BLACK SWAN : I haven't seen a film I've loved this much since probably Almost Famous, which happens to be my favorite film of all-time. Rarely does one film give me such a smorgasbord of everything that I love about the movies. Natalie Portman is amazing (more to come below). Darren Aronofsky is masterful at the helm (more to come below). And that final scene still amazes me each time. The year two thousand and ten will forever be known to me, as the year of the swan.
Runner Up: The Social Network
Honorable Mention: Exit Through the Gift Shop - Is it real or is it fake? Who gives a flip. What starts out as a documentary about the underground street art movement, turns into an amazing character study of overnight celebrity.
DARREN ARONOFSKY (Black Swan) : This man knows how to portray an athlete as something more than a figure on a poster. The way he takes time to break down the everyday rituals of his protagonists adds depth to the character, while giving us a sense of empathy. He took a beautiful and graceful base story, and broke it down into something sinister and raw.
Runner Up: David Fincher (The Social Network)
Honorable Mention: John Cameron Mitchell (Rabbit Hole): Anyone who has seen Cameron Mitchell's other works, Hedwig and the Angry Inch or Shortbus , knows the director likes to think out of the box and be as eccentric as possible. With Rabbit Hole he shows a new found sense of maturity while sacrificing none of his talent.
JESSE EISENBERG (The Social Network) : Few actors dedication arrived on the screen this year with such effortless power. Not once did his performance seemed forced or over the top. He really made you care for the character and person that is Mark Zuckerberg, who deep down is almost like an alien trapped in a foreign society. If nothing else, Eisenberg cemented his place in Hollywood for years to come.
Runner Up: Tahar Rahim (A Prophet)
Honorable Mention: Ryan Reynolds (Buried) : With all the love going to James Franco in 127 Hours, the true shining "oh shit I'm trapped" performance goes to Mr. Reynolds.
NATALIE PORTMAN (Black Swan): Five years ago when I saw Natalie Portman in Closer, I knew she had in herself a truly great performance. Although not even I knew it would be this great. She made rather novice ballet dance skills look completely professional. Her transformation still stuns me on repeat viewings (currently holding at five times). To roughly quote the film, "she was perfect... she was perfect."
Runner Up: Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole)
Honorable Mention: Tilda Swinton (I Am Love) : I have never been a fan of Tilda Swinton. Up until this film I downright loathed her as an actress. Her keen Italian verse paired with a very natural performance, opened my eyes to a mistake I've probably been making for years.
CHRISTIAN BALE (The Fighter) : Bale's performance took a very typical sports film and gave it actual substance. I did not care for The Fighter as a film, but you cannot deny the magnitude of Bale's talent and performance. Worth the price of admission just to see him in the role of his career.
Runner Up: Geoffrey Rush (The King's Speech)
Honorable Mention: Stanley Tucci (Easy A): I am not saying that his performance was Academy Award worthy, what I am saying though is this guy made me laugh. Tucci gives us all a model father figure full of hilarious one-liners, that made you feel like he not only cared about his kids, but completely understood them as well.
LESLEY MANVILLE (Another Year) : Manville's portrayal of a woman who is not exactly ready to accept the changes that come with getting older is played uncomfortably perfect. It is one of the most under appreciated and well paced performances of the year. If you are a fan of Ricky Gervais or Steve Carrel's cringe-worthy moments of either version of The Office, Manville is not to be missed.
Runner Up: Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom)
Honorable Mention: Chloe Moretz (Kick-Ass, Let Me In) : Sure Jennifer Lawrence was great in Winter's Bone and Hailee Steinfeld shined well beyond her years in True Grit. However, no young actress beat men three times her age to a bloody pulp this year like Chloe Moretz. She was the one you left Kick-Ass talking about for days and her subtle performance as vampire stuck at the age of twelve put all the Twilight gang to shame in Let Me In.
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 1 : No film looked better on screen this year that the latest installment in the Potter series. Many scenes looked as if they could be framed as pieces of art. At times, it became a distraction from the story. Although, it never becomes overbearing and is pure bliss for the viewer.
Runner Up: Black Swan
Honorable Mention: Enter the Void : Almost the entire film is shot through the eyes of our main character, which includes blinking every thirty seconds or so. Pair that with the background of Tokyo, and you have yourself a film the likes you've never seen.
THE SOCIAL NETWORK: Aaron Sorkin's brilliant screenplay is really what prevented this film from being just a visually stunning Pirates of Silicone Valley. Not only is it the best screenplay of the year, but it could be one of the sharpest adapted for the big screen.
Runner Up: Black Swan
Honorable Mention: Four Lions : Imagine how difficult it would be to make terrorism funny. Somehow this little spoken of British comedy is the best laugh that country has leaked since Shaun of the Dead. Relying more of banter than sight gags, the lines move so fast that repeat viewings are necessary.
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
INCEPTION : I still cannot get that hallway fight scene out of my mind.
Runner Up : Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
Honorable Mention: The Social Network - If you are saying to yourself, "What visual effects were there in The Social Network?" Well there is really only one, and that is how good it was. Hint: The twins aren't actually twins!
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
I AM LOVE : This tale of love and finding true happiness really caught me by surprise. Tilda Swinton's Italian film debut, as I mentioned earlier, is my favorite of her performances. The cinematography is gorgeous, although it has a beautiful canvas to work with.
Runner Up: Mother
Honorable Mention: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo - Sure it was popular and a little too reminicent of Silence of the Lambs at times. Although it opened up a new audience to foreign cinema and I have to give some credit to a film that does that.
TOY STORY 3 - I have not talked to one person who didn't just love this film, and how could you not? A familiar cast of characters that we've all grown to love in their final curtain call. The moments go from "they wouldn't would they" to "that was the perfect ending." A great goodbye to old good friends.
Runner Up: How to Train Your Dragon
Honorable Mention: Tangled - A great improvement on the Disney Princess film with a fun cast of characters. Once again Disney proves their greatest characters can be achieved with absolutely no spoken word (Maximus the Horse).
THE SOCIAL NETWORK - Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross' brilliant music has not left my stereo since I purchased it back in September. Great music to write to or clean the house. I am sure that's not what they intended, but it also serves as the perfect back drop for the film.
Runner Up: Black Swan
Honorable Mention: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 - A dark and myseterious score, which lined up perfectly for the first part of the last installment in the Potter series.
THE NUTCRACKER 3-D - Imagine if Springtime For Hitler, the fake musical within Mel Brook's The Producers, didn't realize it was bad... and had a scene of electrocuting a great white shark... yeah that actually happens. Worse twelve dollars I have ever spent... oh yeah, it's in 3-D.
Runner Up: The Human Centipede
Honorable Mention: Despicable Me - In a year of fantasic animation, this was the turd of the bunch. I am glad that I got to use the word turd in my year end awards post. For that reason alone, Despicable Me wasn't that bad I guess. Wait, yes it was.