Everyone views history in their own individual way. Some people remember past years by what they saw on the evening news (hence, 2004 becomes “the year Bush was reelected”) but I define them by what was playing at the nearest movie theater. Ask me when I was born and I won’t tell you, “1985.” Instead, I’ll tell you that I was born the same year that Terry Gilliam’s Brazil was butchered by Sid Shienberg. For me, the quality of a year is determined by the quality of the movies that were released during those twelve months. You may have hated 2009 because of the economy. I hated it because it was the year of the overrated movie, the year in which otherwise sensible people ignored great films like An Education, A Serious Man, District 9, and Inglorious Basterds (which, praised as it was, deserved considerably more) in favor of Avatar and The Hurt Locker.
2010, however, is shaping up to be a far better year. Though a final judgment can’t be passed on 2010 until 2011, here’s a few thoughts on the year so far.
Best Film (so far): Exit Through The Gift Shop, a quasi-documentary that might just be one of the most perfectly executed mindfucks in modern history. Runners-up: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Fish Tank, Please Give, Winter’s Bone, A Prophet, Toy Story 3, and Inception.
Best Male Performance of the year so far: John Hawkes, in Winter’s Bone. Hawkes has been overshadowed by Jennifer Lawrence but he dominates every scene that he appears in. Just consider the scene where he “talks” his way out of a traffic stop. Runners-ups: John C. Reilly in Cyrus, Ben Stiller in Greenberg, Leonardo DiCaprio in Inception and Shutter Island, and Sam Rockwell in Iron Man 2.
Best Female Performance of the year so far: Noomi Rapace as the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played With Fire. Rapace is my new role model, a Ms. 45 for the 21st century. Runners-up: Jennifer Lawrence in Winter’s Bone, Katie Jarvis for Fish Tank, Rebecca Hall in Please Give, Greta Gerwig in Greenberg, and Chloe Grace Moretz in Kick-Ass.
Best Ending: The final shot of Inception.
Best Horror Film: The Wolf Man, which should have been oh so bad but instead turned out to be oh so good with Anthony Hopkins and Hugo Weaving both giving brilliant supporting performances.
Best Bad Movie: Sex and the City 2. Yes, if I’m going to be honest, it was a horrible movie. But it was fun. the clothes were to die for, and the film managed to bring new depths of shallowness to the examination of the oppression of women in the Middle East.
Worst Film Of The Year (so far): Chloe. Oh, Atom Egoyan, poor baby, what have you done, sweetheart? You made a trashy, campy softcore movie and then you forgot that these things are supposed to be fun! Runner-up: Robin Hood, because the entire freaking movie was a lie. However, it did feature Oscar Isaac screaming, “Outlawwwwww!” and that saves it from being named the worst.
Worst Horror Film So Far: The Black Waters On Echo’s Pond. So. Fucking. Bad.
The Get-Over-It-Award For The First Half Of 2010: The makers of Prince of Persia, who just had to try to turn an otherwise entertainingly mindless action film into yet another half-assed cinematic allegory for the Invasion of Iraq. Ben Kingsley will probably be playing thinly disguised versions of Dick Cheney for the rest of his life. I was against the Invasion of Iraq from the start but seriously, I’m so bored with every movie released using it as a way to try to fool the audience into thinking that they’re seeing something more worthwhile than they are.
The Read-The-Freaking-Book-Instead Award: The Killer Inside Me. A lot of viewers are disturbed by the violent way that the main character deals with the women in his life. I’m more disturbed by the fact that all the women in his life are presented as being simpering idiots. The original novel is by Jim Thompson and it is a classic.
The worst ending of 2010 so far: Splice with the Killer Inside Me as a strong runner-up.
Future Film I’m Not Looking Forward To: Roland Emmerich’s Gusher, an ecological thriller based on the BP oil spill, starring Will Smith as the President, Dev Patel as the governor of Louisiana, Paul Bettany as the head of the evil oil company, and Ben Kingsley as Dick Cheney who will be seen cackling as oil-drenched doves wash up on the shores of California. (How did the oil get to California? Emmerich magic.) Of course, the nominal star of the movie will be Jake Gyllenhaal as the young engineer who says stuff like, “This well is going to blow!” and who is trying to reconcile with his estranged wife (played by — does it really matter? Let’s just say Emily Blunt gets the role this time around). And let’s not forget Robert Duvall, who will play a grizzled old-timer who says a lot of grizzled old-timer stuff. Look for it in 2012.
My prediction for which film will be the most overrated of 2010: The Social Network, which has not opened yet but Sasha Stone at awardsdaily.com seems to think that it’s a slam dunk for greatness which is usually a pretty good indication that the end result is going to be a predictable, bourgeois crapfest.
So, that’s 2010 so far. It’s shaping up to be a good year. I’m still looking forward to the release of Blue Valentine, Animal Kingdom, Get Low, The Disappearance of Alice Creed, The Last Exorcism, Wall Street, and the rerelease of Godard’s classic Breathless, which is one of my favorite movies and now I’m going to get a chance to see it in a theater! Life is good.