The Best of 2010

Written by  //  December 26, 2010  //  Media & Popular Culture  //  11 Comments

There isn’t much point in giving a preface before listing out the ten best films of the year. You know what its about and how it works. So lets get on with it. The only disclaimer is that I can only make a list out of the movies that I have seen. So I may have not seen some of the best films (read Black Swan/ The Fighter) of the year because they haven’t been released in India and I couldn’t find a good enough torrent.

1. Social Network

People knew that it was going to be a good movie but few thought that a docu-drama on the life of the socially awkward creator of Facebook would go on to become one of the most successful films of the year. Extremely witty, sharp and smart. These are usually the words used to describe a person, not a film but they fit perfectly to Social Network. The Zuckerberg character, fictional though it may be is one of the most well crafted characters in recent memory. You can identify with his confusion, his motivation but even after the movie gets over, remain as clueless about his intentions as he probably is himself. Its a film not merely about a person but about a generation.

2. Scott Piligrim vs. the World

Scott Pilgrim is from the maker of inventive spoofs like Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. It gets the energy and zing of a video game in a movie and loads it up with quirky comic book humour and exciting back ground score. This is without a doubt the most entertaining film of the year. Put it in loop motion and get under the quilt. Oh, and remember to get a large tub of pocpcorn before you do that.

3. Udaan

A film about growing up and conflicts between the adults and to be adults. Its been called the Indian 400 Blows and a celebration of the rebellious spirit of youth. That’s probably a bit too generous to a movie which has slightly one dimensional characters but it still deserves all the credit for being one of the most sensitive films made in India in a long time. It also has the earthy look of small town India which has rarely ever been seen in the movies since the seventies. Not to forget that it’s the first film of director Vikramaditya Motwane and also has the best soundtrack for a Hindi movie this year.

4. Leaves of Grass

The fact that this movie has one of his best performances by Edward Norton (in the role of identical looking but completely different twins) should be sufficient to carry it to the list of the year’s best. The film unfolds like a typical Coen Brothers’ crime comedy, except that it is made by Tim Blake Nelson and not Coen Brothers. So it is much more affectionate of its characters and devotes time to what they think and not just what they do. It gets you thinking about how much of our life is a result of our choices and how much simply of conditioning and events.

5. The Ghost Writer

I would much rather state that Barack Obama is black than say that Roman Polanski is a class filmmaker but what is really amazing is that at seventy seven years of age, he is still making elegant gripping thrillers like this one. This is a film which does not wander around too much. It does not distract you with action sequences or blowing up buildings. It clues you in with the plot in the first five minutes and then starts working on you slowly, tightening the screws. This is a film equivalent of having a glass of good scotch. It won’t knock you out but leave you admiring the finesse.

6. Greenberg

The protagonist of Noah Baumbach’s Greenberg is not a very likable guy. He thinks only about himself and is angry because he never made it big. People think that he has decided not to do anything with his life and he is angry with people because they can’t see how much pain he is in. He meets a beautiful, caring and sensitive girl but the film is not about the healing power of love. Its about how people can sometimes get stuck with the problems that they create for themselves in their heads. Ben Stiller plays Greenberg like someone you would know.

7. Inception

Initially I wasn’t too sure about putting this on the list because for all the hype generated by Inception, I’ll remember it as a movie which could have been better than how it turned out. That said, it was certainly one of the most influential and talked about movies of the year and it seems to be a waste that one had to watch the movie again to decipher it and not because it was entertaining.

8. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

There are a number of things that this movie pulls off spectacularly not the least of which is an intriguing protagonist, the fascinating Lisbeth Salander. The credit for that of course should truly go to the writer who launched (even though he may not have lived to see it) the massively successful trilogy of books based on the character. But where the film goes beyond is in getting the perfect casting for the role and creating a brutal cold setting which would seem to incubate the kind of evil that is let loose in it. The way the suspense unfolds, specially how an investigation of long buried sins transforms into one with ominous urgency, reminded me of Agatha Christie. A thousand times better than the likes of Salt. No offence to Angelina Jolie.

All right, now I am going to cheat a bit. This is a list of this year’s best movies but I definitely have not seen all the movies released this year which deserve to be on this list and I don’t want to fill it with movies which were not good enough. So instead, I am going to slip in a couple of really good movies that I watched this year even though they had been released much earlier.

9. Lars and the Real Girl

Lars and the Real Girl is a film about a lonely guy who gets home a life size sex doll and treats it like his girl friend. Its not a slapstick comedy though, far from it. It’s a heart warming film about the goodness of human nature. Lars (played endearingly by Ryan Gosling) is a nice, gentle, quiet guy who avoids human contact both of the physical kind and that of the social interaction variety. He goes to work everyday and stays in a garage meters away from his brother and sister in law but keeps to himself with a firm insistence. One fine day he orders the doll off the net and introduces it to everyone as his girlfriend; Bianca. The psychologist says that the cure is to go along with his delusion. The rest of the film is about how the people around him including his family, co workers, neighbours and church members come together to play along in the delusion of treating Bianca as a real person; not in a fake sympathetical manner but with a sincerity and gentleness which comes from their care and affection for Lars, one of their own.

10. Away We Go

It seems almost cruel to end a list of the year’s best without a single romantic movie. So here’s a gem borrowed from 2009. Away We Go is about an unmarried couple in early thirties, about to have a child but clueless about where they are in life. They go hopping cities, visiting friends and family, to decide where they want to settle down, the people they want to live close to. Somewhere along the movie, they find out as we do, that they do not have much support apart from their love for each other and that they don’t really need anything more. A soothing soundtrack by Alexi Murdoch adds to the delight that this movie is.

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There isn’t much point in giving a preface before listing out the ten best films of the year. You know what its about and how it works. So lets get on with it. The only disclaimer is that I can only make a list out the movies that I have seen. So I may have not seen some of the best films (read Black Swan/ The Fighter) of the year because they haven’t been released in India and I couldn’t find a good enough torrent.

11 Comments on "The Best of 2010"

  1. Danish December 29, 2010 at 5:57 am ·

    nice list – except that Lars was released in 2007 ….

  2. Mukul December 30, 2010 at 4:15 am ·

    thanks danish…about lars and away we go…i have already slipped in a disclaimer…out of professional habit 🙂

  3. Ankan December 30, 2010 at 4:21 pm ·

    Nice list! Glad you included The Ghost Writer, Greenberg and Leaves of Grass.. I’m also waiting for Ryan Gosling’s new movie Blue Valentine- been hearing good things!

  4. Aritra Das December 31, 2010 at 4:18 am ·

    I even liked Eat,Pray, Love….

  5. Harsh January 4, 2011 at 9:56 am ·

    Great List Mr. Sharma!
    I would just put Scott Pilgrim as 1, the rest are all gems and its great that you mention em.
    (yet to see Udaan, Ghostwriter).
    However, let me confess I am shocked not to see LSD on this list of yours!! (not that I would put it)
    but after write-ups and severe movie/theme analysis, that it failed to even win a spl mention from you is a let down Sir!
    PS: How about a pat on the back for Karthik calling Karthik, best however bit flawed Hindi film of the yr? (haven seen Udaan)

  6. Aditya Shamlal January 4, 2011 at 11:46 am ·

    Mukul, since you are one of the most avid movie viewers i know, how about a razzy style list of the worst movies you have seen all year and if you don’t put Jhoota Hi Sahi, you and i will need to have another discussion.

  7. Mukul January 5, 2011 at 7:08 pm ·

    Thanks! yet to see Blue Valentine…but considering how selective he is, it should be good…

  8. Mukul January 5, 2011 at 7:11 pm ·

    haven’t seen it yet…was it good? sounded like a chick flick…not that i have anything against the chick flick genre 🙂 after all…..who doesn’t like devil wears prada….

  9. Mukul January 5, 2011 at 7:19 pm ·

    in the tradition of honourable ebert…the list was not in any order of preference…in fact not even alphabetical….

    LSD…I maintain was one of the most important movies of the year…but admittedly i got carried away with the ‘festive spirit’ once again 🙂 and its very difficult to put a movie in a list of your favourites if you can’t get yourself to watch it again……

    Karthik Calling Karthik was one of the best hindi movies of the year and deserves an honourable mention but it wasn’t in the best ten movies that i watched in 2010…….ideally i would have put in a more than a few honourable mentions but in the interests of time…..hmm…maybe as a follow up….

  10. Mukul January 5, 2011 at 7:22 pm ·

    actually i have been thinking about it but the only problem is that i do not watch as many really bad movies as one of our ‘prominent’ common friend does…..even then i can comfortably say that Jhoota Hi Sahi will make it to the top in any such list…

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