By Christa A. Banister, senior editor, www.watchgmctv.com
Truth be told, it’s been a fairly lackluster year at the multiplex, with a few notable exceptions, of course. In addition to Hollywood’s continued case of sequel-itis (yeah, I didn’t think there needed to be a Step Up in 3D either), there were few genuinely inspired ideas, and this is coming from someone who’s reviewed 70 movies this year.
In fact, this is probably the first time where it’s been far, far easier ranking the worst movies of the year than the best ones. But after careful consideration and separating the proverbial wheat from the chaff, I’ve come up with (drum roll, please) a definitive list of the year’s best and worst films at a theater near you.
The Best of 2010
1) The Social Network – In terms of capturing our culture’s barometer, it didn’t get any more on point than the story of how everyone’s favorite timewaster, Facebook, may – or may not have – come to fruition. With whipsmart dialogue courtesy of Aaron Sorkin and the pitch perfect acting of Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, and yes, even Justin Timberlake, it’s the ultimate story of how greed, revenge and the quest for popularity can simultaneously benefit – and wreck – a person to his very core.
2) Toy Story 3 – The madcap adventures of Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the rest of the toys have never been more heart-wrenching or thoroughly entertaining.
3) The King’s Speech – While Colin Firth has always been a charming leading man in many a romantic comedy, he got to flex his serious acting chops in The King’s Speech as George VI of Britain, the unlikely leader with a confidence-crippling speech impediment. Look for Firth to score his first Oscar for this one.
4) The Town – Proving yet again that he’s far easier to take seriously as a director than an actor, Ben Affleck serves up a gritty yet compelling portrayal of Charlestown, a suburb of Boston where bank robberies are a criminal’s favorite pastime.
5) Winter’s Bone – It’s definitely not the cheeriest of movies, but you’ll never forget it, that’s for sure as a girl from the Ozarks hunts down her drug-dealing dad while trying to keep everyone else in her family intact.
6) True Grit – Who says a remake can’t be as good – or even surpass – the original? Yeah, it’s a rare feat, but the Cohn Brothers have successfully pulled it off with True Grit with a little help from Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin and newcomer Hailee Steinfeld.
7) Buried – If you’ve got claustrophobic tendencies, Buried isn’t exactly easy to watch considering that Ryan Reynolds spends almost the entire movie buried six feet underground in a coffin. But what makes it such a compelling journey is his quest to escape. Trust me, you’ll stay engaged for the entire 90-minute duration.
8) How to Train Your Dragon – At first blush, it would’ve been easy to mistake How to Train Your Dragon for the next Pixar flick, given the inherently heartwarming storytelling and intricate animation. But DreamWorks proves that Pixar doesn’t exactly have the corner on the market in this imaginative story that both kids (and their parents) can’t help loving.
9) Tangled – Rapunzel gets a thoroughly modern makeover, and it’s nothing but pure zany fun. Not only is the vocal talent (Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi) top-notch, but the songs are so catchy you’ll be singing them once you’ve left the theater, too.
10) Waiting for Superman – It’s not perfect, but Waiting for Superman is a provocative documentary on the state of public education that will leave you with plenty of food for thought once the credits have rolled.
The Worst of 2010
1) Sex In the City 2 – Americans have never been uglier as Carrie and the girls seriously stretch the bounds of style and good taste in Abu Dhabi.
2) Furry Vengeance – Scary animatronic animals + the great outdoors + Brendan Fraser as a environment-hating businessman = total disaster for everyone watching, plus a whole lot of lame scatological humor that I’m pretty sure was written by a third grader.
3) The Lovely Bones – Let’s just say that Peter Jackson had much, much better luck with bringing Middle Earth to life than adapting The Lovely Bones for the big screen. After all, I never, ever imagined that heaven would look like something The Beatles or Pink Floyd would’ve created while under the influence.
4) Going the Distance – Drew Barrymore and Justin Long may have been a real-life couple, but they have z-e-r-o chemistry in this needlessly bawdy tale of thirty-something commitment-phobes who are giving long-distance dating a try.
5) Killers – Never have there been this many unintentional laughs in one movie. Thank you, Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl.
6) Charlie St. Cloud – In case you’re curious, yes, Zac Efron should stick to singing, dancing and mugging for magazine advertisements because his “serious” acting chops are sketchy at best.
7) Marmaduke – The cinematic equivalent of dog breath, and yes, I could be meaner.
8) The Next Three Days – Russell Crowe must have really needed the money because there’s no other explanation for starring in a “thriller” that’s this far-fetched.
9) The Sorcerer’s Apprentice – Nicholas Cage not only needs a better hairplace, but a better agent wouldn’t hurt either. This film is so bad, it doesn’t deserve to have Disney’s stamp of approval.
10) Alice in Wonderland – Yes, even Johnny Depp has an off day now and then in this thoroughly bizarre and downright creepy reenactment of this classic tale.
About the Writer
After graduating with a B.S. in Journalism from North Central University in 1998, Christa Banister moved from Minneapolis to Nashville, Tenn. and eventually started working at CCM Magazine/Salem Publishing in various editorial capacities as an editor, columnist and website guru for five and a half years. After that, she launched her own Dallas-based freelance writing company and writes for numerous clients including Salem Publishing, Crosswalk.com (she review movies for them each week), Christian Single, Christianity Today, Threads Media, Songs4Worship.com, PassAlong.com and also helped kickstart the first Christian music blog for MTV. In addition, she also writes bios for professional recording artists and authors and penned her first two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers for NavPress.