This past year I’ve spent a lot more time on the film-rankings site FLICKCHART, which is pretty much the best ranking site ever. The premise behind it is simple: Instead of giving a starred rating to a film, you rank it versus another film. In this way you’re able to build a more accurate top film list based off of your sensibilities, and if interested, see how all the films rank with all the users in a global ranking. It’s a little daunting when you first go to the site and sign up, but they guide you through and the next thing you know a few days have passed.
But the point of today isn’t to sell you a site, it’s to show off my Top Ten Films of 2010. This year has been rather great for film, and everything in my top ten list really impressed me. I also managed to see roughly 30 films that were released this year, up from the 10-15 from 2009. Didn’t hurt that I went to AFI Fest this year and got to see a most of those films.
HERE WE GO!
THE GIST: I have an affinity for fish out of water tales and this one came with an extra helping of heart, as cheesy as that sounds. We got a glimpse into these people’s lives in this rather strange town and were able to identify with the main characters. I kind of want to see this again as soon as I can.
THE GIST: The first thing that stood out to me was the structure of the film. Everything is told in flashback, with the present depicted in still photography. Each character gets a turn to tell their point of view and we’re never on one person’s story for too long. Just this alone makes it an interesting watch, but there’s so much more to see here. This perhaps ranks among my top Korean films for sure!
THE GIST: A sci-fi period piece, and not necessarily what you might think. I’ll admit I teared up a bit at the end.
THE GIST: This film is about the resolution of an era. The old Yakuza get wiped out and replaced with a much younger set with “new” values. It’s quite a fascinating watch and I couldn’t tear my eyes away. Well, except for the various parts involving finger-chopping.
THE GIST: Bloody hell! Perhaps I DO like sword and sandal epics after all. There’s never a dull moment here and some of the more cliched moments aren’t offensive. I hope future films in this genre stray in the direction of this film and go for small, focused stories with an extra helping of grit. I’m so done with the sprawling epics *ahem*TROY*ahem*.
THE GIST: Two people compete for the love and affection of a rather striking youngster. It’s all style and all substance, and I kind of wanted to see it again after leaving the theater.
THE GIST: A film that accurately captures the zeitgeist of the 8-bit, 20-something gamer. Edgar Wright does well with the source material and Michael Cera impresses as the title character. Unfortunately, it’s a bit of a polarizing film for the nerds out there, which lead to poor box office. Personally, I think those who didn’t connect with the film really weren’t the type of gamers the source material was reaching out to.
THE GIST: Nolan’s best film, in my opinion. This one is hard to top.
THE GIST: I was stressed out for the entire film, and that’s a good thing! I liked the play of restraint versus letting go set amongst Swan Lake. Natalie Portman is great in this. SEE IT!
THE GIST: Props to the cinematography, which is a homage to the aforementioned Argento films. Pretty much every cinematic trick that I loved from those films is in play here and there’s a particular scene in the end that’s tough to forget. There’s no question. You need to see this film!
AND HERE’S A MONTAGE CLIP. WHY?
I’d like to get a couple of important details squared away with you first before I start rambling about why I think Scott Pilgrim is one of the top mainstream films this year. First of all, I’m a writer. As such, I believe in the story and characters above all else. Things like “who directed it” or “who produced it” or “how it was made” sit on the shelf below. Finally–and this is the most important detail–I’m a video game nerd from 8-bit yesteryear and I digest non-mainstream comics like fifty-nine cent, name-brand mac ‘n cheese; which is to say, I really dig comics. I’m the dorky, indifferent kid that wants “to think about death and get sad and stuff.”
There. I feel like we can proceed.
Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is awesome, and the hyperbole is well-founded. The film, from beginning to end, is an experience. Every moment oozes with style and is tailored to the “and stuff” generation I subscribe to; 8-bit sound effects run rampant, sound effects are written out comic book style, and characters pull huge fucking hammers out of their satchels.
This is all fine and good, as long as it’s not at the expense of the characters or the story. There have been too many adaptations that have opted for the “look right” option and have totally flubbed on the story front. With Pilgrim, the main characters all have story threads that wrap up nicely by the end credits and title character himself grows from being a kind of “twenty-something asshole” to “not that bad of a guy.” To quote him, “I think I just learned something.” The romantic triangle between him, Ramona and Knives is also very believable and the awkwardness and crushing blow of getting dumped is played out in a way that’s borders on uncomfortably accurate. It’s nice to see the filmmakers keep a good balance between silly romantic cliche and heartfelt character stuff.
The casting for the film didn’t feel wrong, and everyone was able to do their own thing with the characters. Michael Cera, despite his tendency for sameness across his roles, embodies Scott Pilgrim and does the role good. After seeing the film, I’m not sure anyone else could have played that role. One reviewer I read suggested that all his other roles are just training for this, and I can definitely agree with the sentiment.
Perhaps the most memorable role of the film is that of Scott’s roommate Wallace, played by Kieran Culkin. Every scene he is in is gold and I found myself wishing he had had more screen time. Brandon Routh also shines through as Todd Ingram and revels in the delightfully ridiculous role. When I say that I can’t complain about any of the casting choices, I’m being super-vegan serious.
That’s not to say that this film is perfect. It’s not. It’s a niche film tailored to a specific demographic. It’s paced like a video game and it winks at it’s viewers like an epileptic seizure. The characters could be deeper and could have more heart, but that’s not necessarily the point of the story. What you see on the screen is as faithful an adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s work as anyone could hope to achieve. It’s not going to be Criterion Collection Masterpiece of Nerddom, but it’s most definitely in the top mainstream films of this year and is pretty much THE film of the “and stuff” generation.
I lesbians this film so hard.