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10 out of 10: The Ten Best Movies of the Year

Contrary to popular opinion, I was actually relatively impressed with 2010 as a year in cinema. It was no 2008, with a consistent string of impressive hits (both big and small). However, it wasn’t as bitterly disappointing as 2009 was, with letdown after letdown. Sure, there weren’t that many hugely successful sequels or reboots, but the vast majority of them weren’t soul-destroying wastes of film. So I’m quite happy. This year I actually had to cut several items from the list to get it down to a perfect ten.

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10 for 10: Top Ten Movie Moments of the Year

Tomorrow, I’ll be revealing my top ten movies of the past year. It should be a fairly straightforward list, and – to be honest – there won’t be too many surprises on it. Anyway, I thought I’d put together my list of the top ten “moments” from the past year. As ever, I’m Irish – so I’ve yet to see the major crop of Oscar nominees – but it’s worth keeping in mind that there isn’t really a major overlap between this and the list of the best pictures. Some of the best movies didn’t have iconic moments, while some of the best moments were in otherwise lackluster films. Some good movies had great moments, and some great movies had simply okay moments. So, with the rules out of the way, let’s get this countdown under way!

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Too Much of a Good Thing: Why Inception Might Be Best Left as One of a Kind…

Apparently Warner Brothers want a sequel to Inception. That’s a long way from the earlier rumour that Inception was a “gift” to Nolan, almost a sort of bribe in order to keep him on board for Batman 3 (or, as it shall henceforth be known, The Dark Knight Rises), and one that the studio was never really 100% certain about. While I’m delighted the movie turned out to be successful enough to warrant a sequel, I can’t help but hope that it is never produced or released.

This announcement knocked me for a loop...

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Why The Social Network isn’t an “Outside” Choice for Best Picture…

I enjoyed The Social Network. Hell, I loved The Social Network. I think it’s easily one of the best films of the year. It has – deservedly in my humble opinion – generated a huge amount of buzz about the Best Picture Oscar. However, the more interesting facets of discussion measure the film against the other favourites, like The King’s Speech or Black Swan. A number of these arguments suggest that The Social Network deserves the Oscar because it is “more socially relevant”, even painting the Oscar voters at a crossroads – forced to choose between a modern film (The Social Network) and a classy but stuffy period piece (The King’s Speech). However, I find this argument rather disingenuous. While the Oscar voters in that situation would undoubtedly be choosing between two solid films, I think it clearly misrepresents the appeal of David Fincher’s deconstruction of the American Dream.

Will Academy voters be getting a friend request?

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Anatomy of a Backlash: Intercepting Inception Criticisms…

It’s always interesting to watch the reaction to a highly anticipated blockbuster. Sure, most of the time it hits like a drop in the ocean: there’s a moment of anticipation as it travels through the air and a slight reverberation as it joins the rather sizeable pool of existing movies, quickly forgotten or accepted. However, sometimes – if the movie is big enough – you get a slightly more complex reaction. That second before it hits the water becomes longer, the audience holds its breath even tighter and then, when it hits… there are reactions. The first wave, usually one of acceptance – the geekery, the exotic embrace, the types of reviews that push a Rotten Tomatoes score up to 100% before it even gets a wide release. Then there’s the second wave, as a few high-profile commentators dare to speak out against the film – usually reviewers from prestigious publications, usually as release day dawns. There’s a third movement, perhaps in direct response to the above – the rapid fanboy passion, one determined to lock down any criticism, sometimes aggressive, just sometimes caught up in the moment. And, if the film is really big, there’s a fourth wave, the public backlash against the film itself. It’s interesting to watch a movie cycle through these four basic events, like Inception certainly has of late. There are ripples across the internet, and waves of discussion and engagement, which is always great to see. However, it’s somewhat less exciting to witness how bitter criticisms and arguments can become.

It's all a bit topsy-turvy...

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Top of the Pops: The IMDb Top 250 Movies All Time and Movie Lists in General…

Sometimes talking about talking about movies can be as fascinating as actually discussing movies. That’s why I’ve followed with interest the crisis of identity that has gripped film criticism of late. What’s interesting, however is to hear Donald Clarke of The Irish Times complaining about the Internet Movie Database Top 250 Films of All Time:

The performance of Inception highlights the most serious problem with this list. Like most such sites, IMDb receives contributions from a disproportionately high number of teenage boys. If you doubt this, look at the ratings for the Twilight films. I know that most critics are less keen on the teen vampire pictures than I am, but the appalling ratings  for the pictures on IMDb speak of a spotty allergy to “gurl’s fillums”. Such boys idolise Nolan and — crucially — know how to put together internet campaigns.

I’m kinda wondering though, what exactly is Mister Clarke arguing against? When did any film ranking become an objective exercise that needs to be treated like “serious business”?

Looks like Inception made quite the splash... (Inception, #3)

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Straight Up, With A Twist…

In the run-up to Inception, I got thinking about Christopher Nolan’s extensive filmography, and how many movies of his involve massive twists in the last third (The Dark Knight is arguably the exception, unless you consider the addition of a second villain to be a ‘twist’). It got me thinking about the nature of plot twists and how they can essentially harm and help a movie.

Yes, this would be the best twist ending ever...

Note: This article is going to discuss twists on the ends of movies and – as such – might be fairly heavy on the old spoilers. Consider yourself warned.

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