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The 3rd Annual Munchies!; or 2010 in Review - Part 1

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Another year gone, and another chance to look back at the best (and worst - but that'll come later) of 2010 in film. Once again, the Globe nominations got it completely wrong. The Academy will probably abuse its expanded 10 film shortlist to nominate Burlesque and Kick-Ass for Best Picture. It's clear that the only award show left with any integrity is:

The 3rd Annual Munchie Awards!!!

This year proved easier and more difficult to take in all of the movies I figured would appeal to me. Easier in that I was unemployed for much of the year and had plenty of free time to watch a TON of movies. Harder in that, well, 2010 was a bit of a crappy year for movies. I sat through a surprisingly high amount of stinkers and underwhelming films. Can someone explain to me why the most exciting summer blockbuster was a movie of people talking about a website?

But I digress. I took a look back at last year's, er, award show and I'm surprised that, though I agree with most of my winners, I would completely change a lot of the lists of my nominees upon viewing the films for a 2nd time. And my #1 documentary from 2009, The Cove is actually now my #2. Spike Lee filmed a performance of the Broadway show Passing Strange and it moved me perhaps more than anything I'd seen before. Definitely my favorite film of 2009. But why worry what Future-Me thinks? I'd rather just haphazardly dive right in to my:

Top 15 feature films of 2010

15. Mother
14. I Love You, Phillip Morris
13. Cell 211
12. Black Swan
11. Animal Kingdom
10. True Grit
9. Toy Story 3
8. Never Let Me Go
7. The Kids Are All Right
6. The American
5. Winter's Bone
4. Inception
3. The King's Speech
2. Cairo Time
1.....I feel like this list is a bit indicative of what a cruddy year it was. Six months ago, literally half my list was not even on my radar. So much of what I looked forwar to this year completely fizzled...sucked even (I'm looking your way, Iron Man 2). So much of my list are relatively small releases, some totally obscure. But these were my saving graces of the 50 or so eligible releases I saw. But 2010 did feature a film that was pretty much universally loved and rightfully so. That film is, of course, The Social Network - nearly flawless. An exceptional script, wonderful performances, a great score, but what I love most about the film is that it really proves one of Roger Ebert's bedrock rules of film: "A movie is never about what it's about, but about how it's about what it's about." I was so ready to go to this movie and fall asleep. A movie "about" people arguing about Facebook sounds like a borefest. A total snoozer. But it's easily the most exhilarating 2 hours I spent with any film all year.

A word about Cairo Time: It almost snatched the win from Social Network. Cairo Time is a much more patient, meditative film about an almost-love-affair between the 2 leads - Patricia Clarkson (perhaps my favorite actress) and Alexander Siddig and it does such a masterful job at teasing at romance film cliches and then deftly avoiding them, that I was incredibly refreshed and impressed by it. See it if you get a chance.

I also really, really enjoyed: Unstoppable, Easy A, How to Train Your, that's about it. Also A Prophet but I don't know whether to count that as 2009 or 2010. And, okay, I also had fun with Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, The Town and The Karate Kid, and The Killer Inside Me was very compelling but supremely disturbing and misogynist.

This was actually a pretty darn good year for documentaries, oddly enough. I saw some very, very good ones and there a few I know I have to check out as well. I loved Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, Restrepo, Smash His Camera, Best Worst Movie and Catfish. But the Munchie for Best Documentary goes to Banksy's Exit Through the Gift Shop. There's been a lot of discussion about whether this documentary is "real" or not, but ultimately it doesn't really matter that much. It's about as compelling and funny as movies get.

Best Actor is usually the hardest one for me to narrow down and to decide my favorite for and this year was no different. My 6 favorite:

Jeff Bridges in True Grit
Jim Carrey in I Love You, Phillip Morris
Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network
Colin Firth in The King's Speech
James Franco in 127 Hours
Luis Tosar in Cell 211

I think these are 6 incredibly diverse performances by actors I have always liked, with the exception of Luis Tosar who I only just discovered. He gives the most intense, perhaps scariest performance, which often is what does it for me. I was also surprised and impressed by Jim Carrey, an actor I've always liked, but he pulls off Phillip Morris with a maturity that was refreshing to me. But the Munchie goes to Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network. He's just the best asshole I've ever seen on screen. I imagine it's very hard to do without going over the top. I just loved him.

Best Actress

Annette Bening in The Kids Are All Right
Patricia Clarkson in Cairo Time
Kim Hye-Ja in Mother
Jennifer Lawrence in Winter's Bone
Natalie Portman in Black Swan
Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit

Kim Hye-Ja is scary-good in Mother (which is now streaming on Netflix, I believe) as a woman willing to go to disturbing lengths to get her mentally-handicapped son acquitted from a murder charge. Steinfeld is getting a lot of "supporting" accolades but c'mon. She's in almost every scene of the movie. And she's damn good. The Munchie, however, goes to Jennifer Lawrence. She is absolutely fierce. After the climax of this film, it gave me pause to realize how much Lawrence made me care for her character - how emotionally invested I was in her. I hope this is a career-maker for her.

Best Supporting Actor

Christian Bale in The Fighter
Armie Hammer in The Social Network
John Hawkes in Winter's Bone
Jeremy Renner in The Town
Mark Ruffalo in The Kids Are All Right
Geoffrey Rush in The King's Speech

This is usually my favorite category. I love a good scene-stealer and these are some pretty great performances. With all the love given to Justin Timberlake and Andrew Garfield for The Social Network, I can't believe people keep overlooking Armie Hammer's turn as both Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss. Maybe it's because people think it's two twin actors. He turns in, I think, the best supporting performance of all in the film, giving both twins such distinct personalities. But that doesn't get him a Munchie. That distinction goes to Mark Ruffalo. Ruffalo is an actor that doesn't always do it for me, but he's great in this role. He's something very different to every single character in this movie and he plays off each other character in such interesting and unique ways. Just about the most charismatic character I saw on screen this year.

Best Supporting Actress

Okay there were hardly any truly great female supporting turns this year. It was so weak. A week ago, I had Cate Blanchett penciled in for a nomination for Robin Hood. That's how bad it was. But luckily I saw a few great ones in the last few days:

Amy Adams in The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter in The King's Speech
Mila Kunis in Black Swan
Melissa Leo in The Fighter
Jacki Weaver in Animal Kingdom
Dianne Wiest in Rabbit Hole

Ooh, I was so close to giving this to Jacki Weaver, who plays a loving-on-the-surface matriarch who is much more malevolent and scarier than any other character in Animal Kingdom (and that is saying A LOT). But then I saw Dianne Wiest in Rabbit Hole, a film I didn't love, but a performance that makes it worth seeing. Wiest tries her best to console her bereaved daughter (Nicole Kidman) throughout the film with poor results, until her monologue near the end of the film, which is one of my absolutely favorite moments of 2010. Just a great performance.

The 'Alfred Hitchcock Memorial' Best Director Munchie:

Lisa Cholodenko for The Kids Are All Right
The Coen Brothers for True Grit
Anton Corbijn for The American
David Fincher for The Social Network
Ruba Nadda for Cairo Time
Christopher Nolan for Inception

All directors who clearly knew what they were doing. Curiously, The American got pretty bad reviews from many, but I thought it was just a beautifully shot and wonderfully paced film. The exact same can be said for Ruba Nadda's Cairo Time. The Coen Brothers have ended up here yet again. I'm pretty much convinced they can do anything. But the real race here was between David Fincher and Christopher Nolan - easily among the most impressive American auteurs under 50 working today. I really enjoyed both films, but I'm giving it to Christopher Nolan and honestly half the reason he wins the battle is that he had the astonishing gall to end Inception with the shot he ended it with. For me, that's exciting filmmaking. With all the instantly forgettable schlock that came out this year, he burned an image into my head and posed a deceptively simple question in the last 10 seconds that I just couldn't easily shake. Very well done!

Well, that's the good stuff. Unfortunately, most of 2010 kinda...well...sucked. The dirty, seedy underbelly will be continued soon with the 3rd Annual Doobie Awards.

As always, thanks for reading and, as I say every year, please comment - I live for film discussion!

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  1. Ti-Amie's Avatar
    Thanks Munchin. I'm not a movie nerd but I love reading your reviews and commentary.

    This year I actually saw some of the movies on your list. Glad to see "How To Train Your Dragon" get mention here.

    Your description of "Mother" scares me. I'll wait until I can stream it or buy it via iTunes.

    John Hawkes and Jennifer Lawrence were awesome in Winter's Bone. I thought the directing was very good too. The movie could've ended up being an hour longer if they'd gone into all the inferences made about the culture and the characters.

    If Affleck had not opted for the cliche ending I think The Town would've been great.

    Of course I want to see Black Swan and True Grit but may not get to do so before Oscar time.

    I will have to be dragged kicking and screaming to see The Social Network though. Saw the trailers in the movie theater while waiting for Inception to start. Just not interested.

    Your description of the end of Inception is simply great and explains it better than anyone else has so far.
  2. ponchi101's Avatar
    Love the blog, and will use it as a guideline to go see some other films. They are taking a while to get here. I was also unemployed for most of 2010 (360 of the 365 days, to be precise) but was not able to go check as many movies as you did.
    Disagree: Social Network over The Inception. I liked it, but it is completely geared to people that used FB (and I don't). The Inception was more provocative.
  3. mmmm8's Avatar
    Thanks, Munchin. Ashamed to admit I've only seen one of the films. But now I know what else to go see