By Ryan Hill
How do you top “The Dark Knight,” the third highest-grossing movie of all time? If you’re Christopher Nolan, you take things one step further with “Inception,” a mind-bending heist thriller that completely redefines what a blockbuster movie can be. “Inception” is the year’s most dazzling, exciting film.
2. ‘The Social Network’
“The Social Network” is so much more than just “the Facebook movie.” It’s a morality tale, a story about how power corrupts, a rags-to-riches fable featuring a misunderstood genius – take your pick. Aaron Sorkin’s 100 mile-per-hour screenplay treats words like bullets and, coupled with David Fincher’s direction, keeps things captivating for the entire film.
3. ‘Toy Story 3’
The rare threequel that works, “Toy Story 3” is a fitting bookend to Pixar’s biggest franchise. Seeing Woody and Buzz Lightyear together again is enough of a treat, but throw in Pixar’s golden touch and “Toy Story 3” becomes the most emotionally-affecting film the studio has ever churned out.
4. ‘The Town’
Ben Affleck has gone from indie darling to golden boy to has-been and now has achieved a title far greater: filmmaker. His directorial debut, “Gone Baby Gone,” hinted at Affleck’s talent behind the camera. “The Town” fulfills that promise, with outstanding action and moving drama.
5. ‘True Grit’
One of the Coen Brothers’ best films, “True Grit” reunites the duo with Jeff Bridges for the first time since “The Big Lebowski,” and the result is amazing. Working from Charles Portis’ novel, the Coens are free to let their filmmaking powers run wild, and it is a sight to behold. One of the best Westerns around.
6. ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. The World’
Unfairly overlooked upon its release due in part to Michael Cera overkill, director Edgar Wright’s “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World” is an ode to pop culture and young love. There’s so much going on in this adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s graphic novels that it makes repeat viewings almost feel like a new experience.
Two words: Hit Girl. If you find the idea of a 12-year-old girl making mincemeat out of bad guys appalling, then “Kick-Ass” probably isn’t for you. For the rest of us, Hit Girl will go down as one of the most badass heroines ever committed to film. The rest of the movie rocks, too.
8. ‘The King’s Speech’
“The King’s Speech” has everything one would expect from an end-of-the-year, awards-worthy film: Outstanding performances from leads Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush and an uplifting story, which in this case involves King George VI trying to overcome a debilitating speech impediment as the start of war with Germany hangs overhead. Truly outstanding.
9. ‘The Fighter’
The true story of “Irish” Micky Ward could be considered a reboot of the “Rocky” franchise with its similar story, but that would be overlooking the firecracker that is Christian Bale who, as a cocaine addict, is a force to be reckoned with. I dare you to take your eyes off him.
10. ‘Jackass 3D’
So what if “Jackass 3D” is a third helping of Johnny Knoxville and his friends sacrificing their bodies in the name of poop? It’s hilarious. The last time a movie gave me a headache from laughing too hard was “Borat.”