Top 10 Films of 2010 – Allen’s Picks

#2: Inception

For most of 2010, Inception was my favorite film of the year. Here is an innovative, unique, challenging film that dared you to follow it without giving any easy answers. It feels as though writer/director Christopher Nolan’s entire career was spent building up to this moment, as bits and pieces of nearly all his previous work can be seen incorporated here. This is a spectacular movie, filled with so many details that one viewing alone is not enough to fully take in everything it presents. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Cobb, an expert thief of the mind hired to infiltrate and plant an idea inside the dreams of a target (Cillian Murphy). Dealing with fantasy and reality, Nolan allowed the very fabric of his cinematic world to be manipulated, as we see city blocks fold upon themselves, bridges appearing out of nowhere, people floating within mid-air—nothing was exempt from being toyed and played with. But the film is much more than just a visual extravaganza. It works very well on a character level also, as we learn of Cobb’s exile from the States, his desire to return home to his children, and the reason behind the ill-fated relationship with his wife, Mal (Marion Cotillard). It is that personal dilemma that drives Cobb’s actions throughout the film, and which puts his team (Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Ken Watanabe, Dileep Rao) in very real danger. This is the work of an expert craftsman. Christopher Nolan spent nearly ten years writing this story, and we can see how much work was put in to it, as the characters move and weave throughout four parallel dreams levels, each one tied with and affecting the others. A great puzzle of a film, Inception is an experience that will stay with the viewer long after it is over (please read my review for a more thorough discussion on the film).

#1: Black Swan

Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan is a dark, obsessive, sexual film about one person’s desire to become absolutely perfect in what she does. To me, one of the most fascinating things to watch is that of someone doing something very difficult, and making it look very easy. This is probably why I enjoy dancing so much, because it is a beautiful act of expression, but takes years of practice to get right. Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) is plagued by an incessant need to be the lead in her group’s production of Swan Lake, and because of this manic obsession, she literally loses herself in her role. This is a brave and uncompromising performance by Natalie Portman, arguably the best performance by any actor this year, as she exudes the emotional turmoil her character faces throughout the film’s plot. Darren Aronofsky’s camera moves in a semi-documentary fashion, as we watch Nina’s composure start to crack in the studio under the heavy pressure of director Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel), and at home from the quiet, back-handed comments from her mother (Barbara Hershey). Nina is both challenged and quietly fascinated by newcomer Lily (Mila Kunis), a black swan herself, who is not perfect in her dancing, but performs through feeling and emotion, a contrast to Nina’s stiff, by-the-book style of dancing, perfect for the white swan role. It is Lily’s sexuality that intrigues Nina, and in a way, the two are very much like opposites of the same coin; one cannot exist without the other. This is much like a horror film as well, as Nina begins seeing dark, scary visions, the result of the pressure starting to take its toll.

The themes that run throughout the course of the film are what make me admire it so much. As studios release routine, award-baiting movies year after year, here is an example of something different, something that doesn’t rely on clichés and common tropes that we see recycled in movies so often. The film examines themes such as lust, sexuality, horror, and mania, and how those themes can consume a person’s life. This is certainly the kind of film we would not normally see as a major release. Yes, the movie is dark; you can even say it’s a little bleak, but the emotional conclusion of Nina’s story left residence with me in a very moving way. The character desired for perfection throughout the entirety of the film, and although it may not have ended exactly how she would have liked, she did reach that “perfection,” and came away fulfilled.

Honorable Mentions

–       The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

–       True Grit

–       Winter’s Bone

–       Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

–       The Town

–       (A whole bunch more I’m sure I’ll eventually see, sooner than later!)

Pages: 1 2 3 4


Allen is a moviegoer based out of Seattle, Washington. His hobbies include dancing, playing the guitar, and, of course, watching movies.

You can reach Allen via email or Twitter

View all posts by this author