My favourite movies of 2010, most of them received a cinema release in the UK during 2010 but one or two didn't, its my list so I can bend the rules!
10. Rec 2
Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza's sequel carries on directly from the end of the first Rec. Expanding on the original concept and taking it in new directions while still piling on the scares and action, this was the most exciting film of the year, and all in a tight 85 minutes.
I have blogged about this already, A tribute to the giallo genre, but not a giallo, this feels like an experiment, as it does not have a traditional narrative and as such will not appeal to everyone, however this film engaged my senses in a way that nothing else could get near.
08. The Man from nowhere
Lee Jeong-Beom's Korean blockbuster is a hard boiled, pulpy, brutal action revenge thriller, the type of film that South Korea produces quite frequently, the thing that makes this one different is the feeling of real emotion amongst the melodrama and ultraviolence. It looks awesome, is blackly comic and has some great bad guys.
07. Batman: Under the red hood
A DC animated production, this is the best of all the animated Batman movies, covering the comic storylines A death in the family and Under the hood. A fast paced, exciting and moving exploration of the guilt Bruce Wayne feels, this is quite heavy stuff for a DC universe animated film and all the better for it. It has some great voice work and the animation is excellent, highly recommended.
06. Kick Ass
Matthew Vaughn's genre changing comic book adaptation Kick Ass was one of the most purely entertaining movies of the year, a whirlwind of action and comedy, that has flaws, but flaws you don't really care about as you are having such a good time, perhaps most impressively of all it makes changes from the comic book that actually improve the storyline. Great performances from just about everyone involved but a special mention has to go to Nic Cage, who seems to be back from his wilderness years, after this and Bad Lieutenant, maybe he can be forgiven for The Wicker man?
05. The American
Again I have previously blogged about this film, so I will just say ignore the bad mouthing the movie received, yes it is slow but that is a positive in this case and Clooney is fantastic in it.
04. Dream home
Pang Ho-Cheung's Dream home is a very funny, very gory satire of Hong Kong life, specifically the ridiculous property market but also touching on other pressures of living in Hong Kong. Mostly though it is all about the blood and gore, making it a film definitely not for the squeamish. It is unusual for a film maker like Pang to make a film that is essentially a slasher movie and he and the audience have tremendous fun with it. Many people who have commented on Dream home have had issues with the flashback structure of the film, I really loved it though and fail to see how it could have worked in anything like chronological order. Josie Ho puts in a fantastic performance as the woman who reaches and goes beyond breaking point, it also has two of my favourite posters of the year.
Johnnie To's Vengeance (technically a 2009 film but not released in the UK until 2010 and criminally only on dvd and blu ray) is the most under rated film of his career. Met with critical indifference from critics and fans alike, with comments suggesting it is Johnnie To lite. I disagree entirely and would suggest that this is one of To's most sombre movies, having an almost supernatural feeling of impending doom, this being most prevalent during the night time shoot out in the park. Vengeance still has amusing moments though amidst all the darkness and is never less than thoroughly enjoyable. The other major criticism of the movie is the broken English spoken between the characters but when you have a Frenchman who does not speak Cantonese and Cantonese speakers who do not speak French it makes sense for them to communicate in (broken) English. Hallyday is good as the French hitman turned chef and To's regulars are all on top form as usual. Maybe Vengeance will be re-evaluated in years to come, it deserves to be.
02. Scott Pilgrim vs. the world
Edgar Wright's film version of Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim graphic novel series, this was without a doubt the best time I had in a cinema throughout the whole year. It is very much a love it or hate it movie and its easy to see why, it is unlike any other film I can think of in style or story, it has a very specific demographic to aim at and the trailers and marketing for the film failed completely to connect with anyone who did not already know what Scott Pilgrim was. What Edgar Wright achieved with Scott Pilgrim is nothing short of astounding, packing in more imagination, excitement and fun into less than two hours than all the rest of this summers comedies combined. The pace of storytelling, information and editing is relentless making it a tiring film to watch but one that is very rewarding. It is not perfect however, either as a film in its own right or as an adaptation of the books but how on earth could 1200 pages of comic be crammed into a less than two hour movie? As a huge fan of the books though I would have liked a little more character time for the girls, specifically Kim and Envy as they really suffer, Kim just comes across as a bitch and Envy is just an evil ex plot device and both are so much more in the books, just another twenty minutes could have made a huge difference, that is about my only problem with a film that gets so much right, casting and performances are practically perfect, I even like Michael Cera as Scott where many fans haven't, the soundtrack is fantastic with Beck's Sex Bob-omb songs being just how I imagined them when reading the books. The real star of Scott Pilgrim though is Edgar Wright, he just knocks it right out of the park.
Clement Cheng and Derek kwok's Gallants is my favourite film of the year, it may not be the best in technical terms but I have already seen it three times and each time it gets better and better. Seventies fight film stars Bruce Leung Siu-Lung and Chen Kuan-Tai are magnificent as the pupils of Teddy Robin Kwan, who has the film stealing role as the aging playboy/sifu who wakes from a coma after thirty years. Gallants has some great old school fight action, it is hilarious and most importantly and what makes it my favourite of the year is it has a massive heart and real emotion. I am not going to say anymore other than if you haven't seen it yet, see it now and if you have, then watch it again.
Some honourable mentions, Bong Joon-ho's Mother almost made the top ten but I'm not sure how much I would want to re-watch it. Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island was amazing for the first hour or so but fell away towards the end, although I am about to give it another go. Toy story 3 and How to train your dragon were both very entertaining. From Hong Kong I really liked Detective Dee and Bodyguards and assassins, but I suppose the big two that are missing are The social network and Inception, both of which I liked but while The social network was a solid really well made film and has a great central performance from Jesse Eisenberg I think it has been overrated. As for Inception, I love the imagination and the fact it treats its audiences intelligence with respect but the zero-g fight aside, the action scenes go on too long and could have done with drastically trimming down.