10/10/10: The 10 best movies of 2010 (so far) that you might have missed
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You know it’s award season when the multiplexes start to brim with quality offerings for avid moviegoers. With more and more Oscar-bait films lining up for their theatrical runs in the coming weeks, let’s not forget some of the great fare from earlier in the year that’s just as deserving of acclaim. Here are 10 of our critics’ favorites -- some of which are still playing on the big screen -- to mark the date 10/10/10.
‘Animal Kingdom:’ The impressive debut of Australian writer-director David Michod manages to be both laconic and operatic. Faultlessly acted by top Australian talent, including Guy Pearce, Ben Mendelsohn and Jacki Weaver, ‘Animal Kingdom’ marries heightened emotionality with cool contemporary style to illustrate one of the oldest of genre truths: ‘Crooks always come undone, always, one way or another.’ Michod and his team use all the tools at a filmmaker’s disposal to create a disturbing, malignant atmosphere in which every pause is pregnant with menace and every word could cost you your life. -- Kenneth Turan
‘Cyrus:’ A comedy of discomfort that walks a wonderful line between reality-based emotional honesty and engaging humor, this film demonstrates the good things that happen when the quirky independent style of the Duplass brothers combines with the acting skill of John C. Reilly, Marisa Tomei and Jonah Hill. -- Kenneth Turan
‘Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould:’ A thoughtful, confident, completely engrossing documentary about a cultural figure every bit as iconic as Jim Morrison or James Dean. Working with a formidable amount of archival footage as well as interviews with the pianist and all the significant figures in his life who are still alive, including many who have never spoken before, the filmmakers succeed in giving us Gould whole. –- Kenneth Turan
‘The Kids Are All Right:’ Witty, urbane and thoroughly entertaining, ‘The Kids Are All Right’ is an ode to the virtues of family, in this case a surprisingly conventional one even with its two moms, two kids and one sperm donor. Whatever your politics, between peerless performances from its core ensemble of Annette Bening, Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo, lyrical direction by Lisa Cholodenko and an adventurous script, this is the sort of pleasingly grown-up fare all too rare in the mainstream daze of summer. -- Betsy Sharkey
‘Mademoiselle Chambon:’ Proving one more time that the French make the best screen love stories, this is the latest in a long line of deeply moving romances, an exquisite chamber piece made with the kind of sensitivity and nuance that’s become almost a lost art. -- Kenneth Turan
‘Prince of Broadway:’ An independent film that thinks outside the box. It’s an undeniably small yet almost indefinable film, warm-hearted and bittersweet, set amid small-time clothing hustlers in Lower Manhattan and laced with both humor and tough emotions.-- Kenneth Turan
‘The Social Network’: Maybe it’s fitting that when I caught “The Social Network” at my local theater over the weekend, the chick in front of me was posting on Facebook throughout the movie, a detail I know from the very recognizable icon on the front of her very bright iPhone that she kept accessing and the heated etiquette exchange we had just as the Harvard crewing, buff, blond, we-will-be-kings Winklevoss twins entered the picture. Because David Fincher’s incisive thriller is about the bloody battle over the ubiquitous site’s creation rights, let’s face it: The film wouldn’t exist if Facebook hadn’t created a culture of young feathered friends like the annoying one in front of me. And that would have been a serious cinematic loss. Fincher has turned a business deal gone bad into an extraordinary cloak-and-dagger corporate espionage nail-biter with a nerd genius at its center. Aaron Sorkin’s script is razor sharp and 120-mph fast, Jesse Eisenberg’s vacant eyes and social shortcomings as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg are mesmerizing to watch (you seriously wish someone would check for a pulse), Andrew Garfield is exceptional as Zuckerberg’s best friend (only friend?) Eduardo Saverin. But the real pulse-pounding (ours, not Mark’s) comes in watching a new zeitgeist literally emerge before our eyes. -- Betsy Sharkey
‘The Tillman Story:’ In watching the riveting, yet depressing, ‘The Tillman Story,’ about the military’s unforgivably manipulative deceit in the death of former football star Pat Tillman, an Army Ranger killed in Afghanistan, it’s hard not to be reminded of Jack Nicholson in ‘A Few Good Men,’ and the line he made a classic: ‘The truth? You can’t handle the truth.’ Director Amir Bar-Lev has used the truth to devastating effect to show, beyond doubt, how a horrific friendly-fire accident was blown into a heroic piece of propaganda. It’s a powerful piece that you come away from fearing that what happened in the aftermath of Tillman’s death is all too common. -- Betsy Sharkey
‘Toy Story 3:’ OK we all know these guys are animated, i.e. ‘not real,’ but never a truer story has been told about growing up, leaving home and that painful process of leaving childhood things behind than you’ll find in ‘Toy Story 3.’ Its animation is beautifully rendered, the cast lead by Tim Allen’s Buzz Lightyear and Tom Hanks’ affable Woody are all there and in excellent form (these toys just never lose their kick). But it is the story and the way that director Lee Unkrich and the animation hordes who worked on the film have literally brought it to life that makes for an unforgettable movie. -- Betsy Sharkey
‘Waiting for ‘Superman’ ’: In this withering examination of the country’s public school system, Oscar-winning documentarian Davis Guggenheim proves as potent a storyteller and showman as activist filmmaker. Much of the film is told compellingly and heartbreakingly through the wide-eyed innocence of five children. It is already kicking up dust in large part because of what is arguably a broadside attack on teachers unions. Just how right he is, only time will tell. For the millions of children who flow through our public school systems, you hope the film will invigorate a debate that makes schools better. Meanwhile, give Guggenheim an A for effort. –- Betsy Sharkey
Photos from top: ‘Animal Kingdom.’ Credit: Sony Pictures Classics; ‘The Kids Are All Right.’ Credit: Focus Features; ‘Toy Story 3.’ Credit: Pixar