MovieMantz: Top 10 Of 2010… So Far

Best of 2010 (So Far): Buried Treasures

Can you believe that 2010 is already half-over? Where did the last 6 months go? That was fast, but as the saying goes, time flies when you’re having fun.

Actually, that’s not always true. For people who watch a lot of movies and write about them for a living, the first half of 2010 was a real drag. This summer alone, “Iron Man 2” made a killing at the box office, but it wasn’t the critical darling that its 2008 predecessor was. “Shrek Forever After” fared a little better than 2007’s uninspired “Shrek the Third,” but “Sex and the City 2” got torn apart by critics, while “Robin Hood” was generally dismissed as a poor-man’s “Gladiator.”

And, please, don’t even get me started on cinematic drivel like “The Wolfman,” “The Last Song,” “Remember Me,” “The Bounty Hunter” and “Furry Vengeance.”

So as you can imagine, the prospect of putting together a list of the year’s ten best movies so far may seem like a thankless task. But the fact is, there were quite a few gems – and just like any buried treasure, you just had to dig a little harder to find them.

10) “Edge of Darkness”
Release Date: January 29
Starring: Mel Gibson, Ray Winstone
The Plot: While investigating the brutal death of his activist daughter, a Boston homicide detective gets caught between an environmental conspiracy and the government’s attempt to cover it up.
Why it’s Great: For his first starring role in almost eight years, Mel Gibson was back in full “Payback” form in a gripping revenge thriller that also had a smart and challenging backstory.

9) “Mother and Child”
Release Date: May 7
Starring: Naomi Watts, Annette Bening, Kerry Washington
The Plot: Three different stories about motherhood converge in unexpected ways.
Why it’s Great: Writer-director Rodrigo Garcia continued his incredible flair for creating compelling stories about complex women, all of whom were expertly portrayed by talented actresses at the top of their game.

8) “Greenberg”
Release Date: March 19
Starring: Ben Stiller, Greta Gerwig
The Plot: An eccentric loner from New York falls for his brother’s personal assistant while house-sitting in Los Angeles.
Why it’s Great: Ben Stiller was terrific as a 40-something social misfit, but Greta Gerwig was the one to watch as his lonely would-be girlfriend. While some found director Noah Baumbach’s bittersweet character study too depressing, his honest depiction of a middle-aged man cast adrift was appropriately awkward, strangely funny and sublimely effective.

7) “How to Train Your Dragon”
Release Date: March 26
Starring: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, America Ferrera
The Plot: A young Viking who hunts dragons has a change of heart when he befriends one. (Computer-animated)
Why it’s Great: This wonderful, rousing and exciting family adventure tapped into the profoundly moving bonding moments that helped define classics like “The Black Stallion” and “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial.”

6) “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work”
Release Date: June 11
Starring: Joan Rivers, Melissa Rivers
The Plot: A year in the life of the legendary comedienne, who, at 75, is busier and better than ever.
Why it’s Great: In this captivating documentary about the ups and downs of her controversial career, Rivers got candid about her family, her insecurities, her plastic surgery and her mortality.

5) “Cyrus”
Release Date: June 18
Starring: Jonah Hill, John C. Reilly, Marisa Tomei
The Plot: A lovable loser meets the woman of his dreams – and then he meets her co-dependent son.
Why’s it’s Great: Offbeat, charming, original and very funny, “Cyrus” was in the same class as past hits from Fox Searchlight, the distributor behind “Sideways,” “Little Miss Sunshine,” “Juno” and “(500) Days of Summer.”

4) “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
Release Date: March 19
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Nyqvist
The Plot: A disgraced journalist and a ruthless computer hacker join forces to solve a decades-old mystery of a missing person.
Why it’s Great: The Swedish adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s first novel was gripping, intense, challenging, disturbing and extremely well acted. An American version is in the works, courtesy of David Fincher (“Zodiac”).

3) “Exit Through the Gift Shop”
Release Date: April 16
Starring: Bansky, Thierry Guetta
The Plot: An eccentric French filmmaker attempts to make a documentary about street artists, only to become a street artist himself.
Why it’s Great: This fascinating and utterly mad satire about the instant commercialization of art was also a brilliantly structured documentary about a wannabe filmmaker who unwittingly became the subject of his own movie.

2) “Kick-Ass”
Release Date: April 16
Starring: Aaron Johnson, Chloe Grace Moretz
The Plot: An awkward high school student learns the hard way that being a superhero can be very painful.
Why it’s Great: Just when the superhero genre started to get too stale, director Matthew Vaughn’s outrageously entertaining satire felt fresh, fun and vibrant – and it featured Chloe Grace Moretz’s scene-stealing performance as Hit Girl, a foul-mouthed heroine who was one for the books.

1) “Toy Story 3”
Release Date: June 18
Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack
The Plot: Woody, Buzz and the rest of the gang get dumped at a daycare center after their original owner outgrows them. (Computer-animated)
Why it’s Great: Pixar continued its perfect track record with a brilliant sequel that capped a wonderful trilogy. It was clever, fun and exciting for kids, but it was even better for grown-ups, thanks to a deep, profound and heartbreaking story about the passage of time.

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