Ten movies that were worth the trip to the multi-plex this year
After ranking the worst movies of the year in last week’s column, it is time for the more pleasant task of naming my favorite movies of 2010. It was a decent year for movies, not vintage, but solid, and here are my favorites in alphabetical order:
The Ghost Writer
Roman Polanski’s film is a quietly effective thriller devoted to the theme of political maneuvering during wartime. It delivers a message about men in power whose secret policies are carried out not just to protect innocent citizens, but also to keep the power-hungry politicians in power.
The Girl Who Played with Fire
The second in a trio in of films based on the globally popular and bestselling Millennium Trilogy novels by the late Swedish author Stieg Larsson, it is not as compelling as the first film (see below) but the story is still solid and the plot’s connection to Lisbeth Salander’s past certainly adds its own effective layer of intrigue.
The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo
Although released in 2009, this film didn’t make it to our area until 2010. It’s a multi-layered, intriguing mystery that encompasses investigative reporting, computer hacking, sadism, a dysfunctional family, Nazis and eventually, compassion and love. Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) is one of the most fascinating screen creations in recent memory.
How to Train Your Dragon
This film was an unexpected delight, an animated feature from DreamWorks with a terrific story, excellent vocal stars (Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera), and directed by Dean Dublois and Chris Sanders, the duo that did Lilo & Stitch. It’s an enchanting and touching family film.
Writer-director Christopher Nolan is that rare filmmaker who can straddle both dream worlds — the bombast of Hollywood tentpole-land and the invigorating and intelligent cinematic mindset of the indie film. It is a fascinating visual feast, The Matrix with heart and soul, a rollercoaster ride into layers of the subconscious mind that challenges our ability to keep up with his mind games.
The King’s Speech
Directed by Tom Hooper and written by David Seidler, the heart of this story is an extraordinary friendship between two men, one of whom happens to be the King of England (Colin Firth) with a terrible stammer. Geoffrey Rush is delightful as the unconventional speech therapist who helps him.
Director Danny Boyle has an extraordinary gift for all genres. This time it is the story of Aron Ralston, a story that has been summarized as, “Isn’t that the movie where the guy cuts his arm off?” Boyle and actor James Franco have teamed up to wring every bit of drama, fear, unbearable pain and offbeat humor out of this compelling tale of courage and recklessness.
Toy Story 3
This is another brilliant collaboration between Disney and Pixar, a terrific story featuring great characters and themes that include friendship, loneliness, sacrifice and bravery. Director Lee Unkrich and screenwriters Michael Arndt and John Lasseter (writer-director of the previous Toy Story movies), has created a film that allows us to reconnect with our childhood for a couple of hours.
This remake is a western with a Coen twist that also remembers the original with a fond tribute. The Coens have made the iconic figure of lawman Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) grittier than the John Wayne original. There is a ton of dry humor in True Grit and the Coen brothers extract every laugh out of the numerous opportunities. Hailee Steinfeld, as the 14-year-old Mattie Ross, delivers a sassy, indelible debut.
Co-written and directed by Debra Granik, Winter’s Bone is that rare modern movie that explores the crushing poverty of America’s rural regions, a Grapes of Wrath style story with a country noir twist that feels authentic, especially in the brilliant, Oscar-worthy performance of Jennifer Lawrence as a fierce teenager who has to make grown-up decisions.
(Use our search function to find Lori Hoffman's reviews of the films above)
To read more about movies and other topics covered by movie critic Lori Hoffman visit the ‘Atlantic City Central’ blog at http://blog.acweekly.com/
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