Monthly Archives: January 2011

Why The King’s Speech Could Win Best Picture (and Why it Shouldn’t)

Just when we thought we had a definite frontrunner, everything suddenly turned around. “The Social Network,” likely suffering from a case of peaking too early, has been dethroned by “The King’s Speech.”

Last night, director of “The King’s Speech” Tom Hooper took home the Directors Guild Award to add to the film’s Producer’s Guild Award. It is rare for a film to win those two awards and then not win big at the Oscars. Nothing is definite just yet, but “The King’s Speech” has certainly become a new force to be reckoned with.
Now, this might mean nothing. “Brokeback Mountain” took both the Director and Producer awards and famously lost to “Crash.” Usually though, this is a sign that “The King’s Speech” is a frontrunner.
Before I begin ranting and raving, I would like to clarify something. I in absolutely no way hated “The King’s Speech.” I thought it was a fantastic film. The directing and acting are phenomenal, the story is inspirational, and most importantly, boring subject matter (English aristocracy) was made timely and interesting. These are all factors that make “The King’s Speech” worthy of Oscar nominations. However, it doesn’t necessarily make it a winner.
The media likes to manufacture Oscar races, and this year it has become “The Social Network” vs. “The King’s Speech.” I’m going to throw “Black Swan” into this because it was my favorite movie of the year and this is my blog so I can do whatever I want.
Anyway, the main race between “The Social Network” and “The King’s Speech” represents a race that seems to happen every year: the hip, young film that represents something new and filmmaking, and the safe movie with a classic Hollywood story anyone can fall in love with. “The Social Network” is the story of young nerds turning the internet into what it is today. Meanwhile, “The King’s Speech” has everything most people associate with Oscar movies nowadays: Nazis, war, and overcoming disabilities.
I admired the ability of “The King’s Speech” to have all these elements yet not seem to be begging for awards. Yet, it still feels slightly like the Oscar movie we see every year. It has that uplifting ending about overcoming adversity. Compare that to “The Social Network,” which ended more on a loose thread than a moment of absolute clarity.
And that could be the reason it has begun to lead the pack. Not because it is simply a good choice, but a safe choice. Nobody truly hated “The King’s Speech” so who would throw a giant fit if it won? “The Social Network” was also universally loved, yet it contains some things that would probably drive an older voter crazy. The central conflict in the film is the battle of new money vs. old money; the young and ambitious vs. the old and privileged. Quite ironic, for the fact that “The King’s Speech” has much less Hollywood royalty behind it than “The Social Network” does.
When will the day come when voters get some chutzpah and vote for something they wouldn’t normally vote for? They have a few times in recent years. The best example I could think of is when “No Country for Old Men” beat “Atonement.” Even the recent “Slumdog Millionaire” which seemed like an atypical choice, ends with a poor boy overcoming poverty and finding the love of his life. Maybe the whole reason is that the typical human reaction of being afraid of what is new. Even “Citizen Kane” didn’t win Best Picture.
Or, if they want to, the Academy could be even more daring and pick “Black Swan” as Best Picture. If there’s any movie more ambiguous than “The Social Network,” it’s “Black Swan.” Who doesn’t love a good movie about a character changing? Even if it is for the worse. Maybe they could come even more out of left field and give “Toy Story 3″ the prize. Or how about “127 Hours?” When is the next time we will ever see a film about a guy trying to cut off his arm for 90 minutes?
“The King’s Speech” is a great movie that has resonated with audiences and critics alike, a rare feat these days. If it takes home the Best Picture prize, it would not be a crime against humanity (like many other past winners have been), but it just wouldn’t be very exciting. I’m sure that picking a Best Picture winner is a challenging and even painful process. One must pick a film that is representative of that year, one that is relevant today and will be relevant 20 years down the road as well. Who knows what will happen to “The King’s Speech” by then. All I know is that the movies that challenge us the most, the ones that make us ask questions, the ones that dare to try something new, are the ones that are never forgotten.

The Great Mistakes
Here are some of the worst decisions the Academy has made:
1941: How Green was My Valley (over Citizen Kane)
1964: My Fair Lady (over Dr. Strangelove)
1968: Oliver! (over un-nominated Once Upon a Time in the West, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Rosemary’s Baby)
1976: Rocky (over Taxi Driver and Network)
1979: Kramer vs. Kramer (over Apocalypse Now)
1980: Ordinary People (over Raging Bull)
1990: Dances with Wolves (over Goodfellas)
1994: Forrest Gump (over Pulp Fiction)
1996: The English Patient (over Fargo)
1998: Shakespeare in Love (over Saving Private Ryan)
2009: The Hurt Locker (over Inglourious Basterds)

Oscars ’10: The Snubs

With every set of Oscar nominations comes a set of even more ridiculous snubs. Even with another year of ten best picture nominations, there were still plenty of egregious snubs to go around.
On this day, the day the Oscar nominations are announced, I would like to recognize not those were selected, but those who strangely missed the mark. Not everyone can make the cut, but these people and films certainly deserved to:
Andrew Garfield (The Social Network)

This one seemed like a sure thing. The man who is destined to be Spider-Man broke out this year and brought the pathos to “The Social Network.” With Zuckerberg being mainly emotionally cold, Garfield made Eduardo a character impossible not to connect with. Every emotion he injects into the film, he also injects into the audience. Then when his character turns from nice to angry in the film’s dramatic climax, the transformation is so believable that it makes the already devastating conclusion even worse. “The Social Network” might’ve been about Mark Zuckerberg, but it’s hard to believe there ever would’ve been a great story without Eduardo Saverin and Garfield’s performance.

Chloe Moretz (Kick-Ass)

There should have been room for two teenage actresses who could use a weapon in this year’s Oscars. So many have praised Hailee Steinfeld, but forget the almost similar performance given by Chloe Moretz as Hit-Girl in “Kick-Ass.” She managed to act lightyears more mature than her superiors while always maintaing child-like innocence. She showed off the kind of creepy excitement a typical tween might have over Robert Pattinson while slicing off limbs and dropping the c-bomb. Fourteen-year-olds don’t typically steal the show in a film, but Moretz did enough so that it was at times hard to remember that the movie is called “Kick-Ass” and not “Hit-Girl.”

Christopher Nolan (Inception)

Seriously, what does Christopher Nolan have to do to get a Best Director nomination? Is turning a confusing, mind-f***ing idea into both a work of art and a $300 million grossing summer blockbuster not enough? How about changing the rules of physics? Or how about returning blockbusters to their original state in which they began in the 1970s? The Best Screenplay nomination for “Inception” can be disputed, but few would argue if Nolan finally got his long deserved Best Director nod.

Leonardo DiCaprio (Shutter Island)

To this day, people have trouble taking DiCaprio’s performances seriously. The common excuse is his youthful looks make it hard for him to seem mature. If anyone still argues this, they obviously haven’t watched “Shutter Island” yet. DiCaprio went from good actor with some talent to great actor with soul. He was so smoothly able to handle the massive transformation of his character without loosing the ambiguity. Then there is the way he delivers that final line, “which would be worse, to live as a monster or to die as a good man” which is delivered in a way that is so heartbreaking that it could almost produce tears. With maybe a few more films, DiCaprio can truly become Scorsese’s new De Niro.

Danny Boyle (127 Hours)

Over directing usually isn’t an admiral trait in a director. Unless of course your name is Danny Boyle. Boyle made a story about one man in one location epic enough to be engaging for its entire running time. He injects every frame of this film with so much life. Everything from a drop of water to the desert sand seem to be living, breathing, interacting characters. That’s how you make a movie about a man stuck in a hole. Boyle, like a great director, realizes this essential fact: a good film is about what it’s about; a great film is about how it’s about.

Golden Globes ’11: Predictions

Over the past year, my thinking on the Golden Globes has drastically changed. Mainly, it’s come to my attention that they really don’t matter. The HFPA (Hollywood Foreign Press Association) doesn’t vote for the Oscars. Mainly though, it’s impossible to find relevance in some of these nominations. Really, how can someone be respected who nominates “Alice in Wonderland,” “Red,” and “The Tourist” for Best Comedy/Musical? There is so much wrong with this that I don’t even want to get into it right now.

Beyond that, the Golden Globes hold an inexplicable amount of importance in society. Because of that (and for Ricky Gervais), I will give you my predictions for the Golden Globes.
Now, predicting the Globes are slightly different from most other awards. Mainly, predicting the Globes involves examining a few strange possibilities (which actor is more foreign, which actor is named Johnny Depp).
Based on this tiresome and infuriating process, these are the winners you should bank on (movie categories only):
Best Drama: The Social Network
Best Comedy/Musical: The Kids Are All Right
Best Director: David Fincher (The Social Network)
Best Actor (Drama): Colin Firth (The King’s Speech)
Best Actress (Drama): Natalie Portman (Black Swan)
Best Actor (Comedy): Johnny Depp (Alice in Wonderland)
Best Actress (Comedy): Annette Benning (The Kids Are All Right)
Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale (The Fighter)
Best Supporting Actress: Amy Adams (The Fighter)
Best Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network)
Best Animated Film: Toy Story 3
Best Foreign Film: Biutiful

Movie Review: Blue Valentine

If there ever was such an honor, “Blue Valentine” would win the award for most depressing film of 2010. This honor is not meant to put down any of the achievements of the film, but rather a heads up that this is not a film about the world’s happiest marriage.

“Blue Valentine” has two settings and two time periods: rural Pennsylvania and New York City, past and present. In present day, married couple Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams) are on the verge of a breakdown. Cindy no longer feels any affection for her husband, and Dean remains in an aloof, child-like state. The marriage between Dean and Cindy is the ultimate portrait of disappointment.
In flashbacks, the story behind Cindy and Dean’s love is revealed, as the audience slowly finds out that at one point, there really was love to be had in this marriage.
The story of a couple falling in love and becoming bored and suppressed with age is a story that has been portrayed on the silver screen over and over again. “Blue Valentine” does manage to be saved from being one big cliche. Unlike other films about broken marriages like “American Beauty,” “Blue Valentine” is as much about the joy of love as it is about the pain. Most films about marriage portray how a marriage can fall apart. Few also show how they are built.
The flashbacks in “Blue Valentine” are certainly the most effective part of the film. Not only do they build backstory, they also build emotion. The contrast between the clear, digitally shot present day and the shaky hand-held filming of the flashbacks show misery becoming clearer and clearer. The flashbacks are marked by youthful innocence, and the present day is marked by sad awareness in older age.
“Blue Valentine” would not be the same without its two outstanding lead performances. The two actors play the parts perfectly in both old age and youth. Despite his image, Gosling is not afraid to get dirty in order to play his role perfectly. Throughout the film, he looks less like Ryan Gosling and more like Nicolas Cage in “Raising Arizona.” With his scruffy looked and muffled voice, he is almost unrecognizable.
His female counterpart, Michelle Williams, gives one of the best female performances of the year. She seems to have a thing for playing alienated wives (see: “Brokeback Mountain”), yet here she does it better than she ever has. There is one scene where she pulls off a rare feat and manages to act with her eyes when the rest of her body isn’t shown. In those eyes we see so much sheltered pain getting ready to come out. In those eyes we see, there is no love for her husband to be found.
“Blue Valentine” can loosely be described as a he said-she said type of story. Here is where the film’s major problem lies: it tries to make us choose who to be sympathetic for. At first, it all seems to be the wife’s fault. Then, it suddenly all becomes the husband’s fault. In the end, it strangely doesn’t acknowledge the problems on both sides and it makes us feel inclined toward only one character. The film could have used a smoother transition, or maybe more of a reconciling.
What drove me to this film, and what might drive many more of you, is the controversy surrounding the film. “Blue Valentine” originally carried a deadly NC-17 rating. After protest, that rating was brought down to an R. The NC-17 came mainly from the sex scenes which are graphic, but not pornographic. They are used not to give the audience some unholy pleasure but rather to show the different stages and feelings of the marriage.
Perhaps its rating was also raised because the MPAA felt that younger viewers would be too disturbed by this film to want to see it anyway. What is to be afraid of? Reality? Anyone who is mature enough to want to buy a ticket for “Blue Valentine” is mature enough to view it.

Movie Review: The Prestige

Only Christopher Nolan could turn something dumb into something smart, and something smart into something artistic. There have been a lot of movies made about magicians, but none quite like this. “The Prestige” makes magic seem real, and it portrays the ways to obtain it as truly genius.

“The Prestige” follows the same vain as films such as “Sunset Boulevard” and “American Beauty” and uses a narrator who speaks from beyond the grave. Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman), an American magician, begins the film by being murdered by rival British magician Alfred Borden (Christian Bale).
From there on, the film flashes between many different points in time. All of the jealousy and obsession between the rivals is revealed to show how it all leads up to the film’s deadly conclusion. If you think I’ve given away the whole plot just because I revealed the ending, you don’t even know the half of it.
“The Prestige” is the maximum potential greatness that “Inception” could’ve been if it had a stronger screenplay. While “The Prestige” might not have had the budget or effects of “Inception,” it is an underrated gem that outshines it simply for its story.
Writing is a small factor that matters much more than most people realize. “The Prestige” has just about as many twists and complicated layers as “Inception,” yet it handles them in a much clearer way. “Inception” was like a puzzle where you were given the pieces, but had no clue what they were supposed to create. “The Prestige” is like a puzzle where you know what it wants to create, you just have to figure out how to piece it together. This is not meant to speak ill of “Inception,” simply to try and understand why “The Prestige” fell so under the radar.
Like the characters in every single one of his films, Nolan is something of an obsessive. That helps give way to his strikingly accurate image of England in the 1800s. He also obsessively strives to make magic and the world of magicians not just performance, but art. Nolan puts the magic back into magic, which was taken away intentionally by Gob Bluth in “Arrested Development” and unintentionally by “The Illusionist.”
In the world of “The Prestige,” magic doesn’t just involve a straight face; it requires the magician to be intelligent, innovative, and artful. Magic tricks should actually be magical. Although in this world, some of it could actually be real.
As for the acting, Jackman shows he is not quite as world class as some of his co-stars, but he is certainly trying his best. Bale meanwhile, is as wildly spot-on as always. Even in moments that seem genuine, he is always projecting a dark underside that is just waiting to be revealed at every moment. That is what truly makes Bale such a great actor: his unpredictability.
Nolan favorite Michael Caine also starts in “The Prestige” and for the first time in years, he plays a large, incredibly vital part of a story. While he usually plays the nice old mentor who helps the hero out, in “The Prestige,” his role is less good and much more ambiguous. None of the characters in the movie would function without him. Also, for the sake of getting my hits up on Google, I thought I’d mention that Scarlett Johansson is also in this movie.
“The Prestige” reminded me of the recent “Black Swan,” mainly in its final twist. Like “Black Swan,” it pulled off an ending that could’ve been guessed and still makes it both shocking and exciting. Even if an end twist is obvious, it can always be good as long as the filmmaker isn’t pretentious about it.
Some might call Nolan a modern day Spielberg for his ability to convert smart ideas in huge blockbusters. “The Prestige,” meanwhile, is Nolan at his most Hitchcockian. Everything about it from the perils of obsession to the way the twists and thrills are laid out would make the British master of suspense proud.
“The Prestige” takes a genre that was stretched to its end and makes it fresh and captivating again. “The Prestige” is the best kind of psychological thriller: it actually makes you use your brain to enjoy it.
If You Liked This Movie, You’ll Also Like: Black Swan, Fight Club, Inception, Memento, Moon, There Will Be Blood, Vertigo

Movie Review: Exit Through the Gift Shop

There can be a point in a certain film where it stops being a film and starts a living, breathing creature. Some call this meta. Some may think it doesn’t even deserve a name. Whatever meta may be can be the only way to ever truly describe the riveting maybe real or maybe fake documentary, “Exit Through the Gift Shop.”

“Exit Through the Gift Shop” that tells multiple stories and is, believe or not, multiple films rapped within one. The main focus of “Exit Through the Gift Shop” is on Thierry Guetta, an eccentric French-American man who is obsessed with filming everything he sees. Thierry’s annoying filmmaking begins to find a purpose once he gets sucked into the world of street art, meeting such famed street artists as Shepard Fairey.
One day, Thierry is asked to become the personal filmmaker to the most famous, most elusive modern street artist: Banksy. Banksy also directed “Exit Through the Gift Shop.” Discuss.
The interesting thing about describing “Exit Through the Gift Shop” is that it may sound like I’m describing a narrative film rather than a documentary. That’s because “Exit Through the Gift Shop” does a better job than most modern documentaries at taking its parts and constructing a coherent whole.
“Exit Through the Gift Shop” proves that Inception can be a real thing: once an idea is planted in someone’s head, it can never be eradicated. Once the idea that this movie might be a hoax comes to mind, it makes almost too much sense. “Exit Through the Gift Shop” is either the best documentary or the funniest comedy of the year, or both.
However, Guetta seems almost too strange to have ever been invented. At first, he is likably ambitious. After a little twist, he begins something more of a psycho who has absolutely no clue what he’s doing. Nevertheless, it is fascinating to see this man somehow become an extreme success in the world of street art.
Thierry Guetta may be the film’s main star, but “Exit Through the Gift Shop” is always surrounded by the idea of Banksy. After all, this is a Banksy production. Even though he is nothing more than a man in a black hoodie with a muffled voice, he still feels so real and powerful. He also proves here that he is a multi-talented artist, not just mastering the world of street art, but also the world of filmmaking.
Real or not, “Exit Through the Gift Shop” does exactly what it’s meant to do: explore the world of street art. It gives us a look at how street artists function in a way that is so close and exclusive that the viewer begins to become enveloped in the world itself. Notice the film barely uses the term “graffiti.” Instead, all the artists say “street art.” “Exit Through the Gift Shop” will make you more open minded about what art can be.
What “Exit Through the Gift Shop” is really trying to answer (besides who its own director is) is this age old question: what is art? Nearly any object in the world can be taken and turned into art. What Banksy is really asking is this: maybe it isn’t. Could we be living in a world where the idea of artistic expression has been taken too far? That seems possible, especially in a world where people like Thierry Guetta can pick up a camera or a paint brush.
“Exit Through the Gift Shop” becomes meta in that it is a film about the making of the film. It is like a behind the scenes documentary that is way more informative than the average behind the scenes documentary you’d find on Showtime. It is not really about the stars, but about the art that the stars create. What Banksy has created a behind the scenes look not about himself, but about his art. In that art, maybe the real Banksy can be found.
I could be thinking to myself right now that it is a real shame that I didn’t see “Exit Through the Gift Shop” earlier on, for its brilliance deserves a spot on my list of the ten best films of 2010. However, I find it impossible to say that. “Exit Through the Gift Shop” doesn’t even deserve to be on a list of its own. Its unique, reality-bending view on art defies the entire idea of lists.

Ten of ’10: The Best Movies of the Year

It’s that time of year again. No, it’s not time to light the menorah, open gifts from under the Christmas tree, or, do whatever people do on Kwanza. It is time to somehow take every single movie this year, compare them, and somehow rank them against each other. It may be confusing, and it may be extremely unfair, but it’s something every critic must do.
However, I see this as less of a chore and more of a privilege, as every good movie is worth talking about an infinite number of times. While I originally thought this year was not the greatest year for movies, I found I was quite mistaken when looking back. There may not have been an “Inglourious Basterds” this year, but there were many other films that followed very closely in its tracks of greatness.
Still, I had a tough time deciding what film to choose for number one this year, because there actually were many worthy contenders. There were some films that broke out of typical Hollywood cliches and created stunning pieces of entertainment. Others explored the excitement, loneliness, and selfishness brought about by the Digital Age in quirky and unique ways. 2010 was the beginning of a new decade, and therefore the potential for a new era of filmmaking. What will the predominant style be? I cannot say because if the biggest films of this year say anything, it is that ambiguity is in.
I can now safely say I’ve seen enough movies in 2010 to make my list. So here it is, the ten best films of 2010:

1. Black Swan- There are few words that could ever truly do justice to this film. But for a movie this good, it’s worth a try. “Black Swan” is the kind of psychological thriller that has been told so many times. Yet, what sets this one apart is that it actually has something new and effective to say. “Black Swan” is the greatest achievement in cinema in 2010 because it simply made up the best movie experience possible, doing so little and accomplishing so much. Darren Aronofsky’s look behind the scenes of a ballet may not be totally realistic, but it was a perfect metaphor for the artistic process. “Black Swan” also comes with the best female acting of the year. Natalie Portman’s wounding performance constantly oscillates between evil and innocent, yet never lands on just one. “Black Swan” leaves the viewer with so much to chew on with only some closure. It may be ambiguous, it may not make sense, but in the end, this film will never leave your head. It leaves you with something, and it leaves you with nothing.

2. The Social Network- What’s the best way to make a movie about Facebook not seem totally lame and self-indulgent? Hire Aaron Sorkin as a writer and put David Fincher in the director’s seat. “The Social Network” is one of the most polished films of the year. While it has been labeled as factually inaccurate by most, it still remains powerful for a generation raised on the internet. The screenplay, this year’s very best, moves at lightning speed, forcing the viewer to think quickly in order to keep up with the banter. Best of all, “The Social Network” provides one of the best characters in recent memory: Mark Zuckerberg. He spends most of the movie being a cold, stuck-up, and manipulative genius and miraculously ends the film as a haunted, semi-pathetic anti-hero. Even if it isn’t very accurate, “The Social Network” is still the most informative and relevant film of the year.
3. Inception- Now that all the hype and backlash have subsided, it’s time to once again talk about the sheer genius of “Inception.” With “Inception,” Christopher Nolan proved once again that there is a place for intelligence in mainstream cinema. Think about the scene in which the streets of Paris fold over, or the scene in which Joseph Gordon-Levitt fights the laws of gravity. “Inception” was the most thoughtful, well-crafted, and best of all, original blockbuster to come out in years. It was like a giant breath of fresh air circulating through the summer smut. Still, most people can only think about one thing: did that top fall or not? The real question should be this: if it did or didn’t fall, why would it matter?

4. 127 Hours- Is Aron Ralston a bad person because he decided to go on a dangerous nature expedition by himself, without letting anyone know where he was heading? Maybe not a bad person, but certainly one deserving of his own film. “127 Hours” may be one of the finest achievements in Danny Boyle’s career. Boyle is the rare filmmaker who can make over-directing stylish and meaningful rather than overt and excessive. The film is commanded by an extraordinary performance by James Franco, who gives the phrase “one man show” a whole new meaning. Once that final scene rolls around, if tears aren’t streaming down your face, then you might just be the one who’s a bad person.

5. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World- “Scott Pilgrim” is 2010′s misunderstood masterpiece. People were probably turned off because it looked like a corny video game, or because they now hated star Michael Cera. To truly appreciate “Scott Pilgrim,” one must throw all expectations out the window. “Scott Pilgrim” is mashup satire, covering a wide variety of topics ranging from video games, to comic books, to hipsters and Asian fangirls. It perfectly hits all of its targets, without totally hating on them. Think of the whole thing as “Mortal Kombat” meets “Kick-Ass” meets that dude at the Vampire Weekend concert.

6. Kick-Ass- There was yet another underrated graphic novel adaptation this year. “Kick-Ass” took on the superhero genre by becoming a superhero film itself. In that nature, it succeeded at being both satire and the subject it was satirizing. It’s also hilarious and marvelously shot. If there’s one thing that can’t be forgotten about it, it’s Hit-Girl. In the breakout role of the year, Chloe Moretz manages to be more mature than her superiors. She also drops a c-bomb and slices someone’s legs off. If there is one thing that truly sets “Kick-Ass” apart, it is how absurdly, delightfully over-the-top it is.

7. The Kids Are All Right- This is good, honest, comedic writing at its very finest. “The Kids Are All Right” stars Julianne Moore and Annette Benning as a married couple on the verge of a familial crisis. “The Kids Are All Right” is funny at all the right moments and in the end, surprisingly sweet and unpredictable. The real magic here though is that this is the first film to be popular with mainstream audiences that barely makes a big deal out of homosexuality. It is simply a normal part of society. Good luck even finding if the word “gay” is mentioned once throughout the entire movie.

8. Toy Story 3- Pixar almost always ends up in the top 10 list. Not because it is common courtesy, but because they actually deserve the repeated honor.”Toy Story 3″ is possibly the most emotional personal film Pixar has ever created, even topping the opening sequence of “Up.” “Toy Story 3″ is the rare sequel with an engaging and original story. Most of the jokes will be just as hilarious to adults as they are to kids. But really, nothing “Toy Story 3″ did from a filmmaking perspective overly impressed me. It is the fact that “Toy Story” first came out when I was a child, and ended when I got ready for college, just as it did for the film’s Andy. When the final credits for “Toy Story 3″ rolled, it wasn’t just the end of a great film series: it was the end of my childhood.

9. True Grit- The latest film by Joel and Ethan Coen isn’t a genre-defying mind-bender along the lines of “No Country for Old Men” and “A Serious Man.” It isn’t a flat-out masterpiece like “Fargo” or “Blood Simple.” And it isn’t even in a category of its own like “The Big Lebowski.” “True Grit” is a pure genre film, and it brings out the very best of a great genre clinging for life. It includes a few great performances, mainly Jeff Bridges in full Dude element, and Hailee Steinfeld, this year’s other great breakout performance by a teenage girl. I have always seen The Coen Brothers as directors with mysterious motives. The motive is here is no mystery though. With “True Grit,” the Coen Brothers have created their first piece of pure, mainstream entertainment.

10. MacGruber- “MacGruber” had absolutely no right to be this funny. It is based off a decently funny concept, and stars a decently funny comedian. Yet, here I am, talking about the best comedy of the year. It managed to perfectly satirize the action movie genre without constantly winking at the audience. It contains a lot of random gags (the license plate), and a lot that are just too dirty to ever be funny (those sex scenes), yet they are anyway. “MacGruber” is an example of correct execution. It contains a daring style of comedy that is unfortunately taken for granted.

Other Contenders: The Fighter, Shutter Island, Fish Tank, Cyrus, Greenberg, The King’s Speech, The Town, Hot Tub Time Machine
Still Need to See: Animal Kingdom, Blue Valentine, Exit Through the Gift Shop, How to Train Your Dragon, Rabbit Hole, Somewhere
Worst of the Year: Robin Hood