The Readers Strike Back, Episode IV: Tanner Smith’s 2010 Top 10 (So Far)

November 13, 2010

Tanner Smith is an award-winning filmmaker and film critic (Eye on Independence Magazine, and timekill). He read my column. He sent in his list.

Here’s Tanner Smith’s Top 10 of 2010 List (so far)

1. The Social Network
It’s hard to make a good or great movie about networking, but it is possible—I am referencing television networking in that statement. It’s even harder (and seemingly impossible) to make a good or great movie about the creation of a social network via computer. But The Social Network amazingly pulls it off—this is a great movie, not just because it knows what it’s talking about when it comes to developing this website, but because it’s so skillfully made and highlights a great cast and a sharp script.

2. Winter’s Bone
Winter’s Bone has suspense, a compelling main character, intriguing supporting characters, a murky look to the Ozarks, and a story worth telling. To me, this is one of the best movies of 2010 and I certainly hope this film is remembered at Oscar season, most notably for Jennifer Lawrence’s flawless portrayal of an ordinary person rising to the occasion.

3. The Kids are All Right
Great acting by Julianne Moore, Annette Bening, Mark Ruffalo, Mia Wasikowska, and Josh Hutcherson —no types are found here. These performances remind us of actual people —our friends, our neighbors, even our relatives. They are helped by a terrific screenplay and quick direction.

4. Toy Story 3
Does it seem like each new Disney/PIXAR film always gets a place on many critics’ top-10 lists? Perhaps. But they definitely deserve the treatment. I have not seen a bad film by them yet and Toy Story 3 is an excellent third entry in the seemingly never-tiresome Toy Story series. It’s funny, action-packed, but it is also very touching if you know the first two movies by heart.

5. Inception
Ever since that intriguing teaser trailer of Christopher Nolan’s Inception, people were just dying to know just what in the world was happening. Now with the actual movie, it’s definitely not disappointing. This is a visually-astounding and cleverly-developed movie with convincing (if unspectacular) performances by Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt …but you really have to pay attention because you just might miss something. However, with this movie, you actually WANT to pay attention.

6. Amid Amor: The 48 Hour Film Project
I know what you’re thinking–how can a seven-minute film make this list? My answer to that question, which is also a question, is why can’t a short film have an interesting storyline with good acting and be very, very enjoyable? This film was made by teen cousin filmmakers Andrew and Matthew McMurry .

7. The Antagonist
Another short film, yet ten minutes longer than Amid Amor and screened at the T Tauri Film Festival. Made by Spy Hop Productions in Salt Lake City, Utah, this is a compelling story about a slasher with a blade, a tricycle, and a burlap sack over his head whose every move is controlled by his screenwriter, for better or worse.

8. Let Me In
This was not supposed to happen. A remake of the 2008 Swedish film Let the Right One In was not supposed to be worthy of its predecessor. But this film is great with an excellent visual style by director Matt Reeves (including the best movie car wreck I’ve seen in a long time — an unmoving POV shot from inside the car as it tumbles off the road), elements that make the story of tragic vampire puppy love (not stupid like it sounds) even more intriguing than the original film, and two of the best child actors working today — Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Road) as Owen the boy who falls in love with a vampire girl played by Chloe Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass).

9. How to Train Your Dragon
Maybe I’m reaching my limits on Dreamworks Animation films, but at least it didn’t leave me without delivering How to Train Your Dragon, a great-looking, computer-animated film that mixes E.T with dragons and Vikings.

10. Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
I said the year was not over yet, so my #10 spot may change. But until then, I remember the fun I had with Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. The year may near its end with the second-to-last Harry Potter film but it began with what could be the next great franchise. This movie was based on the first novel of a series of young adult novels by Rick Riordan and is just as fun with its modern elements of Greek mythology, likable characters, and fantastic pacing in its central adventure with involves three young demigods (half mortals, half gods) who encounter Medusa (Uma Thurman), a Hydra, and Hades (Steve Coogan, in Mick Jagger getup). It scored big at the box office, so I would expect a sequel and I would definitely be there on opening night. Another great thing about the movie — unlike other movies that tried to make into franchises (The Golden Compass and Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant), this movie does not end with a cliffhanger!

That is my list. And my pick for Most Disappointing Film: MacGruber. I liked the MacGruber/Will Forte sketches on SNL, but this feature-length movie based on all that does not live up to its potential. It has an unlikable hero and jokes that are mostly hit-and-miss.


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