2010 Movie Awards

Best Films of 2010

2010 was a really strange year for movies, though in the end, I don’t think it’s as bad as a lot of people are saying. I think this has to do with the bad first impression made by the abysmal first half of the year. It wasn’t until the middle of the year that things began to turn around for me and by the end of the year, things were looking up. Indeed, many of my favorites turned out to have been released in that first half of the year, just with limited distribution. As I caught up with some of the smaller films from earlier in the year, I managed to fill out most of the below list.

As of right now, I’ve seen 81 movies that would qualify as a 2010 release (with the usual borderline 2009 releases that don’t make it to my market or DVD until 2010 – usually foreign films). It turns out that this is something of a record for me, though I have to admit that around 50 of those have been watched since November (previous years were generally more spread out through the year) and mostly on DVD or Netflix Watch Instantly. Anyway, this is probably way more than most ordinary folks, but also less than most critics. I had no problem putting together a top 8, but those last two slots were really difficult to fill. Not because I couldn’t find a good film to put there, but because there were too many films that I could put there. Many of the Honorable Mentions could easily fit in those last two slots (the first two listed below).

The other thing I found really interesting about this year is how thematically similar a lot of films were. I actually mentioned this in a recent book review:

One of the themes of 2010 cinema has been a question of reality. Is what we’re watching real? Or is it a fabrication? Or perhaps some twisted combination of the two? Interestingly, this theme can be found in the outright fictional (films like Inception certainly induce questions of reality), the ostensibly true story that is notably and obviously fictionalized (a la The Social Network), and most interestingly of all, the documentary. Films like Catfish and Exit Through the Gift Shop are certainly presented as fact, though many questions have arisen about their verisimilitude. Joaquin Phoenix and Casey Affleck collaborated on I’m Still Here, a supposed documentary about Phoenix’s strange transition from a well known actor to a crazy aspiring rapper that Phoenix and Affleck have since admitted was something of a hoax (I have not seen the film, but from what I can see, many of the events certainly did happen, even if they were manufactured). In most cases, audiences don’t seem to mind the blurring of reality with fiction (this includes myself), so long as that blurring is made clear (that may sound paradoxical, but it is perhaps better understood as the main component of the Reflexive Documentary: movies that acknowledge the biases of the filmmakers and the subjectivity of the material at hand are more trustworthy than movies that claim objectivity). Indeed, one could probably make a case for the presence of fiction in most non-fiction stories. Bias, subjectivity, and context can yield dramatically different results depending on how they’re portrayed.

And there are even some other themes that people have been noticing this year (i.e. strong female leads, interesting Mother characters, etc…) This sort of consistency doesn’t seem to be present in the past few years, and I found that interesting. Ultimately, I think 2010 has got a bad rap. It’s certainly not one of the best years in recent memory, but as usual, I’ve managed to find a lot of stuff to like.

As always, I should note that this list is inherently subjective and of course most people will find something to gripe about. So be it. One thing I’ve found interesting in the past few years of doing this list is that I’ve gravitated away from trying to put together a list of the best films, instead favoring my favorite films. What I’m ending up with is a mixture of both components here and it’s a tricky line to walk, but I think it ultimately makes for a more interesting list. So without further ado:

Top 10 Movies of 2010

* In roughly reverse order

  • Triangle: The most notable feature of this film is the strange, elliptical plot that amazingly manages to write itself out of several corners, leading to a consistently surprising viewing. The less said about this, the better. This is arguably the least deserving of a top 10 slot, but I’m including it due to it’s obscurity and the fact that the film worked really well for me. Fans of Kaedrin favorite Timecrimes would probably also like this movie, as the two are similar.

    More Info: [IMDB] [DVD] [BD] [Winner of 1 Kaedrin Movie Award]

  • The King’s Speech: The stench of Oscar-bait initially turned me off, but I gave it a shot anyway, and was very glad that I did so. Fantastic central performances by Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter, and Geoffrey Rush, and a witty script elevates this film beyond typical indie Oscar bait (though there is maybe one or two groaners in that respect, it was much less than I was expecting). Like most Americans, I don’t really get the Monarchy, but I find myself with this sneaking curiosity and awe of the institution, and I find movies like this one scratch that itch.

    More Info: [IMDB] [DVD] [BD] [Capsule Review]

  • Kick Ass: Violent, funny, aggressively juvenile, and an absolute blast to watch. I suppose you could argue that this film is trying to have it’s cake and eat it too, but honestly, I think it actually succeeds in that respect. There’s a sorta self-deprecating nature to the film that I find works really well. Plus, it, well, kicks ass. It also features one of the biggest badasses in recent cinema, Hit Girl (played excellently by newcomer Chloe Moretz). It’s maybe a bit unfocused, but still a very good film.

    More Info: [IMDB] [DVD] [BD] [Winner of 2 Kaedrin Movie Awards]

  • A Prophet: There’s a common trope among ganster movies where the protagonist goes from rags-to-riches via a corruption of innocence, and this movie certainly qualifies. However, setting the story inside a prison is an interesting juxtaposition of the usual cliche. It’s a long movie, and it even feels like a long movie, but that is a curiously good thing in the case of this movie. It’s not an especially pleasant movie, but it’s engaging in a way that most unpleasant movies are not. A nominee for the best Foreign Picture Oscar last year, it wasn’t released in the US until this year (and personally, I think it should have won the Oscar).

    More Info: [IMDB] [DVD] [BD]

  • Toy Story 3: Pure, unadulterated fun. Another sublime effort from Pixar and a wonderful sequel (two words that almost never go together) to a great series of films (that being said, I hope this is the last). I really don’t have much else to say about it (that would fit in this context) so I’ll just leave it at that.

    More Info: [IMDB] [DVD] [BD] [Winner of 1 Kaedrin Movie Award]

  • True Grit: The Coen Brothers’ take on the classical Western, I found it very refreshing to just watch a solid Western without having to bother with all the revisionist traditions that most Westerns these days seem to embrace. Great performances by newcomer Hailee Steinfeld, the always excellent Jeff Bridges, and the underrated Matt Damon (I’d vote for him as a best supporting actor here), and of course the Coens are always excellent.

    More Info: [IMDB] [DVD] [BD] [Capsule Review]

  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: I have not read the book this was adapted from, but I enjoyed this movie immensely (except, of course, for the scenes I wasn’t supposed to enjoy, of which there are a few). A great lead character in Lisbeth Salandar (an excellent performance by Noomi Rapace) and a well executed mystery immediately propelled this movie out of the early year dregs. I was especially impressed with the deftly executed relationship between Salandar and Blomkvist (something that was sorely lacking in the two sequels). It might get a bit too intense at times, but it worked really well for me.

    More Info: [IMDB] [DVD] [BD] [Full Review]

  • The Social Network: A film I initially felt was doomed to become a boring failure. As you might imagine, going into the film with such low expectations lead to a surprisingly fun moviegoing experience and this quickly became one of my favorites of the year. Excellent performances all around, Aaron Sorkin’s witty script and crackling dialogue, Trent Reznor’s perfect score, and Fincher tying it all together perfectly. Unfortunately, this one is receiving a bit of backlash as a lot of people are now seeing it with much higher expectations and coming away disappointed. But it remains one of my favorites of the year.

    More Info: [<a href="The Social Network“>IMDB] [DVD] [BD] [Full Review] [Winner of 1 Kaedrin Movie Award]

  • Exit Through the Gift Shop: Intriguing documentary ostensibly about street art and one of its most mysterious figures, Banksy. But it’s ultimately a much deeper film about the nature of the art community and the reality that art attempts to represent. There’s lots of great footage of street artists and an unexpected look at the man behind the camera. This film is probably the poster child for the year’s theme of “is it real?” movies. Ultimately, of course, those questions don’t matter, as it’s a good story in any case. It didn’t go where I expected, but I loved where it went. It’s a great film and it raises a lot of really fascinating questions.

    More Info: [IMDB] [DVD] [BD] [Capsule Review] [Winner of 1 Kaedrin Movie Award]

  • Inception: This is the movie that turned 2010 around for me. An interesting premise, intricate plotting, and internally consistent mechanics lead to that “sense of wonder” feeling that most filmic science fiction is sorely missing. The film features solid performances all around, and the visuals are well done, but the strength of Christopher Nolan, in my mind, has always been story and editing (and in this particular case, the way Nolan weaves music into the film to reinforce the story is also noteworthy). It’s a brilliant film.

    More Info: [IMDB] [DVD] [BD] [Full Review] [Winner of 1 Kaedrin Movie Award]

Honorable Mention

* In alphabetical order

  • 127 Hours: A surprisingly effective lead performance, a script that makes good use of a single location and Danny Boyle’s kinetic direction lead to a very well executed film. That this movie is watcheable at all is especially noteworthy given that most of the audience already knows what’s going to happen. It may even have been a bit too hyper or too on-the-nose, but it was still a very good movie.

    More Info: [IMDB] [DVD] [BD]

  • Animal Kingdom: Not especially well paced, but an otherwise engaging tale of a family of bank robbers and their feud with the local police. It features an excellent, Oscar-nominated performance from by Jacki Weaver as the Matriarch of the family. Also notable for featuring a teenager that actually acts like a teenager (i.e. he’s generally an idiot) and not a precocious mastermind who outsmarts everyone. Again, a bit too slow moving and some unpleasant subject matter, but a decent film.

    More Info: [IMDB] [DVD] [BD]

  • The Art of the Steal: Thought provoking documentary about the Barnes art collection, and how various political powers maneuvered to relocate the art from its longtime home in Lower Merion to downtown Philadelphia (despite the clear wishes laid out in Barnes’ will). Unapologetically one-sided, but still a fascinating documentary and well worth a watch. Another film that came very close to nabbing the last slot in the top 10.

    More Info: [IMDB] [DVD] [Capsule Review]

  • Black Swan: The younger sister to director Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler, the two films share a lot of similarities. Unfortunately, both are similarly flawed as well, especially when it comes to the script. Standout performances from the two female leads, Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis, wonderful visuals from Aronofsky, but ultimately sunk by clunky dialogue and other script issues. Still, a very interesting effort from all involved, and well worth a watch.

    More Info: [IMDB] [DVD] [BD] [Full Review]

  • Blood Into Wine: Interesting and slickly made documentary about wine makers in Arizona with a focus on a winery owned by Tool front-man Maynard James Keenan. An interesting look at the wine world from an outsider’s unusual perspective. There are a few bits that fall flat, but it’s quite an enjoyable watch.

    More Info: [IMDB] [DVD] [BD]

  • Catfish: Another intersting documentary, and another of the poster-children for the year’s “Is it real?” theme. The less said about the plot the better, but I will say that it made an excellent double-feature with The Social Network (see “Full Review” link below for more).

    More Info: [IMDB] [DVD] [BD] [Full Review]

  • The Disappearance of Alice Creed: A brutal but effective tale of a kidnapping gone wrong, with the twist being that it’s told entirely from the kidnapper’s perspective. A few unexpected twists and turns and a claustrophobic setting lend this one a pretty somber atmosphere, but overall, I thought it was very well done. Another candidate for that last slot on the top 10.

    More Info: [IMDB] [DVD] [BD]

  • Dogtooth: Profoundly disturbing and weird, but surprisingly not that difficult to watch. There’s an unexpected strain of humor through the whole thing (in particular, I love the Jaws reenactment) and while it is quite distressing from a conceptual perspective, it also raises a lot of interesting questions about parenting and reality (there’s that theme again). I couldn’t quite bring myself to put it in the top 10, but I have a feeling that this one will stick with me for a while.

    More Info: [IMDB] [DVD] [BD]

  • Easy A: This breezy, clever and fun modern-day updating of The Scarlet Letter was a lot better than I expected it to be, primarily due to the lead performance by Emma Stone (and her quirky family). It was a welcome relief from the emotionally draining end-of-the-year fare, though not exactly top 10 material (for me, at least).

    More Info: [IMDB] [DVD] [BD]

  • The Last Exorcism: Surprisingly effective mock documentary about exorcism (certainly the best film to cover that subject in the past several years). It’s not quite strong enough to make the top 10 (I had some particular reservations about the ending), but it’s a lot better than the marketing for the film would have you believe.

    More Info: [IMDB] [DVD] [BD]

  • Machete: I’m still not convinced that this movie actually needed to be made, but I have to admit that I had a lot of grindhouse-erific fun with the film. The mixture of political polemic (something I generally hate in my films) with trashy violence and sex actually struck me as working well (much better than either component alone in the film would). Gloriously over-the-top trashy fun.

    More Info: [IMDB] [DVD] [BD] [Capsule Review]

  • Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: It’s funny and visually spectacular, but I found the ending to be a bit lacking. Even then, this was one of the many movies vying for the coveted 10th slot in the top 10, and it was neck and neck with the films that made it on the list. It’s a really solid movie though, and well worth watching.

    More Info: [IMDB] [DVD] [BD] [Winner of 2 Kaedrin Movie Awards]

  • The Secret in Their Eyes: Technically the winner of last year’s Foreign Picture Oscar, this didn’t get a release until this year. Foreign Picture winners tend to make a good showing on my top 10s, but this year, I found that A Prophet was more compelling than this film, which is very good, to be sure (and which was another film under consideration for that last slot on the list). However, I found the film a bit unfocused and maybe even a bit sloppy. Sometimes that can work, but not in this case. Nevertheless, a fine film and worthy of a watch.

    More Info: [IMDB] [DVD] [BD] [Capsule Review]

  • Winter’s Bone: I go back and forth on this film. Sometimes I love it and sometimes I’m kinda “meh” about it. It certainly moves at a glacial pace, but it features lots of good performances, a stark and unusual (but welcome) setting, and a simple but effective story. I can see why it’s a critics’ darling, but I can also see why it wasn’t exactly a mainstream success. If you’re fond of slow moving drama/thrillers, it’s certainly worth a watch.

    More Info: [IMDB] [DVD] [BD] [Full Review]

Just Missed the Cut:

But still worthwhile, in their own way. Presented without comment and in no particular order:

Should Have Seen:

Despite the fact that I’ve seen 81 of this year’s movies (and that this post features 30+ of my favorites), there were a few that got away… mostly due to limited releases, though a few of the flicks listed below didn’t interest me as much when they were released as they did when I heard more about them.

Well that just about wraps up 2010 movies… Stay tuned next Sunday for the usual Oscar Liveblogging – previous installments here: [2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004]

2010 Kaedrin Movie Awards: Arbitrary Awards

So we’re finished with the formal awards, but there are always some other awards that don’t really require a lot of nominees… and there are some movies that have something so uncommon that it’s worth bringing up. Interestingly, some of these awards have actually become a yearly thing, despite never really being conceived as such. In any case, here they are:

  • The “You know what happens when a toad gets struck by lightning? The same thing that happens to everything else” Award for Worst Dialogue: Skyline. Not even that talented thespian Eric Balfour could make this crap sound good. “It’s not exactly like we have a lot more bedsheets!”
  • The Proximity to Jason Vorhees Award for Heroic Stupidity: Piranha 3D. Of course, the gargantuan amounts of stupid present in this film actually constitute its charm.
  • The “I Can’t Believe They Went There” Award for Dumbest Plot Twist: Shutter Island. Scorsese is brilliant as always, but even he can’t undo the damage done by one of the dumbest plot twists ever. I also The Book of Eli, but then, there’s not quite the disparity between talent and dumb twist there. In other words, the dumbness seems appropriate for that movie.
  • Best Unexpected Gratuitous Nudity: Love and Other Drugs. I like Anne Hathaway. (I assume female audiences enjoy Jake Gyllenhaal as well).
  • Best Documentary About Wine: Blood Into Wine. In a move resembling Homer Simpson’s decision to attend Clown College, Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan bought and runs a winery in Arizona. This slickly produced documentary is an interesting look at the situation and well worth a watch.
  • Most Menacing Florist of the Year: Pete Postlethwaite’s character in The Town. Sadly, Postlethwaite recently passed away. He will be missed, as he always classed a movie up with his presence.
  • Most Surprisingly Mediocre Movie of the Year: Unstoppable. This movie about a runaway train* looked like it would be one of the worst of the year. Instead we got a competent and surprisingly fun thriller.
  • Best Underwater Ballet Sequence: Piranha 3D. This isn’t just the best underwater ballet sequence with naked women set to classical music of the year, it’s quite possible the best underwater ballet sequence with naked women set to classical music of all time. I suppose an alternate title for this award could be “Best Expected Gratuitous Nudity”, a companion to an earlier arbitrary award.

And that just about wraps up the awards for the year. Look for a top 10 list in a few weeks…

* Sorry, I forgot. It’s not a train, it’s a missile the size of the Chrystler building! Please accept my humble apologies.

2010 Kaedrin Movie Award Winners!

The nominations for the 2010 Kaedrin Movie Awards were announced last week. Today, I’ll be announcing the winners of those formal awards. Later in the week, I’ll cover less traditional categories in what we like to call the Arbitrary Awards, and at some point in the near future, I’ll post my top 10 of 2010 (this will most likely happen in early to mid-February). So let’s get this party started:

  • Best Villain/Badass: Dr. Heiter, played by Dieter Laser in The Human Centipede. I know, this category is lame. What a bad year for villainy. I seriously considered nominating “speech impediments” (from The King’s Speech), that’s how bad this year was for villains. I suppose I could add CLU from TRON: Legacy now that I’ve seen that, but even he is a bit of a lame villain. Ivan Vanko would have been a great candidate if the movie he was in didn’t suck so bad. The other nominees were fine, I guess, but in the end, I had to go with everyone’s favorite mad scientist, Dr. Heiter, played with a manic and malevolent swagger by (best actor name ever?) Dieter Laser, in one of the more aggressively disgusting horror movies of the year.
  • Best Hero/Badass: Mindy Macready / Hit-Girl, played by Chloe Moretz in Kick-Ass. Now this was a much more difficult category to pick a winner in, as there have been lots of great heroic badasses this year. There are a couple that definitely weren’t in the running (notably Tom Cruise and Angelina Jolie, though I enjoy both of their characters and their movies), but the rest were pretty much on a level playing field, though how could Hit-Girl not come out on top. I suppose there’s something of a controversy around such a young actress portraying such a foul-mouthed and violent character, but I’ll be damned if she wasn’t hysterically funny and totally badass at the same time. If the movie makes my top 10, it will most likely be because of this character and Moretz’s performance. At the time I wasn’t sure if such an aggressively juvenile film or the novelty of seeing an 11 year old girl swear like a sailor whilst eviscerating her enemies would stand the test of time. So far, at least, it has. I mean, how can this award not go to the character that responds to the seemingly reasonable inquiry of how to contact her in case of an emergency with this: “You just contact the mayor’s office. He has a special signal he shines in the sky; it’s in the shape of a giant cock.” Brilliant.
  • Best Comedic Performance: Kieran Culkin in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. I’m as surprised as you are about this one, but he was damn funny in one of the few movies I found really funny this year. I did seriously consider Chloe Moretz for this one, but then, she’s only in her movie for a short period of time overall, and a lot of that is really just action. This is really a category where none of the nominees really jumped out at me, so I really just gave it to the movie I thought best deserved to get a comedic award, at which point, Scott Pilgrim actually does stand out. Thats a lame way to pick a winner, I guess, but I really didn’t have any other good ideas.
  • Breakthrough Performance: Armie Hammer in The Social Network. Another difficult choice, though this time because there were too many good choices. The shortlist included Noomi Rapace and Jennifer Lawrence (and, ok, Emma Stone), but I ended up going with Hammer because I have to admit, I thought he was awesome in the movie AND that I didn’t even realize he was playing two parts (he plays both Winklevoss twins, a testament to his acting ability and the special effects used to pull off those scenes). In the past, this award has traditionally gone to someone I knew, but never expected much out of… Previous winners include Rosario Dawson, Mila Kunis, Josh Brolin and Tom Hardy, all people who I knew and underestimated. This years nominees were mostly young folks who don’t have much to their credit, which is very different than years past. Strange, but Hammer was really fantastic in his roles, and I look forward to seeing more of him…

    Armie Hammer in The Social Network

  • Most Visually Stunning: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. There seem to be two different types of visually stunning movie nominated every year – gorgeously photographed movies (for this year, think True Grit, Valhalla Rising, Winters Bone and Shutter Island) and movies that have lots of pretty special effects or animation (like Inception or the Secret of Kells), and I seem to generally favor the special effects for some reason. I’m not really sure why, perhaps because the films I choose tend to be more fast paced and have lots of visual pyrotechnics and creativity, like Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. All of this year’s nominees are pretty great from a visual perspective though.
  • Best Sci-Fi or Horror Film: Inception. Not sure how much actual science is there, but Inception certainly has the look and feel of great science fiction and it evokes that great sensawunda feeling that makes SF so entertaining. It sets up a complicated set of rules and then subverts them, but it does so in an internally consistent way, which is what makes this movie so great. None of the other nominees really came close (i.e. this is the first easy category this year!), though I will note that I got a very similar vibe from the little-seen Triangle (even if that one’s even less of SF and more horror/fantasy).
  • Best Sequel: Toy Story 3. This is usually a very difficult category to populate, but this year there were several worthy nominees, though I have to admit that I let a few crappy ones in, notably Piranha 3D, which I allowed based solely on the power of one scene (which will come up when we get to the arbitrary awards next week). I also wanted to note that I was really surprised at how well Paranormal Activity 2 fit into the first movie. There’s some clear retconning going on there, but it fits surprisingly well. But in the end, how could I not give this to Toy Story 3? A fantastic movie, sequel or not, and it will most likely be finding its way onto my top 10.
  • Biggest Disappointment: Cop Out. I don’t know why I had such high expectations for this one, but I apparently did, and boy did it let me down. With the exception of Sean William Scott’s performance, the film is pretty bad. From the cheesy Fletch-wannabe music score to the crappy writing to the boring performances (Bruce Willis mostly just sleeping his way through the movie, while Tracy Morgan was entirely too unrestrained), there’s not much to recommend about this movie. I really like Kevin Smith’s movies, but I have to admit that I’m confused by this direction – if anything, he should be writing scripts for other directors, not the other way around. As for the other nominees, I didn’t really love Iron Man as much as everyone else, so the complete failure of the sequel wasn’t really a surprise to me. Splice would be most accurately described as an “interesting failure”, which isn’t that bad in my book. Mother was actually a pretty good movie, but it’s gotten so much play from almost every critic out there that I went into it with expectations that were way too high. And I wasn’t expecting that much out of Doghouse in the first place. So yeah, Cop Out was the natural choice for me.
  • Best Action Sequences: Kick-Ass. Another difficult category, and I’m a little surprised that I ended up with Kick-Ass, but it does, well, Kick-Ass. Part of it might just be the novelty of the young heroine (see Best Hero/Badass award above), but another part of it is that there simply wasn’t a ton of competition this year. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Inception were on the shortlist for this one, but I felt like Inception was driven more by its ideas than its action, while the action sequences in Scot Pilgrim seemed to get a bit repetitive and desensitizing by the end of the film. Kick-Ass was also sorta making fun of itself as well, which helps.
  • Best Plot Twist/Surprise: Triangle. Always a difficult category to talk about, as I don’t want to give anything away, but I found Triangle pretty consistently surprising. Once I got about 30 minutes in, some stuff happened, and I really had no idea where the rest of the movie would go, and that happens a couple times as the movie goes on. Like Inception, it’s got a lot of moving parts that all seem to fit together in the end, but which you don’t really see coming until they’re there. Of course, it’s important to go into the movie knowing as little as possible about it, but that shouldn’t be too much of a problem for this underseen movie. Inception was a runner up, as was Exit Through the Gift Shop, neither of which really employ conventional plot twists, to be sure (heck one of them is a documentary!), but both of which took me somewhere interesting that I wasn’t expecting. Catfish was kinda predictable and as critic Michael Phillips notes in the latest Filmspotting, The Secret in Their Eyes is like a really great two-episode Law & Order: Buenos Aires (if such a thing existed).
  • Best High Concept Film: Exit Through the Gift Shop. Always a difficult category to populate and pick a winner for because the concept is a bit nebulous to start with, but when I thought about this award and Exit Through the Gift Shop, it just made more and more sense. Here’s a movie ostensibly about street art, but which ends up examining the person who shot most of the footage in detail, then mercilessly critiquing the art world and hype and ultimately, even itself. The movie is critically examining the very idea of high concept art, so how could it not win? The runner up would have to be The Human Centipede, which is entirely reliant on the disgusting high-concept premise at its core (almost to its detriment).

    Exit Through The Gift Shop

  • 2010’s 2009 Movie of the Year: (tie) Black Dynamite and Mystery Team. There are no clear standouts here, and the two I ended up with are both flawed, but only in ways that I find kinda endearing. For instance, the faux-blaxploitation of Black Dynamite begins to wear thin towards the end, though there are several brilliant sequences in the film (such as the montage in the park where he’s kinda playing with his girlfriend). Mystery Team is a little too silly for its own good, but I actually really enjoyed that part of the film. Interestingly, almost all of the nominees here are pretty much comedies. Some have other elements as well, but they’re mostly comedies, which is strange.

Well there you have it. Stay tuned for the Arbitrary Awards on Wednesday and, eventually, the top 10 of 2010.

2010 Kaedrin Movie Awards

It’s finally time for the 5th Annual Kaedrin Movie Awards! As of today, I’ve seen 69 movies that would be considered 2010 releases. This is on par with the past few years [Previous Installments here: 2006 2007 2008 2009], but a little less than last year. Regardless, this post marks the beginning of my end of the year recap (only a little more than a week late!) The categories are the same as last year, but will proceed a bit differently. I’ll post all the nominations today, but I don’t think I’ll be announcing one or two winners a day (as I’ve done the past few years), instead opting to announce them all at once next Sunday.

2010 has been an unusual year for movies. In particular, the first half of the year was pretty disheartening. It wasn’t until about mid-summer that things started turning around, and as I’ve been playing catchup for the past couple of months, I’ve been finding some diamonds in the rough from the first half. In the end, while I don’t think it’s been a particularly good year for movies, I think that abysmal first half has ruined the year’s reputation. That or the endless parade of mediocrity that seems to be this year’s theme. There are a couple of movies I’m still hoping to catch up with before I release my top 10, but there’s no reason to delay the awards for that. Besides, one of the points of these awards is that they allow me to give some love to films that I like, but which aren’t necessarily great or are otherwise flawed (as such, the categories may seem a bit eclectic). Some of these movies will end up on my top 10, but the grand majority of them will not.

The rules for this are the same as last year: Nominated movies must have been released in 2010 (in the US) and I have to have seen the movie (and while I have seen a lot of movies, I don’t pretend to have seen a comprehensive selection – don’t let that stop you from suggesting something though). Also, I suppose I should mention the requisite disclaimer that these sorts of lists are inherently subjective and personal. But that’s all part of the fun, right? So here are the nominees for this year’s awards:

Best Villain/Badass

It’s been a bad year for villainy… I was able to fill the category, but only by putting some real stretches on the list. As with previous years, my picks in this category are for individuals, not groups (i.e. no vampires or zombies as a group).

Best Hero/Badass

Heroes, on the other hand, are having a much more badass year. There were so many choices, I had to actually cut a few people off the list and I still ended up with a very large list… Again limited to individuals and not groups.

Best Comedic Performance

Another lackluster year for comedy. I ended up pulling a few unconventional choices into the list…

Breakthrough Performance

Interestingly, this is a pretty decent year for young actresses, as the grand majority of nominees are female. As with previous years, my main criteria for this category was if I watched a movie, then immediately looking up the actor/actress on IMDB to see what else they’ve done (or where they came from). This sometimes happens for even well established actors/actresses, but not so much this year…

Most Visually Stunning

Sometimes even bad movies can look really great…

Best Sci-Fi or Horror Film

I’m a total genre hound, despite genres generally receiving very little attention from critics. This is a category normally dominated by Horror, but there’s at least one solid SF nominee (and another two that are sorta mixtures). The list is still weighted more towards Horror, but a respectable showing for both genres:

Best Sequel

A surprisingly long list of options this year (in each of the 4 years I’ve been doing this, there’s only been 3 options). Now, at least one of these is a pretty bad movie, but I included it anyway.

Biggest Disappointment

Always a difficult award to figure out, as there are different ways in which a movie can disappoint. Usually, expectations play just as big a part of this as the actual quality of the film, and it’s possible that a good movie can win the award because of high expectations.

Best Action Sequences

This was a decent year for action, though not especially a standout year. This award isn’t for individual action sequences, but rather an overall estimation of each film.

Best Plot Twist/Surprise

Not a particularly strong year for the plot twist either, though there are a few standouts.

Best High Concept Film

This is always a strange category to populate because the concept is a bit nebulous, but nevertheless, there are a few interesting choices…

2010’s 2009 Movie of the Year

A 2009 movie I didn’t get to see until 2010… This is always a problem for the amateur movie lover. Towards the end of the year, 500 movies come out, but they only play in New York or LA for a grand total of like 3 hours (enough for 2 showings at each theater!) Plus, there’s always a movie I dismissed and neglected to see which I end up seeing a year later and loving. A few good ones this year (er last year, no this year):

Anyone have any suggestions (for either category or nominations)? Comments, complaints and suggestions are welcome, as always.

It looks like there isn’t a clear leader in nominations, but there are 4 films coming in at 4 nominations each: Inception, Kick-Ass, Machete, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Nipping at their heels is a whopping 5 films with 3 nominations each, including: True Grit, Winter’s Bone, Triangle, The Millenium Trilogy Movies (perhaps an unfair advantage there), and, surprisingly, Paranormal Activity 2. Even more films have 2 nominations each, and more than that with just 1. Overall, 34 movies were nominated (not including the 2009 movies or the “disappointment” award), which is still a pretty good showing, I think. So I’m going to give it a week and then hopefully announce all the winners next Sunday, followed by some Arbitrary awards and (eventually) a top 10.