Jeff LeMaster’s Top 12 and Bottom Five movies of the year

December 26, 2010

Jeff LeMaster, the editpr of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s Three Rivers, River Valley and Ozark, and Tri-Lakes Editions and a frequent contributor to SyncWeekly checks in with his end-of-the-year list.

1. True Grit
A bit of a homer pick, I know, but I was not more entertained by a film this year than when I saw True Grit.

2. Winter’s Bone
Winter’s Bone is chilling and stunning in the power of its performances and storytelling. If John Hawkes doesn’t get some attention during this year’s award season, then there’s just something wrong with people.

3. Inception
There’s been plenty written about Inception. I left the theater saying, “Wow.” That about sums it up.

4. Black Swan
Darren Aronofsky further proved his range as a director with Black Swan, the story of a dancer and her path to glory. Natalie Portman is my early pick for this year’s Academy Award for Best Actress.

5. Louder Than A Bomb
This festival-circuit documentary tells the story of a group of Chicago high school students who find their voices through poetry. It’s funny, moving and powerful.

Louder Than a Bomb documentary demo from Siskel/Jacobs Productions on Vimeo.

6. The Book Of Eli
This was one of those films that just stuck with me long after seeing it. The contrast of innocent faith and ubiquitous evil is the prevailing them in the story’s post-apocalyptic world. Denzel was great, and Gary Oldman was over the top (which is how I like him).

“The Book Of Eli” Movie Promo from Cooke Pictures on Vimeo.

7. The Greims
Winner of Best Short at the Little Rock Film Festival, this fun little story featuring Arkansan Wes Bentley made me laugh harder than I had in a while.

8. Youth In Revolt
The clock’s ticking on Michael Cera being able to play the same kind of character in every film, but dang it if it still doesn’t work. Youth in Revolt was clever and endearing.

9. The A-Team

10. Restrepo
As moving as films like Saving Private Ryan and The Hurt Locker are, the reality of war, conflict and death go to another level when it’s, well, real. This documentary goes where none have gone before, to a remote outpost in Afghanistan where a group of American troops are surrounded by the Taliban.

The Sal Giunta Story from SebastianJunger/TimHetherington on Vimeo.

11. Obselidia
Another LRFF offering that was beautifully shot in southern California. Director Diane Bell accomplishes the tricky goal of making a film about environmental issues without getting preachy.

Obselidia – Trailer from John-Michael Powell on Vimeo.

12. Breaking Upwards
A refreshing relief from big-budget rom-coms, this indie feature tackles the difficult parts of a relationship while showing the warmth and virtue of the people involved.

5 worst films I saw this year:

5. Secretariat
Diane Lane is perfectly awful in this not-so-true-to-life story about the greatest racehorse ever sired.

4. Le Donk and Scor-zay-zee
I want to believe that I would have enjoyed this mockumentary more if I were British, but I don’t think so.

3. When in Rome
I owed my wife a chick-flick trip to the theater, so I gave When in Rome a chance. This was so bad it made my teeth hurt.

2. Robin Hood
There’s a lot not to like in this film, but when Maid Marion comes charging into the requisite uber-battle at the end, leading an army of kids on Shetland ponies, no less, I pretty much wrote this one off.

1. Alice in Wonderland
This was my least-favorite film this year because of the subject matter. Alice in Wonderland is a brilliant tale full of brilliant characters. Tim Burton dumbed down the story and its characters to the point of being obnoxious for the sake of … I’m not sure what.

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