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Most Enjoyable & Most
Disappointing of 2010
by Tony Medley
There were a lot fewer
terrible films this year. But the flip side of that is that there were a
lot fewer wonderful films this year, so my lists are shorter than in the
past. Here are my lists of the most enjoyable and least enjoyable/most
disappointing/most overrated films I saw during 2010. The negative
category includes some films that, while not the worst, were
disappointing or overrated, or, while enjoyable, had huge flaws. The
positive category is just how much I enjoyed them, not rated as I would
rate an Oscar®-winner.
- The Social Network:
This is a terrific film, due mainly to Jesse Eisenberg’s
brilliant performance. But any doubt that it won’t win the Oscar®
was erased by writer-director Aaron Sorkin’s haughty, mean-spirited,
dimwitted attack on Sarah Palin (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/aaron-sorkin/sarah-palin-killing-animals_b_793600.html),
which will appeal to the mostly leftwing Oscar® voters. Sorkin is
such an arrogant elitist he assumes his readers don’t know what
“visceral” means. Come to think of it, however, considering the
intellect of people in Sorkin’s milieu, he’s probably right.
- Nanny McPhee Returns:
Another wonderfully entertaining, feel good family movie from
- True Grit: Why
make a carbon copy of a 40-year old movie? I guess to get great
performances by Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld and rewrite the
script with dialogue straight out of Damon Runyon. But couldn’t the
Coens have corrected the scene of Hailee coming out of a river bone
dry? They didn’t have to copy everything, even the goofs, from the
1969 John Wayne/Henry Hathaway film, did they?
- The Town: Ben
Affleck proves once again he’s one of the best directors in town.
- The Secret in Their
Eyes: The secret was this movie that not many people saw, to
- The Fighter: Not
your typical boxing movie. I deplore boxing and movies about boxing;
I loved this with a lot of luscious scenes of Amy Adams and a
bravura performance by Christian Bale.
- Red: A bunch of
aging actors who don’t take themselves too seriously highlight this
entertaining action comedy.
- The Girl Who Played
with Fire & The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest & The Girl With
the Dragon Tattoo: See these terrific films before the Americans
make their versions, which are unlikely to achieve the same high
quality, especially since they are set to star Daniel “I want James
Bond to have a gay sex relationship” Craig .
- Alice in Wonderland:
A magical performance by Johnny Depp, aided and abetted by
Helena Bonham Carter in a story only loosely based on the real
- Secretariat: While
I said that Diane Lane + John Malkovich + Secretariat = 2010’s
Triple Crown, the lack of archival films was a big disappointment. I
wanted to see the real Secretariat.
- Edge of Darkness:
Mel Gibson, for all his demons, can still create good movies.
- Winter’s Bone: A
small, stark, compelling movie that is surprisingly getting its due
this awards season. If you didn’t see it, and you probably didn’t,
- Death at a Funeral:
I didn’t think an American version could measure up to the
original. This came close.
- Letters to Juliet:
Who would have thought that director Gary Winick’s redux of Delmer
Daves’ little remembered 1962 Suzanne Pleshette-Troy Donahue soaper
Rome Adventure (which I liked) could be as good as this with
a fine performance by Amanda Seyfried and Italian scenery to die
- Prince of Persia: The
Sands of Time: An old-fashioned adventure comedy with
entertaining performances by Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, and
- Solitary Man:
Michael Douglas gives an award-quality performance. But he plays
these sleazy roles so well, is he really acting?
- Joan Rivers: A Piece
of Work: I laughed uncontrollably and learned a lot about Ms.
Rivers in the process.
- Unstoppable: A
thriller about a runaway train that lives up to its hype.
- The King’s Speech:
Despite some strange inaccurate historical portrayals of the Duke of
Windsor and Winston Churchill, it’s saved by good performances by
Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush.
- How Do You Know: A
rom-com that rivals the best of the ‘50s, due mainly to wonderful
performances by Paul Rudd and Owen Wilson, who finally get to appear
in an entertaining movie.
- Nowhere Man:
Interesting portrait of a young John Lennon, explaining how and why
he came to be the strange person he was.
- Babies: Very
interesting documentary about four babies from four different parts
of the world.
- Grown Ups: Grown
ups had nothing to do with this idiocy.
- Eat Pray Love: The
chick flick of the year, and that’s no compliment, showing Julia
Roberts traveling all over the world feeling sorry for herself
because she’s not in love. Poor Javier Bardem who gets stuck with
her in the end. Boo hoo.
- The Other Guys:
Need I say more than “Will Ferrell,” who might finally have hit rock
bottom? But didn’t I say that last year, too?
- Little Fockers:
Worse than awful, Ben Stiller is not unlike Ferrell in that his
movies seem to get worse each year. Hung up on penis jokes, this
year he thinks jabbing DeNiro’s with a hypodermic needle is funny.
- The Tourist: Could
there be two people with less chemistry between them than Johnny
Depp and Angelina Jolie? So many actors and directors turned this
turkey down, it’s a wonder (and a shame) it got made, despite the
eye-popping Venetian scenery.
- Freakonomics: The
two guys who wrote the book made this as an egoistic paean to
themselves. In so doing, they forgot what made the book a success.
- Due Date: Director
Todd Philips was so bereft of comedic ideas he had to resort to a
scene of a dog masturbating, and that’s not even the most
distasteful scene in this unpalatable movie.
- Oceans: Disney
apparently had a lot of stock footage, so they threw it all together
to try to suck lots of people into watching it. Apparently people
were wise to them, though, because it grossed less than $20 million.
- Get Him to the Greek:
Judd Apatow proves he has yet to mature, still relying on
F-bombs and vomit as a substitute for real humor. Someday maybe Judd
will finally grow up and concentrate on making films for mature
people with IQs over 50, like he did with Year One and
- From Paris With Love:
The first hour is one of the most ridiculous hours of film I’ve had
to sit through. John Travolta is an over-the-top, violent psychopath
who shoots more bullets in the first hour, and kills so many people
in Paris that it’s hard to believe anybody is left alive. The
violence is so pervasive it becomes like white noise.
- Repo Men: A
repellent, nauseating, sorry excuse for a motion picture. It got its
just reward by grossing less than $14 million despite starring turns
by Jude Law and Oscar®-winner Forest Whitaker.
- Robin Hood: If
watching Cate Blanchett in helmet and chain mail splashing through
the ocean to thwart a French invasion wasn’t enough to set you
rolling in the aisles laughing, there was plenty more to tickle your
funny bone in this ill-advised restructuring of a beloved legend.
- Casino Jack: Since
the entire film defines amateurish, Barry Pepper’s cringe-worthy
performance was appropriate. Apparently intended as a comedy, the
only laughing was at, not with. This is a poor epitaph for
the late director George Hickenlooper, who created
The Man From
Elysian Fields, a fine, but little seen, 2002 film that
grossed less than $1.5 million.
- Hemingway’s Garden of
Eden: This botched version of Ernest Hemingway’s unpublished
novel, on which he worked for 15 years prior to his suicide, that
pictures Hemingway as a wuss and is replete with dismal acting must
have had Ernie spinning in his grave. Watching Mena Suvari try to
emote, I envisioned a bilious Hieronymus Bosch tapestry of her
teaming up with Casino Jack’s Barry Pepper for a