The Daily Gamecock

Facebook drama leads 2010 movies

1. “The Social Network”
Taken at surface value, “The Social Network” is really quite a mundane film. A boat race is the closest thing it has to an action scene, and a room full of lawyers is the closest thing it has to a dramatic set piece. And yet, thanks in large part to the depth of Aaron Sorkin’s script, Trent Reznor’s dark score and David Fincher’s vision, it’s truly profound.
Mark Zuckerberg — no matter how accurate his portrayal in the film is — is one of the most complex and fascinating characters ever put to screen. He is a tragic figure, a genius struggling to prove himself to the world. It’s a story of tragedy and betrayal, and yet it is also a story of emerging trends in business, wealth and power.
As Sean Parker says in the film, things have changed “for better and for always.” The Internet, its effect on society and social media are here to stay. It is the “better” aspect of that statement that the film takes an uncomfortably close look at. There is an ominous sense of inevitability to “The Social Network,” and because of that, the end may seem anticlimactic. But it is the lack of any definitive answers — or even any real redemption for Zuckerberg — that provide so much impact.
— Aaron Jenkins

2. “Black Swan”
Almost like a companion piece to the earnest melodrama of Darren Aronofsky’s 2008 effort “The Wrestler,” this paranoid thriller masquerading as a ballet drama is a demanding, relentless film. Natalie Portman turns in the best work of her impressive career; her Nina is an obsessive, fragile creature whose mental cracks are made increasingly clear through oppressive close-ups. Her co-star and object of confused erotic desire, Mila Kunis, matches her beat for beat with unsettling predatory mannerisms. The camera’s constant use of mirrors and reflections creates a world where characters can seem to exist infinitely and not at all in an impressive effort to encapsulate Nina’s deteriorating psyche, stripping its own reality into a fever dream of a horror film.
— Jimmy Gilmore

3. “Inception”
Easily the most-talked-about film of the year, “Inception” challenged people’s perceptions of reality and led them to reexamine their own dreams. Cementing Christopher Nolan as one of the premier directors working today, “Inception” is one of the most brilliant films to be released this year. Known for its groundbreaking zero-gravity fight scene and enigmatic ending, “Inception” would easily win an award for most analyzed and examined. “Inception” will take its place among classics like “The Matrix” and will always have people talking.
— Neal Hughes

4. “True Grit”
The Coen brothers have consistently reworked genres and forms to their own quirks and ideas about the cinema over their storied career, so it comes as something as a surprise that they would direct what appears to be a straightforward Western culled from Hollywood lore. And while “True Grit” is perfectly enjoyable for its sweeping vistas, its acute ear for formal language and its brilliant acting, it would be a mistake to just see it for the surface pleasures. The Coens seem firmly invested in what creates myth and what mythic figures look like. It is a curious Western, one that deconstructs the idea of Hollywood’s glamorized mythology while also gently embracing it, thinking critically about retribution, violence and what heroes look like.
— JG

5. “Toy Story 3”
“Toy Story 3” is a rare but perfect example of a second sequel worth seeing that comes around every once in a while. After 10 years of waiting for the third installment, “Toy Story 3” features Woody, Buzz and all the other pieces of Andy’s discarded toys once again making an emotionally engaging return. The story deals with Andy heading off to college and the toys being dropped off at a day-care center with a dark underside. Unlike its two predecessors, “Toy Story 3” contains a darker, bittersweet tone as it deals with the struggles of growing up and loss.
— Tyler Simpson

6. “Shutter Island”
The last time Martin Scorsese made a horror film, he came up with 1991’s “Cape Fear,” a sadly underrated work that popped with the director’s signature flair for unique cutting, rapid camera work and stark violence. “Shutter Island” is a relentless character study in the vein of his best work. Leonardo DiCaprio’s partnership with Scorsese continues to be rewarding for both, as DiCaprio’s ability to straddle a line between professional persistence and growing self-doubt becomes almost agonizing by the final act. “Island’s” glowing debt to campy “B” movies from the 1940s and 1950s — haunted houses, mad scientists, detectives caught up in wild conspiracies — make its decadent visuals intoxicating.
— JG

7. “The King’s Speech”
“The King’s Speech” is a stylishly rousing pre-World War II drama that centers on the stammering speech disability of King George VI (Colin Firth) and his friendship with unorthodox speech therapist, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). Both Firth and Rush deliver masterful performances that give the film some unexpected qualities of a “buddy comedy,” with Firth especially feeling very Oscar-worthy. Director Tom Hooper successfully manages to capture the personalities and values of the film’s period while refusing to forfeit historical accuracy. He successfully depicts the microphone as the main antagonist, serving as a faceless foe that George VI must confront along with his own personal demons.
— TS

8.“The Fighter”
After looking at “The Fighter’s” trailer, one might assume it is just another cliché boxing movie. That would be a very erroneous judgment. David O. Russell’s biopic of Mickey Ward (Mark Wahlberg) is a relentless emotional drama, bolstered by Oscar-worthy performances. It truly is a treat to watch Ward’s emotional evolution, but it pales in comparison to the full-fledged commitment Christian Bale brings to Mickey’s crackhead brother, Dickie. Combined with one of the best scripts of the year, “The Fighter” ranks with the best boxing movies ever.
— NH

9. “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”
For all its genre-bending and mashing, no piece of “Scott Pilgrim” falls flat. As a comedy, it is one of the most hilarious films of the year. As an action film, every fight is exciting and visually interesting. Even as a satire, the film is dead-on. But the film’s protagonist is what stands out the most. Scott Pilgrim is no traditional hero, and yet, calling him reluctant would also be off-mark. Pilgrim is the epitome of the obsessive, pop-culture influenced 20-something, who practically drifts through life. So well does the film mirror his personality that each scene manages to seamlessly weave in some aspect of him, jumping fluidly from video games to manga to music. No other film in 2010 was so unapologetic in its style or so delightfully original.

10. “The Kids Are All Right”
A very talented cast and a heartfelt story about the values of family help make “The Kids Are All Right” one of the best films of 2010. Annette Bening and Julianne Moore star as lesbian couple Nic and Jules. Their kids (Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson) search for their biological father (Mark Ruffalo), who becomes very involved with the family. While most of the performances in the film are near-perfect, both Moore and Bening make “The Kids Are All Right” absolute Oscar bait. They thrive off each other as they play a long-loving, long-squabbling married couple. While the movie centers on lesbian marriage, it refers to the challenges that marriage presents to all. Its wonderful illustration of the modern-day family makes “The Kids Are All Right” delightfully captivating and humorous.
— TS

Our individual critics weigh in with their choices

Jimmy Gilmore, Senior Mix Writer
1. “The Social Network”
2. “Black Swan”
3. “Inception”
4. “Kick-Ass”
5. “Shutter Island”
6. “The Ghost Writer”
7. “Winter’s Bone”
8. “True Grit”
9. “Dogtooth”
10. “Somewhere”

Neal Hughes, Staff Writer
1. “The Fighter”
2. “The Social Network”

3. “Black Swan”
4. “True Grit”
5. “Inception”
6. “Four Lions”
7. “Animal Kingdom”
8. “Let Me In”
9. “Winter’s Bone”
10. “Micmacs”

Aaron Jenkins, The Daily Gamecock
1. “The Social Network”
2. “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”
3. “Black Swan”
4. “Inception”
5. “127 Hours”
6. “Mother”
7. “How to Train Your Dragon”
8. “Shutter Island”
9. “Catfish”
10. “The Disappearance of Alice Creed”

Tyler Simpson, The Daily Gamecock
1. “The Social Network”
2. “True Grit”
3. “The King’s Speech”
4. “Black Swan”
5. “The Kids Are All Right”
6. “Inception”
7. “The Fighter’
8. “Toy Story 3”
9. “The Ghost Writer”
10. “Never Let Me Go”