Which films made us sit up and say ‘Wow!, that was an amazing story’ or ‘that was amazingly well done’ or ‘that was so much fun, I’ve got to see that on my 50” Plasma when it comes out on Blu-ray.
3D was everywhere and for the first time it’s no longer a novelty but the norm, especially with computer animated films. There were more 3D films last year than any other year before, thanks to new 3D technology, and there is no sign of letting up for next year. Even TVs are now made for 3D.
It was not a great year for Sci-fi films. There was nothing as ground-breaking as Avatar, but there were some beautiful fantasy stories that made excellent use of digital technology. The ones I enjoyed most were Alice in Wonderland, Clash of the Titans, Iron Man 2 and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. Although many people loved Chris Nolan’s Inception and it was highly praised by critics, I was not a fan of this film about people with the ability to walk around in other people’s dreams while sleeping in order to steal their secrets. It seemed like it was cashing in on the popularity of the Matrix films. Instead of using an alternate computer manufactured reality, they used the subconscious mind to move around in. The visuals were also similar to the recent Matrix films. It is an interesting concept but ultimately too derivative and definitely not for everyone. At this time I have not yet watched Tron Legacy and Splice but I've heard good things about both films and will definitely watch them soon.
This was a very good year for Action Adventure/thriller however. There were a number of films like Polanski’s The Ghost Writer, Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood, James Mangold’s Knight and Day, Phillip Noyce's Salt, Anton Corbijn's The American, Ben Affleck’s The Town, Tony Scott’s Unstoppable, Wilson Yip's Ip Man and The Disappearance of Alice Creed that were surprisingly good films. But the real big surprise was Kick-Ass. Kick-Ass kicked ass as a mix of teen-angst comedy and action super-hero movie in equal parts. Filmed in Toronto it was like watching a Quentin Tarantino Kill Bill movie and a Spider-man movie rolled into one but better than both. Films which I have not yet seen but which I can't wait to see because they’re on so many top 10 lists this year are The Fighter, A Prophet and Mother.
It was also an excellent year for Dramas and Documentaries. The most notable and best dramas I’ve seen include films like The Social Network, Hereafter, The Secret in their Eyes, The Kids are All Right, I Am Love, Winter’s Bone, Carlos, Black Swan, The King’s Speech and True Grit. Dramas which I have not yet watched but are getting a lot of good press are Rabbit Hole, Animal Kingdom, Another Year and White Material.
Documentaries were many and excellent. Some of the best ones that I saw were Marwencol, Babies, Restrepo and Oceans. Some of the ones I did not see yet but will eventually, because they got excellent reviews and made it to many top 10 lists are Exit Through the Gift Shop, Inside Job, The Tillman Story, Last Train Home, Waiting for ‘Superman’, Boxing Gym and Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work.
War movies were very few this year but Paul Greengrass’s Green Zone is a definite stand out in any year. See more about Green Zone in my prior blogs below.
There were some good comedies this year. The ones I really enjoyed include Jean-Pierre Jeunet's MicMacs, Fatih Akin's Soul Kitchen, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Easy A, It's Kind of a Funny Story and Due Date.
Animation this year was mostly excellent and had the extra benefit of 3D to boost it. Now I know that 3D will not make a bad movie better but it is more fun to watch a film in 3D and some films benefit more than others from the 3D effect.
The best animated films this year at the top of my list are Toy Story 3 and How to Train Your Dragon. Toy Story 3 is actually better to watch in 2D as it did not benefit much from many dramatic 3D effects and the animation looked better in 2D, but the story was great. How to Train Your Dragon however really looked amazing and wowed in 3D as the film had much more dramatic 3D sequences that popped out. For pure visual excitement How to Train Your Dragon wins hands down, plus it had the added benefit of having one of the best cinematographers in Hollywood, Roger Deakins, as a visual consultant. He also worked on Wall-E for Pixar and True Grit for the Coen Brothers.
Other excellent animated films this year, in 2D or 3D, included Tangled, Despicable Me, Megamind, Shrek for Ever After, and Legend of the Guardians: the Owls of Ga’Hoole from the Australian company who brought us Happy Feet.
For a full list of animated films released this year and rated by Rottentomatoes.com see my Animation Rated link in the margin lower down on the right of my movie blog.