Our Armchair Critic Sam Blair’s Top 10 movie list with extras

December 25, 2010

Regular BDA contributor Sam Blair — semi-retired college counselor, formerly at Little Rock Central High School — delivers his Top 10 list in time for Christmas morning.

Sam’s Ten Best Movies released in 2010:

1. The King’s Speech – Best Brit film since The Queen. Outstanding production, award-worthy performances from Colin Firth (surely 2010’s Best Actor after a near-miss last year) and Geoffrey Rush.

2. Restrepo (docu) – We pegged this Afghanistan-set feature with no narrator early; it won Best Documentary at both the Little Rock and Telluride Film Festivals last spring. Now available on DVD..

3. The Social Network – From brilliant Harvard geek and possible sociopath to TIME‘s multi-billionaire Man of the Year. That’s Mark Zuckerberg, and this may or may not be his Facebook creation story.

4. Winter’s Bone – In backwoods America, meth labs are the new stills, and nosy Revenuers and relatives are still unwelcome. Has the scariest boat scene since the first Cape Fear” Another Little Rock Film Festival find–and a star is born in young Jennifer Lawrence.

5. The Kids are All Right – Emphasize the word “Kids” and you’ll get the title. Funny, poignant, sexy, and timely script; wonderful ensemble headed by Annette Bening, Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo.

6. True Grit – The Coen Brothers and Jeff Bridges don’t disappoint in this remake of Arkansan Charles Portis’s 1968 novel. Best small touch that works: weaving the old Evangelical hymn “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” into the soundtrack.

7. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Sweden) – Why try to improve on terrific Noomi Rapace and a fine Swedish cast with a big Hollywood studio movie? This version’s as exciting as the best-selling trilogy.

8. The Fighter – This year’s washed up guy attempting comeback movie is better than its two recent predecessors, The Wrestler and Crazy Heart. It grabbed me early and didn’t let go. Mark Wahlberg is the fighter, but the best bout is between mouthy mother (Melissa Leo) and tough girlfriend (Amy Adams). Great ensemble, but an emaciated Christian Bale is stealing the reviews.

9. Another Year – Mike Leigh’s wistful, gently humorous film spanning a year in the lives of a middle-aged English couple, their family and friends deserves an audience. With a perfect cast of Jim Broadbent, Ruth Sheen, and in a career-making performance, Lesley Manville.

10. (tie) Carlos (France) – If you’re too young to remember Carlos the Jackal, Google him. This is his story, first serialized on French TV. Edgar Ramirez is splendid as the Jackal.

10. (tie) Inside Job – In critic Tony Scott’s words, an “infuriating documentary…of a crime without punishment.” The perpetrators of the 2008 financial collapse parade before the cameras, some remorseful, others defiant.

Two excellent Runners up based on true events: Fair Game (Naomi Watts & Sean Penn as Valerie Plame & Joe Wilson); and 127 Hours (James Franco is Aron Ralston, the young man pinned under a boulder in the wild until he, well, you know.)
. . . plus a Dozen Honorable Mentions:

Biutiful (Mexico)
Lebanon (Israel)
The American
The Ghost Writer
Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer
Blue Valentine
The Town
Made in Dagenham
Black Swan
Toy Story 3
I Am Love (Italy)

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