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Created Dec 19, 2010 01:44AM PST • Updated Aug 25, 2014 12:20AM PST

Twenty in ’10: 20 great movies from one great year.
Apologies to KFOG.

Average

  • Really Great
  •  
  • 92 Points
Title Released Trust Weighted Summary Viewable
1st The Fighter
2010 Really Great 88 Points
_100

New addition to the boxing movie canon? Absolutely, complete with elemental title, elemental story and devastating performances. A female power story as much as a male one, Melissa Leo, Christian Bale and Mark Walhberg’s maternal-fraternal triangle pegs the meter for codependency. When Amy Adams’ resolute girlfriend pokes her pretty little nose into the family unit, F-bombs rain down, hair gets pulled and the pug in the middle proves defenseless against the ones he loves. Elemental.

The fact that it’s largely a biopic of boxing champ “Irish” Micky Ward and his operatically dysfunctio…

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Added Dec 19, 2010 01:44AM PST • Updated Oct 15, 2011 01:44AM PST
2nd Unstoppable
2010 Really Great 88 Points
_100

A freight train full of toxic chemicals gets loose, threatening disaster unless two blue collar railmen can bring it under control. The result is bravura big screen entertainment, old school style: nothing supernatural, adults behaving like adults, lots of moviestar charisma.

This instant classic is action master Tony Scott’s best movie since Crimson Tide, one of his earlier collaborations with Denzel Washington. Speaking of America’s favorite moviestar, this is his best role in years. Director and leading man rode the rails last year …

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Added Dec 19, 2010 01:45AM PST • Updated Oct 15, 2011 01:44AM PST
3rd The Social Network
2010 Perfect 103 Points
_100

Old media trumps new in The Social Network, in which dirty-sexy-money fuels a splendid drama about the elitists behind Facebook’s insanely great success. Boy billionaire Mark Zuckerberg, his erstwhile Harvard cronies and business Svengali come vividly to life under the direction of sordid master David Fincher and “You can’t handle the truth” screenwriter Aaron Sorkin.

Nerdy striving has never – ever – appeared this sleek, this salacious, this savvy.

The movie publicly mortifies Zuckerberg worse than the online humiliation it depicts him inflicting on his movie girlfriend. No wonde…

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Added Dec 19, 2010 01:46AM PST • Updated Oct 15, 2011 01:44AM PST
4th Lebanon
2010 Great 83 Points
_100

The heart of a battle tank turns into a heart of darkness for four soldiers – softies – thrust into the horror of war. The obvious comparison to Das Boot captures Lebanon’s ironclad claustrophobia and blinkered view. Yet Apocalypse Now seems more fitting an antecedent given how these unwitting draftees get led into a brutal quagmire they’re constitutionally ill-equipped to handle.

Devoid of context but dripping in verisimilitude, Samuel Maoz’s anti-war movie serves as cathartic confessional for his experiences as a conscripted tank gunner in the First Lebanon war. He skillfully …

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Added Dec 19, 2010 01:47AM PST • Updated Oct 15, 2011 01:44AM PST
5th Dinner for Schmucks
2010 Great 90 Points
_100

Steve Carell channels Jerry Lewis in this very funny comedy of manners. Mean on its face, it’s also cloyingly sweet on occasion, yet its mostly unerring humor slays all objections. Indeed the LOLs are never more than a few minutes away, especially when the “idiots” get untracked.

Yes “idiots.” Dinner for Schmucks never uses “schmuck.” Not once, schmuck.

The movie is executed with such high spirits and Carell bring such panache to his oddly upbeat character, that it all seems harmless. Maybe that’s because mean comedy has been with us for a long time now, so debasement has lost …

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Added Dec 19, 2010 01:47AM PST • Updated Oct 15, 2011 01:44AM PST
6th Oceans
2010 Great 66 Points
_100

Spectacular ocean creatures jump, school, dive, and crash in new and surprisingly intimate ways in this engaging documentary. Just when you thought that decades of Discovery Channel and Jacques Cousteau have delivered every which way to bring our spectacular oceans to the screen, the images and sounds in Oceans prove that they’ve just scratched the surface.

Baby sea turtles aborning, birds diving like depth charges into writhing schools of silvery sardines, vaulting herds of dolphins: the sea life displayed in this film is simply spectacular.

Even on the modest screen of an airplan…

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Added Dec 19, 2010 01:48AM PST • Updated Oct 15, 2011 01:44AM PST
7th Ondine
2010 Great 83 Points
_100

Irish blarney deepens into affecting contemporary drama in this seemingly magical sleeper. Colin Farrell gives one of his best performances as a hard luck fisherman who nets a beautiful woman, falls for her, and then is pressed into one tough decision after another.

First he has to determine if she’s a Selkie, or Irish mermaid. Is she or isn’t she? She certainly acts like one, complete with magical song, odd language and spirit lifting manner.

Master Irish filmmaker Neil Jordan’s movie keeps its secrets until the very end, by which time its spe…

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Added Dec 19, 2010 01:49AM PST • Updated Oct 15, 2011 01:44AM PST
8th Salt
2010 Great 83 Points
_100

Angelina Jolie does everything but introduce herself as Salt, Evelyn Salt in this geopolitical ultra-action thriller. Possessing the suave savoir-faire associated with Bond, James Bond, her Salt is the kind of old-school secret agent that trades in glamour as much as grit. Put it this way: Jason Bourne and Jack Bauer aren’t nearly so cool as Evelyn Salt. Plus she’s dramatically – dramatically – better looking than they are.

Where Casino Royale got to cheekily play on tradition, Salt successfully opens fresh wounds, esta…

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Added Dec 19, 2010 01:49AM PST • Updated Oct 15, 2011 01:44AM PST
9th Inception
2010 Perfect 122 Points
_100

A bold claim yes, yet the substance bears it out. Five levels deep is four deeper than most movies, even some great ones. (Which claim? Why, the Citizen Kane one, of course.)

Worthy of the triumph? Yes, “an idea can transform the world and rewrite all the rules.”

Deep, exceptionally smart, and profoundly cinematic, Inception is nothing less than the second coming of Citizen Kane. Just as Orson Welles’ masterpiece redefined the conception of silver scre…

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Added Dec 19, 2010 01:49AM PST • Updated Oct 15, 2011 01:44AM PST
10th Restrepo
2010 Great 83 Points
_100

Into the Valley of Death rode the 2nd Platoon of Battle Company, ultimately riding back out with their dignity, humanity and honor intact, a trial by firefight that this important documentary shows in vivid detail. Well, given the ferocity of the fighting, not all rode out. Killed early on was PFC Juan Restrepo. His brothers-in-arms named their forward operating post after him. Now the movie about their mission also bears his name, a worthy honor.

Boys enlist as soldiers for many reasons, though service to country is always in the mix. Restrepo reinforces that once in battle it is…

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Added Dec 19, 2010 01:50AM PST • Updated Oct 15, 2011 01:44AM PST
11th Cyrus
2010 Very Good 88 Points
_100

Fingering two of society’s soft spots, Cyrus lampoons middle-aged singles looking for love and grown kids who’ve been emotionally indulged their entire overly-protected lives. Plus it generates plenty of LOL moments in the offing. Score.

John C. Reilly and Jonah Hill deliver great performances as rivals for Marissa Tomei’s emotional succor. The wrinkle is that Hill plays her son, with whom she has a codependent relationship.

Writer-directors Jay & Mark Duplass have crafted a contemporary classic with Cyrus, even more so because it is an exemplar of mumblecore filmmaking, more a…

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Added Dec 19, 2010 01:50AM PST • Updated Oct 15, 2011 01:44AM PST
12th Toy Story 3
2010 Perfect 92 Points
_100

Flawless. Silly, deep, wonderful and wise, TS3 pegs the perfection meter. Boing!! Purple, purple, purple. Every toy gets its due, every heart string gets plucked, every joke works. Wow, how does Pixar keep doing this? They’re the Jacksons – the Phil Jacksons – of movie making.

TS3 gives sequels a good name by reconnecting with a treasured past, naturally deepening it for the present, and then providing closure for the characters and for us. In its wake, blockbusters from Hollywood to Beverly Hills are saying to their offspring: "Why can’t you be a sequel like TS3 over there?…

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Added Dec 19, 2010 01:51AM PST • Updated Oct 15, 2011 01:44AM PST
13th Get Him to the G...
2010 Perfect 89 Points
_100

Call me crazy or daft for awarding this Perfect, but I love LOLs, especially when they’re smart, and the Greek’s got ’em out the wazoo.

Hugely funny, surprisingly dramatic, trenchantly trendy: Get Him to the Greek upholds the purple perfection of Forgetting Sarah Marshall, its prequel. Easily the best rockstar movie ever, it’s…

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Added Dec 19, 2010 01:51AM PST • Updated Oct 15, 2011 01:44AM PST
14th Iron Man 2
2010 Very Good 136 Points
_100

Another rocket ride of irony, innuendo and immolation, Iron Man 2 picks up where Iron Man 1 left off. Dutifully advancing Marvel’s narrative about a glossy world of marvelous titans, it crackles with wit, energy and sexual tension.

That said, it’s distinctly less delightful than its predecessor, albeit equally brilliant and eminently acceptable. Frequently LOL, often fascinating, occasionally even thought provoking, it suffers from a weak supporting cast, dialogue that’s more Tin Man than Iron Man when Robert Downey Jr. isn’t on screen, and a forced march of Marvel dictated exposit…

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Added Dec 19, 2010 01:51AM PST • Updated Oct 15, 2011 01:44AM PST
15th The Secret in Th...
2010 Really Great 66 Points
_100

More than your ordinary police procedural, this affecting Argentine import includes a decidedly grown-up office romance & insight into Perón’s Argentina. Veteran Law & Order director Juan José Campanella deserves his Best Foreign Language Oscar for an &1 if nothing else.1

His film’s two hour running time essentially contains two movies, each deeply distressing then richly satisfying. The first tells the story of a brutal rapist-murderer’s crime & capture; the second the story of Peronista justice, which is to say perverted justice. The passions of those affected by this crime an…

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Added Dec 19, 2010 01:52AM PST • Updated Oct 15, 2011 01:44AM PST
16th Kick-Ass
2010 Great 114 Points
_100

Convulsively funny, gleefully inappropriate and brilliantly executed, Kick-Ass exuberantly fulfills its title. A high school comedy as much as a spoof on superheroes, it deftly mines the touchstones of both genres. This alchemy creates a cult classic that’s perfect for the masses, as its huge first-week box office attests.

Kick-Ass mints two new movie stars while making savvy use of three others. Yes, it also plumbs new depths in child vulgarity. Oh well, that’s entertainment.

Speaking of classic genre touchstones, the movie self-consciously ends by setting up its sequel. Bri…

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Added Dec 19, 2010 01:52AM PST • Updated Oct 15, 2011 01:44AM PST
17th The Girl with th...
2010 Great 66 Points
_100

Hollywood must be licking its chops to remake this Swedish hit. Chockablock with career-making roles, combining fashionable anti-capitalist politics with feminist blood-lust, and striking a crisply efficient thriller tone, it suffers only from a poor title, not that that matters given how huge the book was.

GDT works as a revenge thriller a la Taken, where heinous acts by bad men redound in spectacular acts of turnabout. It also works as a classic whodunit, with an amateur sleuth compelled to solve a 40 year old murder amongst a wea…

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Added Dec 19, 2010 01:53AM PST • Updated Oct 15, 2011 01:44AM PST
18th Shutter Island
2010 Great 110 Points
_100

Mannered, overtly creepy and a bit wearying, Scorsese’s trip inside one man’s tortured mind is never less than showy-great movie making. You expected something less from the Master? Instead he gives us something more: a big twist worthy of Fight Club. Unlike that rollicking classic however, Scorsese’s nightmare doesn’t beg to be seen a second time, so gruesome are its vistas.

Nor does Shutter Island beg that you love it, just that you respect and are creeped out by it. This it easily achieves. As a nightmare come to life, wi…

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Added Dec 19, 2010 01:53AM PST • Updated Oct 15, 2011 01:44AM PST
19th True Grit
2010 Great 100 Points
_100

Darker and more realistic than the 1969 original featuring John Wayne, this 21st Century retelling of a classic Wild West retribution story succeeds in almost every respect — often funny, richly evocative, shockingly brutal, cleverly revisionist. That last comes from the clear hero – a 14 year old girl, not the flawed men she uses to bring her father’s murderer to justice.

The Coen Brothers love this sort of unconventional storytelling, especially when they can marry it to rich visuals and vivid characters.

Jeff Bridges, in yet another late-career masterclass performance,1 and y…

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Added Dec 29, 2010 10:30PM PST • Updated Oct 15, 2011 01:44AM PST
20th The King's Speech
2010 Perfect 88 Points
_100

Who knew? The Brits no doubt, but we Yanks were unaware of the stammering tribulations that the current Queen Elizabeth’s father endured, let alone that England’s fortitude in World War II required him to overcome them. Most impressively, who would have guessed that this true story would make such a brilliant and brilliantly entertaining movie. Smashing!

Tremendously engrossing, historically significant and frequently funny, The King’s Speech combines nonpareil acting from Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush with Tom Hooper’s perfect direction and David Seidler’s incisive script. The sto…

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Added Jan 09, 2011 03:17AM PST • Updated Oct 15, 2011 01:44AM PST

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