I'm working on a post trying to sum up what 2010 gave to me, but it's been really hard because I learned more in 2010 than probably in any year prior. But I came up with a couple of my top 10 lists to bide the time. Deal with it!
Top 10 Albums of 2010
1. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
The haunting sound of tires spinning on pavement managed to conjure so many of my high school memories, along with a wicked nostalgia, and cemented this album’s place at the top of my list.
2. Big Boi – Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty
Big Boi’s solo debut gave us the best and most innovative rap album of the year. (Sorry, Yeezy.)
3. Freelance Whales – Weathervanes
This album is the musical version of puppies. Additionally, it’s brilliant.
4. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross – The Social Network Soundtrack
5. Girl Talk – All Day
How does Gregg Gillis know every single song from my childhood and probably yours?
6. LCD Soundsystem – This is Happening
The album that defined summer 2010 for me – and reaffirmed the legitimacy of the cowbell.
7. Drake – Thank Me Later
The album that changed my mind about Drake.
8. Robyn – Body Talk
Because it’s the best dance album of the year, and because she ate a banana on stage when I saw her perform.
9. Owen Pallett – Heartland
Owen did dark and twisted and beautiful way before Kanye.
10. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Because it’s legitimately a great album, albeit over-hyped – and because if I don’t everyone will poopoo my list.
Top 10 Films of 2010
1. The Social Network, David Fincher
What everyone expected to be simply "the Facebook movie" transcends its subject to tell a human story about ambition, creation and the sacrifice required for both. Brilliant writing, directing, acting and scoring make this the best all-around film of the year.
2. Blue Valentine, Derek Cianfrance
My second-most anticipated film of the year (behind a disappointing Black Swan), BV didn't let me down. Raw and honest, it is perfectly beautiful in its beautiful imperfection; it captures the feeling of a first film but with 12 years of development.
3. I Am Love, Luca Guadagnino
This Italian film trumps genre by being stunningly beautiful in every category. It made me fall totally in love with Tilda Swinton, and John Adams' score, reminiscent of Philip Glass' work for The Hours, became my writing soundtrack for weeks after I saw it.
4. The King's Speech, Tom Hooper
I watched this film a few days after I watched A Single Man for the first time, and I now hold firm to my belief that Colin Firth is our best living actor. His face can change in a millisecond and is utterly convincing; the story is great, the cinematography is gorgeous and Helena Bonham Carter is one of my favorites.
5. The Fighter, David O. Russell
Two words: Christian Bale. If he doesn't go home with an Oscar, it will be outrageous. The story is good and Mark Wahlberg and especially Amy Adams shine too, but Bale outperforms every other aspect of this film. Just unreal.
6. The Town, Ben Affleck
This is one of my favorite films of the year, and would have probably ranked higher had it not been for the other amazing films I considered. I love Affleck's performance and Jeremy Renner will certainly be nominated for an Oscar for his role. Transcending the traditional cops and robbers film, it tells the familiar story of leaving home and the people you love in search of a better life.
7. 127 Hours, Danny Boyle
While my fascination with James Franco isn't exactly understated, this film is an achievement separate and apart from that. It tells a story about the slowest, most boring subject - one man stuck in a canyon for days - using quick camera shots, rapid-fire humor and a thumping, brilliant score by A.R. Rahman.
8. True Grit, The Coen Brothers
I will happily watch Jeff Bridges eat a sandwich. The Dude does not disappoint in this re-make, delivering humor and, yes, grit in equal proportion for a country-style feast. The Coen Brothers are surprisingly less nihilistic than usual, which I appreciated.
9. Howl, Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman
Franco shone again in this bio-pic about Allen Ginsberg. The film was obviously inspiring to me as a writer, and I liked the use of the poem, which is cut in with the interviews Ginsberg did with The Paris Review, to reveal something about the creative process. I also saw it a few doors down from the Chelsea Hotel, which gave me the warm fuzzies.
10. Burlesque, Steve Antin
Yes, I'm really including this in my top 10. Like the wise Cher once tweeted, it isn't Shakespeare, but it's not supposed to be. The film is actually very well done. Fun, entertaining and glittery, yes, but the writing isn't bad and even rather witty at times. I only saw it once, but after it was finished I wanted to watch it again and again, which is more than I can say for Black Swan, the other "dance movie" which I did see twice in theaters. And I adore Stanley Tucci.
Worth noting: I have yet to see Rabbit Hole or Winter's Bone, which are both lauded as two of the year's best films. But I can only rate what I've seen. I'll consider them honorary contenders until I see them - which should be soon - at which point I may edit my list accordingly.
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