Friday, December 31, 2010

The Top Five of 2010: Jason's Picks

As I said in my review for True Grit, 2010 was a terrible year for movies. I ventured to a theatre perhaps five times this year and sought out very few of the year's offerings on DVD. Given that our Basement duties require us to seek out the odd, obscure and crappy, Shawn and I have little time to catch up on the latest releases anyway.

But I was able to scrounge up a Top Five for the year, which are listed below. Keep in mind these are my biased choices based on what I've seen. Films that could very well be in the running include The King's Speech, 127 Hours, The Social Network, The Fighter and a slew of others. But, based on what I've watched, I will stand by and hang by this list.

Remember, Shawn and I are back in The Basement next Friday (Jan. 7) at 10 p.m. PST on 92.5FM CFBX Kamloops and www.thex.ca. The podcast will be up by the Monday. We'll put the urban legend documentary Cropsey and the mockbuster sequel Mega Shark Versus Crocosaurus on the chopping block. Stick with us!

1) True Grit: We didn't need a remake of John Wayne's classic Western, but Joel and Ethan Coen have gone back to the source material, the 1968 novel of the same name, and done a retelling that's all their own. The film is a fine balance between drama and action picture, with a healthy dose of character study and black comedy added to the mix. And don't forget four of the best performances anyone is likely to see in years. Best of all, True Grit is relentlessly entertaining. You don't need to wind your brain up too much to enjoy the hell out of it.

2) Inception: How does one describe Inception? Smart, innovative and thrilling come to mind. So does mind blowing, visual stunning and incredible. The Dark Knight was a masterpiece, but that property wasn't 100 per cent Christopher Nolan's. Inception is, and it is a great piece of work. A masterwork from a master craftsman. This is a movie people will go see and then argue about and then, very likely, go see again. It is the must-see film of the summer, if not the year. Nolan dares us to think big here, yet he also thrills us with some of the biggest and best action scenes to ever reach the big screen. Inception is the film movie fans have waited all year for, it's a slick brain-twister that makes the year's other mainstream releases look boring and empty-headed in comparison . . . because they are.

3) The Town: A seriously awesome Ben Affleck movie? You bet! The actor, who quickly became the butt of many jokes at the beginning of the last decade, re-invented himself as a director to watch with Gone Baby Gone. With The Town he pulls out all the stops in front of the camera and behind it. This is a gritty, exciting, emotional, fast paced and fun crime picture. In other words, it's a brilliant piece of work. Affleck surrounds himself with a solid supporting cast, including The Hurt Locker's Jeremy Renner, and cements his credentials as a serious filmmaker who doesn't let style get in the way of a good story. An award-worthy picture.

4) Restrepo: It's tough to put my feelings for Restrepo into coherent thoughts. As a filmgoer, my mind has been trained to expect certain things from a war movie, and Restrepo gives me all of them. But this isn't fiction, it's real. The documentary is like a punch in the gut at times. Other moments are an amusing portrait of men who have chosen a soldier's life. We see them bond, suffer boredom together, live together, die together and grieve together in one of the deadliest place in the world. I felt like I was there for all of it and suffered the deployment with them. I had to keep telling myself this was really happening, which proves what an exceptional documentary this is.

5) Harry Brown: One of the best movies of the year featuring a powerful performance by Michael Caine, who balances ferocity and frailty throughout. The film is a button pusher, making one feel sad. angry and vengeful, often all at once. The first two minutes are among the harrowing ever put on film. What follows is somber and emotionally jarring. When Brown turns to vengeance, the film becomes about a man who has nothing to lose and the results will make you want to cheer for joy and cover your mouth with shock. Harry Brown offers no easy answers, but it does satisfy one's brain and bloodlust all at once.

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