Top Actors of 2010

For this year’s top male actors you can pretty much look at the Oscar’s and they will give you a basic view of what’s out there (though I have not seen Bardem in Biutiful). This list will mostly reflect that, with some smaller budget projects in there as well. As with the best supporting performances, this list will be a top ten, rather than a top five. Enjoy! And debate if you’d like!

10. Aaron Eckhart in Rabbit Hole-Eckhart plays a grieving father who recently lost his four year old son in a car accident. He does everything he can to deal with this loss. He follows the steps that he’s heard you’re “supposed to do” in the aftermath of such a tragic event. He gets the more emotional role (Nicole Kidman’s character is more cold and silent) and expresses those opinions one can only imagine must be killing him inside.

9. Stephen Dorff in Somewhere-Dorff (some say playing a caricature-of-sorts of himself) plays a Hollywood actor whose meaningless life consists of doing press for his upcoming films, living in an expensive hotel, and sleeping with women (although this bores him at times). Throughout the first half of the film he rarely utters more than a line and most conversations that happen are through people around him rather than him. When Dorff starts spending more time with his daughter he gradually begins to shift. Now some actors may really overplay this character growth, but director Sofia Coppola and Dorff decide to underplay it. Rather than a huge overt change in character, we get things like little smirks and glimpses in which we can see him subtly starting to open up. That is what earns Dorff this spot.

8. Robert Duvall in Get Low-In Get Low, Duvall plays hermit Felix Bush who declares he’d like to attend his own funeral. Duvall displays greatly the life of someone who is largely misunderstood and how holding back from confession can destroy one’s life. The film may have its share of problems, but none of them are found in Duvall’s performance.

7. Aaron Johnson in Nowhere Boy-While I might not be an expert on John Lennon or anything surrounding the Beatles, I believe that Johnson did an excellent job portraying the story of a young Lennon caught in between two households while desperately trying to find his place in both music and life. For anyone remotely interested in Lennon, the Beatles, or the old rock ‘n roll days, check out Johnson in Nowhere Boy.

6. Ryan Gosling in Blue Valentine-Gosling (pictured above) really plays two characters in this movie. One, a young hip kid with no real direction in life who romantically falls in love with a girl he’s just met. The other, an older version of this kid who has become worn out over time and though he still has passion and love for that girl, it is only by alcohol that he can cope. While a bit over the top at times, Gosling’s transformation from hipster to bitter drunken father is great.

5. Tahar Rahim in A Prophet-Look out for Rahim in the future. Rahim plays lead character Malik brilliantly. From his entrance as a kid in the middle of a complex French prison system, to his manipulation and dominance of the system, Rahim nails every bit. The movie is like The Godfather in a French prison, could this mean we have the next Pacino on our hands?

4. Jeff Bridges in True Grit-Bridges takes on The Duke’s sole Oscar winning role in fully forced ridiculousness. And it works wonderfully. As the drunken Rooster Cogburn, Bridges resembles The Dude more than he does The Duke, but with the Coen’s over-the-top dialogue it is a perfect match.

3. James Franco in 127 Hours-The scene in which Aron Ralston severs his arm lasts for about 5 minutes maximum. This is the critical point of the film and the one in which the audience is waiting for. Every minute that comes before this is all in Franco’s hands. Sure there is the neat editing in the opening sequences that director Danny Boyle gives us. Sure he does spend some time with a couple of girls. Sure there are some flashbacks and flashforwards. But if Franco wasn’t a great personality to watch, nobody would be talking about this movie. He brings everything from desperation to comedy while stuck (literally) in an absolutely terrible situation.

2. Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network-Re-watching this film made me realize just how big of a jerk Mark Zuckerberg is to everyone around him. At times this attitude is funny and most of the time very witty, but there are a few moments where he will say something so hideous that the person in conversation with him doesn’t know how to respond. As a viewer you can only cringe at the awkwardness of the moment and hope it quickly passes. Eisenberg nails every aspect of Zuckerberg: the socially awkward moments, the witty and rapid dialogue, the desire to be the best, and the complex moments where we really have no idea why he’s doing what he’s doing; he delivers it all in a way so that throughout most of the film we don’t hate his character, but even root for his success.

1. Colin Firth in The King’s Speech-The likely Oscar winner, Firth is well deserved of it. He not only nails the crippling stammer of King George, but also the insecurity that comes with it. Firth showcases the evolution of the king as he conquers his stammer and overcomes self doubt in order to become the leader his country needs him to be.

Honorable mentions: Mark Wahlberg in The Fighter, Leonardo Dicaprio in Inception and Shutter Island, Ryan Reynolds in Buried, Lars Eidinger in Everyone Else

Top Animated Films of 2010

This year in animated cinema was no different than any other year. You had Pixar release a film that everyone loved. Dreamworks came out with a couple that people mostly liked. Disney released one that returned it to¬† its “classic Disney” storytelling days. And there were a couple more artsy flicks that the population didn’t see, but critics adored. Despite the similarities with other years, it was an enjoyable year (hopefully next year will follow suit as Pixar is releasing Cars 2 a film I am not looking forward to).

I saw eight animated films this year. I will list them in order of which I liked them and will write about the top 3.

8. Despicable Me

7. Shrek Forever After

6. Tangled

5. The Illusionist

4. The Secret of Kells

And now time for the top three animated films of 2010:

3. How To Train Your Dragon-HTTYD gave us an excellent underdog hero in its main character Hiccup. The way that Hiccup forms a bond with his lifelong enemy and figures out a way to subdue his enemy other than the sword is truly inspiring. It is a fantasy tale that is definitely worth checking out.

2. Toy Story 3-The year’s most popular animated film (and the most critically acclaimed of all time?) was certainly great. The toys were faced with questions of what to do when their purpose in life has been served. Do they stay true to their master whom they’ve served all their lives even if that means spending the rest of their lives in an attic? Or should they look out for themselves and spend their days in a place that seems like a toy paradise? Only this series could get me questioning the ethics surrounding toys as the whole thing seemed like a lesson in theology (which I loved). But, there were a couple of things that I didn’t like and I couldn’t really let go of (I thought the whole spanish Buzz Lightyear gag was dumb and slightly racist) and that keeps it out of the number one spot.

1. Megamind-Yes, this was a movie that received just okay reviews, and is probably my most controversial pick of the awards season. I think that the problem is that nobody really took this film seriously. When I saw it however, I was blown away at the risks that it took and I felt as if the film really had stakes behind it. Whereas in most animated films characters may face the risk of danger or death, but we secretly know that nothing will happen to them because after all most animated films are geared towards children. Megamind was not like this. The development of the villain was one of the most interesting story lines of the year. There were many twists and turns and each one was truly surprising and unique. Even the love story that is twisted in it was something I could cheer for. There were many problems with it, but overall Megamind brings a freshness to it and that propels it to the number one animated film of the year.

Top Supporting Actresses of 2010

With the Academy Awards being one week away, I figured it was time for me to give out my awards for the 2010 movie going year (as if anyone cares). I plan to release a new award each day leading up to the ceremony and the day before I will give my predictions as to who will win and who should win.

My first set of awards this year belong to the women in supporting roles, whom I found to be the weakest out of the four acting categories. I am going to give my top ten in each category, because I’m twice as good as the Oscars!

Here goes:

10. Marion Cotillard in Inception– I found Cotillard to be absolutely frightening in her small role in Christopher Nolan’s dreamy mind bender. Most of her character is developed through dialogue while she is not actually on screen, but when she does make her appearances she leaves a very frightening image.

9. Ellen Wong in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World-Some of you may be saying “what the…” with this choice, but Wong’s performance as Scott Pilgrim’s young girlfriend and ex-girlfriend is crazy, humorous, and heartbreaking (as heartbreaking as this arcade game masquerading as a movie gets). Out of all the characters, she was the one I ended up cheering for the most, despite her psychotic tendencies.

8. Jackie Weaver in Animal Kingdom-Weaver gives a subtly evil performance in her role as the mother of an Australian crime family. At times she is sweet as you would expect any motherly figure to be, but she would do anything to protect the ones she loves. Weaver plays it so each side is represented wonderfully without leaning too far one way or the other.

7. Elle Fanning in Somewhere-Fanning has not gotten much recognition this awards season, but her performance as the daughter of a famous movie star is spot on. She is sweet and steady, but at the same time shows the hurt that comes from being a neglected Hollywood child.

6. Dale Dickey in Winter’s Bone-If Weaver plays evil subtly, Dale Dickey portrays it outright. She is one intense woman and everything she does drips with ferociousness; even in the moments that she shows compassion.

5. Rebecca Hall in Please Give-I don’t think there is a character I cheered harder for in any other movie this year. Hall’s character is the only pure character in the film and the sincerity that Hall brings to it requires the audience to cheer on her success. I am starting to love Hall as an actress (she was great in The Town as well) and can’t wait to see what else she will be in in the future.

4. Melissa Leo in The Fighter-Leo’s performance has probably garnered the most buzz out of any supporting actress this year and it was certainly well deserved. At first Leo seems like a crazy, uneven mother who thinks she knows what’s right for her sons, but really has no idea. If this was all that was brought to the table I would say it was a fine performance and leave it at that, but as the movie progresses we see that she has a deep love for both of her sons and this truly is driving her to make her decisions. Leo’s representation of this is what gets her the number four spot.

3. Diane Wiest in Rabbit Hole-Wiest gives a vibrant performance as the mother of a grieving woman who recently lost her son. While trying to bring comfort to her daughter half the times she succeeds and half the times she makes it ten times worse. She is honest, well meaning and makes things lovingly awkward as only an aging mother could.

2. Amy Adams in The Fighter-I really enjoyed Adams playing the girlfriend of boxer Mickey Ward. I know some have played it off as Adams merely trying to get dirty and bait the Oscars, but I felt it was sincere and totally worked. She offered a feisty yet supportive character that offered a kinder side of the streets of Boston.

1. Barbara Hershey in Black Swan-Hershey’s character is an overprotective mother who is trying her hardest to prevent her daughter from making the same mistakes she did. She has a desire for her daughter to succeed and thus fulfill her long lost dreams. Doing this means protecting her from anything that might sway her. Whether it be boys, alcohol, or even lack of sleep, she has her daughter constantly under her thumb. When Aronofsky’s film shifts from dreamy ballet to horror flick, Hershey evolves right with it. The way her face looks as she reacts to her increasingly not so innocent daughter is great and deserving of her spot as the number one supporting actress of 2010.

Honorable Mentions: Blake Lively in The Town, Helena Bonham-Carter in The King’s Speech, Anne-Marie Duff and Kristin Scott Thomas in Nowhere Boy