Thursday, December 17, 2015

Standout Films of the Decade: 2010

Recently, the American Film Institute released its annual list of what they consider to be the ten best achievements in film and television of the year. According to their website, this is “an annual celebration of outstanding achievements in the moving image arts that recognizes the year’s most culturally and artistically significant works of both film and television.” Since I’ve always been a film person over T.V., I’m obviously going to focus on the former here. The AFI’s official selection of 2015 films includes The Big Short, Bridge of Spies, Carol, Inside Out, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, Room, Spotlight, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Straight Outta Compton. For the most part, this is a pretty diverse and intriguing collection of films (about half of which make my own list in terms of those that stand out to me this year).

I generally don’t issue my selection of films until January or February (which I will hold to). But until then, since we’re almost halfway through the decade already, I thought this would be a good time to recap on films that have stood out to me each year since 2010, beginning with said year.

WRITER’S NOTE: Not every list in each respective post to follow will have the same number of films, since (for one) I didn’t see every film in theaters each year. After all, where is it written that you have to have a top-ten list? Basically, nowhere. In addition, some of my choices aren’t necessarily a means of recommendation or an endorsement for their worldviews, but they do standout in terms of their thematic arc and other related elements. Lastly, these lists are likely to be updated in time, and subject to change with time.

So, to start things off, here are my choices for 2010.

1. Toy Story 3
Third time proves the rarest charm in this third outing in the popular Pixar series of toys coming to life when owners aren't looking. With Andy off to college soon, the remaining toys question what will become of them, and accidentally get shipped to a day care center, headed by the tyrannical Lots'O Huggin' Bear. The results are an amalgamation of different genres, childhood memories, and themes of ownership, independence, death, and life. A great ensemble cast of characters in a truly universal story.

2. The King's Speech
Director Tom Hooper and screenwriter David Seidler bring to life the true story of King George VI (a worthy Oscar-winning performance by Colin Firth), whose speech impediment stood in the way of ruling England in the early 20th century. Aided by his wife (Helena Bohnam Carter) and an unconventional speech therapist (Geffory Rush), this is the true story of a man who finds his voice and the courage to lead a nation. A great film.

3. Tangled
The Walt Disney Animation Studios made a surprising comeback with the fairy tale genre, this time with the classic story of Rupunzel (voiced and sung by Mandy Moore). With a slightly modern, but still reverent, twist, this film features some truly breathtaking character and background animation (think a mending of hand-drawn and CGI), winning characters (Pascal the chameleon and Maximus the horse steal the show), and rousing emotion that results in the best Disney fairy tale adaptation since Beauty and the Beast.

4. Waking Sleeping Beauty
Extraordinary documentary on the Disney Renaissance of 1984-1994, focusing on the new management, successful comeback, and hardships endured at the Walt Disney Studios, resulting in a string of hits from The Little Mermaid to The Lion King. Consists of mainly archival footage and the avoidance of "talking heads," a worthy element that helps put the viewer in the time period. Directed by Disney veteran Don Hahn, and produced by Hahn and former Disney executive Peter Schneider.

5. Inception
Christopher Nolan's ten-years-in-the-making project about criminal masterminds who steal ideas by going into peoples' dreams. A provocative and pulse-pounding thriller with layers (and I MEAN layers) of depth, complexity, and ingenuity. Featuring a brilliant international cast, headed by Leonardo DiCaprio, and shot on 35mm film by Nolan collaborator/cinematographer Wally Pfister.

6. Winter's Bone
A bleak and gritty, yet hopeful, story of an Ozark teenage girl who fights to keep her family (two siblings and a disabled mother) together after her jailed father mysteriously disappears. A breakout performance from Jennifer Lawrence.

Next post: Standout Films of the Decade: 2011

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