I abandoned my post last year some 50 reviews behind with maybe 50 more films left to see. Though I quit seeing literally everything, I did manage to see quite a bit of what was left, and thought I'd share a few of the overlooked highlights of the last few months of 2010...
Marwencol - Follows Mark Hogancamp, a man who suffered severe head trauma, and copes by building an elaborate miniature fictional town in WWII with action figures based on people he knows. Creating story arcs and photographing them, he develops his own form of therapy and regains his imagination. Features one of the best lines of the year: "I was like an elephant left in charge of the peanuts." Check out his website.
Buried - One of the most impressive cinematic achievements in recent memory. It takes place entirely inside of a coffin, over the course of a few hours, with one guy and a cell phone. I saw this a few hours after catching the IMAX 3D presentation of Tron: Legacy and was amazed that though Tron was a $150 million exploration of a computer gaming universe, and Buried is essentially a guy in a box with a flashlight, it has more going on narratively, emotionally, and believe it or not, visually! Boo Tron. Rent Buried.
Catfish - Bizarre documentary about an online relationship. The filmmakers would wish I say no more, and trust me it's better if you hear nothing more. Just check it out.
I Love You, Phillip Morris - In the strangest way, this is probably the most romantic film of the year, however deceiving and conniving its characters may seem. Their motivations are always true, constantly endearing, and undeniably hilarious. And if you're unaware, it's about a gay con-man in the 90s who meets his soul mate in prison. Watch for Jim Carrey in a BUM Equipment sweatshirt... one of my favorite wardrobe choices of the year.
Exit Through the Gift Shop - Fascinating, highly entertaining, poignant, and maybe hoax documentary about graffiti artists. It will leave you pondering its ending, and its meaning longer than just about any thriller released last year.
Rabbit Hole - The third film from John Cameron Mitchell, and maybe his best. Dark subject matter treated with honesty creates subtle moments of humor and heartbreak.
Somewhere - To all of you who think that movies have to have a clear plot and structure in order to be good, here is a collection of scenes of an actor hanging out with his daughter that combine to make one of the best films of the year.
The American - Slow and subtle pacing, ridiculously beautiful cinematography, and George Clooney. Also features an amazing chase sequence.
Due Date - Entirely passed-over by everyone, this was actually very funny, and even a little heartwarming if you let it. And that's coming from somebody who was dreading the thought of seeing it.
Carlos - Epic, 5+ hour saga of an international terrorist, originally developed as a miniseries but released in America as one long film. My brother watched as I fumbled my slice of pizza in the intermission for what must have been something like 4 full seconds without trying to catch it himself, so I was starving for the lat two hours, but I almost didn't notice at all. It's completely absorbing.
Enter the Void - Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Enter the Void is told completely in first person from the perspective of a guy on a fatal acid trip as he floats out of his body and over the neon chaos of a gritty Tokyo underground and recalls vital moments in his life, one of which being his own fertilization inside of his mother. It's trippy, bizarre, confusing, visually stunning, and an altogether amazing experience. Worth seeing, even if it sounds like something you'd hate.
Conviction - Marketed to look like nothing more than a Lifetime Original, Conviction turns out to be a whole lot more. Mature direction and stellar performances from a superb cast, including Sam Rockwell in one of the best scenes of 2010 (where he takes some basketballs out of players' hands in a prison yard) make this one of 2010's hidden gems.
Morning Glory - Formulaic chick flick? Absolutely. Smart, funny, extremely enjoyable, perfectly cast, and brimming with charm? Fuck yes. Worth a watch even if you're a single guy.
Get Him to the Greek - Who would have guessed that this character would work in another movie? Not I. In fact, I was even kind of dreading the thought of sitting through a two hour spin-off Aldous Snow film. Lucky for me, it actually makes a character out of him, rather than continue the one-dimensional version of him in Forgetting Sarah Marshall a few years ago. And don't get me wrong, one-dimensional was all he needed to be in that film. But here he gets deeper, and it works. And surprisingly, it remains funny, especially when combined with a skillfully over-the-top performance from Sean Combs.
Lottery Ticket - Surprisingly funny, quirky, and sweet. Even more surprising: well-made. I went in expecting a tolerable film at best, walked out having loved every minute. Universally panned by critics and audiences alike, Lottery Ticket offers style, warmth, and a fair share of quotable dialogue.