Look who has returned from the blogging dead! It’s me (so maybe you’re less excited than you thought, but then again it’s my blog, so you shouldn’t be that surprised, nor should you be that upset if you subscribed to my blog).
Anyway, I am back to begin to wrap up not only 2019 (which is down to weeks-to-live), but also the decade of the 2010’s. And true to form, I’ve decided to look back via the world of movies and music. I’ll begin with a series of the top films for each year in the decade, considering their longterm impacts, and how and why they matter to me personally.
A few things before we get started, however. First, the sizes of these lists will fluctuate from year to year, as some years are better than others. Second, I’m not listing these in any particular order in order to avoid spending hours struggling over which film of my favorites is better than the others. Last, I did not see everything for every year, so if something isn’t on the list, either a) I saw it and it didn’t matter enough to make this list or b) I didn’t see the film. I’ll try to note a few honorable mentions and movies I missed for each year to clarify the differences.
And so without further ado, my top films of 2010 looking back from 2019.
Toy Story 3
The Toy Story series is one of the best and most successful film franchises of all time, and it’s also one that, since the four-year gap between the original and Toy Story 2, has taken the term “long gestating” quite seriously. The third installment hit theaters in the summer of 2010, 11 years after part 2 (and this year’s 4 came 9 years after 3).
One of the most special elements of these films is that while they are essentially still for children, they manage to include not just adult thematic ideas, but also struggle with the existential in a way that the kids won’t know until they re-watch them years later.
In that regard, Toy Story 3 is the franchise as its most “what does it all mean,” as our favorite toys like Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen), and the rest of the gang are forced to reconcile with the fact that Andy is outgrowing playing with toys.
The third film maintains all of the quirks and silliness of the originals, but also expands its heart and, shockingly, sense of dread, which is wildly heightened for a G-rated movie. But the characters, after all the years, still feel lived in and have grown over the years, from Buzz’s realizations that he’s actually a “child’s play thing” or Woody’s loosening of expectations.
Whether its the best in the series is up for debate, but there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s one of the strongest and most impactful films not only of 2010, but of its decade.
Get used to seeing Christopher Nolan in here. The director had a very busy decade, and seeing as I am the chief among Nolan fan boys, well, just expect to see his name and his films quite frequently through this series.
Inception also came out in the summer of 2010, and it was one of those movies that immediately captured my imagination and, if you’ll excuse the pun, my mind.
If I found someone who hadn’t seen it, I made sure I made time to go with them, because it was just one of those movies you have to see multiple times to get all the nuances of and see how Nolan was doing what he was doing on-screen.
It’s not a perfect film, but it was, and remains, a genre-busting tale that weaves in espionage, heist films, and science-fiction into one mind-bender of a film that features a literal wave of images and star power.
To Nolan’s great credit, Inception still feels like an actor’s film in spite of all the massive set pieces and twisty plot. There’s a lot going on, but Leonardo DiCaprio still gets to really act with a character that makes choices in ways that feel lived-in and normal. They just happen to be taking place in a world where you can break into people’s minds and alter their dreams.
Ultimately, that is Nolan’s greatest strength as a filmmaker: he manages to find the humanity inside his Big Ideas. And even if it doesn’t always work, the effort is always appreciated, especially in an era where the mindless, big budget action movies are more the norm.
The Social Network
I’ll be frank here. In light of all the things that have happened with the world, especially with social media, and in looking at the landscape not only of film, but in the world at large, David Fincher’s film might be the best of the entire 2010’s.
That might be a bold statement, but I think it’s one that is shared by film critics elsewhere, so it isn’t as if I’ve made this up from nothing. And The Social Network is a stirring achievement in so many ways. From Jesse Eisenberg’s lead performance, to Trent Reznor and Atticus Finch’s score, to the brooding tone of the film overall, there’s always that sense of something boiling under the surface, and all of these pieces speak to this.
Fincher is less interested in what Eisenberg’s Mark Zuckerburg created, and more concerned with what impacts the creation of anything and the power that comes from doing so has on the person who made the thing in question.
The film manages to make you unable to take your eyes of the chaos, while simultaneously being unwilling to keep watching these people, who are clearly unstable, self-destruct. The car-crash nature of the film makes it infinitely re-watchable, but also something you wish you didn’t want to watch so much. It’s society in a microcosm.
And that’s what makes it so excellent and a worthy addition to the top films of the decade.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Of all the films this year listed here, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is likely the most bizarre, and it’s not especially close. Strangely, this is also the last of the movies for 2010, which suggests that it wasn’t a particularly strong year.
But yeah, when it was good, it was very, very good.
Scott Pilgrim is a comic book movie pushed to the extreme, a direction that most “comic book movies” of our current age aren’t willing or able to go to in order to maintain their box office friendly mass appeal. In the case of this film, the studio managed only $47 million or so on a $60 million budget, making it a loss for Universal.
Still, what Edgar Wright created is a wild ball of kinetic energy wrapped up in a typically monotoned performance from Michael Cera as the eponymous lead character while the rest of his cast is either matching Cera beat-for-beat or dialing it up to 11, depending on the character. It’s unclear at times what it all means, but the film is never not fun, even at its zaniest.
It most ways it’s much different from the rest of the films on my list for 2010, but it’s also one of those movies I still hold up as one of my favorites, even if it isn’t as “important” was others from the decade.
To conclude, here are some films I either saw but missed the cut, or ones that I didn’t see at all:
Saw, but didn’t make the list (*close): Youth in Revolt, The Book of Eli, The Wolfman, The Ghost Writer, Shutter Island*, Alice in Wonderland, Green Zone, Repo Men, Greenberg, Hot Tub Time Machine, How to Train Your Dragon, Date Night, Kick-Ass, Iron Man 2, Robin Hood, Shrek Forever After, Get Him to the Greek, Winter’s Bone, Cyrus, Knight and Day, Despicable Me, The Kids Are Alright, Dinner for Schmucks, The Other Guys, The Switch, Never Let Me Go*, Easy A, The Town*, Due Date, Megamind, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part I, Love & Other Drugs, The King’s Speech, Black Swan*, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Tourist, The Fighter*, Tron Legacy, Little Fockers, True Grit, Somewhere
Didn’t see: Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, Brooklyn’s Finest, The Runaways, Clash of the Titans, Death at a Funeral, Exit Through the Gift Shop, MacGruber, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, The A-Team, Grown Ups, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, The Last Airbender, Eat Pray Love, The Expendables, The American, Buried, Secretariat, Red, Hereafter, 127 Hours, Rabbit Hole, Blue Valentine