Best and Worst of 2010 So Far – Movies and Performances

I always find it more appropriate to dish out halfway through the year awards in August rather than July for a few reasons. Mainly because January and parts of February rarely have anything to contribute in the realm of quality cinema so the year doesn’t really get started until March. There is also the fact that the months from September to December are usually overflowing with quality films so it is appropriate to allow for some July blockbusters and indies to be considered somewhere.

As is the case every year, I have not seen nearly as many films in 2010 as I wish I had. When 2-3 movies are released every weekend that I want to see I find myself getting behind relatively quickly. However, I am proud of the variety of films that I have seen. I’ve made it out to the art houses to see smaller, independent movies more this year than in the past and as a result my halfway through the year list is more fair and balanced than it could be. So without further ado, here are my picks for the Best (and Worst) of the first part of 2010:

Best Film

1) The Kids Are All Right

Even when all the fall and winter movies have been released I still think that people will be talking about the performances in Lisa Cholodenko’s The Kids Are All Right. I wrote in my review that it was sort of the anti-mainstream comedy in that it doesn’t dumb itself down for the audience. I would not be surprised at all if the film scores Oscar nominations in 3 of the 4 acting categories and takes home a trophy or two. [My Full Review]

2) Toy Story 3

For the fourth year in a row a Pixar film will be competing for a top spot in my end of the year awards. One of their films has been in my top 5 in the past 3 years and unless the second half of the year shows some great stuff, it looks like Toy Story 3 could make it 4 in a row. It ranks as one of the funniest films of the year and a great nostalgia trip for fans of the series and anybody who had that special toy growing up. [My Full Review]

3) Winter’s Bone

A new kind of heroine is created in this gritty, neo-realistic film noir from Debra Granik. Jennifer Lawrence is fantastic as the hardened Dee who acts as a new kind of Philip Marlowe lost in the Ozarks. John Hughes is also fantastic as the unpredictable drug-dealer Teardrop who enters each scene with the same likelihood of killing as saving. Despite the Deus ex machina finale, Winter’s Bone is one of the best suspense movies of the year. [My Full Review]

4) Inception

Christopher Nolan provides the viewer with one of the greatest visceral experiences of the year with Inception. The film’s brilliant story structure will keep the viewer guessing even into the second viewing as Cobb and his team go on one of the most unique cinematic adventures. Inception is head and shoulders above what we normally see during the summer movie season and we have Nolan to thank for that. [My Full Review]

5) Ondine

Colin Farrell seems most at home in a film set in his home country and his performance is one of the finest of the year. Neil Jordan’s fantastical story is filled with moments of true beauty including shots of the solemn Irish countryside and a layered father-daughter relationship that will break your heart. [My Full Review]

Honorable Mention: Robin Hood

Best Performance by an Actor

1) Colin Farrell – Ondine

Despite his recent attempts to be an action hero, Colin Farrell is much more suited to the soft, dramatic characters like Syracuse in Ondine. His struggle to regroup his life after a rough divorce and overcoming his drinking problem are amplified by the strange woman that appears in his life, and Farrell perfectly emotes the anguish and inner-goodness of a simple Irish sailor.

2) Mark Ruffalo – The Kids Are All Right

I don’t think I’ve ever seen Mark Ruffalo in better form than as the sperm-donor father in The Kids Are All Right. He has the right level of smug and caring in a way that’s completely likable from the moment he enters the screen. His character gets sort of forgotten in the film’s final act and any other actor might have caused the audience to write him off as a bad guy, but Ruffalo makes the character so warm and likable that he stays present up to the end.

3) Michael Douglas – Solitary Man

If there is any character that should have been absolutely detestable on screen it is Ben Kalmen from Solitary Man. While his life spirals downwards, Kalmen continues to make bad decisions in a way that makes him seem pitiable. However, Michael Douglas portrays the character with such conviction that pity and dislike are never feelings that crop up.

Honorable Mention: Leonardo DiCaprio – Shutter Island

Best Performance by an Actress

1) Annette Bening – The Kids Are All Right

Lisa Cholodenko’s film has somewhat of a monopoly on the performances of the year, with good reason. No person shines in that film brighter than Annette Bening whose character is having everything she has worked to build taken away from her by the appearance of the biological father. Bening is, for lack of a better term, emasculated by Ruffalo’s appearance on screen and her neurotic attempts to regain control are presented with pitch-perfect effectiveness.

2) Julianne Moore – The Kids Are All Right

Julianne Moore brilliantly contrasts the controlling Bening with her immature, dreamer side of the couple. There is a childlike quality to Moore’s performance as her character still seems to be searching for herself while in her 40s. Moore also has some of the best comic timing and her interactions with Ruffalo make for some of the funniest moments of the year.

3) Jennifer Lawrence – Winter’s Bone

Jennifer Lawrence is this year’s Gabourey Sidibe in that she is a newcomer who puts forth an emotionally suppressed performance to create a new type of screen heroine. Lawrence’s character is constantly searching for a method to escape her circumstances, but she is weighed down with a sense of duty to her siblings. Without fully knowing her past it is apparent that Lawrence has been lied to and cheated as she doesn’t trust even the kindest strangers.

Honorable Mention: Mia Wasikowska – The Kids Are All Right

Worst Film

1) Jonah Hex

2) Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore

3) The Wolfman

Honorable Mention: Valentine’s Day

Share your top 5s in the comments!

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  • raguabros

    Best films so far this year for me would be

    1. Inception
    2. Contracorriente (Undertow) (Colombian/Peruvian film)
    3. Celda 211 (Cell 211) (Spanish film)
    4. Kick Ass

    The rest of the films were just ok, and if i had to nominate for Best Picture, i would only do so so far with Inception and Contracorriente.

    I find Toy Story to be incredibly overrated and Shutter Island was good but not great (i prefered Salt over the two of them). Haven’t seen Kids nor Winter’s nor Colin Farrell’s film, though. I hope the rest of 2010 delivers, 2009 was better.

  • Oh and my favorite performance of the year is without a doubt Cillian Murphy in Inception.

  • Quinn

    I haven’t seen nearly as many movies I wish I had (only eleven), but here are mine:

    1. “Toy Story 3” A
    2. “Inception” A
    3. “Shutter Island” A-
    4. “Despicable Me” B+
    5.”Alice in Wonderland” B-
    Honorable Mention: “Knight and Day” B-

    1. Leonardo DiCaprio, “Inception”
    2. Leonardo DiCaprio, “Shutter Island”
    3. Johnny Depp, “Alice in Wonderland”
    Honorable Mention: Cillian Murphy, “Inception”

    1. Marion Cotillard, “Inception”
    2. Ellen Page, “Inception”
    3. Patricia Clarkson, “Shutter Island”
    Honorable Mention: Michelle Williams, “Shutter Island”

    1. “Tooth Fairy”
    2. “Spy Next Door”
    3. “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief”

  • Quinn

    Oops I I’ve only seen mean nine, not eleven.

  • I’ve seen exactly four movies so far this year (I’m fairly selective in addition to not living near any art-houses), and I’ve liked all of them.

    Best Film: “Inception”
    Best Male Lead: DiCaprio in “Inception”
    Best Female Lead: Annette Bening in “The Kids Are All Right”
    Best Male Supporting: Mark Ruffalo in “The Kids Are All Right”
    Best Female Supporting: Mia Wasikowska in “The Kids Are All Right”

    I have a feeling those last three performances may well wind up on top at the end of the year (particularly Wasikowska).

  • 2010 movies I’ve seen: (some are 2009 but premiered here in 2010)


    Celda 211 (Cell 211)
    Contracorriente (Undertow)

    Kick Ass
    Millennium 1 – The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

    Shutter Island
    Toy Story 3
    The Karate Kid
    The A Team <3
    Shrek Forever After

    Despicable Me
    Date Night
    The Backup Plan
    Valentine's Day
    Clash of the Titans
    The Human Centipede

    Alice in Wonderland
    Prince of Persia: Sands of Time
    A Nightmare on Elm Street

  • The best acting in those films has been delivered by:
    – Cillian Murphy (Inception)
    – Tatiana Astengo (Contracorriente)
    – Ellen Page (Inception)
    – Tom Hardy (Inception)
    – Leonardo DiCaprio (Shutter Island)
    – Luis Zahera (Celda 211)

  • Jose

    1). Toy Story 3
    2) Lost: The End (Series Finale) It’s a tv special, I know, but it’s cinematical and better than most of the movies I’ve seen this year.
    3) Inception
    4) Kick-Ass
    5)How To Train Your Dragon

    Best Ensemble: “The Kids aRe All Right”
    Best Actor:Tom Hanks, Toy Story 3
    Best Actress: Julianne Moore, The Kids Are All Right

  • Your choice of Hanks makes me wonder if we’ll ever see a voice acting performance get nominated for an Oscar. Several have deserved it (Ellen DeGeneres in “Nemo” and Holly Hunter in “The Incredibles”) to name a few. I doubt it, though. I would think that voice acting might be even harder than regular acting, frankly.

  • BEST
    2- Kick-Ass
    3- Winter’s Bone
    4- Toy Story 3
    5- Cyrus
    HONORABLE MENTION: How to Train Your Dragon, Greenberg, The Kids Are All Right, I Love You Phillip Morris

    1- Mark Ruffalo (The Kids are All Right)
    2- John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone)
    3- Jonah Hill (Cyrus) (just because I was soo impressed)

    1- Anette Bening (The Kids Are All Right)
    2- Noomi Rapace (Millenium Trilogy)
    3- Julianne Moore (The Kids Are All Right)

    1- Vampire’s Suck (makes Jonah Hex look like The Godfather)
    2- Alice in Wonderland
    3-Jonah Hex
    4- Cop Out
    5- Date Night

    HONORABLE MENTION: Valentine’s Day, Iron Man 2, Clash of the Titans

  • Jose

    Mathew, you’ve already seen “I Love You Phillip Morris”?!?

  • I started watching Phillip Morris but couldn’t finish it due to some other issues i had to deal with, gotta watch it complete one of these days.

  • Brandon Cooley

    @G1000 The voice performance that I would have nominated is Andy Serkis as Gollum in The Two Towers. That performance often gets overlooked.

  • Yes. You’re right.

    So does the movie, by the way. It’s my favorite of the trilogy.

  • Davin

    The order of these films is certainly up for improvement with future viewings.

    5. Greenberg
    4. Toy Story 3
    3. Inception
    2. Winter’s Bone
    1. The Ghost Writer

    Has nobody else seen Polanski’s film? It’s awesome! I hate to admit it but The Kids are All Right did very little for me, it was entertaining but not top five for me, I guess I’m alone on that one.

  • Jose

    I’ve also seen “The Ghost Writer” and it did to me what “The Kids are All Right” did to you, sorry.

  • I did not see Ghost Writer, it premieres here in Colombia next week.

  • Vince

    I agree with Ghost Writer as the best of the year so far as well

  • Andrew R.

    8 Movies Worth Watching:

    Dogtooth-OK, maybe this one is not for everyone. It isn’t enjoyable in any way, but it’s very very interesting. If you’re open minded, watch it.

    Fish Tank-Some consider this a 2009 film, but whatever. Katie Jarvis is brilliant as the lead, and the rest of the cast is fascinating.

    Girl with the Dragon Tattoo-This Swedish thriller pulls you in and does not let go.

    Inception-Christopher Nolan has done it again. At turns dreamlike and nightmarish.

    Kids Are All Right-Very very funny. The acting is great, but what’d you expect from a Bening/Moore film?

    Micmacs-Amelie’s director makes yet another fun film with this funny satire of the arms trade.

    Toy Story 3-The only truly great piece of animation thus far. I will miss these toys.

    Winter’s Bone-Bleak and creepy. The acting is first class.

    I’ve also got high hopes for Scott Pilgrim vs the World.

  • Quinn

    I just found out “The Kids Are Alright” is playing my local theater! I’m so excited!

  • Patrick

    Top 5 Movies
    1. Inception
    2. Toy Story
    3. Shutter Island
    4. Cyrus (really happy someone else mentioned this)
    5. The Kids Are Alright

    Best Director:
    Christopher Nolan, Inception

    Best Actor:
    Michael Douglas, A Solitary Man

    Best Actress:
    Julianne Moore, The Kids Are All Right

    Best Supporting Actor:
    Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right/Shutter Island

    Best Supporting Actress:
    Marion Cotillard, Inception

  • Patrick

    Also, the HBO movie “You Don’t Know Jack” should win every possible award it can. That movie was incredible and Pacino was incredible.

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