No film reached the giddy heights of Drag Me To Hell this year, but there were some notables.
The Social Network is hitting the top of many critics' "best of" lists, and with good reason. I reviewed it with much enthusiasm earlier, so there's no need to elaborate. Suffice to say it's a wicked, wildly entertaining film about what sounds like a stultifyingly dull subject. Good work by Fincher, Sorkin, Jesse Eisenberg and...yes...Justin Timberlake.
Get Low, with Robert Duvall as a strange hermit who decides to throw his own funeral party—while he's still alive—is just terrific. With great support from Sissy Spacek, Bill Murray and Lucas Black, this offbeat, charming film wanders into Horton Foote territory...and does it well.
Let Me In, Matt Reeves' Americanization of the great Swedish original, Let the Right One In, was a perfectly acceptable remake, with some notable changes. The children are the focal points in this version, and the adults are reduced to near-"Charlie Brown's teacher" status. Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Moritz are wonderful as the kids, and it's a shame—audiences stayed away in droves. The only sour note for me was the rather ridiculous speeded-up Gollum-style computer animation for the vampire, which really wasn't necessary at all.
127 Hours, Danny Boyle's excellent but hard-to-watch survival drama features a star-making performance by James Franco. Jackass 3D is, of course, a guilty pleasure and delivered everything you expect from these guys...hilariously rude antics that test the gag reflex, funny nudity and frat-boy camaraderie.
Another film that was fun in 3D was The Final Destination. The Wolfman was okay, but I actually enjoyed it more when I caught it on cable a second time. Daybreakers was terrific, while The Crazies was just so-so.
I liked Black Swan and Toy Story 3 very much, but Leo DiCaprio struck out twice in my opinion with Shutter Island and Inception. The Fighter was cliched, shrill and enervating. Splice was fun and Polanski showed some of his old spark with The Ghost Writer. I really hated How To Train Your Dragon, but Tony Scott's Unstoppable was a surprisingly enjoyable, old-fashioned thriller. And I thought the remake of Clash of the Titans was far more enjoyable than the original. What can I say?
I'm burned out on bad remakes, so I didn't even bother with Nightmare on Elm Street or I Spit on Your Grave. George Romero really gave his fans the raspberry with the ridiculously bad Survival of the Dead. I'm looking forward to Kevin Smith's political horror film Red State, set for a March release, and I'm curious about what the hell Dario Argento is going to do with Dracula 3D.
The Oscar race will surely involve The Social Network, Get Low, The Kids Are All Right, Inception (sigh) and Black Swan. I think Eisenberg, Duvall and Franco are going to duke it out for Best Actor.
Television provided more diversion. After a slow start, The Walking Dead picked up steam and I'm looking forward to its return. It's a challenge to make a continuing series on a subject as finite as a zombie apocalypse, but it's smart how they're handling it. And it's certainly the goriest show ever aired on basic cable!
Also making a welcome debut this year was HBO's Boardwalk Empire, a riveting story of Depression-era bootleggers and gangsters. Steve Buscemi is great as "Nucky" Thompson, the boss of Atlantic City, and Michael Pitt made a really smart career move by taking the role of Jimmy Darmody, Nucky's protege. The always-welcome Kelly Macdonald is also good as Nucky's on-again, off-again mistress. And Michael Shannon—the creepiest FBI agent ever!
Michael C. Hall is bound and determined to win his Emmy for Dexter, and this season introduced many new layers to his character, which always helps when vying for the little gold statue. And speaking of smart career moves, Julia Stiles was just terrific as Lumen Pierce, his partner in crime.
It's also smart that the other characters are involved in interesting dramas of their own—LaGuerta and Batista's rocky marriage, Deb's revolving bedroom door—even the stepchildren are developing interesting stories.
I can't wait for the new season of Breaking Bad. This insanely entertaining show was rewarded with two well-deserved Emmys for Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul as methamphetamine manufacturers Walter White and Jesse Pinkman. They get into such nail-biting situations, and you just know it's not going to turn out well.
I wasn't crazy about this season of True Blood, but it doesn't mean I'll stop watching it. The werewolves aren't doing much for me. We need more weird creatures and less soap opera. Hopefully it'll pick up.
I'm looking forward to HBO's miniseries, Mildred Pierce, stars Kate Winslet as the long-suffering mother of nasty. scheming Veda, played by Evan Rachel Wood, who is making the move over from True Blood now that she's (maybe) dead. It's directed by Todd Haynes (Velvet Goldmine, Far From Heaven). I wonder if Winslet is going to channel Joan Crawford or make the character her own. You just know it's going to be nice and warped.
Well, this is the last post of 2010. I wish you all a happy and healthy New Year!