2010: Things I Saw

December 30, 2010

2010: Things I Saw, originally uploaded by erin m.

2010: Things I Saw

This has not been a good year for movies. The summer was long and dry, and E Street, try as they might, just didn’t seem to have much to offer for large chunks of the year. (Sorry, guys, I still love you!) There’ve been years when this has been my hardest list to compile, such was the bounty of good films. I suppose that just makes the good ones this year all the more precious.

Top 5 Things I Saw in 2010:

“Hubble 3D” Sometimes it’s the movie, and sometimes it’s the way you see it. The evening I saw “Hubble 3D” at one of the Smithsonian’s IMAX theaters on the Mall was an especially good one for a lot of reasons not related to the film, but because of that the 45 minutes of pure science! will stick in my memory for a long time. For camera nerds, for space nerds, for movie nerds…it packed more drama and more pride in humanity into its short running time than pretty much anything else I saw this year.

“Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” doesn’t have much good to say about humanity or science, but when you’re having that much fun, who cares? I saw it twice in the theater, and I have friends who saw it more frequently than that. Actually, just writing this paragraph makes me want to pull out the DVD and watch it again right now.

“Exit Through the Gift Shop” was just plain fun. Everyone I know who saw it wanted to talk about it, and that got people who rarely step into a theater to step inside one for this movie. (Hi, Samer!) I think it was the only sold-out movie I saw this year, and the experience is marked in my memory as involving sitting in the front of a cramped dark room with 200 people frantically trying to figure out the game going on onscreen.

“True Grit,” which I saw on Christmas Eve, single-handedly saved the movie year for me. The scene where Mattie Ross is dealing with the man who sold her dead father a group of ponies is pure Coen brothers, and by the end it felt like watching a verbal dance, equivalent to any routine in “Black Swan.”

Speaking of, “Black Swan” is sliding into this final slot, even though I still have not yet settled exactly on how I feel about it. I love some movies because they make me laugh or forget or give me somewhere to disappear to for two hours; I love others because they dig in, grab my brain, and don’t let go. It’s so rare to see a film (a drama, even!) that features a complicated female lead at all, let alone one that’s actually good. A lot has been said about the male gaze and femininity and how they relate to the reception of this film, but beneath that there is just a well-crafted, well-performed story.

I also saw a lot of really, really bad movies this year. I used to be able to appreciate romantic comedies as light fluff, but this year they were so horrifically bad and joyless that even that guilty pleasure seemed lost. 2011, I am counting on you to give us better films than “Leap Year” and “When in Rome” (see: “Easy A.”)


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