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The Social Network (2010)
Inspired and Marvelous
The Social Network is my pick for the best movie of 2010. On the surface, it may seem to be just a movie about Facebook, but it is much more than that. Its script weaves together eloquent conversations about friendship, betrayal, jealousy, and intelligence. Jesse Eisenberg masterfully portrays Mark Zuckerberg, a gifted student at Harvard with a brilliant idea. Little does he know that his brilliant idea will throw him into two lawsuits which ask for a great deal of money. The film moves back and forth through a timeline of a few years, with events ranging from the later involvement of Sean Parker to a fantastic canoeing race. The directing from David Fincher is remarkable, with each scene of speedy, expertly crafted dialogue seeming like cinematic heaven. The performances of Eisenberg, Garfield, and Timberlake are gripping and awards-worthy. The Social Network, with its phenomenal script, breathtaking direction, and demanding performances help make it the Best Picture-worthy film that it is.
Morning Glory (2010)
Too Safe to Be Memorable
Morning Glory is the latest vehicle to showcase Rachel McAdams' wonderful talent. The actress can be dramatic, comedic, and makes for a convincing romantic female lead. It's a shame that Morning Glory knows little about what to do with her. Becky Fuller just got laid off from her job at a New Jersey morning show. The producer of another show, Daybreak, decides to hire her as an executive producer. When she takes the job, her life immediately falls into chaos. The shows ratings remain low, the two lead anchors (Diane Keaton and Harrison Ford) refuse to stop arguing, and another T.V. worker, played by Patrick Wilson, falls in love with her. It's now up to her to save the show and manage her love life. Morning Glory is filled with both humorous and serious moments. However, the film doesn't know whether it is a drama or a comedy and by the end of the film, it ends up as neither. Diane Keaton and Patrick Wilson's characters are never explored, and Harrison Ford's comic timing isn't able to increase the appeal of the trite jokes that he must deliver. The chemistry between any of the actors is minimal at best, and it is never explained why McAdams falls in love with Wilson. The plot is too tight and safe to resonate with anyone. Rachel McAdams does buoy the film even at its most predictable moments. She turns a somewhat unlikable character into an interesting person. Morning Glory may have some entertaining moments, but even with McAdams, it will likely disappoint many moviegoers looking for an engaging and memorable comedy.
I Am Number Four (2011)
Trying to Be Too Many Things at Once
I Am Number Four is a sci-fi thriller which focuses around Number Four. He is an alien who is living on Earth in order to hide from the Mogadorians, evil aliens who attacked his home planet, Lorien. While hiding in Paradise, Ohio, he befriends a bullied science nerd named Sam and an aspiring photographer named Sarah. The film tracks his relationships with both characters while he prepares to defeat the Mogadorians. I Am Number Four starts out with a solid first twenty minutes. The tension, electrifying visuals, and promise are all there. The film's prime failure is that it is trying to be so many things at once. The film quickly converts into a Twilight meets Harry Potter meets Percy Jackson wannabe. Alex Pettyfer and Dianna Agron (as Number Four and Sarah respectively) have chemistry, but unlike Twilight, the relationship comes across as a distracting subplot that doesn't go anywhere. In terms of plot, there is no build-up. A few basic and barely coherent details are given but the film fails to expand on these details. Numerous events occur and twenty minutes later, the movie just ends without any emotional value. Pettyfer, Agron, and Teresa Palmer (as another alien) are either boring or over-the-top. Callan McAuliffe (as Sam) and Timothy Olyphant (as Pettyfer's guardian) are the only saving graces. The action sequences are also very generic. There are a couple of humorous lines scattered throughout I Am Number Four, but the final result is amateurish, occasionally ridiculous, and mostly boring.
The Fighter (2010)
One True Knockout
The Fighter contains what is possibly the best acting ensemble of 2010. With Mark Wahlberg, Amy Adams, Christian Bale, and Melissa Leo in the central roles, you will be in for a satisfying and emotionally exhausting time. This film showcases the amazing true story of Micky Ward, a talented boxer looking for a second chance at his career. His brother Dicky used to be a talented, promising boxer himself. Unfortunately, Dicky succumbed to drug addiction and spends most of his time out smoking crack. Micky's manager mother doesn't always book him with the best opponents either for his career or health. His barmaid girlfriend Charlene is supportive but also tends to clash with him. Fortunately, he is able to get back on track and proves himself to be the talented athlete that people once knew him to be. Director David O. Russell creates a marvelous and intense drama that captivates you with each montage, acting moment, and boxing scene. The script fills each scene with raw emotion and intensity. As mentioned, the acting from all four actors is terrific. All four of them deserve Oscar nominations. Melissa Leo and Christian Bale are deservedly the favorites to win the Best Supporting Actress and Supporting Actor Oscars for their authentic and rich performances. They prove why it is often difficult to portray any real-life person. The Fighter is an extremely well-acted and rousing drama that everyone should see.
The Town (2010)
Suspenseful and Exciting
Ben Affleck directs his second film after Gone Baby Gone. The Town is a thriller surrounding a group of robbers, a bank teller, and the FBI agent out to capture the bank robbers. At a laundromat following the most recent bank robbery, Affleck's character falls in love with the employee who they took hostage, played by Rebecca Hall. His accomplice, played by Jeremy Renner, immediately lashes out at him. With his accomplices, former girlfriend (played by Blake Lively), and his disguised-as-florist boss all confronting him, he must make the decision to either leave with Hall or continue his life of crime. The first hour of this film is stunning and phenomenal. The characters pull you into their minds, and you feel as if you are one of the characters in each scene. Every member of the cast delivers a solid-to-exceptional performance. Affleck, Hall, Renner, and Lively are particularly breathtaking, but it's the third of the quartet who deserves an Oscar nomination. Renner infuses the viewer with fear, pity, and so many other emotions. However, the second half of the film feels less authentic. The plausibility of the film takes somewhat of a nose dive, with the story struggling to deliver more character nuances and plot development. As a result, the ending underwhelms especially in comparison to the rest of the film. For what it's worth, The Town is one of the best films of the year and the best thriller of 2010.
Sweet, Simple, Likable
If any three words were to describe Flipped, those words would be 'sweet', 'simple', and 'likable.' It's too light to be fully memorable, but it is endearing enough to enjoy. Bryce and Juli are two neighbors whose parents don't think too highly of each other. They've grown up together, and she had a crush on him throughout elementary school. Now that they're in middle school, they finally have the guts to tell each other how they really feel. But many events, such as those involving a sycamore tree and a hatch of chicks, mess with all of their emotions. Are they really into each other? Will their love last? The journey to the answers to these questions is sometimes awkward but still interesting. Rob Reiner's directing style suits the film well, but the script contains too many awkward moments which can distract from the sweetness of the film. The narration of the protagonists eventually becomes grating and excessive. The movement of the setting from the 2000s to the 1960s causes the film to feel too safe and clichéd. As a result, the movie wouldn't be nearly as enjoyable without Madeline Caroll and Callan McAuliffe in the two lead roles. Their chemistry really is lasting, and their performances are really sensitive and emotional. Caroll's scene in the sycamore tree will leave you affected to the right degree. McAuliffe does a great job of portraying a sensitive but determined character eager to set things right, even though he is not brave enough to express his actual emotions. The music and score are also brilliantly crafted and fun to listen to. Flipped may not live up to its beloved source novel, but it is a charming and entertaining film.
Black Swan (2010)
Dark Descent into Madness
"I just want to be perfect." This line illustrates the themes and hardships the main character faces in Black Swan. Fortunately, it also mostly tells of the quality of the film. Natalie Portman plays Nina, a gifted dancer who desires the role of the Swan Queen in a different version of the ballet Swan Lake. Right when she seems to have the role in the bag, along comes Lily, an effervescent dancer new to the company, portrayed by Mila Kunis. She reveals to be subtle, controlled, and free while she dances. These qualities are needed in order to play both the White Swan and the Black Swan in the dance. Shortly after, Nina is overcome with the desire to be perfect, and starts to hallucinate. She sees a double image of herself, drawings which become animated, and other shocking imagery as well. Black Swan is easily one of the best films of 2010. It functions well as a horror film, a psychological thriller, and a showcase of brilliant dancing. The chemistry between Portman and Kunis is seductive and shocking. Their performances convincingly reveal the power and eeriness of "the dark side." Both deserve to be in Oscar contention for their work, as does a scene-stealing Barbara Hershey as Nina's controlling mother. Black Swan will make you question whether the events and characters in this film are imaginary or not, and will leave you wondering for hours. This is a horror film for people who don't like horror films.
Winter's Bone (2010)
Dark, Riveting, and Absorbing
In a year where thrillers seem to be merely passable or intolerable, there is that rare film that draws you into its setting, characters, and plot. Winter's Bone is about a teenager named Ree living in the poverty-stricken Ozark Mountains. She must care for her siblings and her apparently depressed mother. One day, the police show up at her house. They inform her that her meth-cooking father put up the house for his bail bond before vanishing. If her father does not reappear before a week, the family will lose their house. Ree then begins searching for her father deep in the mountains, asking her uncle and neighbors for help. The movie continues at a slow pace, but the plot and characters are really fascinating enough to keep you hooked for its entirety. Considering the somber tone of the story, that is really saying something. Jennifer Lawrence gives an Oscar-worthy performance as Ree. She makes you believe all the emotions and hardships she goes through while completing her journey. The remarkable script, brilliant direction, and crisp cinematography help make Winter's Bone one of 2010's most deserving awards contenders.
The Bounty Hunter (2010)
How NOT to Make a Film
Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler are talented, likable comedians, but you can't really see them 'click' together on screen. The Bounty Hunter does nothing but emphasize that fact. It is an action comedy of sorts, involving two exes, drug dealing, a suicide-turned-murder, and other things. Does it sound interesting or clichéd? The answer turns out to be more of the latter than the former. Aniston and Butler are forced to work with a script that features blaring plot holes, unbelievably stupid characters, and an extremely contrived storyline. Predictability reigns supreme here due to the endless "romantic" scenes (notice the quotation marks) and bland dialogue. The fact that the two leads' chemistry is nonexistent doesn't help matters much either. Talented supporting actors are wasted on and with numerous unimaginative sight gags, a mismatched romantic pairing, and over-the-top characters. The result? One of the worst romantic comedies in years.
The Last Airbender (2010)
Destruction of a Fantasy Epic
Knock, knock. Who's there? It's the possible end of M. Night Shyamalan's career. The Last Airbender is a fantasy epic based on a popular show on Nickelodeon. Apparently, a brother and sister discover a boy named Aang encased in a ball of ice. Once they free him, the siblings discover that he is the Avatar, the master of the elements water, air, fire, and earth. Due to his virtuoso in bending these elements, the evil fire nation wants to capture him and use his powers for evil. It sounds like a fabulous premise. However, it can be easily botched, and unfortunately that is the case with this film. The movie thinks its audience is slow-witted because it spells out every scene visually, and then drives the point of the scene home by using excruciatingly obvious dialogue. All of the actors deliver this laughable dialogue with no grace, emotion, or intensity. The movie's predictability seems to be present due to its impulse to deliver a poorly shot action sequence every ten minutes. These action sequences feature dull camera-work and the overuse of visual effects. The script additionally fails to establish its characters; with the exception of Aang, you have no clue about who the other characters are and as a result, you don't really care. An incoherent plot, lifeless performances, predictable script, and absent tone result in the top contender for worst film of 2010 and the end of this once-promising director's career.