler said...

I really want to see The King's Speech now that I know it made your picks of the year! I may even peak at Girl With the Dragon Tattoo on TMN and see if I can handle it. Totally agree with The Last Exorcism and glad to see Suck made an honourable mention! This list is very helpful Shannon, thank you, well done!

Jamie Ridler said...

I love this list, Shannon. At first I thought, wow, perfect, tall order! But then as I looked at your list I could totally see what you were getting at. Some of these I've seen and loved and others are now officially on my "see this" list! Thanks for sharing perfect!

Tom Clift said...

Way to make me feel inadequate - I've only seen ONE of your Top Five (The Last Station, which was really great).

Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

I bet you'd like The King's Speech Suzie & I think TMN would be a good way to get the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo waters (especially if you can FF). I'm glad the list is helpful!

I'm glad the list is adding to your 'see this' list Jamie! It's been a great year for film - and many of these we saw together!

Awww, so sorry Tom! To be fair, 2 of the 3 only received limited releases and are Canadian (Grown Up Movie Star & The Wild Hunt) but both are now on DVD! I'm glad you enjoyed the Last Station and I'll have to see what ends up on your list!

Brent C. said...

I like your list very much. I have not seen all the films on your list, but my top five are:
1. The American (Criminally maligned in my opinion)
2. Madeo (Mother)
3. Greenberg
4. Winter's Bone
5. Black Swan

And I guess we will have to agree to disagree about "The White Ribbon". I think it is a near masterpiece if not a true masterpiece.

Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

Hey Brent! I've been hearing a lot of good buzz on The American recently with the UK release and DVD release - I think it was in part not the best release date (near TIFF for Toronto folk), but I loved Control so I'm curious about it now. I still have to see Greenberg, but totally love that Mother is one your list - very dark, very good film.

re: The White Ribbon, I agree it's amazing, and it may have ended up on the perfect list but with multiple issues at the screening I was at I don't think I can fairly judge it due to the interrupted, and incomplete viewing. I'm glad to see it persisting on lists from last year and this year though - that's staying power!

Brent C. said...

Yeah, "The American" got dumped on the first weekend in September here in the U.S., which means the studio does not have much faith in it. It didn't tank, but audiences hated it for the most part and it got mixed reviews from critics. The trailers did it no justice either.

As for "The White Ribbon", I luckily got to see it in theaters early this year (it was released Dec. 30th last year in the U.S.) and I have the Blu-Ray now.

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