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My favorite performances and movies of 2010

The Oscar nominations will be announced tomorrow and I am right there with critics and everyone else clutching my arm rests in anticipation of these announcements. However, unlike most of the critics who have had the pleasure of seeing all of the movies from last year, I was only able to see a handful. I have yet to see films like “Animal Kingdom”, “Another Year”, “Biutiful”, “Blue Valentine”, “Rabbit Hole”, “The Town”, and other movies seriously being considered for nomination. Those movies — except for “The Town” — have yet to be released in my area. I love New York’s capital region, but there just isn’t much demand for movies like those around here. As for “The Town”, well, I meant to go see it when it was released here, but I guess I just didn’t make a good enough effort. Now, I’m forced to wait for whenever Netflix feels like sending it to me; it’s all good!

Thankfully, I was lucky enough to watch a lot of the films in contention. With the help of the Internet and websites like InContention.com, ThompsonOnHollywood.com and others like it I was able to bypass a lot of the duds and go for only those movies that were seriously being considered. I did the same last year and they were very much right on the money. It was a big help and it has been a lot of fun too. Especially since 2010 was a really great year for Oscar worthy movies. Luckily for me, this year there weren’t a lot of period pieces that I can’t stand except for “The King’s Speech”, but as luck would have it, it wasn’t your average period piece. No, this movie was about a man/king with a speech impediment, not a pointless Jane Austen romance novel. Because of that, I found it entertaining and I ended up enjoying it a lot.

Like last year, I wanted to write an article predicting the nominations for this year. However, I decided not to do that again. I think the websites I mentioned above already do a good job at it and who am I to try to compete with them? Instead, what I am going to do is make a list of those actors and movies that moved, amazed, shocked or really entertained me like no other actor or movie has. Some of these performances and movies may or may not even be considered for the Oscars. I am just sharing my favorite performances and movies of 2010 of those I had the pleasure of watching:

Best performance in a supporting role by an actor:

  1. Christian Bale – The Fighter
    Bale just blew me out of my seat with his performance. I have never seen anything like it. I was so moved by it that I was literally speechless even 20 minutes after the movie was over. It is my opinion that Bale is a strong contender for the Oscar this year and it wouldn’t surprise me if he walks away with it in February.
  2. Geoffrey Rush – The King’s Speech
    Rush was outstanding! He was funny, witty and just plain incredible. He was a lot of fun to watch in this role and I think he made “The King’s Speech” movie work. Hands down my favorite character in 2010.
  3. Jackie Chan – The Karate Kid
    I understand no one is going to nominate Mr. Chan for any Oscars and I think that is an injustice. I really think that he did an incredible job in this film. He is so much more than just a Kung Fu entertainer and this movie proves that he’s got what it takes to be a serious actor.
  4. John Hawkes – Winter’s Bone
    Hawkes scared the shit out of me. Every time he was on screen I wanted to leave. He literally made me nervous. I hope to never meet anyone who is anywhere near as vicious as this character was. Wonderful job!
  5. Bill Murray – Get Low
    Murray was hysterical in this film. The film was very dark; it was after all a movie about a man planning his own funeral. But Murray’s incredibly well timed humor kept the film from going over the depressing edge. He kept the movie grounded and kept the audience interested in the story.
  6. Justin Timberlake – The Social Network
    Timberlake was unbelievable in this role. He brought that character to life and made you both love and hate him at the same time. And incredible performance from a former NSYNC member.

Best performances in a supporting role by an actress:

  1. Chloë Moretz – Kick-Ass
    Moretz is a 13 year old little girl with huge talent. From the moment she came on screen in “Kick-Ass” she stole the show and did nothing but impress me scene after scene. I also hear that her performance in “Let Me In” was outstanding. I expect she is going to be a great actress and I look forward to seeing more of her in the future.
  2. Melissa Leo – The Fighter
    Holly Shit! I wanted to smack her. I hated her so much. Alice Ward was a real bitch and Leo played her flawlessly. I just happened to have seen the real Alice Ward on an HBO special and Leo nailed her character 100%: mannerisms, the way she carried herself, the way she talked. It was an incredible performance!
  3. Amy Adams – The Fighter
    What can I say? I can watch Adams recite bad poetry with her mouth full and she would still be wonderful. It was a little odd to watch a Disney princess stick her head out of a window and litter the audience with expletives galore, but she did it well and without it being awkward for the character. Adams has proven that she is a talented actress not just a type.
  4. Julianne Moore – The Kids are All Right
    I don’t care what people say. And please don’t get me wrong, I love Annette Bening, I think she’s an incredible actress, but the real performance in “The Kids are All Right” was given by Julianne Moore, not Bening. She was a sight to see and she delivered a difficult role flawlessly and effortlessly. Perhaps too effortlessly. It’s too bad people didn’t see that.
  5. Marion Cotillard – Inception
    I’ll admit, I am only including Cotillard in this list because she was HOT! Yeah, yeah, she was good and all, but she was nowhere near the caliber of the women above. She’s not even worthy of licking their shoe soles. But man she was HOT! I wish I had someone else to put in this spot, but I just wasn’t moved or impressed by too many supporting roles by women this year. Or was it that the ladies above set the bar way too high for everyone else? Or maybe I need to see more movies.

Best performance in a lead role by an actor:

  1. James Franco – 127 Hours
    Any time you have to carry a movie by yourself, you have a tough job ahead of you. And I think Franco gave one of the best performances of the year. It’s not easy cutting your own arm off. I saw (no pun intended) and felt the desperation in Franco’s eyes. In my opinion, he delivered the best performance of the year in one of the most difficult roles of the century.
  2. Colin Firth – The King’s Speech
    I can’t imagine how difficult this role must’ve been for Firth. I think it is everybody’s fantasy to be king, so for an actor to elicit sympathy from the audience as a king, I think was incredibly impressive. So why isn’t he at the top? Because I think that Firth depended on Rush. Without Rush “The King’s Speech” would have been in incredibly dull film. His performance was incredible no doubt, but seeing that Franco had the tougher role and delivered marvelously, there is no question that Franco should be the recipient of the Oscar.
  3. Jesse Eisenberg – The Social Network
    I don’t know what the big deal is with Eisenberg. I have seen four of his movies, including “The Social Network”, and he always gives the same performance in each and every one of them. Except that in “The Social Network”, the performance finally worked. He reminds me a lot of Kevin Costner and his performance in “JFK”. I like that he didn’t try to replicate Zuckerberg. Eisenberg did his own thing here and it was a performance to see and well worth a nomination.
  4. Robert Duvall – Get Low
    Robert Duvall spoke volumes without opening his mouth. That was impressive. I was blown away! I’ve always liked Duvall as an actor. You can always count on him to give a good performance. I just never thought that he would be as awesome as he was in “Get Low”.
  5. George Clooney – The American
    The same with Clooney. A lot of people don’t like his acting, but I think he is an incredibly talented actor. In this movie he hardly said a word, his acting involved machining parts to make weapons and to me he machined those parts like a pro as if he were in that line of work for a life time. Well done!

Best performance in a lead role by an actress:

  1. Natalie Portman – Black Swan
    I have always loved Portman as an actress ever since I first saw her on “Léon: The Professional” 16 years ago playing a 13 year old child being trained as an assassin. She did a great job then, but her role in “Black Swan” was stunning. One can’t help but admire and appreciate her determination and the work that it must’ve taken to take on this role, and to execute the part so perfectly…  I have no doubts that she will take home the Oscar this year.
  2. Hailee Stainfeld – True Grit
    This young girl really impressed me this year. She came out of nowhere and impressed pretty much everyone. I heard the hype before I saw the film and I thought, “How good could it possibly be? She’s just some whippersnapper!” When I saw the film I was ready to hate her performance. Well, I was in for a surprise. Not only was she good, she was outstanding. In fact I find it upsetting that she is only being promoted for a supporting role when I think she should be right here with Portman, Bening and all of the other ladies being considered for lead. It is a real travesty.
  3. Noomi Rapace – The Girl Who Played with Fire
    I was disappointed with the movie, but she was out of this world. I cannot imagine that role being played by anyone else. She was beyond impressive.
  4. Jennifer Lawrence – Winter’s Bone
    Another young lady and another amazing performance. Jennifer had to play a tough country girl who could not only shoot squirrels, but also had to gut and skin them. One of the best performances of an independent film that I have seen this year.
  5. Nicole Kidman – Rabbit Hole
    I normally can’t stand Nicole Kidman. I’ve never been able to put my finger on it. She’s a good actress, so I don’t know what my problem is. To be honest, I haven’t even seen “Rabbit Hole” yet, but I did see the trailer and a few scenes from the film. And what I have seen has really impressed me. The scene that I saw of her emoting about her dead son was very touching and powerful. I am looking forward to seeing this movie.

Best movies:

I can’t possibly put these movies in any order. They are all different and they are all great in their own ways. To say that one is better than the other just feels wrong.  These were my favorite movies of 2010:

  • 127 Hours
    Is a difficult movie to watch, but Franco’s performance is worth undergoing the agony.
  • Black Swan
    This is one of the best psychological thrillers I have ever seen. Darren Aronofsky is a Dog Gone genius!
  • The Fighter
    This is an amazing film. It’s rare that a film will be liked by both critics and movie goers, this is one of them. And the performances are unparalleled.
  • Inception
    In spite of all of its plot holes, Inception is one of the best rides of 2010. This is a great action flick and the music is out of this world.
  • Kick-Ass
    “Kick-Ass” just kicks ass. This movie is pure mayhem fun from start to finish. Who knew that a potty mouth, adorable, little girl who shreds bad guys with ninja weapons would ever make a great flick?
  • The King’s Speech
    This movie humanizes royalty and brings them down to our level. It is a gorgeous film both visually and verbally.
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
    Like “Kick-Ass”, this movie is just plain fun and ingenious. It is one of the most unique film I have ever seen. It’s a must see for geeks and nerds and anyone who has ever played video games as a child.
  • The Social Network
    This movie is great dialog at its best. The writing of Aaron Sorkin is in a class by itself. It is like honey dripping from a delicate pastry dessert as you slowly bite into it.
  • True Grit
    Joel and Ethan Cohen do it again. I love their movies. They have such incredible talent for writing dialog and creating great and fun characters and “True Grit” was no exception.
  • Winter’s Bone
    This was one of those movies that it could have gone wrong in so many ways, but Debra Granik, writer and director, did a stupendous job at keeping an eye on the story and keeping things moving so that it would not stagnate. It is an almost flawless movie.

The Blind Side Review

February 14, 2010 3 comments
The Blind Side

The Blind Side is a beautiful story. I wish there were more like it.

My review 4.5 Stars

If you are a football fan, especially if you are a Baltimore Ravens fan, you are probably familiar with the name Michael Oher. If you do recognize the name, do you know of his background or where he came from? Michael Oher was removed from his mother’s care at an early age by the state because she was a drunk and a drug addict and the state had deemed her as an unfit parent. Michael was placed in a number of foster homes, but he never felt comfortable in any of them and as a result he would constantly run away. Michael was raised by foster parents; he grew into a huge young man which earned him the nickname Big Mike, a name that he was not very fond of.

His last foster parents enrolled him in a Christian school. At first the school didn’t want to take him, probably because he was black, but they used the excuse that his grades weren’t very good. However, the coach of the school’s football team begged the school board to let him in, thinking that Michael would someday be a perfect offensive linesman. Apparently there is a preferred body type for this position and Michael was the perfect candidate for it. Of course Michael would have to get his grades up before he could ever play any sports in school. However, he had very little help from the school staff. They wrote him off as being lazy and stupid. Michael wasn’t stupid, he was just skilled in different areas, but no one took notice of that except for one teacher who decided to help him out with his studies. After she took interest in him, Michael began doing better in school.

However Michael had once again run away from the foster parents that had placed him in the school. He was essentially homeless. I can’t even imagine where he would go to sleep and as for food, we see him collecting uneaten bags of popcorn after a ball game at one point. Michael somehow got by, but just barely. However, his life changed the day that Leigh Anne Tuohy (Sandra Bullock) discovered him walking on the streets in the freezing rain. There was something about him that indicated to her that he had nowhere to go. Leigh picked him up from the street and offered to let him stay the night in her house. She did this out of the kindness of her heart, expecting nothing in return. She did battle with herself a bit wondering if she had done the right thing. She didn’t know him from Adam, what if Michael turned out to be a thief or God forbid, worse, but she left it to the grace of God.

Michael ended up staying at the Tuohy’s house for a bit longer than one night. During Thanksgiving as the family gathered around the TV while they watched football and began to eat their “feast”, Leigh noticed that Michael was eating alone at the table. She took the initiative, turned off the TV off and ordered the family to have a nice sit-down Thanksgiving dinner at the table as a family. They all grunted, but they shuffled along and joined Michael at the table. (Leigh is the type of person that you do not question what she says, ever!) This made Michael feel like he was part of something special for the first time in his life.

The Tuohy family felt complete with Michael around and they welcomed him in as if he were one of their own, not just a foster child. For the first time in his life Michael had a mother, a father, a little brother and a sister and he loved it, he loved them, but what is most important was that they loved him in return.

The Blind Side is a really nice story and movie. In fact, it’s one of the best human drama stories that I have seen recently and it really warmed my heart and made me realize that we aren’t all that terrible after all. There are still people out there who are willing to put trust in others and do great acts of kindness without asking anything in return. It was just such a beautiful story and I wish there were more like it. Unfortunately, despite the selflessness act of the Touhy’s family, there are people that prefer to look at this in a negative light. These people look at this story and instead of seeing someone helping another in a time of great need they instead see racism. Those people opt to look at this story as if it were implying that all black people need saving by the white man’s hand. I think they missed the point. That reminds me when some women get upset at me for holding the door open for them. I hold the door open for whom ever. I don’t do it because I think women are weak. When Leigh Anne took that boy home I am sure she wasn’t thinking that black people need to be saved by white people. It is comments like that that are truly racist. We all need each other; no man is an island and shame on anyone who thought that.

You might have heard a buzz going around praising Sandra Bullock for her role. It is all well deserved. I hear that she passed on the role when she first came across it, maybe it was because she had to take a pay cut to star in this film. Whatever the reason was, someone finally talked her into making the film. I am glad that she did, because she was fantastic. I wouldn’t say the same about everyone else in the movie. The actor that played Michael was very weak and so was Tim McGraw who played Leigh’s husband. However, Sandra’s performance more than made up for everyone else. It is a pleasure to watch and I think anyone would be very entertained by this film. If I have to say anything negatives about this movie it would be that I thought they didn’t focus enough on the life of Michael Oher. I would’ve liked to have seen more of him and of his background. I would have liked to have seen more evidence of how Michael changed Leigh Anne’s life. However, Sandra’s performance more than made up for any negatives this movie and to top it all off the interactions between Michael and his new baby brother were incredibly adorable. What a wonderfully moving story!

My Oscar Predictions for 2010

Who hasn’t heard of the Academy Awards or better known as The Oscars? Every year the academy selects five movies to nominate as best achieving in film, otherwise known as the Best Picture category, but did you know that this year the academy has decided to increase the list to 10 nominations. I don’t know how I feel about that, but I do know this has caused some controversy. Some people think that it decreases the merits of the award, others thinking that is will allow movies that wouldn’t normally be nominated for such an award a fair chance. Everyone has opinion. I think it’s pretty cool. I think it makes the job of the critic a bit more challenging to try and come up with 10 great movies.

Everyone and their brother will be doing predictions for the Oscars, until the day they announce the real nominees on Tuesday, February 2, 2010 and then the debates of who will take home the statue begins till the moment of truth. I have been watching the Oscars ever since I can remember, but I have never attempted to make any predictions. Mostly because when prediction time came around, I’ve only watched a handful of the movies from that year, and I don’t think any of them were award materials. However, this year is a little different. I feel I have watched enough where I can make a prediction of my own. Without any further due.

My nominee predictions for Best Picture:

  1.    An Education
  2.    Avatar
  3.    Inglorious Basterds
  4.    Invictus
  5.    Precious
  6.    Star Trek
  7.    The Blind Side
  8.    The Hurt Locker
  9.    Up
  10.    Up in the Air

My money is on Precious, but I have a funny feeling that Avatar might win it. The Hurt Locker would not be a bad bet either.

As for acting, there were few actors that really blew my mind last year, those were Christoph Waltz in Inglorious Basterds, Mo’Nique in Precious, Elle Fanning in Phoebe in Wonderland, and Maryl Streep in Julie and Julia.

Movie direction is a big toss-up between three movies. Precious, Avatar and The Hurt Locker. I am just so glad that I am not the one voting on this, because these are tough choices. They were all great movies and I enjoyed them very much.

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