Last year was great for me, and made me realize my interests stretch further than simply being an actor. Taking a cue from a fellow twitter follower, my girlfriend and I decided to document every movie we watched from 2010 and rate it accordingly. There is no secret that I am obsessed with lists, and this “book keeping” allowed me to fulfill that desire, and now gives me the chance to build all the “Top X of 2010” lists my heart desires. This is what my next couple posts will be about, covering my favorite movies I watched during the year, the biggest surprises and disappointments of the year, and the worst of the year. Only movies I watched for the first time in 2010 are eligible for these lists, but the year the movies were released does not matter.

Top 10 Movies I Watched in 2010:

Honorable Mentions: (500) Days of Summer, After.Life, Dangerous Liaisons, Zombieland

10. The Disappearance of Alice Creed (2009) – 4 ½ Stars
The Movie Files Review
IP Movies BD Review
Buy The Disappearance of Alice Creed on Blu-ray
This movie will make another appearance later on in my “top of 2010” lists as an honorable mention in the biggest surprise category. I’ve received a lot of movies these past few months thanks to my new job at Inside Pulse – Movies (IP Movies). Some of these have been flops, and others have shocked me. This falls into the latter category. The Disappearance of Alice Creed blew me away. It was artfully filmed, filled with surprises that kept getting better, and it was some of the finest acting I had the pleasure of seeing this year (but most these movies on this list will have that same note). Following the story of the kidnappers more so than the kidnaped, this is a fresh take on the crime genre and one that has me begging for more of director J Blakeson’s work. I really see this man making a huge impact on the film world in the coming years, and The Disappearance of Alice Creed is (hopefully) only the start of his bright future.

9. Star Trek (2009) – 9
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Buy Star Trek (Three-Disc Edition) on Blu-ray
Star Trek would have sat in my top 3 for 2009 if I was lucky enough to see it in theatres. For someone who is by no means a “Trekkie”, this movie sucked me in with great visuals and an intriguing story. Having watched this way back at the beginning of 2010, it is hard for me to recall specifics, but I do remember some great performances by young actors. I am hoping a sequel to this gets released soon because I would love to see these actors take on the legendary Star Trek roles again. The Blu-ray looked great, and is the one BD I am most disappointed that I don’t own. I will remedy this in the future, as I always do.

8. Frozen (2010) – 4 Stars
The Movie Files Review
Buy Frozen on Blu-ray
Frozen spun me around, punched me in the gut, and forced me to put it in this top 10 list. Completely unexpectedly, Adam Green’s simple premise of three skiers being trapped on a snow lift is a survival tale worth owning. Parker (Emma Bell), Dan (Kevin Zegers), and Joe (Shawn Ashmore) convince the ski-lift operator to allow them one last ride down the hill before the ski resort closes for the week. The operator leaves the area to use the restroom, leaving another man in charge. He sees three skiers come down the hill, as he was warned he would, and shuts the ski lift off. With a huge snow storm moving in, the normal rounds are not made, leaving the three skiers, literally, hanging. As I mentioned in my review, sometimes it’s the simplest concepts that can make the biggest impact. This movie is haunting, and doesn’t let the viewer forget the hell that these three skiers go through trying to survive. Adam Green simply hit the mark with Frozen.

7. Piranha 3D (2010) – 4 Stars
The Movie Files Review
Buy Piranha on Blu-ray
I am willing to bet that this will be the only non-horror site that lists Piranha 3D in its Top 10 list. I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t include this because it was, without a doubt, the most fun I had in the theatre in 2010. Yes, 3D is gimmicky and mostly lame, but director Alexandre Aja understands this and goes to the extreme (“nude 3D water dances” is all I need to say here), making it work. The homage this horror film pays to the greats of the past (such as Jaws, and the excellent use of Back to the Future’s Christopher Lloyd) is hilarious and well executed. The story may be juvenile, and the film may lack any wonderful acting talent, but this is a throwback to those 70s and 80s horror movies that fans of the genre revere. Fans of the genre will love Piranha 3D, while others will stick their nose up at it, which is fine; Aja didn’t make this film for non-genre fans, which is why I loved it so much. Unfortunately, those of us who aren’t filthy, stinking rich enough lucky enough to own a 3DTV will miss out on some of the fun when it releases to Blu-ray next week. That said, this is still a release-day purchase for me. Maybe I’m stuck as a perverted teenager, but a movie that mixes hot women, over-the-top gore, plenty of action, and laugh-out-loud comedy is still a winner in my book.

6. Up (2009) – 10
The Movie Files Comments
Buy Up on Four-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo
There is a reason Up won the Oscar for best animated film of 2009: it’s brilliant. Telling the heartwarming story of an old man’s quest to find happiness after a tragic situation, and the young boy who brings it for him, Up became my favorite Disney/Pixar film (second only to Monsters, Inc.) when I watched it earlier this year. It is a great family film because it touches on making the right choices in tough situations, and really transcends age. It didn’t hurt that this still stands out as one the best looking Blu-rays I watched this year, but that is more a nod to the beautiful art direction than anything else. With lovable characters and heartwarming, tearjerker moments, Up should be mandatory viewing for anyone interested in Disney/Pixar.

5. Toy Story 3 (2010) – 10
The Movie Files Comments
Buy Toy Story 3 on Four-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo
Speaking of the best Blu-ray releases of the year, Toy Story 3 comes in at #5. Another 2010 release making the list (which is why I don’t see a need to make a “top 10 of 2010 releases” list at this point), Toy Story 3 met and exceeded every expectation I had coming in. Before seeing this in theatres (now this is an example of a wasted 3D outing, and one I wish I could get my extra $3 back on), Bridgette and I re-watched the first two in the series. There is no doubt that the original Toy Story is, and will forever be, the best in the series, but that is simply because of the originality of being first. Toy Story 2 dropped in quality a bit, but still manages a great effort. Toy Story 3 fits snugly in between the two, finding a way to be original, but familiar, as any great sequel should. Andy is all grown up and heading off to college. He decides to pack up his toys and plans to leave them in the attic, but his mom grabs the bag of toys, mistaking them for a goodwill bag, and drops them off at a local daycare center. Woody tries to convince the rest of the toys that this was a mistake, and convinced them to try to return home to Andy. It is the most “grown up” story out of the trilogy, and finds a way, like its predecessors, to be fun for kids and adults alike. If this doesn’t win the Golden Globe for best animated film of the year, I will be shocked.

4. Wanted (2008) – 9
The Movie Files Comments
Buy Wanted on Blu-ray
This is another film that won my heart because of the action. The original comic book by Mark Millar (spoiler: this isn’t the last time his name will be used on this list) focuses on super-villains, where as the film adaptation focuses on assassins, but the fun and violence of the comic book is still present in the film. Angelina Jolie looks beautiful (if not a bit too skinny) in the movie, and Morgan Freeman is excellent as always, but the real stand-out in Wanted is James McAvoy. His transformation from white collar wuss to black suit badass is excellent. The special effects are great, the story is engaging, and the acting is high caliber. The film has a very Fight Club feel to it, and anyone who enjoyed that will find a lot to love here. Wanted made me realize how much I enjoy actioners, as well as horror.

3. Paranormal Activity 2 (2010) – 4 ½ Stars
The Movie Files Review
Buy Paranormal Activity 2 on Blu-ray
If Piranha 3D was the most fun I had in theatres in 2010, Paranormal Activity 2 was the most scared 90 minutes I had in theatres in 2010. As much I disliked the first movie, it is surprising I even made the trip to theatres to see this one. Fortunately Paranormal Activity 2 lived up the hype this time around. This was, without a doubt, the best widely released horror film of the year. Acting as a sort of prequel/sequel mix, Paranormal Activity 2 follows the lives of a young family who install a security system because they fear they are being burglarized. Where the original only had one camera, and got boring after a while, Paranormal Activity 2 used the multi-camera setup to its fullest, and keeps the audience engaged. They are slower moments in the film, but these are necessary to achieve the scares later on. Most importantly, the characters are likable in this sequel, which cannot be said for the original, where a whiny women and idiotic boyfriend ruled the screen. The addition of a baby and a dog only added to the tension, and the scares. Subtle, scary, and fun, Paranormal Activity 2 gets my highest recommendation for horror fans.

2. Kick-Ass (2010) –5 Stars
The Movie Files Review
Buy Kick-Ass on Three-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo
Mark Millar, a comic book creator, finds his name on the list again thanks to a wonderful adaptation of his Kick-Ass series. Coming in to this film, I hoped to be entertained for a couple of hours; coming out, I found myself begging for the sequel. Kick-Ass tells the story of a high school boy, Dave Lizewski, who is sick of all the bad people in the world winning. Dave decides to take things into his own hands, mostly thanks to his love for comic books. He learns some martial arts moves and buys a wetsuit off the internet. What starts as a crazy idea finally becomes a reality when he decides to help out someone being bullied. Because he is under trained, he gets his ass kicked, and tells his father he was mugged. After months of physical rehabilitation, Dave is able to walk again, and decides that he still needs to be the one to save the city. This time, as he helps out a guy getting beat up, a bystander records the action on his smartphone and uploads it to YouTube. This sparks Kick-Ass (as he is named) to be an internet hit, and cements Dave’s crazy dream of becoming a superhero. Kick-Ass forms like a snowball, starting small, with petty crimes, and eventually growing to taking down a super-villain (and his boy-wonder son, played by the wonderful Christopher Mintz-Plasse of Superbad fame). The acting is great, but what really drives this to #2 on my list is the story and characters. Hit Girl, a 10-and-1/4-year-old weapons expert (played by stellar Chloe Mertz), is one of the best characters I watched this year, and, alone, is worth the price of admission. There was little I could find wrong with Kick-Ass, and as such, it ends up as the second best movie I watched this past year. I just Kick-Ass 2: Balls to the Wall ends up as high on my 2011/2012 list.

1. The Social Network (2010) – 5 Stars
The Movie Files Comments
Buy The Social Network on Blu-ray
I didn’t get a chance to see this until after a lot of the Top 10 lists were already out, and the Golden Globe nominees were revealed, so to say this movie had a lot of hype to live up to is a vast understatement. The Social Network blew that hype out of the water, though, and ends up as the best movie I watched last year, and the best film of 2010. Being of my age, I spent a ton of my time in undergraduate on Facebook, and have always been intrigued on how it has become a household, billion dollar name. The best part of The Social Network, though, is not the story of how Facebook was created, but the story of those who created it. The performances were, all-around, brilliant, and shows how much young talent is out there to be used. The stand-out for me, however, was Andrew Garfield. I cannot get over how excellent this guy was in The Social Network, and I imagine I will be saying the same for his performance in the upcoming Spiderman reboot. Jesse Eisenberg cements himself as THE actor to watch in the coming years, and Armie Hammer is stunning in the dual-roles of Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss. David Fincher is a brilliant man, and, I am just realizing as I research, has created some of my favorite movies to date (Zodiac, Fight Club, Se7en, and the upcoming English version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), and The Social Network is just another along the line of a marvelous career. This is an absolute must-see.

There we have it!  Those were my favorite films of the past year.  If you care to share yours, I would love to hear them.  In the following day(s), I will be posting my Top 5 lists (which include biggest disappointment, biggest surprise, and worst of the year).  They might end up being one post, but I am not certain yet.  As always, feel free to leave any and all comments.

Thanks for reading.

Branden Chowen
Editor-in-Chief at Cinefessions

Branden has been a film fan since he was young, roaming the halls of Blockbuster Video, trying to find the grossest, scariest looking VHS covers to rent and watch alone in the basement. It wasn’t until recently, though, that Branden started seeking out the classics of cinema, and began to develop his true passion for the art form. Branden approaches each film with the unique perspective of having studied the art from the inside, having both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in acting. He has been a film critic since 2010, and has previously written for Inside Pulse Movies, We Love Cult, and Diehard Gamefan. His biggest achievement as a film critic, to date, has been founding Cinefessions and turning it from a personal blog to a true film website, housing hundreds of film and television reviews, and dozens of podcasts.