Holy hell, Oscar season is close to an end, so I’d better get the list out of movies that I really enjoyed this year.
This article will consist of 4 parts. Two for the top 10, a special part for “special achievements” and hopefully a fourth about the year 2010 in general retrospective.
So lets jump into the top 10:
#10 – Fatal Promises
An Austrian documentary about human trafficking. A compilation of testimonies of people who were forced into prostitution or to work on a fishing boat under inhumane conditions. The movie was made by Kat Rohrer and her mother who risked a lot to get some testimonies and information.
A truly unsettling documentary, that goes under one’s skin.
Very hard to pin – in this movie there are so many stories about things that happen in our vicinity that we don’t see. The dread and fear those men and women have had to endure is beyond imaginable. It is not really a moment, but the fact that Rohrer not only focuses on prostitution, which is the most well-known form of human trafficking, but also sheds some light on other forms enriches this documentary a lot.
If I had to name a specific scene it would be the testimony of a woman, who was taken with another girl to a sauna and had to witness a thing so unimaginable I don’t dare to write it down since I fear that I cannot phrase it properly.
Also the part about the conference about Human Trafficking is helmed in a fantastically satirical way and stands in stark contrast to the horrible stories that get told thorough the documentary.
When time has passed…
… the movie will hopefully still be around. It is not a big documentary, I don’t know if it has won any prizes or how it is doing internationally. I don’t know if there will be a DVD release as announced at the screening I was attending at the beginning of last year and the website doesn’t seem too up to date.
Urge to rewatch: 5%
It is a very good and informative documentary, but it is so intense that I can’t fathom myself watching it again.
#9 – The Social Network
The long believed frontrunner for Best Picture offers a great combination and a good balance of the many crafts involved in movie making. While I don’t regard The Social Network as Fincher’s best movie or one of the greatest movies ever made, it is undoubtedly a movie with few “weak spots”. Acting, directing, lighting, camerawork, editing, sound – it all gets mixed together to a highly enjoyable movie.
The bar sequence (which I already described in my review) is not only thematically very interesting, but I also like the fact that an important scene like this was done in a crowded, loud bar. This is only achievable with a good sound mix and I appreciate that they portrayed this discussion in a very crowded place instead of taking the easy route and just have them talk in a room in a normal tone.
If I had to select one piece of dialogue that has stuck with me it would be that one:
It just started raining.
Mr. Zuckerberg, do I have your full attention?
Do you think I deserve it?
Do you think I deserve your full attention?
I had to swear an oath before we began this deposition and I don’t want to perjure myself so I have a legal obligation to to say no.
Okay. “No” you don’t think I deserve your attention.
I think if your clients want to sit on my shoulders and call themselves tall they have a right to give it a try. But there’s no requirement that I enjoy sitting here listening to people lie. You have part of my attention — you have the minimum amount. The rest of my attention is back at the offices of Facebook where my colleagues and I are doing things that no one in this room, including and especially your clients, are intellectually or creatively capable of doing. Did I adequately answer your condescending question?
Firstly because the way the dialogue is written is just superb, but more so because the way Eisenberg delivers these lines lets us see two things at the same time: an arrogant brat, but also a man of tremendous intellect, who one can’t help but admire.
When time has passed…
Unlike Benjamin Button The Social Network will not be forgotten quickly. Not only is it a very well made movie, but it is also one of the first movies to deal with phenomena like facebook on a serious basis. It treats our current world with respect. The Social Network is not a movie that looks down onto our current state and raises a brow, condemning our way of life – it merely reflects how very human and timeless conflicts of betrayal are still present in our this “new” world.
Urge to rewatch: 30%
I won’t switch off the TV if it is running some day. I just don’t need to rewatch the movie right now.
#8 – Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
I might be a little preoccupied here, but I don’t care. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World was a fantastic fun movie, that shows how the most generic story can be unique and fresh by using different narrative-techniques. This movie had more “what is real and what not” than Black Swan, I mean what really happened when the people burst into gold? Will Scott Pilgrim 2 tell us that he was inside of the Matrix all along? Or is the top still spinning? We will never know…
The first seconds of showing the Universal Logo with 8-bit sound – within those few seconds the film tells you exactly what you’ll get. If you have to smirk or laugh about this fact, this movie is definitely for you.
When time has passed…
Sadly Scott Pilgrim (like Kick-Ass) underperformed at the boxoffice, to say the least. It flopped, making 13 million less worldwide than it cost. 2010 was the year that saw two movies targeting the geek demographic and both were not successful, so it might be possible that there won’t be anything similar to Scott Pilgrim in the next years. But I am pretty sure that this movie will become a cult film. The adverts might have scared some people away but the ones who saw this movie will continue to suggest it to others and spread it.
Unlike “Fanboys” Scott Pilgrim is a movie that can be watched by movies outside of the nerd-community. You don’t need to “get” all the inside jokes, you don’t need to know what a Triforce is to understand the quirky characters. Also the use of special effects is unlike anything that has ever been done with special effects and shows a whole new world for expressing character motivations.
Urge to rewatch: 65%
If there is nothing else to watch and I’ve already seen Iron Man too many times, bring on Scott Pilgrim!
#7 – 127 hours
Franko’s performance, Boyle’s direction and the true story behind it add up to the great experience that is 127 hours. It is a very intimate and moving film, with conflicts that are more than relate able and if you will you can ponder a lot about what happens in the movie.
When Aron has to cut his nerve – I cannot recall anything this year where audio work has been so pivotal to translate the feelings of a character. With the help of the sound-mix we can really feel what is going on inside of his head.
Aron drops the knife – a very simple scene. He basically loses his knife and has to pick it up with a stick. But this scene was the scene I couldn’t stop staring at the screen. Rarely have a stick and a knife been more interesting. There was no dramatic music, just the simple attempt to regain the knife and the fact that it was not only not boring but in fact quite gripping is another achievement of this movie.
Aron not answering the phone. The idea that stuck with me after the movie was the scene when Aron’s mother called and he did not care or did not want to talk because he just wanted to go outside. The entire movie was about him realizing that this was a mistake and this concept has something very relatable and scary to offer. How often do we treat our family or friends like something that just slows us down. When a friend of mine had an accident a few years ago I remembered that few hours before we didn’t really come along and I was complaining about him the entire day afterwards. It is a very devastating prospect because something like an accident just shatters your whole perspective and you realize that you have put trivial complaints or selfish thoughts above the existence of a good person – and in that manner 127 is able to capture this perfectly.
When time has passed…
This is the movie I am really unsure. It might vanish quickly. It might not even resonate with that many people and it is definitely not a movie I would watch on a regular basis. The only thing I know for sure is that it was a movie that really affected me and that I will gladly recommend it to other movie lovers. Maybe it is good that 127 hours isn’t too much in the spotlight, otherwise the “overrated” calling would start and we all prefer bitching about The King’s Speech right?
But it won’t completely vanish, because it is a Danny Boyle film, so even if it won’t reach the popularity of Trainspotting and Slumdog it might make it to many Danny Boyle DVD/cinema-all-nighters.
Urge to rewatch: 10%
#6 – How to train your Dragon
What can I say: Dreamworks, I’m impressed.
To make a movie that is not depending on pop culture jokes and stereotypes, but actually relies on characters and story was something I never expected from How to train your Dragon. In fact I started an article a few weeks after HTTYD about the fact that both Dragon and Avatar share the same thematical core, but the key difference being that Dragon didn’t feel like we were rewatching Pocahontas. It is actually quite interesting and I hope I will get back to this article and finish it some time.
Dragon-riding making sense – there are not many good movies featuring dragons. There are even fewer stories featuring the concept of riding dragongs. Why? Because it is mostly a childish fantasy of “wouldn’t that be awesome” and to the rest of the world it just doesn’t make any sense.
Why would a dragon, a mighty beast of the sky team up with a puny fragile human being – or to extend that idea, why would a dragon take commands from a human?
There are notable exceptions, like Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern. In Pern dragons are genetically engineered, they are more or less organic versions of KITT, which is why their obedience makes sense.
On the other hand HTTYD is the first story with dragons I’ve seen where the concept of dragon-riding makes sense: because toothless has a damaged tail, the collaboration is necessary. The rider no longer is just a guy who gives commands, he is an extension of the dragon. They are interdependent and they can only work as a team. It’s a fantastic, fresh way to “force” collaboration between two different parties that will later grow into a genuinely friendship.
When time has passed…
Don’t expect Dreamworks to change their ways, they will learn from Dragon by making Puss in Boots, a “sequel/prequel/whatever” to Shrek, Kung Fu Panda 2 and of course at least two sequels to Dragon since it is based on a children’s book-series. If one were to be cynical one could say that the success of Dragon did not stem from Dreamworks, but from accidentally discovering a good source material.
Dragon has garnered about close to 500 million dollars worldwide, audiences rewarded the fresh and new movie by letting Shrek 4’s boxoffice sky-rocket to 750 million dollars – fantastic!
Urge to rewatch: 50%
Part 2 and Oscar predictions hopefully tomorrow in time…