It's time once again for my incredibly dorky, incredibly pointless list of personal favorite movies for the year. Two things of note before we begin:
I can obviously only rate the movies I saw. There are several things I missed this year that I really wanted to see. And very little of what I did see really impressed me (even most of the enjoyable stuff didn't really floor me). Frankly, it was even hard to round out the second half of this list with anything I felt especially enthusiastic about...but a yearly top 10 is my tradition, so I'm doing all 10 anyway.
Also, I'm not necessarily ranking this based on what is supposedly the most finely crafted, amazing movie (though I think a few of them are). These are simply the movies I had the most fun watching, out of what I saw.
1. SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD (August 13, 2010
There is nothing I can find NOT to like about this movie. Edgar Wright has expertly used his unique touch as a director to adapt Bryan Lee O'Malley's one-of-a-kind Scott Pilgrim graphic novels for the big screen. The casting of each character is nothing less than inspired (as are the performances). The special effects and visuals are top notch. And beneath all of the silliness of a world where real life plays out much like a video game and delivery girls travel through subspace, there is a sweet story about the struggles we all face when we dare to have relationships.
2. TOY STORY 3 (June 18, 2010
This one was in very close contention for the top spot. The third installment in the adventures of Woody, Buzz and the gang turned out to be the best. It was great revisiting our old friends, and there were so many equally likable new faces introduced. The story was aggressively entertaining and often hilarious, with moments of seat-gripping suspense and, of course, those touching, near tear-jerking moments. Combine that with Pixar's predictably gorgeous animation and there were very few movies to be found this year that could possibly compare.
3. INCEPTION (July 16, 2010)
Christopher Nolan reminds us he's more than just "That Batman Guy" with this sci-fi gem that was every bit "Summer Blockbuster" fare, while remaining something a little more as well. I personally love dreams and therefore tend to enjoy stories that explore the logic of dreams and the subconscious. I thought that was handled here in an interesting and visually engaging way.
4. TANGLED (November 24, 2010)
This the best non-Pixar effort Disney has offered in ages. I found it to be very much in the spirit of some of the beloved films from their early 90's renaissance. The characters are instantly likable, and their adventure is entertaining and surprisingly funny. The animation somehow manages to evoke the look and feel of the traditionally animated Disney classics even while being computer generated. On a down note, I found the songs to be largely forgettable and thought the story would have done just fine without them...but that wasn't a big enough gripe to hurt my overall enjoyment.
5. HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON (March 26, 2010)
I was surprised with how much I liked this one! At its core it's a pretty simple story with pretty simple characters, but that doesn't stop it from being a fun ride! And those dragons! So many cool dragons! Toothless, especially, was a scene-stealer, and the flight scenes were gorgeous (and I've only ever watched it in good old fashioned 2D).
6. TRUE GRIT (December 22, 2010)
I guess this is the first true "genre" movie by the Coen brothers and in that respect it felt different, but in other respects it's definitely a Coen brothers movie. The whole film is masterfully done with some stellar performances, but perhaps my favorite part is the dialogue, which just pops all over the place.
7. BLACK SWAN (December 3, 2010)
Natalie Portman is excellent in this dark, appropriately melodramatic little thriller. Who knew ballet could be so disturbing?
8. THE AMERICAN (September 1, 2010)
This tale of an assassin's final assignment is like the love child of an action movie and an arthouse/indie movie. But it inherited most of its traits from the indie parent.
9. ALICE IN WONDERLAND (March 5, 2010)
In a lot of ways this movie just feels like a wasted opportunity. It could have been so much more than it turned out to be. But my longtime love of the original story and many of its previous adaptations perhaps predispose me to be lenient. And if nothing else at all, Helena Bonham Carter's Red Queen is worth quite a lot all by itself.
10. TRON: LEGACY (December 17, 2010)
This movie may be nothing more than eye candy, but it was very pretty eye candy. I'm giving it a spot on the list simply because I had a lot of fun watching it. Not to mention, Daft Punk's score is a good listen as well.
Well...normally this is where I do "Honorable Mentions" of a few movies I really enjoyed that didn't quite make it into the Top Ten. But as I mentioned at the beginning, this year was such a lackluster year for movies that there really isn't that much to mention here (out of what I got to see). I do feel that some of those I've missed in the past few months might give me a little more enthusiasm whenever I finally do see them, though.
Now, what were some of your favorites?