10) The Social Network
In some ways this year saw directors stepping out of their comfort zones, in a sense, and succeeding at trying something different. Personally I thought David Fincher stumbled with the fantasy of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. But succeeded in making the recent history of a wunderkind starting a immensely popular website to be engaging, interesting, and exciting. Doing stuff on computers should be none of these things. Of course part of that goes to the cast and the writing, particularly Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg, who holds the movie together. He keeps people at certain distance, even at the end of the movie he is somewhat of an enigma.
9) Shutter Island
I was recently wondering whether this would end up making my top ten list at the end of the year. We'll see if this survives the test of time, but right now this felt like Scorcese was stepping out of his comfort zone and delivering a movie that is parts old school haunted house horror movie, part psychological thriller, and part...well, part just plain coconuts. It looks great though, some of it even stunning.
8) Exit Through The Gift Shop
It was only later after seeing this when I realized that this whole "documentary" might just be another Banksy ruse. Its worth it to see it for yourself and decide. It seems too improbable but then again sometimes fact is just that. Fascinating.
7) Piranha 3D
Simply put: some of the most fun I have had in a movie theatre in 2010. Everyone was all excited for the Machete movie, which had its moments, but in the end had these long arid stretches that didn't need to be there. I am sure Robert Rodriguez would say that that was intentional. Piranha 3D knew exactly what it wanted to be, was fun, zippy, the actors were having a great time, couldn't get enough of the Jaws references...sure it was violent, but it had its tongue firmly planted in its cheek, and it did what it set out to do and nothing more.
6) Toy Story 3
Leave it to Pixar to come out with an animated movie that is as much about religion as it is about growing up and moving on. The scene at the end when the toys think they are going to get incinerated is just unbelievable.
5) Black Swan
Darren Aronofsky didn't so much step out of his comfort zone here, but delivered a sort of companion piece to The Wrestler set in the ballet world. In that it is also a movie about obsession and compulsion, but dressed more as a psychological horror movie. Seriously, there were scenes where people were just dancing that made me tense.
4) The Fighter
So engrossing, yet humorous and light on its feet. Its really great. Christian Bale is so amazing here. Micky Ward's sisters should get a special group oscar.
3) True Grit
I just wrote about this the other day. Is it stepping out of your comfort zone if the Coens make something with a more conventional narrative? I'm not sure, but it succeeds magnificently.
2) Winter's Bone
Fascinating country noir that works as a great mystery, an examination of how the other half lives, and how family ties can both free you and hold you back.
I once wrote thirteen reasons why this movie is amazing.