Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Top Movies of Reel Rhino's 2010 (PART 1)

Who really wants to focus on the worst-of anyways!  Today, I will be reveal the first half of what I thought was great about the movies in 2010.  You will get my 5 Honorable Mentions and my #15 through #10.  If you are interested in reading what was not so good...check here:

As a brief aside before I unveil the list...I had a chance to see a new twist on a Christmas tale.  RARE EXPORTS: A CHRISTMAS TALE was playing in it's last show at THE SCREENLAND here in Kansas City.  I saddled up with one of my movie buddies, The Kid in the Helmet (aka Mike), and we forayed out into this mean, mean world to catch it before it was done on the semi-big screen.

It is a different twist on the Santa Clause tale and it is very well-made, sent to the States from our friends in Finland.  The very basic story is that Santa, the original and 'real' Santa Clause, was not so nice.  His primary focus was the severe corporal punishment of bad little boys and girls.  The legend of Santa Clause evolved from this brutal character in the real world to the Coke Santa we have come to love.

An excavation is underway in Russia, at the top of a mountain just across the border from a small Finnish village.  When strange things start happening, it is only one little boy who figures out what is really going on.  This is an R-rated Santa Clause origin story, so leave the kiddies at home for this one.  The trailer is a bit misleading and the film is not as blood and gutsy as you might think.  It is much more a character piece focusing on the little boy, his father, and two of his father's friends.  It is really the last 1/3 of the flick where things get interesting but I think the build-up is quaint in its painting the picture of this family and these friends, making us care just a little more about this little boy.

Make it through the draggy bits and through the subtitles and you will likely be happy that you saw the movie.  Also, the ending was a bit strange and lots of head scratching ensued.  This falls right into my LIKED IT, BUT DIDN'T LOVE IT category.  I was thinking 3.5 horns, but I am going to bump that to a 4 for the sheer creativity at hand here.

And now for my favorites of 2010...

First up, my honorable mentions:

4 of 5 HORNS
A great film set in the Ozarks of Missouri about a young woman (Jennifer Lawrence) trying to hold her family together.  In the opening moments, she finds out that her bail bond jumping father has left their home hanging in the balance as his collateral for his bond.  She is left to care for her mother, raise her brother and sister, and try and figure out the mystery surrounding her father's whereabouts.  Jennifer Lawrence WILL BE nominated for the Academy Award for an Actress in a Leading Role and it will be very deserved.  This is a dark movie that demands to be seen!

4 of 5 HORNS
Director Vincenzo Natali wove an original tale of Sci-Fi that the genre badly needed. Fantastic performances from both Sarah Polley and Adrian Brody and great creature effects including a scene that I think took everyone's breath away in shock and surprise.

4.5 of 5 HORNS 
Ryan Reynolds, my hetero man-crush, owned this one-man, one-set thriller that built up to a razor's edge conclusion.  I pair this with 127 Hours and Frozen as the claustrophobic trilogy of 2010.  This didn't make it to a wide release so do not miss this when hits video.

4.5 of 5 HORNS
Gareth Edwards is a little known effects guy...well I guess he is a little known effects guy, who will soon be known as a legitimate director with serious chops.  He has made an indelible mark as a low-budget, indie filmmaker.  He took $10,000 and made it look like $10,000,000.  Yes, the acting was slightly amateurish, but it quickly forgiven by a super sharp production and a wealth of creativity.

HONORABLE MENTION #5: BACK TO THE FUTURE (25th Anniversary Digital Re-Release)
5 of 5 HORNS
A great flick that has aged like a fine wine.  The crystal clear digital projection showed some flaws in the original aging make-up processes, but it didn't matter and it even brings me to wonder if it wasn't somewhat intentional for humor's sake. What I really appreciated was the chance to sit focused and watch this film intently from start to finish, something I hadn't done in a long time, and I recommend you do it again soon.
#15: TANGLED 3-D
5 of 5 HORNS
This movie was enjoyable from start to finish.  For all the goodness it gave, I liked most the fact that this is a family movie with not a dick-and-fart joke in sight and not a single kick in the balls!  Second, I love CHUCK and 'Chuck,' aka Zachary Levi, played the role of Flynn Rider, our hero.  A very well-told tale and enjoyable to watch in Disney 3-D.

5 of 5 HORNS
A stellar follow-up to Ben Affleck's directorial debut GONE BABY GONE, The Town is a great Boston-based caper flick.  The heists themselves are grand, but the characters are better.  Jeremy Renner was stellar and Affleck himself, who may have lost some of that original Boston accent, held his own on screen while helming the behind-the-screen efforts as well.  I saw it in a theater with Butt-Kicker seat made a difference.

5 of 5 HORNS
A fantastic look at a character you couldn't have written for the best of fictional efforts.  This documentary introduced us to Jack Rebney, the foul mouthed former pitchman for the Winnebago company.  Search Winnebago Man on YOUTUBE and you will see what I mean.  I think the film maker set out to take an objective and very humorous look at the unique phenomenon that was Jack Rebney.  It starts out as a very hilarious comedy and it finishes strong as a touching portrait of a man we wouldn't have otherwise had the chance to meet. 

5 of 5 HORNS
This made the list for the way it made me feel when I watched.  As the ad run and trailer for this film warned, DO NOT LET ANYONE TELL YOU HOW IT ENDS.  As things built-up as the film progressed, the knots in my stomach only drew tighter.  I will say no more, except that no matter how ridiculous you think this movie may be, give it at least one viewing.  It is relatively short and that secret bit of twist is well worth waiting for.

4 of 5 HORNS
I am not sure if this was a 2009 or 2010 release, but it made it to KC in 2010, so on this list it will reside.  A Swedish film that is dark, gritty, and takes no prisoners.  My only regret is the need that the Hollywood suits feel to Americanize the content and this film, while being so fresh in our minds, is being remade as we speak.  As unnecessary as it may be, I will watch anything that David Fincher puts out and this dark subject matter is really in the heart of his wheelhouse.  Noomi Rapace owned Lisbeth Salander and she is one of the main reasons this film is on my list.  The story was well-told, suspenseful, and the film translated a well-loved book into a much-enjoyed movie.  R.I.P. Steig Larrson, the author of this treasured series.
#10 through #1 coming soon...I know, I can barely contain yourself.  I will see you all again real soon, I promise!

The Reel Rhino

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