The Flick Chicks

Jacqueline Monahan

Top Ten of 2010

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Jacqueline Monahan’s Top Ten of 2010

2010.  The year sounds so futuristic it’s hard to believe that there aren’t hovercraft hurtling just above the streets.  While that hasn’t happened yet there are still some things that continue on, like sorting out and choosing the best films of the year.  Here are mine, chosen only from what I’ve seen.  So here we go, with apologies to Blue Valentine and The Secret in Their Eyes, etc.

1.    The Social Network
Smart snapshot of America’s youth that highlights the brilliance and the drive along with the party mentality and misjudgments.  Standout performance:  Jesse Eisenberg

2.    Mother and Child
Quiet, emotional bombshell about the complications hovering, haunting, and piercing all sides of the adoption issue and its repercussions.  Standout performance:  Naomi Watts, Annette Bening

3.    The King’s Speech
Fascinating look at royal duty and stoicism in the face of sudden abdication, impending war, and a penchant for getting tongue-tied at just the wrong moment.  An unlicensed speech therapist may be just what’s needed (what’s wanted is another matter).  Standout performance:  Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush

4.    The Kids are All Right
A brother and sister share two moms and the same sperm donor.  Will he fit into their tight-knit unit?  Welcome to the nuclear family of the 21st century.  Standout performance:  Annette Bening

5.    Rabbit Hole
Mourning the void left by a child’s death creates emotional paralysis and disconnections that alter a couple’s existence in silent, profound ways.  Standout performance:  Nicole Kidman, Dianne Wiest

6.    Winter’s Bone
Grim “slice” of life in the rural Ozarks where kin and codes of silence mesh uneasily into a necessary alliance.  Unflinching look at life outside the law, but inside a family.  Standout performance:  Jennifer Lawrence, Dale Dickey

7.    The Town
A criminal’s remorse at his heist-filled lifestyle gets snagged and complicated by elements that want him to continue and a blossoming romance that pulls at him to escape.  Standout performance:  Jeremy Renner

8.    Toy Story 3
Very little human involvement allows the toy world, in particular Andy’s old gang, to govern itself in a nursery school microcosm, making for a very satisfying play date (and instant classic).  Standout performance:  Disney-Pixar animators

9.    True Grit
Emerges from under the weight of the John Wayne original like a newborn mustang colt developing its own legs and pace.  Authentic and brutal, it spares no one and doesn’t care one bit.  Standout performance:  Hailee Steinfeld

10.    Buried
You are confined in a box with a cell phone; air is running out.  Try to get someone to believe you.  Disturbing and claustrophobic, this is filmmaking at its most visceral.  Standout performance:  Ryan Reynolds

A Note About Inception

Yes it was ambitious, with great special effects, an intelligent script, and a fascinating premise.  It just didn’t care enough about its audience to take them along for the ride, content to pinball around plot and subplot, dream and sub-dream, season and landscape – just because it could.  A show-offish peacock of a film, beautiful to behold, but a pain in the ass to maintain control over.  Could have been astonishing.

An honorable mention goes to the film Conviction, based on the true story of a sister’s fight to free her imprisoned brother, an 18-year quest which takes her from high school dropout to law degree.  Standout performance:  Hilary Swank, Juliette Lewis

The Fighter, also based on a true story about boxing brothers/rivals within a large dysfunctional family, gets an honorable mention as well.  Standout performance:  Christian Bale

Here’s a wish for 2011: may the good films keep on gracing the screen with their insight and power, their beauty and harshness and wisdom.  May the bad ones go straight to DVD.  May independent features continue to flourish and (frequently) outshine their big-budget, blockbuster counterparts.  May we all benefit from sitting in a dark room with light images that do indeed enlighten.