Archive for December, 2010

Best films of 2010

Posted in Best of... with tags , , , , , on December 25, 2010 by Steve Mesa

The year 2010 was far from being the best year for films. However, the films of 2010 offered many things for moviegoers from a mind-bending thriller and a live-action video game movie to a tale of a ballerina chasing perfection and a story about the survival of a young man isolated in a canyon. These films and others were among the lucky ten movies to make it to my annual list for the best films of 2010.

10) True Grit

Fans of the 1969 John Wayne film might have cried foul when it was announced that Oscar-winning directors Joel and Ethan Coen (No Country for Old Men) would remake it. However, the Coen Brothers decided to adapt the Charles Portis novel, which focuses more on the character of Mattie Ross instead of Reuben “Rooster” Cogburn, a one-eyed, tough and sometimes drunk U.S. Marshal. When her father is murdered by the cowardly Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin), Mattie hires Cogburn (Oscar-winner Jeff Bridges) to find Chaney, but a Texas Ranger named LaBeouf (Matt Damon) is also determined to find Chaney and bring him back to Texas for the murder of a senator. True Grit manages to become one of the best Westerns to be made in recent years thanks to the great performances from Bridges and Steinfeld, an outstanding screenplay from the Coen Brothers and Roger Deakins’ amazing cinematography.

9) 127 Hours

Director Danny Boyle reunites with the technical crew from the Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire to tell the story of Aron Ralston (James Franco), who was trapped under a boulder in for five days and decides to resort to some extreme and desperate measures in order to survive. 127 Hours becomes a one-man showcase for Franco for the majority of the movie. He delivers an engaging performance that is likely to award with his first Oscar-nomination. Another highlight of the film is the breathtaking cinematography from Anthony Dod Mantle and Enrique Chediak that not only shows off the vast and majestic Utah desert that Aron travels to, but the claustrophobic and disillusioned perspsective from the point-of-view of Aron.

8) Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

British filmmaker Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) directed and co-wrote his third full-length feature that is an ode to comic books and video games, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. In the movie, a young Canadian slacker (Michael Cera) who falls in love with the woman of his dreams (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), but he must fight and defeat her seven evil exes that include an egotistical action star (Chris Evans), a pretentious bass player (Brandon Routh) and a sleazy record producer (Jason Schwartzman). What made the movie enjoyable was the casting of the main characters that includes Cera as Scott Pilgrim, Winstead as Ramona Flowers and newcomer Ellen Wong as Knives Chau. This film is one of the most entertaining movies of the year with the fight sequences, the great soundtrack and hilarious screenplay as Wright directs another unique film that captures the look, feel and essence of O’Malley’s comics.

7) The King’s Speech

The King’s Speech tells an uplifting and fascinating story that is set in 1930s Britain where King George VI needs to overcome the stammer in his speech, which would become quite problematic when he needs to deliver speeches. In order to overcome it, he hires an Australian speech therapist (Geoffrey Rush), who uses unorthodox techniques in order for George find his voice. In this film, the stellar cast ensemble deliver great performances from Firth and the amusing Rush to Helena Bonham Carter, who does a wonderful job as the future queen of England and Timothy Spall as Winston Churchill. While this film is likely to collect Oscar-nominations, it almost guaranteed that Colin Firth will be awarded the Best Actor Academy Award.

6) The Fighter

The Fighter could have been another ordinary boxing movie that would have been predictable and filled with Rocky clichés. However, director David O. Russell reteams with actor Mark Whalberg for thier third film together to make an entertaining and refreshing story about “Irish” Mickey Ward (Whalberg), a boxer from Massachusetts. With his crack-addicted brother (Christian Bale) who use to be a fighter and his mother (Melissa Leo) putting pressure on Mickey to keep fighting for the welfare of his family, Mickey manages to turn his life around to put himself on the path to championship glory. While Mark Whalberg, Melissa Leo and Amy Adams deliver tremendous performances, Christian Bale turns in a tremendous performance where the Academy could award Bale with the Best Supporting Actor Oscar.

5) Toy Story 3

Not a lot of “threequels” that live up to the success of their last two predecessors, but Toy Story 3 manages to do that with the return of Woody, Buzz Lightyear and some new characters added to the mix. In their new adventure, the toys find themselves in a day care center filled with unruly tots where they are imprisoned by the toys-in-charge that include a strawberry-scented teddy bear. Pixar has done it once again as their films keep getting better and better, especially with their latest masterpiece. The film is a fun ride for all ages with introductions to new characters and a great screenplay that supports the movie.

4) Kick-Ass

In a year where Iron Man 2 failed to meet expectations, Kick-Ass managed to become the best comic-book movie of the year that features unlikely and different superheroes. An ordinary New York teenager and rabid comic-book fan wears a wetsuit in order to become a vigilante by the name of Kick-Ass. While he becomes an internet phenomenon, other superheroes like Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and Hit-Girl (Chloe Moritz) are viciously taking down criminals who work for a local mob boss (Mark Strong). The main highlight is the performance of Moritz as Hit-Girl, who moves with the agility of a ninja and cause violence and mayhem to criminals. The film lived up to its name as the story, the dialogue and performances pays tribute to the comic books genre, while making it a humorous and action-packed look at superheroes set in the real world.

3) Black Swan

In four films that he has helmed, Darren Aronofsky has directed Ellen Burstyn and Mickey Rourke to Oscar nominations for Requiem for a Dream and The Wrestler. Third time might be the charm when Natalie Portman might be awarded a Best Actress Oscar for her best performance to date in Black Swan. In this psychological drama, the film is centered on a ballerina (Portman) in a New York ballet company who slowly becomes insane when he is given the dual role of the White and Black Swan in a production of Swan Lake. Not only is she stressed about her role in Swan Lake, her domineering mother (Barbara Hershey) and sexual advances made by the artistic director (Vincent Cassel) of the production, but she fears her role might be endangered by a new dancer (Mila Kunis). This beautiful but mind-blowing movie also reunites Aronofsky with his cinematographer Matthew Libatique and composer Clint Marshall.  Everything from the production design to the editing makes this film a technical masterpiece.

2) Inception

With movies such as the mystery-in-reverse Memento and The Dark Knight, writer-director Christopher Nolan has established himself as one of the premiere storytellers of his generation with his latest film, Inception. A skilled thief (Leonardo DiCaprio), who has the ability steal secrets from the dreams of others, assembles a team of specialists when is hired by an energy magnate (Ken Watanabe) to implant an idea into the subconscious of his business rival (Cillian Murphy). This mind-bending film is one of the best movies of the year as it takes you inside the world of dreams unlike any movies you have seen before. The movie features one of DiCaprio’s best performances, along with a great supporting cast that includes Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Tom Hardy. Nolan’s direction and the film’s special effects all deserve Oscar nomination as this film is a contender for next year’s Best Picture category. To better understand the concepts and ideas of the film, it is suggested to watch the movie gets a second time and it always gets better with repeat viewings.

1) The Social Network

The Social Network may seem at first like the film will only focus on the invention of Facebook, but it becomes something much more than that. The movie pinpoints the moments of the creation of Facebook when Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) initiates an idea to develop a social network in which becomes exclusive to Harvard students at first, thanks to the funding from his close friend (Andrew Garfield). When Facebook becomes popular, lawsuits and deceptions occur as different perspectives from characters are told through depositions. David Fincher’s direction, Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay and the performance from the cast makes The Social Network the best movie of the year that not only tells the story of the invention of Facebook, but a tale of friendship, betrayal, greed and jealousy.

Honorable mentions: A Prophet, Blue Valentine, Exit through the Gift Shop, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Ghost Writer,  How to Train Your Dragon, I Am Love, The Kids Are All Right, Let Me In, Please Give, The Kids Are All Right, The Secret in their Eyes, Shutter Island, The Town, Waiting for Superman, Winter’s Bone.

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Golden Globe predictions

Posted in Festival/awards with tags , , on December 7, 2010 by Steve Mesa

  The nominations for the Golden Globe awards will be announced next Tuesday, which will be the first step to the road to the Oscars. I do not think anybody takes the Golden Globe awards seriously. I would not call myself Nostradamus, but I am usually 90 percent when predicting the nominees for this and the Oscars. Just for fun, here is my prediction who will be nominated next Tuesday morning:

Best Picture-Drama

The Social Network

Black Swan

The King’s Speech

Inception

127 Hours

Best Picture-Comedy/Musical

The Kids Are All Right

Burlesque

How Do You Know

Red

Made in Dagenheim

Best Director

Christopher Nolan-Inception

Darren Aronofsky-Black Swan

David Fincher-The Social Network

Tom Hooper-The King’s Speech

The Coen Brothers-True Grit

Best Actor in a Drama

Colin Firth-The King’s Speech

Leonardo DiCaprio-Inception

James Franco-127 Hours

Jeff Bridges-True Grit

Jesse Eisenberg-The Social Network

Best Actress in a Drama

Natalie Portman-Black Swan

Nicole Kidman-Rabbit Hole

Leslie Manville-Another Year

Hailee Steinfeld-True Grit

Jennifer Lawrence-Winter’s Bone

Best Actor in a Comedy/Musical

Jake Gyllenhaal-Love and Other Drugs

John C. Reilly-Cyrus

Johnny Depp-Alice in Wonderland

Kevin Spacey-Casino Jack

Robert Downey, Jr.-Due Date

Best Actress in a Comedy/Musical

Annette Benning-The Kids Are All Right

Anne Hathaway-Love and Other Drugs

Emma Stone-Easy A

Julianne Moore-The Kids Are All Right

Sally Hawkins-Made in Dagenheim

Best Supporting Actor

Christian Bale-The Fighter

Geoffrey Rush-The King’s Speech

Andrew Garfield-The Social Network

Jeremy Renner-The Town

Michael Douglas-Wall Street 2

Best Supporting Actress

Jacki Weaver-Animal Kingdom

Amy Adams-The Fighter

Melissa Leo-The Fighter

Helena Bonham Carter-The King’s Speech

Dianne Wiest-Rabbit Hole

Best Screenplay

Inception

The Kids Are All Right

The Social Network

127 Hours

Black Swan