feature: top 10 films of 2010



So 2010 has come to an end and it’s time for us all to look back at what films floated our boats 2010… First thing I have to say is that, I thought 2010 was a pretty good year for film. There have been some really outstanding films during the year and I had a hard enough time deciding on what my top 10 should be… in fact, as I write this I still haven’t entirely finalised it.

For this list I’m only looking at films that were on general release in the Republic of Ireland in 2010.

That means that even though I’ve already seen The King’s Speech and 127 Hours, they are not eligible for the 2010 list. Similarly films like Precious or Crazy Heart which released in the US in 2009 and featured in the 2010 Oscars -are- eligible for this list because they only came out in Ireland at the end of January 2010. And lastly, a film like The Human Centipede, which had a UK release but only had a festival release here in Ireland, is not eligible. Also, it was muck.

Oh yeah, and, where I’ve done a review I’ve linked to that review so you can see what my first impression was. I might have changed that opinion since then… feel free to take me up on it if you think I’m being inconsistent. Otherwise I’ve linked to the IMDb page.

Anyway, enough explaining. Here’s the list. In reverse order.

10. His & HersHis and Hers poster

I hmm’d and haw’d for ages about what I should put in tenth place. But I decided I had to draw a line somewhere and here’s where it fell.

If you hadn’t heard of it, His & Hers is an Irish documentary. It’s the first feature length film from successful short film director Ken Wardrop. I’d never seen or heard of his stuff so as an introduction to his work I was very impressed with this. It’s a very accomplished piece of work. The idea of film is that is an Irish woman’s story of the men in her life, from cradle to grave, told through the voices of 70 women from the Midlands.

As, I suppose, an outsider… having not grown up in Ireland… I found it fascinating. I thought the method he chose was a wonderful way of weaving this story into a cohesive piece and I’m really looking forward to seeing what he does as his next work. I do have a review of it up on the site so click the title above to see more of my thoughts on it. (8/10)

9. Jackass 3DJackass 3D poster Johnny Knoxville

I used to watch Jackass back in the day. I was no devotee or anything but I always thought it was a bit of fun. Mostly because of Johnny Knoxville. He’s just seems like such a likeable fella. I mean yeah, they did some awful stuff to each other but as long as Johnny was laughing you knew everything was ok.

But, when Jackass finished back in 2002 I never really thought much about it again… except to remark on how the likes of Dirty Sanchez just weren’t half as funny. I never watched the other Jackass movies or anything…

… Perhaps I should have, because this was hilarious. Well, Ok. If you don’t think seeing a crowd of fellas in convict outfits falling about trying to make it down a corridor filled with tasers and cattle prods is funny; then fair enough. But I reckon I laughed more at this film than any other during the year… and if that’s not enough to get it into the top 10 then I don’t know what is. (8/10)

8. Four LionsFour Lions poster

The second comedy on the list and it couldn’t be more different from the first. As you can see on the poster, a lot of people thought it was “funny”. And it is funny. But it’s more than that… Hmm… It occurs to me that I’d better explain this one a bit since it was a pretty small film.

Four Lions is a British satire about a group of Jihadi Islamist terrorists from Sheffield, England. It’s Chris Morris debut feature film and it’s written by Morris and the team behind the excellent Channel 4 comedy series, Peep Show. You may remember Chris Morris as the creator of such shows as The Day Today and Brass Eye.

I never did a review of Four Lions and I really should have because it’s a film that deserved more of an audience. There was all this controversy on its release, because of the whole terrorism thing, but the controversy, I thought, really denied how well the film and the writers actually handle the issue. In some ways you could even say it’s a sensitive film in that respect. It’s funny, but it’s not… poking fun, as it were.

Anyway, I thought it was clever, funny and kind of sad as well. To be able to mix that all together in a film about terrorism takes talent and I’m looking forward to seeing what Chris Morris does next. (8/10)

7. Preciousprecious poster mo'nique Gabourey Sidibe

Precious is one from early in the year, one of last year’s Oscar crop. It’s based on a 1996 novel called Push and its about a poor, pregnant, overweight, illiterate teenage mother living at home with her abusive mother in Harlem in the late 1980s. Awful things happen to this girl. Awful things.

So yeah, it’s harsh. And I’m not going to deny, it was a difficult watch at times… but I thought it was so well made. I mean that in the sense that was convincing, it’s a horrible, depressing, sad story about this girl who barely seems to have even a glimmer of a chance in her life but I never thought it went too far. In fact I definitely thought that there was a sense of hope about the film and the character. As terribly depressing as the story was, I thought there was a balance to it. Well maybe not an equal balance but a counter point to the litany of awful events, if you will.

Add to that strong performances all round and you have a very worthwhile drama. (9/10)

6. Winter’s BoneWinter's Bone poster Jennifer Lawrence

A film that I know has topped many people’s top films of 2010 lists just narrowly misses out on a top 5 finish here. It really is an very good film but there were just others that resonated more with me…

Winter’s Bone is a look into The Ozark community in the bleak highlands of Missouri – a community which many people over here probably don’t even know exists and few know much about. It’s a film about… family. It’s also a film about pride, determination and… responsibility.

From my point of view it’s a very straight film, which is probably why I don’t rate it as highly as some others – many times I’ve mentioned on the blog how, for me, for a film to be truly outstanding there has to be something that means that it’s a story I had to see rather than hear about… it’s something I mentioned as well when I talked about City of God in my top 10 films of the decade post. Though in the case of City of God, they made a film that transcended that for me.

In my view, Winter’s Bone just misses out on greatness, but the reason it’s on this list is that it’s still such an engaging, even gripping tale… even though it’s a relatively simple story. A 16 year old girl (Jennifer Lawrence, watch out for that name) has to find her father; he’s out on bond and he’s put the house up as surety. If she doesn’t find him, herself, her invalid mother and younger brother and sister will be homeless. Excellent, excellent performances, from Lawrence but also from Dale Dickey, who I found truly terrifying.

Definitely worth a look if you enjoy your drama bleak. (8/10)

5. InceptionInception Poster Leonardo Di Caprio

It had to be on here somewhere and in the end I decided that yes, it did deserve a place in the top 5.

I was so excited about this film. I wrote like two different features on it months before it came out. I just thought the initial teaser trailer looked and sounded unbelievably cool.

And it was cool. I’m not gonna get all “thinking man’s blockbuster action film” and everything on you. It looked good and it was great fun. The ideas were well thought out and fully realised. It was smart, it was slick and it was nice to see an action film that actually made an effort. (9/10)

4. BuriedBuried Rodrigo Cortes Ryan Reynolds

Mark, you can just skip over this.

I loved Buried. I wouldn’t say it was a particularly enjoyable film… or, in fact, that it was fun to watch in any way whatsoever… but I did think that it was a fantastic feat of film-making and that we saw one of the best performances of the year from Ryan Reynolds.

In Buried Ryan Reynolds spends 90 odd minutes trapped underground in a wooden box with various light sources and a phone. That’s all it is. It really does commit to the box. Yet it is probably the most relentlessly tense films I have ever seen.

It is tough, tough going and, as I said, you can’t really call it an enjoyable film but it is a visceral and draining experience and, even though I did in the end, rank 3 films higher than this one. I did, at the time, think it was possibly the best film of the year. Much kudos to the Ryan Reynolds, director Rodrigo Cortés, writer Chris Sparling and cinematographer Eduard Grau for pulling this off.

I, again, urge you to give it a look. I’m not sure what it would be like on DVD as both times I saw it, I saw it in the cinema but I’m sure as long as it’s a reasonably sized TV then it should still work.

Course you might hate it… Don’t blame me for that. (9/10)

3. The Social NetworkThe Social Network, facebook movie

On first watch, I wasn’t blown away by The Social Network. I thought it was a great film with an absolutely amazing script but I didn’t think it was as good as some of David Fincher’s other films. If you read the review linked above you’ll see my first impressions…

Fact is, I still don’t think it’s as good as Se7en. But then that was my favourite film of all time for years so there’s no need to aim at those heady heights. I do think it’s as good as Zodiac now though. So that’s a step up. In fact… as I denied in the review, I now give back. The Social Network is a brilliant film.

And don’t be put off by this idea that it’s about Facebook. It’s not really. Ok. It is about a bunch of computer programmers but it’s also a story of glamour and intrigue (you have to imagine me waving the spirit fingers here) and broken dreams and a billion dollars…. Ah, damn it, I’m selling it short here so I’ll just stop.

Look, bottom line is… If you’re on Facebook and you haven’t seen The Social Network, I recommend you see it. If you loved The West Wing and have been awaiting a successor and you haven’t seen The Social Network, I recommend you see it. If you like films, I recommend you see it. Like I said, it’s a brilliant movie.

Unfortunately it’s not out on DVD till March. Presumably so that it can take advantage of the plaudits that will come from the Oscars at the end of Feb… (8.5/10)

2. Toy Story 3Toy Story 3 poster Woody and Buzz

I was 15 when Toy Story came out and I loved it. I was 19 when Toy Story 2 came out and I loved it. I was 30 when Toy Story 3 came out and, yes, I loved it.

How can you not love the Toy Story films?

In the Toy Story trilogy, Pixar created characters that people everywhere can relate to and brought their storytelling back to the simplest theme. Friendship. They are truly beautiful films and, in my opinion, yes, the Toy Story trilogy is the greatest movie trilogy of all time. (10/10)

I’m getting a bit teary eyed thinking about them so rather than going on some more, have a look at this instead – Toy Story intro: You’ve Got A Friend In Me

1. A Single ManA Single Man Poster Colin Firth

Tah dah!

My #1 film of 2010 is A Single Man. As much as the Toy Story films will always hold a special place in my heart… I thought A Single Man was a better film than Toy Story 3.

I said it in the original review; I do think this is the best film I’ve seen since 2004’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind… and that was my #2 film of the decade. So, I guess that should give you an idea of how highly I regard this film.

Set in Los Angeles in the early 1960s, Colin Firth plays George Falconer, a college professor who has recently lost his long term partner (played by Matthew Goode) and has sunk into depression. The film follows one day in George’s life.

It is a stunning looking film. It’s directed by noted fashion designer Tom Ford and in an odd coincidence, the cinematographer is the same guy, Eduard Grau who did #4 on the list, Buried. Must check out what he’s doing next.

The look isn’t what makes the film though… it certainly adds to it but what makes it is Firth’s performance. He is nothing short of breathtaking in this film. It is a travesty that he didn’t get the Oscar. But oh well, that’s just how things go I guess. Anyway, to me, A Single Man really is a work of art. (10/10)

Honorable mentions… in… let’s make it alphabetical order.

Another Year – I actually had Another Year in the top 10 right up until the last minute… then I realised. You know what. Even though I thought it was a very good film with excellently drawn characters by actors giving really, top class performances. I didn’t like it that much. Well. I did like it… but I didn’t. More accurately I didn’t like the central characters and I just thought – you know what, I should give that space on the list to a film I really enjoyed.

The American – an excellent, somewhat slow paced (not a criticism) character study directed by Anton Corbijn and starring George Clooney. I really felt this was something different in cinema this year. Well, different from what you’d expect. You’d want to be in the mood for it though. I can understand why some would think it’s boring.

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New OrleansNicolas Cage does what he does best. Playing a whacked out mad man. Only this time in a cop’s uniform. Werner Herzog directs this crazed tale of drug dealers, prostitutes and dirty cops. Wish I could have found space in the top 10 for it.

Hot Tub Time Machine – put this film in as an honourable mention a week after the article’s published. I was hoping to see it again to decide if it really was that funny and hence worthy of the position. However, I don’t have it on DVD and I don’t think I’m going to get to the DVD rental place in the next week so I thought I’d better just put it in. I know that not that many people regarded it particularly highly last year… it’s not got great scores on IMDb or RottenTomatoes or Metacritic… but so what. I laughed a lot. I thought it was hilarious. I wanna put it on here. So here it is.

Shutter Island – I wasn’t sure whether to put this into honourable mentions or not. Which is why it’s gone in a week after I actually published the article. I DID really like it. It was one of the movies I really enjoyed this year. But. If you read the review you’ll see. It got me a bit worried that I was so happy to see a good film my judgement may have been clouded. If I’d seen it in November I’m not sure it’d be on here. Anyway, I figure since I did actually do a review, you may as well have a look at it rather than me going on again.

Mother (Madeo) – a Korean film from Bong Joon-ho, director of The Host and Memories of Murder. When her somewhat mentally disabled son is jailed for murder and the police seem to have closed the book on the case, a mother takes it upon herself to fight to get him cleared and released. I really like Bong Joon-ho’s style and I like that element of black humour in his films. See this and see Memories of Murder too.

Anyway. That’s my top 10 of the year. Undoubtedly not everyone will agree. I’m eager to hear what films you think you think I’ve overlooked. Not so eager to hear about the ones you think I’m completely wrong about but nevertheless I am also curious about them… Do tell.


  1. comment-avatar
    AuriJanuary 5, 2011 - 2:50 pm

    Nice list. Good read. Thanks for putting Jackass on there, makes me feel better about watching it twice. Also your #1 was 2009 for us US folks, so I agree with ‘Toy Story 3’ being the best movie to come out this year Stateside…

  2. comment-avatar
    Your MaJanuary 5, 2011 - 8:24 pm

    Nice to see you putting in the stuff you actually like as opposed to the stuff critics usually stick in.

  3. comment-avatar
    Nicola-tJanuary 5, 2011 - 8:31 pm

    @Auri – ah thanks!

    @Your Ma – I suspect a lot of these were popular with the critics too… I really need to put in a few more honourable mentions though. I’m pure tempted to throw in Hot Tub Time Machine.

    I reckon I’ll be more at odds with critics when I get to doing my Worst of 2010 list…!

  4. comment-avatar
    PlexJanuary 9, 2011 - 1:07 pm

    Love the blog, and this is a solid top 10 – A Single Man is a superb film, I completely agree.

    I’ve put you in my blogroll now – and I’m looking forward to reading more of your posts. I’m blogging at Lost in the Multiplex – come and say hello?


  5. comment-avatar
    Julie K.January 9, 2011 - 10:53 pm

    Great number once choice! I could not agree more with you saying it is a travesty that Colin Firth did not get the Oscar. I have seen the film recently and I still catch myself thinking about it – even though a couple of days have passed. Firth’s performance is simply superb, I am so happy he finally managed to grow from the romantic comedies’ roles and show us some fine acting.

  6. comment-avatar
    SebastianJanuary 17, 2011 - 12:08 pm

    Thanks you for that list- will check out a few of them! Haven´t been able to get a good glimpse on recent movies so that´s a help. Feel free to visit the blog I´m writing for- http://blog.movielocker.com/
    Have a good start in the week,

  7. comment-avatar
    Summer FilmsFebruary 28, 2011 - 1:37 am

    Inception is genious! I am still as of yet to see The Social Network but I am sure it is a great film!

  8. comment-avatar
    AudreyNovember 5, 2011 - 9:04 pm

    I think this is a very nice, varied list that really reflects your own taste in film, which is refreshing. I hate it when people just rehash whatever Roger Ebert thought were the best films of the year – whats the point in that? I agree with a lot of your choices (especially Toy Story 3 – I was a kid when the first two came out, and they definitely have a special place in my heart), and most of the others are films that I haven’t seen yet (will have to check out). Nice work!

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