TheEstablishingshot's Top Films of 2010 or The 2010 Short List


Posted by Craig Grobler on Google+ On Thursday, January 06, 2011

TheEstablishingshot's Top Films of 2010I know I should be mustering up enough creative juice to think of a clever pun or witty double entendre around the phonetic parallels between 2010 and Top 10 List that will impress upon you my cleverness or at least how this is not just another blog post in the sea of year end round ups. But I can’t be bothered.


All right, it's that time of year where everyone with an internet connection has to let you know their top films from the previous year. And unpredictably I'm not the exception this year. Well, it wasn't too hard for me to compile a list this time round as I kept a handy little record on my blog for such an occasion (it also stopped people emailing asking about my favourite films of the year).

For my list there is a slight difference as my top 10 films for 2010 is actually made up of my top 13 films of 2010 - mainly because there may be some contention about whether some of the films should be considered 2010 releases. So without further ado I give you my list of most enjoyable films of 2010 presented in the irritating style of one of those TV poll countdown shows that we are deluged with this time of year. So without further ado our top films of 2010.

Kicking off our countdown at No. 13 is a stark look at life we are aware of but hardly ever come into contact with.

No. 13 – Precious
In Harlem, an overweight, illiterate teen who is pregnant with her second child is invited to enroll in an alternative school in hopes that her life can head in a new direction.

Brutal, uncompromising and shocking. I was completely taken with Precious. The acting is great, but the story is so strong one can’t help but be swept teary eyed by Precious. The story of a young black girl “growing up impoverished in America. Claireece Precious Jones endures unimaginable hardships in her young life. Abused by her mother, raped by her father, she grows up poor, angry, illiterate, fat, unloved and generally unnoticed.”

The subject matter may be grim but this tale will have you thinking, it’s not all stark scratch and the humanness of it will reach you.

Director: Lee Daniels
Stars: Gabourey Sidibe, Mo'Nique, Paula Patton

Precious film


Next up this film is in the zone, the Green Zone. Boom Tish

No. 12 - Green Zone
Discovering covert and faulty intelligence causes a U.S. Army officer to go rogue as he hunts for Weapons of Mass Destruction in an unstable region.

A cracking Iraq war tale with Jason Bourne Matt Damon. My understanding is that there were more than a few early bad reviews kicking about. It’s more dramatized than Paul Greengrass’ 2006 United 93. It's also more talky and touches on more challenging subject matter than the Bourne films. I thought it was pretty good. At worst maybe a bit clichéd but by and large a great tale. Refreshing to see challenging subjects addressed so boldly on screen.

Director: Paul Greengrass
Stars: Matt Damon, Jason Isaacs and Greg Kinnear

Green Zone film

No. 11 - The Crazies
As a toxin begins to turn the residents of Ogden Marsh, Iowa into violent psychopaths, Sheriff David Dutton tries to make sense of the situation while he, his wife, and two other unaffected townspeople band together in a fight for survival.

I watched George Romero’s original 1973 The Crazies just after watching the 2010 remake and as much as I respect what George Romero has brought into the world – gone are the low production values and slight realism to be replaced with a polished production that stays true to the spirit of the original story. An intelligent variation on his Zombie theme.

I would say The Crazies is a guilty pleasure if I in anyway felt guilty for enjoying a decent film that doesn't pretend to be something it's not. The Crazies is a quality production that took me on a ride. It's an improvement on the original and one of the better remakes of horror films that I have seen recently; other stand outs include the superior The Hills have Eyes and this year’s I Spit on your Grave. Besides Timothy Olyphant channeling Clint Eastwood is still a good thing.

Director: Breck Eisner
Stars: Radha Mitchell, Timothy Olyphant and Danielle Panabaker

The Crazies film

I’ll continue my countdown into my Top 10 films of 2010 right after this commercial break.


To recap our top films of 2010 so far we have: No. 13 - Precious, No. 12 - Green Zone, No. 11 - The Crazies and at our much vaunted No.10 spot we have:

No. 10 – Ondine
The story of an Irish fisherman who discovers a woman in his fishing net who he believes to be a Selke (a water nymph).

I can see why some people would struggle with Ondine - but I loved this little tale set in a Irish fishing village. Acting is top notch all round with standout performances from; Colin Farrell, Alicja Bachleda and the young Alison Barry. Neil Jordan brings a real fairy tale like quality to this minor classic. I did struggle with the accents but this added to the overall ethreal feel of the story. Nice to see Neil Jordan touching on similar themes to his great The Company of Wolves.

Director: Neil Jordan
Stars: Colin Farrell, Alicja Bachleda and Dervla Kirwan

Ondine Film

No. 9 - The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - New Orleans

Terence McDonagh is a drug- and gambling-addled detective in post-Katrina New Orleans investigating the killing of five Senegalese immigrants.

Another 2009 film only released in the UK last year. We got to see Werner Herzog's re-imagining of Abel Ferrara's brilliant Bad Lieutenant at the London Film Festival 09 and loved it. These are the off the wall type roles that Nicholas Cage excels at, that combined with Werner Herzog's sense of quirky make this an interesting delight. Although Herzog says he has never seen the original, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans plays even better if you have seen Abel Ferrara's original version.

Director: Werner Herzog
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Eva Mendes and Val Kilmer

Bad Lieutenant film

No. 8 - I Am Love or Io sono l'amore
A tragic love story set at the turn of the millennium in Milan. The film follows the fall of the haute bourgeoisie due to the forces of passion and unconditional love.

I can’t complain they don't make films like they used too - they did and it's called I am Love. Grand, rich, unexpected and beautifully shot allowing Tilda Swinton to shine. Visconti mixed with Greenway & little Hitchcock style thrown in, 1/4 of the way through I thought Swinton was Italian.

Director: Luca Guadagnino
Stars: Tilda Swinton, Flavio Parenti and Edoardo Gabbriellini

i am love film

No. 7 - She's Out of My League
An average Joe meets the perfect woman, but his lack of confidence and the influence of his friends and family begin to pick away at the relationship.

Unpredictable set ups and characters raise She's Out of My League head and shoulders above the mire of many similar Rom-Coms. You'll be laughing out loud while rooting for the appropriate characters from the start to end. Damn fun.

Director: Jim Field Smith
Stars: Jay Baruchel, Alice Eve and T.J. Miller

She's Out of My League film


No. 6 - Four Lions
Four Lions tells the story of a group of British jihadists who push their abstract dreams of glory to the breaking point...

One of the most joyous cinema surprises of 2010 for me. With its subject matter it should be the most controversial film on this list turns, yet it turns out to be the most hilarious albeit bitter-sweet. It’s a relevant tales underpinned with real emotion punctuated with moments of genuinely hilarious slapstick humour.

Great dialogue and acting make this the most unexpected but brilliant film to make my top films of 2010.

Director: Christopher Morris
Stars: Will Adamsdale, Riz Ahmed and Adeel Akhtar

Four Lions film


Things are heating/hotting up on our list and we’ll be back with our final 5 top films of 2010 right after this commercial break.


Down to our final 5 top films of 2010, which cinematic gem will crack the coveted position of number 1? A quick recap of where we are; No. 13 – Precious, No. 12 - Green Zone, No. 11 - The Crazies, No. 10 – Ondine, No. 9 - The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - New Orleans, No. 8 - I Am Love or Io sono l'amore, No. 7 - She's Out of My League, No. 6 - Four Lions

Down to our final five and weighing in with a controversial fifth place. It’s the BIG film that actually delivers on its promise of being a visually spectacular roller coaster ride. We are of course talking about:

No. 5 - TRON: Legacy
The son of a virtual world designer goes looking for his father and ends up inside the digital world that his father designed. He meets his father's creation turned bad and a unique ally who was born inside the digital domain of The Grid.

My full review of this underrated and misunderstood but sure to be marveled at in coming years 3D extravaganza can be found here http://www.theestablishingshot.com/2010/12/tron-legacy-review.html

This is the first 3D film to be in one of my favorites list since the early 80s.

Director: Joseph Kosinski
Stars: Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund and Olivia Wilde

Tron legacy film

Knock at the door it’s number 4 on our list of top films of 2010. Coming in at number 4 on our list it’s the Cloon, the cloon meister, the colon attolah but first another commercial break.



No. 4 - Up in the Air
With a job that has him traveling around the country firing people, Ryan Bingham leads an empty life out of a suitcase, until his company does the unexpected: ground him.

Another 2009 release that got a 2010 UK release. George Clooney at his charming best with a great script and supporting cast. The story of a man that is seemingly at the top of his game - traveling around the country firing people. But his life is empty and slowly he feels himself under job pressure.

Up in the Air nudged out Michael Clayton out as my favourite George Clooney movie. It’s sharp script and dialogue delivery keeps it one step ahead of the audience.

up in the air film

A solid third position for David Fincher’s return to form it’s The Social Network.

No. 3 - The Social Network
After the so so, Zodiac and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, David Fincher bounces back with an incredible and intelligent piece of story telling devoid of all the usual guns and explosions.

My review of The Social Network and why I liked it so much can be found here >
http://www.theestablishingshot.com/2010/10/social-network-review-of-facebook-movie.html

Director: David Fincher
Stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake

The Social Network film

No. 2 - Inception.
In a world where technology exists to enter the human mind through dream invasion, a highly skilled thief is given a final chance at redemption which involves executing his toughest job to date: Inception.

I wasn’t expecting much from the “not quite delivering on the promise” Christopher Nolan and the man child Leonardo DiCaprio. I was however completely blown away by the awesomeness of Inception. My review of Inception and why I liked it so much can be found here > http://www.theestablishingshot.com/2010/07/inception-premiere-spoiler-free-review.html

Director: Christopher Nolan
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ellen Page

Inception film


Just enough time for one more commercial break before we reveal our favourite film of 2010.




No. 1 - Un prophète - A Prophet
A Prophet follows a young impressionable and vulnerable Arab man as he is thrust into a hellish prison and initiated into the French gangs.

Coming in at an uncontested No. 1 is Un prophète or A Prophet

I would like to say uncontested as No. 1 - but some of the world saw A Prophet in 2009, in fact it was screened in competition at Cannes 2009 but only released in the UK, early in 2010.

I loved everything about this film, from the understated but powerful acting through to the compelling, gritty story that has tension in spades in all the right places a motif carried through the vérité style camera work. Jacques Audiard balances an uncomprising look at prison and crime with bold mystical elements, making for compelling viewing, despite the fact it really is a hard look at the state of the world we live in.

Earlier I was left breathless by Jacques Audiard's 2005 effort De battre mon coeur s'est arrêté or The Beat That My Heart Skipped (Romain Duris, Aure Atika, Emmanuelle Devos) where he draws on similar themes as a young talented (albeit enterprising) hood navigates his path torn between being a life of crime or applying his musical abilities. It's absolutely astounding and as with A Prophet delves credibly into the seedy French underworld.

After seeing A Prophet I managed to track down Jacques Audiard's 2001 film Sur mes lèvres or Read My Lips (Vincent Cassel, Emmanuelle, Devos, Olivier Gourmet). "She is almost deaf and she lip-reads. He is an ex-convict. She wants to help him. He thinks no one can help except himself. " Read My Lips is another minor Audiard masterpiece. It is as unpredictable and well structured as both A Prophet & The Beat That My Heart Skipped and well worth a watch. Jacques Audiard really brings out the best from his actors and structures his compelling tales around human emotion. You can be sure that you will be hearing the name Jacques Audiard a lot more in the future.

A Prophet film

So there you have it ladies and gentleman The Establishing Shot’s Top Films of 2010. Do you agree? Did I miss out any of your favourites? Let me know.


TheEstablishingshot's Top Films of 2010 or The 2010 Short List

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