Like every year I couldn’t wait for this guy to post the list of the best movies we didn’t see in 2010. Sure, we’ve seen some good stuff like Inception, Toy Story 3 and The Social Network but it’s the hidden gems that we end up remembering the most. So let’s see…
Opened on August 13, 2010
Directed by David Michôd (Interview)
Tells the story of seventeen year-old J as he navigates his survival amongst an explosive criminal family and the detective who thinks he can save him.
Why it’s on here: This riveting Australian underground organized crime flick has stuck with me since first seeing it at Sundance more than a year ago. Not only did Jacki Weaver, the “mother” of this creepy, crazy group of Australian criminals, earn a well-deserved Oscar nomination this year, but the film includes incredible performances by breakout lead James Frecheville and co-stars Joel Edgerton and Ben Mendelsohn, who plays one of the most unsettling roles I’ve ever seen. If you haven’t already already discovered this fantastic film, it best be added to the top of your list right away.
Paul is a U.S. contractor working in Iraq. After an attack by a group of Iraqis he wakes to find he is buried alive inside a coffin. With only a lighter and a cell phone it’s a race against time to escape this claustrophobic death trap.
Why it’s on here: Those who have seen Buried almost always agree with me – it’s damn good! Yes, Ryan Reynolds stars for 90 minutes inside of a coffin and that’s it – the camera doesn’t go “outside”, but director Rodrigo Cortés uses numerous crafty visual tricks like zooming up or away to add even more of a claustrophobic and distant feel to the film. My quote that’s on the poster still stands for this film – your heart will be racing from the moment it begins until the moment it ends, that’s guaranteed. And if more convincing is necessary, read Ethan’s glowing review as well.
Opened on September 17, 2010
Directed by Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman
Filmmakers Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost document a story involving Ariel’s brother, Nev, a 24-year-old New York-based photographer, and Abby, from rural Michigan who contacts Nev via Facebook, asking for permission to make a painting from one of his photographs.
Why it’s on here: Most probably heard the buzz about this last fall, but never bothered to actually see it. Despite the controversy over it’s potentially deceptive storytelling (maybe you should watch this to find out exactly what that means) I think this is a damn good documentary. Catfish takes the audience on a roller-coaster-ride through a relationship between the filmmaker’s goofy brother Nev and a mysterious girl from MySpace/Facebook. By the end, you’ll realize this has a much greater connection to The Social Network than first thought and incites plenty of discussion that you’re guaranteed to start upon finishing.
A 1970s-set coming-of-age comedy centered on three young working class friends (Christian Cooke, Tom Hughes, Jack Doolan) in a dreary suburb of Reading.
Why it’s on here: It’s quite uncanny that comedians Ricky Gervais andStephen Merchant can get together to write and direct a film that isn’t a hilarious comedy. Instead the two talented Brits come together and deliver acoming-of-age drama that’s essentially American Graffiti for the United Kingdom. Keep the kids with an uncertain future ahead of them but replace the car culture with the dreary suburban setting of Reading, and you’ve got a spectacularly underrated film chock full of great performances and phenomenal writing. (Written byEthan Anderton)
Opened on August 6, 2010
Directed by J Blakeson
Two men fortify a nondescript British apartment so it can serve as a prison, and then kidnap a woman and tie her to a bed. Before there’s even time to react, we’re plunged into a very nasty situation, but not a simple one.
Why it’s on here: This taut, riveting thriller thoroughly impressed me when I first saw it at the Toronto Film Festival back in late ’09, but its always been on my mind, as I was impressed by the sleek direction of J Blakeson, despite making his feature debut with this. If you need more blatant convincing to check out this gripping crime thriller, it’s the one you’ve probably heard about that has Gemma Arterton nude it in for half the film. But it actually works as part of the story anddamn is it an interesting story to follow – plenty of twists. Watch the opening five minutes for a hell of a tease.
Two eighth graders start to have feelings for each other despite being total opposites. Based on the novel “Flipped” by Wendelin Van Draanen.
Why it’s on here: I really love this film. It’s such a charming coming-of-age slice of life, courtesy of one of the masters of directing kid actors – Rob Reiner(who I had the honor of interviewing). His two lead actors, Callan McAuliffeand Madeline Carroll, give performances way above their age in a delightfully entertaining story of young romance. It has a unique narrative that flip-flops storytelling between the two off-and-on and really takes advantage of that Flipped concept, but it works and the result is totally adorable to watch.
Opened on November 5, 2010
Directed by Christopher Morris
Four Lions tells the story of a group of British jihadists who push their abstract dreams of glory to the breaking point. As the wheels fly off, and their competing ideologies clash, what emerges is an emotionally engaging (and entirely plausible) farce.
Why it’s on here: This “terrorist comedy” from the UK has had copious amounts of buzz since premiering at Sundance a few years ago, then made its way through 2010 at numerous festivals and eventually getting released by Alamo Drafthouse’s newly formed Drafthouse Films. But alas, many still haven’t seen this hilarious flick about a group of British jihadists who push their abstract dreams of glory to the breaking point. Even if it sounds awkward, it’s damn funny and you’ll get over it laughing, so give it a shot and check it out.
Opened on March 26, 2010
Directed by Noah Baumbach
A New Yorker moves to Los Angeles in order to figure out his life while he housesits for his brother, and he soon sparks with his brother’s assistant.
Why it’s on here: With Ben Stiller taking part in Little Fockers towards the end of 2010, it’s good to know that earlier in the year he teamed up with director Noah Baumbach (of The Squid and the Whale, Margot at the Wedding) for one of the best performances of his career. Since the film was sadly overlooked this awards season, we’re eager to show some love to this somewhat depressing, but thoroughly satisfying film that continues to showcase breakout mumblecore star Greta Gerwig and all her charm and genuine talent. (Written by Ethan Anderton)
Opened on December 25, 2010
Directed by Sylvain Chomet
A French illusionist finds himself out of work and travels to Scotland, where he meets a young woman. Their ensuing adventure changes both their lives forever.
Why it’s on here: If you saw The Triplets of Belleville in ’03, then you should already be interested in The Illusionist, the next film from Sylvain Chomet, the same director of Belleville. Anyone who watches this will be astonished at how emotional and entertaining of a story Chomet can tell without using any dialogue, only hand-drawn animation and some minor “noises” for emphasis. It’s a brilliant and more-than-ever heartwarming film with a great story based on a screenplay by French legend Jacques Tati. I suggest reading my Telluride review for more inspiration.
Opened on September 17, 2010
Directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman
A limo driver’s blind date sparks a tale of love, betrayal, friendship, and grace centered around two working-class New York City couples.
Why it’s on here: Having mastered work in front of the camera, Philip Seymour Hoffman pulls double duty by starring and directing this quirky adaptation of the play of the same name. Amy Ryan shines as she attempts to connect with Hoffman’s introverted main character Jack. Meanwhile John Ortiz does his best to help Jack in his romantic endeavors even if his own marriage is on the verge of falling apart. This certainly isn’t a straightforward romance, but the performances and direction from Hoffman make this a hidden gem of 2010. (Written by Ethan Anderton)
Leaves of Grass
Opened on September 17, 2010
Directed by Tim Blake Nelson (Interview)
An Ivy League professor is lured back to his Oklahoma hometown, where his twin brother, a small-time pot grower, has concocted a scheme to take down a local drug lord.
Why it’s on here: This should’ve been an easy sell because it stars Edward Norton twice, as his own brother in dual roles and it’s very funny, too – but it got screwed up in release a few times and never got the attention it deserved.Tim Blake Nelson both stars in and directs this down-South comedy about two friends who get in a bit of trouble and devise a scheme to get Norton’s twin brother back to town. It’s not a flawless film, but it’s a fun indie comedy that borders on being more of astoner flick than drama, but it’s great either way.
A bullied young boy befriends a young female vampire who lives in secrecy with her guardian.
Why it’s on here: I’m including this because it didn’t do as well as it should have at the box office and because there are still too many people resistant to seeing it who need to open up and appreciate the work of Matt Reeves and his cast/crew. Also because it’s a fantastic film that actually lives up to its Swedish counterpart. Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Moretz star in this incredibly beautiful but gripping thriller about a “young” vampire girl and her relationship with a lonely boy. Richard Jenkins also adds some gravitas to this with an incredible performance and overall it’s just a impeccable and polished film worthy of sitting next to Tomas Alfredson’s Låt den Rätte Komma In.
Louis CK: Hilarious
Opened on September 8, 2010
Directed by Louis C.K.
With a simple “Hello, everybody,” writer and stand-up comedian Louis C.K. opens his latest live show, Hilarious. This harmless salutation is the least-controversial thing that comes out of Louis C.K.’s mouth as he turns rants on everyday subjects into hilarious, expletive-laden diatribes where nothing is sacred, not even his children.
Why it’s on here: It’s truly sad that the stand-up comedy feature film has fallen out of the spotlight as Louis C.K., one of the funniest comedians working today, delivers one of the most spectacular feature lengths sets I’ve seen in a long time. Though he covers all the usual topics of family, sex, children and aging, his stark and poignant outlook on life make it freshly hilarious. Vulgar and full of cynicism, Louis C.K. is not for the faint of heart, but don’t be ashamed if you find yourself laughing, because everything here is solid comedy gold. (Written by Ethan)
As children, Ruth, Kathy and Tommy, spend their childhood at a seemingly idyllic English boarding school. As they grow into young adults, they find that they have to come to terms with the strength of the love they feel for each other, while preparing themselves for the haunting reality that awaits them.
Why it’s on here: Although the reaction from those who have seen this has been mixed, I’m a big fan and supporter of the film, I was moved by it and its stark beauty. It doesn’t need sci-fi sticking out of every corner or explanations for every question (e.g. why don’t they run away?) but for the story that Romanek tells, adapted from Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel, this is a great film with subtle beauty and powerful performances. Give it a chance and try not to get too wrapped up in the occasional issues with the story. Read our lengthy interview with Mark Romanek for deeper insight into all of his decisions.
Opened on October 8, 2010
Directed by Sam Taylor-Wood
A chronicle of John Lennon’s first years, focused mainly in his adolescence and his relationship with his stern aunt Mimi, who raised him, and his absentee mother Julia, who re-entered his life at a crucial moment in his young life.
Why it’s on here: I was first introduced to director Sam Taylor-Wood by way of her short film Love You More, but this feature proves she’s a director to watch out for, already talented and only getting better. Nowhere Boy is that Beatlesprequel that tells the story of John Lennon, played superbly by Aaron Johnsonof Kick-Ass, before he was really John Lennon, mostly as a teenager in England. This isn’t a film only for Beatles maniacs, it’s actually a great indie drama about the trials and tribulations of a young John Lennon and his soon-to-be-bandmates, including Sam Bell and Thomas Sangster. I really enjoyed it and I thought it deserved to be on here, too.
Opened on June 4, 2010
Directed by Neil Jordan
The story of an Irish fisherman who discovers a woman in his fishing net who he believes to be a Selke (a water nymph).
Why it’s on here: Yea, this does star Colin Farrell as an Irish fisherman, but you know, it’s actually really, really good. It’s essentially an Irish fairytale starring a very easy on the eyes Alicja Bachleda as a “Selke”, a water nymph (think mermaid, not the other nymph, though she does…) who falls in love with Farrell but the fairytale lore says it can’t be so. There’s actually a charming story at its heart about a father and his daughter and the fairytale elements to it just added some magic to all of that. It’s actually very good, check it out.
Opened on May 7, 2010
Directed by Nicole Holofcener
In New York City, a husband and wife butt heads with the granddaughters of the elderly woman who lives in apartment the couple owns.
Why it’s on here: After nabbing a surprise nomination at the Writers Guild Awards, I was pleased to find Nicole Holofcener’s film Please Give (which she also directed) to be a breath of fresh air this awards season. With carefully crafted and genuine dialogue, Holofcener delivers a heartbreaking look at several people who don’t seem to be very happy in their current lives. From teen angst to crumbling marriages and aging family members, Catherine Keener, Oliver Platt, Rebecca Hall and Amanda Peet deliver one of the more unique and overlooked films of 2010.(Written by Ethan)
Opened on December 22, 2010
Directed by Sofia Coppola
A hard-living Hollywood actor re-examines his life after his 11-year-old daughter surprises him with a visit.
Why it’s on here: I really admire this film, even if it’s Sofia Coppola doing what she does best. Once I finally got to see Somewhere late last year, I walked out pretty much instantly in love with it. Stephen Dorff does give a fantastic, nuanced performance, but it’s Elle Fanning who will steal your heart. She’s just adorable to watch and really makes this film work in so many ways. It is meditative and sometimes slow, but I found it to be a fascinating ultra-realistic look at the sometimes dull life of a famous celebrity. Plus it has a great soundtrack courtesy of the band Phoenix.
Opened on July 9, 2010
Directed by Ben Steinbauer
Jack Rebney is the most famous man you’ve never heard of – after cursing his way through a Winnebago sales video, Rebney’s outrageously funny outtakes became an underground sensation and made him an internet superstar.
Why it’s on here: After becoming an internet sensation due to his foul mouthed bloopers from his own RV commercials, Jack Rebney seemed nowhere to be found. But fortunately filmmaker Ben Steinbauer decided to find the man behind the mouth, and learn just who this man is. Seeming lost, bitter, confused and maybe even angry about his unintentional Internet success, slowly we see that Rebney might just be a lonely man who’d like some attention. Though the story seems to lack a bit of focus every now and the, it’s interesting to look so deeply at a man who many people will only ever know as a foul-mouthed RV salesman. (Written by Ethan Anderton)
I love going on a new quest, to discover and watch these movies, form my own opinion and open up to new things… I hope it inspires more people…