Welcome to the second part of my review of 2010 in movie-land. Find Part One here. In this installment I will unveil my top five films of 2010 plus the ten worst dismissed in three words each.
5 The King's Speech
At first glance this film seems the type of Oscar-desperate snoozefest I can't stand. Intense and wordy, packed with character actors and a main character with a disability or disfigurement. It's the type of film that the Academy voters seem unable to ignore. However, the film is a well crafted, well acted and genuinely uplifting tale of the reluctant king with a stammer overcoming his shortcomings with the help of Geoffrey Rush's unconventional speech therapist.
4 Scott Pilgrim vs the World
Edgar Wright's first 'Hollywood' movie was clever, inventive, fun and unique. As a result it bombed at the cinema on both sides of the pond (let's not forget that the execrable Clash of the Titans was the 10th highest grossing film of 2010 - we should be ashamed of ourselves). However, it's insane (if imperfect) mix of stunning visuals, clever flourishes, nerd-friendly gaming references and kick-ass fight scenes should ensure it has a lasting cult appeal. This battle of the bands fight scene between the eponymous hero and the villainous Katayanagi Twins is a work of visual genius.
3 Toy Story 3
Second best kids film for adults in 2010 or the second best grown up kids film in 2010 - I'm not sure which. Either way, Pixar carried on it's golden run with the simply wonderful Toy Story 3. The last story of Buzz, Woody et al was funny, exciting and capable of making grown men cry (or at least get a lump in their throat). While it doesn't scale the emotional heights of the gorgeous Up or reach the comedy plateau of The Incredibles it's still the type of movie Dreamworks wish they could make.
Right, it's about dreams within dreams OK? It's not as clever as some people said it was, but it was definitely more exacting on the brain than Clash of the Titans. Christopher Nolan took a break from making Christian Bale gargle gravel in a cape to encourage Leonardo DiCaprio to look suitably haunted as dream thief extraordinaire Cobb. The supporting cast were top class (including one of the final appearances by the late Pete Postlethwaite) and the special effects were spectacular. Watch this impressive gravity defying fight scene then watch the equally impressive how-they-did-that.
1 The Secret of Kells (click here for the gorgeous trailer)
I know this choice seems willfully obscure, but it is genuinely my favourite film of 2010. Technically it was originally released in 2009 but Secret of Kells got a limited cinema release in 2010 so it counts. This animated adventure tells the story of a young monk called Brendan whose life changes for ever when he meets Aiden of Iona who is creating the magical Book of Kells. Set against the constant fear of Norse invasion this beautifully drawn fairy tale does not dwell on any religious material (The Book of Kells is probably the most famous illuminated Gospel in the world) and follows Brendan as he ventures from the safe walls of the abbey. He encounters dangers but also experiences the wonder of the forest as he meets the magical sprite Aisling and battles the fearsome Crom Cruach before facing the ultimate threat as the Vikings arrive at Kells. Directed by Tomm Moore and Nora Twomey, the film is animated in an unusual manner somewhat reminiscent of the Kells illuminations. This is technically a kids film but tackles some dark moments (the Vikings in particular are faceless, blood-drenched shadows) while holding onto a sense of fun, wonder and delight at the world that sticks with you long after the film has ended. It was rightfully nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 2010 Oscars and you should definitely seek out this little-seen gem for yourself.
Turkeys of the Year in 3 Words
Knight & Day - Lots of Teeth
Jonah Hex - Josh Hates John
Salt - Angelina Try Harder
Clash of the Titans - Giant Scorpions Suck
Burlesque - Cher Looks Old
Hot Tub Time Machine - Men Get Wet
Legion - Angels Gone Bad
Sex & The City 2 - Sand and Dresses
Skyline - All About CGI
The Wolfman - Hairy Let Down