05 January 2011

Capsule 2010: Movies

Here we go, people. A few days into 2011 now, it's time we talk 2010. Always relevant Norwegian Morning Wood is. Anywho, 2010 was a pretty special year, folks. Let's start with some general trends:

There has been a continued shift this year concerning almost every basic of the industry. Studios produced different films, the ones that did well and the ones that flopped were not traditionally predictable (almost) and there have been shifting ideas towards DVD distribution. Here's a nice summary.


Who knew the Third Dimension could be so popular? The biggest event of 2010 was the widespread propagation of flicks shown on 3-D Formats. While attendance decreased, the Box Office was still able to break even on these little buggers. Hooray! There were only a handful of films though where this worked very well (Jackass 3D, Piranha 3D, Resident Evil: Afterlife...surely you may gauge the quality of the films that utilized cool 3D this year). Then there we a good amount of 3D that added nothing really to the experience (Alice in Wonderland, Toy Story 3) and some that was tacked on terribly (Clash of the Titans, The Last Airbender). Feel free to start putting together the future of 3D. Successful Critical and Commercial films such as Inception and Harry Potter and the Deathly Swallows, Fart 1 avoided 3D to acclaim. Have we managed both the rise and fall of 3D this year? Although the best films of the year did not employ the technology and the only ones who did so creatively were absolute crap, messages in Hollywood take a while to sink in. Clash is almost unexplainable as one of the greatest success stories of the year, but the bombs of shit like The Last Airbender bring us to our next topic:

This was the Great Summer of Flops. It's a turning point for American tastes. Big celebrity-driven romps such as Knight and Day, Robin Hood, Killers, Sex and the City 2 and Prince of Persia: Sands of Dick were absolute bombs. As was trash like The Sorcerer's Apprentice and the aforementioned Airbender. What did well? Stark, Toys and Mildly Confusing Passion Projects. Oh, and that Teen Werewolf flick with that chick who looks like a rat.

There is also this budding trend of smaller independent Monster and Alien movies made on tiny budgets with cameras and computers you can purchase at Best Buy. In recent years we've seen this trend start with flicks like Cloverfield (2008) and District 9 (2009). Ultimately this year has boiled down to pure crap (Skyline), middling crap (Monsters) and what-the-shit? (The Troll Hunter...hey go Norway!). There's also some cool-looking crap coming out next year, but I was pumped after the Skyline trailer, too so what the hell. I suppose I'll try to trust a major studio over a Special Effects Company. At any rate, there sure are a lot of interesting Alien Invasion flicks around (see also).

The style of "Fake Documentary" that some of these alien films took was also everywhere in 2010. There were so many Mockumentaries, some without any clear delineation of art and reality (I'm Still Here and Exit Through the Gift Shop). There was also the social networking faux-doc Catfish (which works best without any other prior information before viewing). There's also common fare like Paranormal Activity 2: Electric Boogaloo and The Last Exorcism.

Did anyone else notice the trend of "confined space" flicks that came out in 2010? There were all these films that featured a very limited number of actors with a majority of on-screen action in a very limited location. This ranged from the ridiculousness of Buried, which features only Ryan Reynolds in a coffin to 127 Hours which is mostly James Franco trapped under a rock. But there's also Devil with a bunch of people ("The snozzberries taste like snozzberries!") stuck in an elevator, and Exam (sneaking in with a wider US release date in 2010, while technically premiering in 2009) which has a bunch of people going nuts while taking a weird exam.

Finally, 2010 was filled with enormous amounts of Nostalgia for the 1980s. This came in some direct forms such as remakes of The A-Team and The Karate Kid, homages to an different era of film styles and tropes (The Expendables and MacGruber) and then just straight-up Time Travel (Hot Tub Time Machine). Whether or not this continues in mainstream movies is yet to be seen, but 2010 had such a chubby for the Me Decade. When are we going to reach 90s Nostalgia? That's a scary thought.


So who were the biggest names in 2010? Unlike 2009 when Sandra Bullock reigned over everybody, 2010 was a decidedly male year. Downey had some hits but wasn't really a break-out like 2008. Jeff Bridges had a sweet year, after winning a Best Actor Oscar he starred in both Tron: Legacy and True Grit this past December. While Tron's ultimate legacy may leave something to be desired, Bridges' face on all the advertising months and months ahead of time in Disney's attempt to make an "event" film made it seem like the cat was everywhere. But 2010 wasn't really the Year of The Dude.

Liam Neeson continued his rise as an Action Star in The A-Team (to be continued in Unknown this year and Taken II at some point) and may have the Pop Quote in the year with "Release the Kraken!" from Clash of the Titties. How the hell does this guy think he's too old to play Lincoln but young enough for all these action films? Another action star, Sly Stallone had a big hit with The Expendables and he's a force enough to have the year revolve around him, but not really broad enough. Maybe on the other end of the Spectrum we can call 2010 the Year of the Nerdy Hero with Michael Ceratops, Aaron Johnson and Jesse Eisenberg tearing it up in Youth in Revolt / Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Kick-Ass and The Social Network, respectively. Or how about Wahlberg coming out as the funniest cat one of the year's funniest (The Other Guys) and the toughest in one of the year's best (The Fighter)?

Naaah. This was the Year of the Lion. Leo, baby. Shutter Island, which as an incredibly interesting and cool film up until the last ten minutes, made some great bank and starred a tremblingly great Leo. But Inception was his real cash cow, and that's definitely the film of 2010 everyone's going to remember. It was never really in doubt. Leonardo DiCaprio - Actor of 2010.


Before we dip into a classic Top 10, let's talk Trailers. 2010 had some great ones that pumped us all up for some Shitty, Shitty Movies. There were also a slim few for really good movies. Now, not all these flicks came out in 2010, but I was pumped after all five of these. Let's stat with some shit - Iron Man 2. Look at this thing. We've got Larry Sanders, Sam Rockwell, blossoming love with a tolerable Gwyneth Paltrow, fucking War Machine and a Briefcase Iron Man Suit for the Billionaire Superhero on the Go. This one from 2009 was probably better, though they share the same themes, teaser clips and a still baffling partnership with AC / DC.
"I thought you was going to say the sun was in your eyes...that is to say, your EYE."
Johnny Cash and an admirable Bridges make True Grit work, the timing and focus on Hailee Steinfeld really works. It's already full of some of Cogburn's great quotes and set-ups and establishes plot quickly and coolly. Two films coming out next year had some excellent trailers. I'm intrigued by the aforementioned Neeson vehicle Unknown. There is a lot of intrigue here that keeps the attention rather than squanders it. Also I find myself really enjoying Neeson's Pissed Off voice, probably second all-time to Optimus Prime. Finally, Sucker Punch looks rad and fun as hell. It's surely going to be a classic Zack Snyder film, I'm expecting all cutting edge visuals and action with a muffed punt storyline, but hell, who cares, jailbait for everyone. And fuck dude, Levee. Did I mention Cowboys & Aliens?

Of course though, the best trailer of the year comes from The Social Network.

It's been a while since we had a trailer as perfect as this. The song fits perfectly (Radiohead's "Creep" covered by Scala and Kolacny, conductors of a Belgian Girls' Choir). The trailer starts mildly enough with a montage of typical Facebook clips to hook us into our everyday lives then escalates brilliantly into tons of classic quotes ("The site got 2200 hits within two hours?" "22,000," You know what's cool? A BILLION dollars," "Your actions could have permanently destroyed everything I've been working on" "WE have been working on" and of course "MARK!") It's a short story in itself built upon expertly edited clips of a fantastic film. Smooch.

TOP TEN OF 2010:

Okay, finally what you came for. I'm going to run through this quick for all you out there.

#10: Exit Through the Gift Shop - I'm sold on the idea of this film and the artist/director behind it that pushes the boundaries of art and commercialism over the actual film. Which is also great.
#9: Toy Story 3 - Some bloggers on the interwebs have shut this down for being too emotionally manipulative. Hell, it's just good filmmaking, baby.
#8: Cyrus - Understated John C. Reilly who needs to tune his natural comedy chops along with dramatic credentials into more films like this. Ditto without the dramatic credentials to Jonah Hill.
#7: True Grit - Bridges owns and the rest don't come up short at all. Coens direct outside their own box.
#6: Hot Tub Time Machine - Uggh! Did you have pineapple today?!
#5: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World - the most refreshing movie of the year, also the most fun I've had at the Theater in a long-ass time.
#4: Black Swan - For the lesbian stuff alone this should get props, but built around it somehow is an excellent film.
#3: MacGruber - Yeah. Well, I thought it was fucking awesome. Best Supporting Actress for Kristen Wiig?
#2: Inception - So much of this film is incredible, it's the closet thing we have to a modern age excellent blockbuster, everything about this is pretty awesome, the ambiguity, the trippy hallway, brooding Leo, it's got everything.
#1: The Social Network - C'mon. It was.


I enjoyed Kick-Ass mostly for the Cage, Villain of the Year Mark Strong and hearing someone much worse use the word "cunt" so liberally, but it's certainly not an enlightening film, much less one that was supposed to break Superhero conventions. In fact by its end it's extremely conventional. My favourite comedy moments are really a toss up between Sean Diddy Combs in  Get Him to the Greek or Mark in The Other Guys. I saw neither coming at all. Actually, along with Kristen, Diddy should get Best Supporting Actor. He's fucking awesome. Well, probably not, but everything out of his mouth in that film could have ran for funniest quote of the year. Seriously though, will Bale win for The Fighter? Who the hell knows, but Mark trained for half a decade for that film. That counts for something, right? And The King's Speech...isn't that really the kind of bullshit movie the Oscars always kind of glance at this year but doesn't do shit because it's kind of bullshit? Yeah.

By the way, anybody see Dogtooth? That's some fucked up shit!

Oh and scores. Um...everyone went techno but Trent beats Daft Punk. Owned.

Cheers to 2011, it's like living the future...today!


  1. dug this, although I believe the hype over Inception was much too high, the movie was great, and I have to see it again

  2. Inception's far from a perfect movie, and it didn't live up to its "brain-buster," "mind-blower" hype, but it's still a very good film on a very grand scale so I gave it props.


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