Tomorrow I'll start the 2010 top ten countdown. So here's my movies that either came close to the making the list or were just surprises for me.
I've placed my four surprise movies into two groups. First are my Denzel Washington movies. I quickly dismissed both of these movies based on their trailers. They both looked silly to me. But upon reading some reviews from people that I trust, I went to see both The Book of Eli and Unstoppable. Before I continue, I need to remind you that these aren't great movies - but both were pretty entertaining.
If you didn't like The Book of Eli because of its ending, I understand. i read more than one person state that they were totally pulled out of the movie at that moment. It's a silly revelation, but I was OK with it. In the movie world created, it doesn't seem totally unplausable (slight eye roll). But I enjoyed the rest of the story enough to get into it and ride through it, so I was cool with it at the time.
So these two guys on one train are going to chase down another train? And trains are on tracks, right? It's not like the one train can zig and zag, right? Gotta be a lame movie. Unstoppable works. It's exciting and fun. Malcolm X and Captain Kirk make for interesting enough characters as well.
My next set of surprise movies are the "Dumb Action Movies That Don't Take Themselves Too Seriously So They End Up Being Really Fun" movies. They are The Losers and RED. I contrast these with The Expendables. I didn't see The Expendables in the theater, so it didn't appear anywhere on the list. But even though it advertised itself as being a fun 80s style action movie, it took itself too seriously. I was bored.
Both The Losers and RED might even consider themselves to be comedic action movies instead of action movies with humor. The directions both movies take are ridiculous, but the makers seem to know that. The action is over the top, but the makers seem to know that. Again, these aren't great movies - but you'll have fun.
And the runners up:
No documentaries made my top ten this year, but there were a bunch of really good ones. I already wrote about Exit Through the Gift Shop, Joan Rivers:A Piece of Work, Inside Job, and Catfish. I recommend all of those. But the best documentary I saw this year was Restrepo. It shows the daily life of these soldiers in Afghanistan in the Korangal Valley, which is described as the most dangerous place in the world. It never takes a side int he war. It doesn't consciously try to convince you of anything. It shows and tells the soldiers' stories. It's streaming on Netflix right now.
Also streaming on Netflix is Un Prophète, or A Prophet. It's a French film about the Mafia in the prisons. This kid in an outsider who falls under the protection of the mob boss in prison and begins to rise through the ranks.It's Goodfellas in prison with a totally different tone. OK, it's totally different from Goodfellas, but still damn good.
I moved The Fighter on and off of my top ten list. The reason it jumped on is because of Christian Bale. He is fantastic. He is so different from anything else he has done before. The same with Amy Adams. She hasn't done anything like her role before. It's a really good movie, but I think in the end it came down to - another boxing movie? Feel free to disagree.
However, I left with a similar thought that I had after watching Into the Wild a few years back. Both main characters are seen as heroes to people. But in reality, both are severe dumbasses. In 127 Hours, Aron Ralston broke every basic rule about going into the wilderness. With Into the Wild, I think Christopher McCandless was trying to commit suicide. So I guess he can be excused for doing the same thing. So, kids, remember this. Smart people learn from their own mistakes. Even smarter people learn from the mistakes of others.
Speaking of mistakes, tomorrow - number ten.