best film: Inception remains my top film of 2010- the year I got back into cinema with a vengeance after a 2-3 year break (sort of- I still watched like 4 movies a week during that stretch). Inception was that film and theater experience but I can separate the emotion here and just applaud the clean mise-en-scnene, trademark Nolan parallel editing, and genius-level narrative. It’s not his Dunkirk is the better edited film but this is Nolan’s greatest accomplishment in mise-en-scene. In most years The Social Network and Black Swan would be the best film of the year.

most underrated: Somehow Inception is still #10 from 2010 on the TSPDT top 1000 of the 21st century. That’s annoying. But, even more underrated is Richard Ayoade’s Submarine. I feel like I’m the only one who’s seen it. It’s a coming-of-age film but it’s a stylistic spectacle. Currently there are 53 films from the TSPDT from 2010 on the top 1000 of the 21st century and Submarine isn’t one of them so it must be at least below that. Too bad. I hope that changes over time.

most overrated: I feel like a broken record on this category for this era picking Apichatpong Weerasethakul films. Weerasethakul’s Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives is the #1 film on TSPDT from 2010 and I don’t get it. At least not yet. I look forward to revisiting and studying all of these films. I must be missing something.

gem I want to spotlight: Derek Cianfrance’s Blue Valentine can’t quite touch the top 3 films of the year but it’s directed with confidence and purpose and includes two of the best performances of the year with Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling (also by the way two of the best actors of their generation). Cianfrance’s use of color and decor lifts it over being just another immaculately acted and written marriage/romance drama film.


trends and notables:  It’s a great year in cinema when you have perhaps the greatest film from Aronofsky (Black Swan is currently my #1 for him), Fincher (ditto here with Social Network being #1) and Nolan (I think Dunkirk now moves inception to my #2 Nolan film). Those are three of our best contemporary filmmakers and all solidly in the top 100 auteurs of all-time. 2010 is also notable for being Villeneuve’s first archiveable film (Incendies).  With Shutter Island we have the 4th Scorsese/Leo collaboration and the 4th time they’ve made a top 10 of the year film together. That’s amazing. It’s a really big year for Leo with strong work in both the best film of the year (inception) and Shutter Island at #7. For acting debuts we have the first archiveable film for Greta Gerwig in Baumbach’s Greenberg.

best performance male:  It’s a really strong year here. I’ve already mentioned above the achievements of Dicaprio in two films and Gosling in Blue Valentine. Both are fine choices. They’re not overwhelmingly better choices than the two standouts in The Social Network—Eisenberg and Garfield give the performance of their careers thus far. I’d also throw Christian Bale’s powerful portrayal in The Fighter in there as well as the dueling roles for Ewan McGregor in beginners and ghost writer.


best performance female: It’s equally strong here—perhaps even stronger than their male counterparts. Natalie Portman is my #1 choice here as good as some of the other contenders are. Portman is transcendent—it’s arguably the performance of the decade thus far. Behind her Michelle Williams is devastatingly good in Blue Valentine and Jennifer Lawrence’s work in Winter’s Bone marked the arrival of a true star. She isn’t given the screen-time some of the others are but Marion Cotillard is absolutely captivating in inception and worthy of mention here. Juliet Binoche is great in certified copy as is Melissa Leo in her oscar-winning performance in the fighter as Bale’s mother. Lastly, Hailee Steinfeld is excellent in the Coen brothers’ remake of True Grit.

top 10

  1. Inception
  2. The Social Network
  3. Black Swan
  4. Submarine
  5. The Ghost Writer
  6. Blue Valentine
  7. Shutter Island
  8. Somewhere
  9. Winter’s Bone
  10. Beginners

Archives, Directors, and Grades

127 Hours- Boyle R
13 Assassins R
Animal Kingdom R
Another Year- Leigh R
Beginners- Mills HR
Black Swan- Aronofsky MP
Blue Valentine- Cianfrance MS
Carlos- Assayas R
Certified Copy- Kiarostami R/HR
Cyrus R
Easy Money R
Get Low R
Green Zone- Greengrass R
Greenberg- Baumbach R
Heartbeats- Dolan R
How To Train Your Dragon R
Incendies- Villeneuve R
Inception- Nolan MP
Let Me In R
Meek’s Cutoff- Reichardt R
Mysteries of Lisbon – Ruiz R
Of Gods and Men R
Please Give- Holofcener R
Poetry R
Rabbit Hole R
Red, White, and Blue R
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World – E. Wright R
Shutter Island- Scorsese MS
Somewhere- S. Coppola HR
Submarine MS
The Fighter- D. Russell HR
The Ghost Writer- Polanski MS
The Illusionist R
The Kids Are All Right R
The King’s Speech- Hooper HR
The Social Network- Fincher MP
The Town- B. Affleck R
The Trip- Winterbottom R
Toy Story 3 HR
True Grit- Coen R/HR
Tuesday After Christmas R
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives- Weerasethakul R
Unstoppable- T. Scott R
Win Win- McCarthy R
Winter’s Bone HR/MS