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The Year in Review - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Plus My Top Films of 2010

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By Chris Kavan - 12/31/10 at 12:24 PM CT

If you're looking for new movies to crave this week - sorry, the only film that's opening limited release that I consider worth mentioning is Blue Valentine. So if that's your cup of tea, seek it out.

Anyway, onto the year in film 2010. It was the year that 3D went mainstream - to the delight and horror of many - it gave us great sequels (Toy Story 3!) and a whole lot of not-so-great-sequels (Iron Man 2, Shrek Forever After, Sex and the City 2). It was the year that romantic comedies crashed and burned - and I secretly giggled with delight at their misfortune. A lot of indie films made a big splash: The Kids are All Right, Winter's Bone, Get Low and Cyrus all made good money on small budgets.

While there were some standout films, I have to say overall 2010 was a letdown. Most of the so-called blockbuster summer films were underwhelming and it shows when an animated film is the top-grossing film and also one of the best reviewed. Serious dramas came in strong (most of which I have yet to see) in the end, but not even they could save a down year. In fact, these last seven weeks have been a pretty dreary affair at the box office compared to last year when Avatar was on its was to breaking all kinds of records.

Here then is my top list of the year:

1) The Social Network - There are certain films that perfectly a moment in time - Easy Rider, Full Metal Jacket, The Breakfast Club, Wall Street - a handful of films each generation. The Social Network is one such film. For the people who have been raised in a world of technology, Facebook is an integral part of life. Sure, the film took liberties with the story, but in the end the characters, acting, dialogue, music - heck, even the clothing, was crafted in such a way to make it feel right. I will be surprised if this doesn't win a boatload of awards.

2) Inception - I've been a fan of Christopher Nolan since Memento blew my mind and he hasn't lost a step yet. You can look at Inception as a deeply moving film or just a fun ride that's confusing as hell to figure out. Once again, the cast is stellar, the drama is tense and it keeps you guessing right until the very end. Sure, it's easy to dismiss it as a bunch of nonsense masquerading as a "serious" drama - but those who choose that route are missing out.

3) Toy Story 3 - There's a reason this become Pixar's top-grossing film, and the highest grossing film of the year: it's an animated movie that's as fun for adults as it is for their kids. This captures two audiences perfectly - those who were young when the first Toy Story came out, and a whole new generation of children as well. Plus, the story is great, even a little dark at times, making it one of the best Pixar films and a great film overall. Those who think animated films are just for the young are missing out here too.

4) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 1 - Yes, I'm a Potter fan and as a Potter fan I've seen every film and so far this is by and far my favorite. Some people say nothing happens in this film - it's all a bunch of talk and no action (the action comes in the part 2) but out of all the films this has the most emotional impact and an actual sense of danger permeates the film. Plus the three main leads: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint have honed their skills to the point that the work together like a well-oiled machine. There are light-hearted moments, but for the most part this is a dark, serious entry to the series. Can't wait to see how they wrap things up next year.

5) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Technically this came out in 2009, but was released in the U.S. until 2010, so I'm counting it this year. As an adaptation of a book, it's one of the better ones I can recall. This Swedish version works because of the cast, especially the spot-on performance by Noomi Rapace as the hacker/social deviant Lisbeth Salander. In fact, I would go so far to say her performance is one of my favorite of the year. And while I have great confidence that David Fincher will do a fine job, I will be most interested in how Rooney Mara can compare to Rapace.

6) Despicable Me - Yes, a second animated film made it in my top 10. While Toy Story 3 may have got the glory, Despicable Me was a just as good. It was a lot of fun with the minions and Steve Carrell having a ball - it wasn't as heavy on the drama, but I will say I had just as much appreciation for this film as I do for Toy Story 3. It may have been overshadowed, but it still made its impact.

7) Scott Pilgrim vs. The World - It's box office bottom line was pretty poor, but for a video game loving, non-Michael Cera-hating person like me, it was a tailor-made movie. Frantic, furious, witty, wacky - the target audience was pretty limited, but I count myself as one of them. I got the references, I liked the humor and strangeness of it all. This is a cult film I can stand behind 100%.

8) Kick-Ass - Hey, any movie where a cute little girl can hack, shoot and call a bunch of guys cunts has to be in the top 10. Hyper-violent and ultra fun, this is the second comic book based film that actually lived up to expectations. Not something you can say that often.

9) Machete - More ultra violent fun from Robert Rodriguez as he takes the grindhouse to a new level of excitement. Lots of blood is shed, lots of gratuitous nudity for no reason and some excellent lines of dialogue are all that I need to be content.

10) Red - The thinking mans Expendables with a better cast and, in my opinion, a lot better story. Plus Helen Mirren fires a big-ass gun. That counts for a lot, plus everyone just looks like they're having a good time.

WORST of the year: Jonah Hex - the only real turkey I saw - although some sequels and films were disappointing, this is the only movie I regret seeing in theaters. A mess all around, not even Megan Fox's hotness could save this from being a dud.

This list is bound to be updated as I have yet to see TRON: Legacy, Black Swan or True Grit, along with Winter's Bone, The King's Speech or The Kids are All Right. But as it stands now, this is my list. Feel free to sound off and create your own list.

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