While I feel there is a bit of pretension in a 10 Best list, I think it allows critics a chance to point out those films they particularly admired. Overall, 2010 was a respectable year for cinema with many outstanding films reaching the theaters. My candidates this year are as follows:
(1) Winter’s Bone
A teenage girl’s tenacity in the face of seemingly insurmountable physical and emotional barriers makes this film by director Debra Granik the best narrative feature at Sundance 2010 and the best indie film of the year as well. The portrait painted of the impoverished Ozarks is stunning and poignant.
(2) Blue Valentine
Director Derek Cianfrance’s (“Brother Tied”) film is a heavily affected portrait of a disintegrating marriage. It is intensely portrayed by the great Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams in two time periods — young, hot and enraptured in love and somewhat older, thwarted and not in love or certainly less so. The acting in this one is pitch perfect and Gosling has never been better.
This three part, five-hour action drama from director Olivier Assayas is a stunning work of art concerning the infamous and perplexing celebrity terrorist. Photographed in a documentary style, the early years (the 1970s and 80s) of terrorism are portrayed with non-stop action
(4) City Island
Director Raymond De Felitta paints an absorbing portrait of Bronx Italians in this boisterous and warm-hearted film, which sidesteps cliché while embracing the hope and love in loony dysfunctional families everywhere. Andy Garcia who stars also produced it on a shoestring.
(5) The Social Network
Director David Fincher(Zodiac) working from a whip smart script by Aaron Sorkin(West Wing)has created a dazzling biopic of Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg(Jesse Eisenberg). Sorkin’s remarkable screenplay is based on Ben Mezrich’s “The Accidental Billionaires” and is funny as well as deeply engaging.
(6) The Kids Are All Right
Director Lisa Cholodenko borrows the title for her latest film from a classic song by The Who and makes a strong statement about love and life in the 21st Century. The story revolves around a lesbian couple named Nic and Jules(Annette Bening & Julianne Moore) and their teenage children Joni and Laser(Mia Wasikowska & Josh Hutcherson) seeking out their biological father-Paul, played pitch perfect by Mark Ruffalo.
Director Noah Baumbach’s “Greenberg” places at its center an intelligent but colossally self-deluded lead character. Newly released from a mental hospital after a breakdown, Greenberg (Ben Stiller) is house-sitting for his highly successful brother, who is off on a business vacation. The story involves the contact that develops between Greenberg and his brother’s 25-year-old assistant (Greta Gerwig), who runs the household. This original and smart film deserved a better reception at the box office.
(8) True Grit
Directors Joel and Ethan Coen’s latest adapts the 1968 novel by Charles Portis with more fidelity to the written page than the original film that won John Wayne his only Oscar The story revolves around a righteous young woman named Mattie Ross (played by unknown and wonderful Hailee Steinfeld, her plain-faced countenance ensconced in a pair of girlish braids) who hires the roughest, toughest lawman she can find to track down her father’s killer (a sly, wicked Josh Brolin).
(9) The King’s Speech
Director Tom Hooper crafts a warm, intelligent film – the best period movie of the year, that begins with the fear of a prince and ends with the courage of a king, finding room in between for terrific joy and drama. Colin Firth gives a remarkable performance as King George VI and Geoffrey Rush as his therapist is convincing and wonderful.
(10) Mesrine Killer Instinct and Public Enemy #1
Jean-François Richet directs the story of Mesrine in two parts and for over four hours. Mesrine (played ferociously by the multi-talented Vincent Cassel) was the French Dillinger: He wore disguises and hid in plain sight of the police, and no prison could hold him. But his story is more entertaining than Dillinger’s in that it played out over two decades and in three countries. It’s so vibrant that this epic is a little reminiscent of “The Godfather” movies, in that it’s packed with incidents and episodes and almost every scene has its own special tension or appeal. Released in France in 2008, it finally reached us this year and you do not want to miss it.