The year 2010 got a rap as being a weak year for films. But with new movies by directors including Christopher Nolan, David Fincher, David O. Russell and Darren Aronofsky, there was certainly a cluster of quality at the top. The following is my list of the top 10 movies of 2010.
1. “Inception”: Taking a break from the “Batman” universe, director Nolan, with star Leonardo DiCaprio, takes a thrilling look into the nature of dreams and reality, couched in the format of a heist movie.
2. “The Social Network”: Director David Fincher and writer Aaron Sorkin take the real-life tale of the creation of Facebook and make it into near-Shakespearean drama. It features strong performances throughout, especially from Jesse Eisenberg as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Andrew Garfield as his friend and co-founder Eduardo Saverin. Justin Timberlake proves his acting chops with a turn as Napster founder Sean Parker, who became a Facebook executive.
3. “The Fighter”: Christian Bale is fantastic as former boxer Dicky Eklund, who fights his personal demons while attempting to train his brother, Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg). The brothers' relationship with their family and their hometown of Lowell, Mass., and Ward's attempts to escape his brother's shadow make “The Fighter” a compelling story.
4. “Toy Story 3”: What happens to our toys when we grow up? Part meditation on mortality, part “Great Escape,” Pixar completes the “Toy Story” trilogy with aplomb.
5. “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”: On first viewing I liked this movie; after several more viewings I now love it. Edgar Wright directs this hyperactive romance starring Michael Cera as Scott Pilgrim. The film takes a turn for the surreal as Scott falls for Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a delivery girl using the subspace pathways in Scott's head as a shortcut. To date Ramona, Scott discovers he must defeat Ramona's seven evil exes.
6. “The King's Speech”: “The King's Speech” captures a moment when royalty had to go from simply looking good in a crown to actually needing to communicate directly to the people, via the recently popularized invention of radio. Infused with humor and brotherhood, “The King's Speech” is a reminder of the power of friendship and the meaning of duty.
7. “Black Swan”: As George Lang noted in his review, director Darren Aronofsky creates the anti-“The Wrestler” with “Black Swan.” While Randy the Ram bore the trauma of his physically demanding profession in his worn-down body, ballerina Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) instead shows the damage of her physically and mentally demanding job in her fracturing mind.
8. “127 Hours”: James Franco plays hiker Aron Ralston in this adaptation of a real-life tale by Danny Boyle. Based on Ralston's book, “Between a Rock and a Hard Place,” “127 Hours” showcases one man's will to live.
9. “True Grit”: Remaking an Oscar-winning John Wayne Western might seem a daunting task, but with Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn and newcomer Hailee Steinfeld as the determined young Mattie Ross, the Coen brothers manage to improve on the original. Mattie seeks justice in the death of her father, and asks the grizzled Cogburn to help her. Matt Damon and Josh Brolin also put in good work in supporting roles.
10. “The American”: It's not most likely what audiences were looking for in a George Clooney movie, but this subtle, slow-building examination of a killer, directed by Anton Corbijn, is worth the effort. It's beautifully filmed, and Clooney plays against type to convey the struggle in this man's soul.