Celluloid Zombie’s Ten Best Movies of 2010

I’m making a list and checking it twice. Yep, it’s that time again, when you can look back on another year of celluloid output and try and decide which movies were your favourites. Pointless, perhaps, because to truly compile an accurate Top Ten you’d have to have seen every movie made this year. Which I obviously didn’t. I need to sleep and leave the flat from time to time, after all.

So, to give this post an accurate title, here are my Top Ten Movies of 2010 that I’ve Actually Seen. All films are considered according to UK release dates. Enjoy!

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10. The Town

Ben Affleck continues to impress from behind the camera with this, his second movie. A tale of a group of bank robbers in Boston’s Charlestown, The Town is grounded with great performances, particularly from Jeremy Renner. And while it lacks the emotional punch of Affleck’s debut, Gone Baby Gone, he still produces a gripping tale of friendship, betrayal and the desire to leave it all behind.

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9. The Last Exorcism

Slated by many on release, The Last Exorcism proved to be one of the year’s most divisive movies. Those expecting a hand-held, mockumentary version of The Exorcist were disappointed when it turned out to be something a little more complex. What really makes the movie stand out, however, are the two exceptional central performances from relative unknowns Patrick Fabian and Ashley Bell.

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8. Winter’s Bone

Hardly the most cheerful viewing, but Debra Granik’s second movie has a warm heart at the core of its bleak atmosphere. Jennifer Lawrence, onscreen for every minute of the movie, is remarkable as the 17-year-old Ree, holding her family together while searching for her drug-dealing father amid the broken lives of a small community in the Ozarks, Missouri.

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7. Four Lions

Television satirist Chris Morris turns to the big screen for his tale of a group of incredibly inept British Jihadists, planning a suicide attack on the London Marathon and bickering incessantly amongst themselves. Morris spent three years researching the project and produces a funny and cutting comedy which proves that sometimes mockery is the best response.

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6. Scott Pilgrim vs the World

Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright took on his first Hollywood gig with this adaptation of the comic books. Michael Cera is the titular ‘hero’, battling the seven Evil Exes of his new girlfriend. Wright injects the movie with the same hip energy he brought to TV show Spaced. Decide for yourself how much of the action takes place in reality or just in the fevered imagination of Pilgrim.

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5. Toy Story 3

Pixar does it again, rounding off their Toy Story saga after 15 years with this funny, bittersweet third instalment. Choosing the perfect story to end on, we see what happens to toys when their owners grow up and they are forced to retire. Features one of the year’s best villains in Lotso Huggin’ Bear and a great turn from Timothy Dalton as Mr Pricklepants. Inspired, whether you saw it in 3D or not.

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4. The Social Network

Who would have thought that a movie about the creation of Facebook could be so entertaining? I’ll never doubt David Fincher’s choices again. The director paces the story expertly, cutting between the origins of the site and the resulting legal challenges for credit, and the young cast are superb. You may want to give Mark Zuckerberg and Sean Parker a slap after seeing this.

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3. Kick-Ass

Another comic book adaptation from another British director. Matthew Vaughn brings an anarchic energy to the story of naive teenager Dave Lizewski’s adventures as a costumed vigilante. Aaron Johnson is engaging as Lizewski/Kick-Ass, but it is the father and daughter combo of Nicholas Cage’s Big Daddy and Chloë Moretz’s Hit Girl that really make this memorable. Pure genius.

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2. Inception

The Dark Knight was always going to be a tough act to follow, but Christopher Nolan couldn’t have done a better job than this imaginative, layered and visually stunning piece of cinema. Dreams within dreams, folding environments, trains rushing down main streets and another impressive performance from Leonardo DiCaprio. So, was he dreaming at the end or not?

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1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Niels Arden Oplev’s adaptation of the first book in Stieg Larsson’s Millenium trilogy is quite simply one of the best thrillers to have come along in years. Made in Sweden under the title of the book, Men Who Hate Women, the movie was renamed for international release. Noomi Rapace gives the performance of the year as the haunted, complex anti-heroine Lisbeth Salander.

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And the worst…

The Expendables

Promised much but delivered nothing. The Expendables brought together all the big names of action movies from the last 30 years and embarrassed them. And us. Two hours spent watching them play bingo in a retirement home would have been more entertaining. One of the worst screenplays in living memory, with awful dialogue, crappy action scenes and Jason bloody Statham. Unbelievably shite.

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  3. Anna

    Great list, I agree with you on most of these! (Haven’t seen The Last Exorcism yet though) I’m really amazed why Inception seems to be getting lost in the nominations now. Is it the popularity? It is seriously so good that I can’t believe that it’s not being recognised as much as it should.

    Reply
    1. Richard Post author

      It’s not unusal for genre movies to be ignored by awards. Science fiction and horror movies rarely get honours, unless it’s for special effects. I guess they just aren’t taken as seriously, which sucks.

      Thanks for reading, Anna! Good to see you here. :-)

      Reply
  4. Lesya

    Awesone site you have here! :)
    Great list. I’ve seen six of these movies, ans looking forward to watch some that I missed like The Town. Definitely, I love that you included ‘Inception’ which is my top favorite this year, and I love it even more that you gave it higher rating than to ‘The Social Network’ :) ‘Kick-Ass’ was great, too.

    Reply
    1. Richard Post author

      Hey, Lesya. Good to see you on my site. Thanks for the compliment!

      There are still some that I haven’t seen, which may have made it onto the list, like ‘Black Swan’ and ‘True Grit’, but since it’s unlikely I’ll see them before the end of the year I just went ahead and posted the list as is. :-)

      Reply
      1. Lesya

        Yes, what I’m also thinking of is that some movies I haven’t seen can enter my top 2010 films, like the two you mentioned, and maybe, ‘The King’s Speech’ and ’127 Hours’.

        Reply
  5. Castor

    Great list Richard! Glad to see Kick Ass on the list, so many people didn’t enjoy it as much as we did. I’m definitely intrigued by Four Lions, even more so now that it made your top 10.

    I’m not going to list my top movies of 2010 until I have a chance to see True Grit and a few others to close out the year.

    Reply
    1. Richard Post author

      I’ll never understand why people didn’t enjoy Kick-Ass. It would have made this list for Nic Cage’s Adam West voice, alone. ;-)

      I’m going to be pretty tied up over the Christmas period, and I doubt I’ll get to see the remaining contenders for the top spots before the year is out, so I figured I’d post it now. I can always come back later and shove True Grit in there somewhere. ;-)

      Thanks for reading, Castor! Look forward to your Top 10.

      Reply
  6. Danny King

    I still have a handful of films I want to catch up on before completing my list, but I agree with several of your choices here. Scott Pilgrim is one of the films I’ll be watching over the next week or so, and I am really looking forward to it.

    Reply
  7. Dan

    The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a surprising one. I haven’t seen enough films this year to do my own list but I thought Dragon Tattoo was merely okay. I’m looking forward to seeing what Fincher does with the story.

    Good choice with Inception…I think that would be my favourite. I enjoyed The Last Exorcism a lot too but it would have been so much better had they not botched the ending.

    Reply
    1. Richard Post author

      I kinda liked the end of The Last Exorcism. Reminded me of those old Hammer movies, like The Devil Rides Out. :-)

      I’m pretty sure Fincher will do a good job on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but I can’t see him doing a better job. I would have given it the No.1 spot just for having a scene where a tied-up man is rescued by a woman. Now, that’s refreshing. ;-)

      Reply
  8. Guy

    I can’t seem to disagree more with this list. But the biggest problem I saw was Inception, which I regarded as the worst film of 2010. I prefer films that don’t try to insult their audience by narrating the entire film, and by using barely concealed metaphors. Inception was not so convoluted or intriguing that it needed a step by step instruction manual to understand it’s pretentious plot. Shutter Island, which contained many similarities to Inception, was much better on multiple levels in my opinion. Perhaps Scorsese’s 40 years of experience (pitted against Nolan’s 10) shows how a true film is to be directed, that truly engages all audience members.

    Metaphor collapses in on itself (sometimes literally) in Inception. The only 2 films that I would have to agree for the Top 10 of 2010 is Kick Ass and Winter’s Bone (the only non-Hollywood/Disney entry on your list). I am amazed that you did not include Black Swan or The Fighter on your list, which are easily and nearly universally regarded as the best films of 2010. Art is subjective, and it is my subjective experience that leads me to disagree with you.

    Sorry if this is a little late.

    Reply
    1. Richard Post author

      Never too late, Guy. Thanks for the thoughful comments. Looks like we won’t be going out to the movies together anytime soon. ;-)

      In my defence I will say that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is hardly ‘Hollywood/Disney’ and at the time of writing I hadn’t seen Black Swan (which would have made the list) or The Fighter (which would not). Also, I would pick Inception over Shutter Island every day of the week. I thought Shutter Island was Scorsese’s worst movie for years. Predictable, sign-posted at every turn and, like The Shining, proof that even some of the great directors aren’t suited to directing horror.

      Appreciate the input, Guy. Let’s debate some more. :-)

      Reply

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