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Rants and Raves: The Best and Worst of 2010

From ‘44 Inch Chest’ to ‘Sex and the City 2’

Credit: Image Entertainment

Above: "44 Inch Chest"

With the year coming to an end it's time to recap the best and worst the cinema had to offer.

2010 was not a particularly good year at the movies. There were some marvelous films but very few that made my jaw drop down in awe (and those are the films I live for). There were, unfortunately, quite a lot of bad films – some so bad I wanted to put in for combat pay. I am thinking specifically of "Sex and the City 2" and "Eat, Pray, Love."

But I am grateful for the beauty of a perfect ensemble in "44 Inch Chest;" the rise to action hero stardom of Danny Trejo at the age of 66 in "Machete;" the confidence of Chloe Moretz's Hit Girl in "Kick-Ass;" the meanest, most ruthless mothers I have ever seen in "Animal Kingdom," "Winter's Bone," and South Korea's "Mother;" and the sensual pleasures of "I Am Love." I am grateful for film "events" like Landmark's Ken Cinema running the entire "Red Riding Trilogy" in one day or the San Diego Asian Film Festival's Extreme Program featuring "Robo Geisha" and "Alien Vs. Ninja." And thanks to local film festivals for bringing San Diego works that would not otherwise be screened. So special thanks to the Comic-Con International Film Festival for introducing me to the amazing documentary "Marwencol," that had two screenings in San Diego at the convention. Another film that never got play in San Diego but deserved a release was France's zombie pic "La Horde." It was a fun horror flick and was only available On Demand.

Kudos also to the Reading Gaslamp for expanding the number of foreign and independent films opening in San Diego. Not all the film merited a theatrical release but some – like "Milk of Sorrow" and "Love Ranch" – were small treasures.

As always I find it very difficult to assemble lists and give out awards because films are so diverse. How can you compare "Machete" with "I Am Love"? I love both but for very different reasons. Plus my personal perspective can enhance the impact of a film. "44 Inch Chest" served up a story of a man coming to terms with his wife's adultery and request for divorce. It's message that life hurts and that being human is about dealing with that emotional pain came at exactly the moment in my life when I could identify most. And the great thing about that film is that it accurately conveyed both the feelings of hurt by the husband and the need to escape felt by the wife. It was a film that had the veneer of violence and revenge but actually delivered a tale of forgiveness and redemption.

So here is my version of the Oscars, highlighting the best and bemoaning the worst of 2010. Enjoy and please make any additions to the list in the comments section. And here's looking forward to what 2011 will bring.

Photo credit: 20th Century Fox

Danny Trejo becomes an action hero at 66 in "Machete"

Ten Best (in approximate order of preference)

"44 Inch Chest"

"Machete"

"I Am Love"

"Ondine"

"Kick-Ass"

"Red Riding"

"Exit Through the Gift Shop"

"Terribly Happy"

"Winter's Bone"

"Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World"

Photo credit: Warner Brothers

Sarah Jessica Parker returns as Carrie in "Sex and the City 2"

Baker's Dozen Worst Films (because there were too many to limit it to ten and in approximate order of disdain)

"Sex in the City 2"

"Eat, Pray, Love"

"I’m Still Here"

"Somewhere"

"Jonah Hex"

"Love and Other Drugs"

"Clash of the Titans"

"Dinner for Schmucks"

"Legion"

"The Bounty Hunter"

"The Last Airbender"

"Twilight: Eclipse"

"Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps"

Best Director: Luca Guadagnino, "I Am Love"

Runners up: Neil Jordan, "Ondine"

Edgar Wright, "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World"

Robert Rodriguez, Ethan Maniquis, "Machete"

Henrik Ruben Genz, "Terribly Happy"

Photo credit: Magnolia Pictures

Tilda Swinton in "I Am Love"

Best Actress: Tilda Swinton. "I Am Love"

Runners up: Patricia Clarkson, "Cairo Time"

Helen Mirren, "Love Ranch" and "RED"

Katie Jarvis, "Fish Tank"

Kirsten Scott Thomas, "Leaving"

Photo credit: Music Box Films

Vincent Cassel is "Mesrine"

Best Actor: Vincent Cassel, "Mesrine"

Runners up: Paddy Considine, "Red Riding 1980"

Joe Pesci, "Love Ranch"

Andrew Garfield, "Red Riding 1974"

Michael Caine, "Harry Brown"

Best Supporting Actress: Jacki Weaver, "Animal Kingdom"

Runners up: Chloe Moretz, "Kick-Ass"

Melissa Leo, "Welcome To The Rileys"

Rebecca Hall, "Red Riding 1974"

Lesley Manville, "Another Year"

Best Supporting Actor: Ian McShane, "44 Inch Chest"

John Hurt, "44 Inch Chest"

Michael Shannon, "The Runaways"

David Morriessy, "Red Riding 1974"

John Malkovich, "RED"

Best Original Screenplay: David Scinto, Richard Brown, "44 Inch Chest"

Runners up: Chris Morris, Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong, "Four Lions"

Robert Rodriguez, "Machete"

Neil Jordan, "Ondine"

David Michod, "Animal Kingdom"

Photo credit: Universal

Edgar Wright directing Michael Cera in "Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World."

Best Adapted Screenplay: Edgar Wright and Michael Bacall, "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World"

Runners up: Matthew Vaughn, Jane Goldman, "Kick-Ass"

Aaron Sorkin, "The Social Network"

Tony Grisoni, "Red Riding 1974"

Ulf Rydberg, "The Girl with the Dragon"

Best Foreign Language Film: "I Am Love"

Runners up: "Terribly Happy"

"Mother"

"Alamar"

"Wild Grass"

Photo credit: PDA

Street artist Banksy... or is it? "Exit Through the Gift Shop."

Best Documentary: "Exit Through the Gift Shop"

(I want to make a note about "Exit Through the Gift Shop. Some have been criticizing it as being as much a faux documentary as "I'm Still Here" and therefore not worthy of the label documentary. But I think the genius of the film is that it works as either a real doc or a faux one. Even if much of the film is a staged fraud it still works as a brilliant critique of the art world and in a sense becomes a real doc about an elaborate hoax or prank. By contrast, "I'm Still Here" says nothing once it revealed that it was a prank pulled by Joaquin Phoenix. So I stand by my pick of "Exit Through the Gift Shop" as best doc of the year.)

Runners up: "Waste Land"

"The Tillman Story"

"Inside Job"

"Casino Jack"

Best Cinematography: Yorick Lasaux, "I Am Love" (simply scrumptious!)

Jimmy Lindsay, "Machete" (kudos for using technology to capture to perfection the look of a 70s grindhouse film)

Robert Richardson, "Shutter Island"

Xiaoding Zhao, "A Woman, A Gun, And A Noodle Shop"

Bill Pope, "Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World"

Photo credit: Sony Pictures Classics

The French animated film "The Illusionist."

Best Animated Film: "The Illusionist"

Runner up: "A Town Called Panic"

Best Editing: Tom Fulford, "Exit Through the Gift Shop"

Runners up: Jonathon Amos and Paul Machliss, "Scott Pilgrim Vs the World"

Robert Rodriguez, "Machete"

Andrew Hulme, "Red Riding 1974"

Kirk Baxter, Angus Wall, "The Social Network"

Best Production Design: Marie Helene Sulmoni, "Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky" (this deserves the award for the wallpaper alone!)

Runners up: Christopher Stull, "Machete"

Marcus Rowland, "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World"

Dante Ferretti, "Shutter Island"

Todd Cherniaksky, "Splice"

Best Score: Sylvain Chomet, "The Illusionist"

John Adams, "I Am Love"

John Debney, Carl Thiel, "Machete"

Photo credit: Image Entertainment

The gang's all here... "44 Inch Chest"

Best Ensemble Performance: "44 Inch Chest"

"Machete"

"Kick-Ass"

"Red Riding"

"Another Year"

Photo credit: Oni Press

"Scott Pilgrim" comics.

Best adaptation of a comic book: "Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World"

Best use of the "C" word: Chloe Moretz in "Kick-Ass" and John Hurt in "44 Inch Chest"

Best use of intestines: "Machete"

(Also gets kudos for best place to stash a cell phone.)

Most unnecessary remakes: "Let Me In" and "Death at a Funeral"

Best remake: "The Good, the Bad, and the Weird" (a Korean reimagining of "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly"

Worst Virtual Facelift: Jeff Bridges in "TRON: Legacy"

Films I couldn't bring myself to see: "Burlesque," "Little Fockers," and "Alpha and Omega"

Scariest performance: Jacki Weaver in "Animal Kingdom" and the clan of women in "Winter's Bone"

Best food porn: "I Am Love"

Most claustrophobic movie: "Buried"

Best special effects: "Monsters"

With a miniscule budget this mumblecore creature feature delivered the best effects and the best integrated into the story.

Best human-alien fight: "Skyline"

A piece of crap film but when the protagonist dukes it out with a huge alien and pulls out its brains, I had to applaud.

Photo credit: Warner Brothers

Delphine Chanéac and Sarah Polley as creature and creator in "Splice"

Film with the most unrealized potential: "Splice"

A wonderful homage to Universal horror films by Vincenzo Natali; moments of perfections but not a perfect film.

Best animal: The horse in "Tangled"

Most unusual weapon: a zip tie to kill a man in "Brooklyn's Finest"

Best senior citizen action film: "RED" and "The Expendables"

Best zombie film: "La Horde"

Most blatantly Oscar baited performances: Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart in "Rabbit Hole"

She takes off her make-up and he cries and screams -- those things are sometimes all you need to nab an Oscar nom.

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