As movies have gently taken over the majority of this blog in 2010 I have decided to eschew my customary wider-ranging annual review with a look at the ten (ish) best and ten worst movies released this year.
12 (I did say ten-ish) Centurion
Neil Marshall took a break from films set in caves or films where Sean Pertwee suffers an agonising death to tell the story of the fate of the Ninth Legion. While by no means perfect, Centurion has a good cast, impressive visuals and Marshall's customary willingness to put his characters through painful and gory demises.
Or the heartwarming tale of two impossibly attractive scientists who splice human and animal DNA to create a curiously androgynous MONSTER called Dren. Directed by Vincenzo Natali who gave us the first Cube movie, Splice is a thinly veiled updating of the Frankenstein myth. However, this fairly disturbing (as the film nears its conclusion there are two unpleasant and unnerving sequences involving Dren and her 'parents') and stylish sci-fi horror effectively taps into very basic human fears. What happens when our children grow up (and turn into MONSTERS) and what are those pesky scientists REALLY up to.
10 Edge of Darkness
Lets not tiptoe around the elephant in the room. Mel Gibson is a massive arse; a sexist, racist, violent arse. However, removing the arse-elephant from the room, the best thing about this rather formulaic conspiracy/revenge story is a storming central performance from Mel Gibson. Director Martin Campbell does this type of film well and the supporting cast, particularly Ray Winstone and Danny Huston do some sterling work. But it really is Gibson's film, a reminder of why he's famous in the first place.
9 Shutter Island
Leonardo DiCaprio stars in the first of his two labyrinthine explorations of the human psyche released in 2010. While Inception took the science fiction route, Shutter Island is a psychological horror as Leo descends into the madness of a high security mental asylum. Scorsese really goes to town with the visual flourishes and the supporting cast was probably the best of any film released this year.
It's not really about the GIANT OCTOPUS ALIENS. Its a road movie/romance thing - with GIANT OCTOPUS ALIENS. Read my review of Monsters on the excellent Screen 150 website
7 Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale
The best Christmas film of the last 5 years is a full-length prequel to director Jalmari Helander's superb short films Rare Exports Inc and Rare Exports: The Official Safety Instructions. They explore the Finnish myth of a Santa more likely to eat small children than give them presents. The shorts are definitely not for children full-stop and A Christmas Tale is certainly not suitable for young children or people who expect their Christmas films to be twee, syrupy nonsense. However, this darkly funny grown-up fairy tale is a proper festive treat - read my review on Screen 150.
6 Kick Ass
Written by Jonathan Ross' wife and the producer of Mean Machine (Vinnie Jones' prison soccer film) and Swept Away (starring Madonna - candidate for worst movie ever made), Kick Ass struggled to get studio backing. However, Matthew Vaughn wisely refused to tone down the violence of the comic book on which the film is based and financed it himself. What he delivered is a gloriously foul-mouthed and violent take on the superhero story. The fight scenes were brilliant, the villain (the ever-excellent Mark Strong) was properly villainous, Nicholas Cage wasn't rubbish and the Daily Mail were incensed.
Tune in for Part 2 where I will reveal my top five plus the ten worst films of 2010 will be dispatched in 3 withering words each.