Monsters (2010)

2010’s Monsters probably one of the most overlooked films of last year. Produced on a fairly low budget that most have called “do it yourself” film making. You can certainly see the low budgetness of the project at times, but at other times the special effects and shots captured are amazing.

Monsters takes place in modern times, in a world where aliens have begun reproduction upon the Earth. They live in what is known as the “invaded zone”, an area that spans Northern Mexico and the Southern U.S. It is a place where the creatures are attempted to be reigned in by walls, helicopters, and big guns. These are not always successful and the monsters do have migration periods where they venture into the non-invaded zones.

The film takes place in Mexico where an aspiring photographer is forced to bring home his boss’s daughter to America, due to increasing danger during the migration period. After some ridiculous plot points and inciting events that exist solely to advance the plot (such as his wallet and passports getting stolen), both are forced to travel through the invaded zone to reach America.

Thematically, there are many statements made, some subtly, others not so subtly. It deals with things such as the ethics of journalism, immigration, and most notably (and impressively I might add) what happens to the poorest of the poor in disaster situations. There is a moment towards the end of the film where Andrew (Scoot McNairy) tells Samantha (Whitney Able) not to forget everything they’ve seen. They have traveled through the infected zone. A place where, although supposedly evacuated, still contains brave people not wealthy enough to escape. Those who can afford to avoid it do so, but that leaves the poorest of the poor stranded as they deal with these “Monsters” while the rest of the world lives in bliss, forgetting the little communities bordering the zone.

Monsters is at times ridiculous (the final scene is certainly so), but is a wonderful film that shows that money does not necessarily equate with quality and is also a great reminder to not forget those who are oppressed; those who are barely getting by, who, when faced with extreme situations do not have the infrastructure or the stability to handle it. It calls out for us who sit at the top of the world to stay aware of our fellow man. Check it out if you are a fan of sci-fi or independent film.

3.5/5

Top Supporting Actors of 2010

10. Geoffrey Rush in The King’s Speech-While a bit overrated, Rush still gives a very fun performance as the speech therapist who helps King George overcome his stammer and lead his country during one of its most troubling times.

9. Jeremy Renner in The Town-While at some parts Renner seems to be overplaying his tough guy/bank robber character, he is still great as Ben Affleck’s sidekick who would do anything for his friends and family.

8. Oliver Platt in Please Give-Platt is great as the head of a fairly dysfunctional-yet-working family in New York. He brings out the life in all of director/writer Nicole Holofcener’s witty screenplay.

7. Armie Hammer in The Social Network-There are three great supporting performances in this movie, but my favorite was Armie Hammer as the Winklevoss twins (yes both for those who don’t know). He kind of reminds me of a good version of Hayden Christensen. The way he is able to create two distinct, yet similar characters in both twins is fantastic and shows his maturity as an actor.

6. Javier Godino in The Secret in Their Eyes-The Argentinian crime thriller focuses on one crime event and its affects throughout many years. Godino plays the crime doer and is absolutely great. The interrogation scene in which Godino provides a little uh expose of himself, is one of the most intense scenes of the year. While he first tries to prove his innocence, the tides quickly turn as his manhood is brought into question. This scene alone brings him into the top ten of the year.

5. Bill Murray in Get Low-Murray is just great. His character seems to be pretty simple and small, but Murray makes him so attractive that I wanted to spend more time with him than anyone else (although Duvall is good too). His ability to use sarcasm and deadpan humor is amazing.

4. Matt Damon in True Grit-Forget Jeff Bridges, forget Hailee Steinfeld, my favorite character in the Coen’s remake of True Grit was Matt Damon’s Texas Ranger “La-beef”. He is ridiculous and this performance continues to showcase the diversity of Damon. The scene where he and Bridges partake in a cornbread shooting contest might be the funniest scene of the year.

3. Mark Ruffalo in The Kids Are All Right-Ruffalo was probably my favorite part of this film. He plays a care-free, innocently selfish, yuppie, who is instantly likable. Ruffalo brings so much life to this character you can’t help but like despite his self centered, hedonistic actions.

2. John Hawkes in Winter’s Bone-Hawkes plays the (loving?) uncle of teenager Ree in Winter’s Bone. Hawkes’ character represents fully what love means to the Ozarks community in which the movie takes place. He’s gruff, angry, tough, and if you look close enough, you just might find some teddy bear down within him.

1. Christian Bale in The Fighter-Aw what to say about Christian Bale… As an actor he is willing to do almost anything to prepare for a role (e.g. The Machinist), he is excellent as a straight man (as we’ve seen in numerous films such as the Batman series, The New World, and 3:10 to Yuma) but is also good as what we see here, the crazy supporting character. Bale plays Dicky Eklund, a drug addicted former boxer whose claim to fame is his success in one fight. He is a fascinating watch and is filled with as many quirks as a Wes Anderson film. Usually my favorite performers for supporting actor are the ones that go big (Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight, Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds) and Bale hits that on the head with this one.

Honorable Mentions: Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake in The Social Network, Ben Mendelsohn in Animal Kingdom, Kieran Culkin in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Michael Fassbender in Fish Tank