Sunday, August 22, 2010

State of the Cinema 2010

If you feel as though this year has been short on good movies and long on filler, well, you'd be right.

Two-thirds of the year has gone by, and I'd say there isn't a film per month I'd call 'quality'. Total, I would count six films so far this year as being really great work. I'm not sure if we had more or less by this time last year, but I have to assume it was better than this.

Sure, there have been some nice guilty pleasures here and there, like Kick-Ass and Hot Tub Time Machine. But good, Oscar-caliber stuff has been so light. What follows is my breakdown of the top six films of the year and how I would rank them, plus Oscar viability.

6. Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work
An unflinching, fascinating portrait of a woman who has seen defeat so many times and yet continually rises from the ashes due to her undying work ethic. A lock for Best Documentary Feature later this year barring any heavy-handed liberal projects a la The Cove or An Inconvenient Truth (both of which, being a liberal, I enjoyed).

5. The Kids are All Right
A fascinating tale of a modern family dealing with all the problems that arise from being so modern. The acting is first-rate, especially from leads Annette Bening and Julianne Moore, but the plot is a little disheveled at times, leading me to rank this lower than most. It will likely be a Best Picture nominee, as well as a Best Original Screenplay and (double) Best Actress nominee.

4. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
What an unfailingly fun film. Full of originality and innovation, there wasn't a moment in this that I didn't find completely enjoyable. The most fun I've had in a movie theater in a long time. I have to resist the urge to rank this higher simply based on how fun it was. No shot at Oscar, unfortunately, which is a sad statement about the Oscars.

3. Please Give
Another movie likely to be ignored by Oscar voters, the sheer acting prowess combined with expert writing and direction created one of the most thought-provoking, in-your-face, fascinating films of the year. Rebecca Hall, Amanda Peet, Catherine Keener and Oliver Platt all put on a master class in using well-developed characters to make them the heart of the film. Tragically unseen, this is another film it is difficult to rank down. But the next two are just too good.

2. Inception
What remains to be said? A gamebreaker, Inception is a sure thing Best Picture nominee, as well as a likely Best Director and Best Original Screenplay nominee. If there were justice, Marion Cotillard would also be a Best Supporting Actress nominee, but I wouldn't wager any money on that idea. Truly spellbinding, this is a movie that truly defined 2010.

1. Toy Story 3
It's sentimental, relies on our knowledge of previously established characters, and is a threequel. So freaking what. It is also the best film of the year so far, and I would be stunned if another film takes that title. There is nothing about this film that is not beautiful, from the animation to the script to the voicework. What a brilliant movie. A lock for the Best Animated Feature prize, and a sure bet Best Picture nominee. Maybe, in this slow year, even a Best Picture winner.

What have your favorite films this year been? Take it to the comments!

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