Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Favorite Films of 2010!

While the pretentious crowd over at Passion For Cinema might feel as if their subjective tastes in film were objective standards, I know better. I don’t put a lot of stock in “BEST OF” lists. Our experience of media is so subjective that I strongly feel that the only thing one can assemble with any honesty is a FAVORITES list. Things that are my favorites may not be yours and that’s okay. My criteria for a favorite is something that I like (obviously) but also something that I keep thinking about, something that changes my world in a small way, and something that I continue to return to.

Now, we all know that Bollywood has not been churning out the good stuff like it usually does and I couldn’t honestly give 10 “favorite” Bollywood films from this year, so I decided to mix it up a bit and present my 10 Favorite Films of 2010!

(Check out previous 2010 wrap-up lists - picturizations, dances, and songs.)

Lead Roles: Salman Khan, Sonakshi Sinha
Director: Abhinav Kashyap
Language: Hindi
My Review:
Dabangg Review

Dabangg reminded us all what it felt like to be excited about Bollywood again. After a long dry spell of pretentious films that failed to engage the audience, films attempting to ape Hollywood aesthetics and narrative techniques, and some really dumb comedies, Salman Khan emerged like a Greek God! That buff, bronzed body inspired the cheers of millions of Bollywood fans worldwide as he single-handedly saved masala the trash bins out behind Filmistan studios.

The Social Network
Lead Roles: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Armie Hammer, Justin Timberlake
Director: David Fincher
Language: English

Why? Despite some odd race-bending casting choices,
The Social Network was a perfect slice of storytelling. The dialogues were tight, the acting was nuanced, and the narrative was gripping. The film was the equivalent of those narrative non-fiction books I like so much where the author goes on a quest to find the story of some mundane object like a vanilla bean or cocaine or something and uses the object to tell a story of greed or commerce or both. Making the ordinary seem extraordinary is no small task and this film accomplished it in spades.

Lead Roles: Naseeruddin Shah, Vidya Balan, Arshad Warsi
Director: Abhishek Chaubey
Language: Hindi
My Review:
Ishqiya Review (and reading it, I feel the need to rewatch this soon...)

Why? I have to admit I was dubious to check out this Vishal Bhardwaj production, considering how badly I was burned by
Kaminey, but Ishqiya is beautiful little film held together by three masterful performances from three of the most talented actors in Bollywood, including the criminally underrated Arshad Warsi. (I swear, if there was ONE PERSON who deserves some sort of broad recognition from the industry, it’s Arshad Warsi. The man is amazing.) The story is a bit of fluff but I didn’t mind because the filmmaking is so exquisite.

Band Baaja Baaraat
Lead Roles: Ranveer Singh, Anushka Sharma
Director: Maneesh Sharma
Language: Hindi
My Review:
Band Baaja Baaraat Review

Why? Another crap shoot, another winner. Just when I thought Bollywood had lost its touch for real romance,
Band Baaja Baaraat dropped into my lap. Not only did it feature a smashing debut from non-industry kid Ranveer Singh and a refreshingly natural (and style-magazine free) performance from Anushka Sharma but the film itself was free of the flashy, self-conscious ironic tone of the contemporary romantic-comedy. Shadi Mubarak Zindabad!

Kick Ass
Lead Roles: Aaron Johnson, Chloe Moretz, Nicholas Cage, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Language: English

Why? DAMN! Look, I don’t want to give away any spoilers but let’s just say the last fight sequence in this is
amazing. I’m not typically a fan of superhero movies, they tend to be all about massaging the super-male-ego or in indulging the eternal male adolescent’s worst desires but Kick Ass isn’t a typical superhero movie. Bringing a healthy dose of messed up emotional realism, enough daddy issues to make at least two Karan Johar flicks, and a dash of the old ultra-violence, Kick Ass was fully popped kernel of a popcorn film.

Tees Maar Khan
Lead roles: Akshay Kumar, Katrina Kaif, Akshaye Khanna
Director: Farah Khan
Language: Hindi
My Review:
Tees Maar Khan Review

Why? I stand by
Tees Maar Khan as a highly entertaining film despite the critical drubbing it got. Everybody was on their A-game. It was as if Shirish Kunder had spotted the critical flaws in previous high profile mainstream Akshay Kumar flops Tashan and Chandi Chowk To China and took out the negatives, leaving only the khiladi to do what he does best - dazzle the audience. Katrina Kaif plays a ditzy actress with aplomb and Akshaye Khanna is a surprise charmer as an Oscar obsessed actor. What’s not to like?

Lead roles: Rajinikanth, Aishwarya Rai
Director: Shankar
Language: Tamil
My Review:

Why? This is getting the number 4 spot because it is the absolute best experience viewing a film that I have ever had. I paid $20 to see Rajinikanth strut his stuff on the big screen and he did not disappoint. Robots, robots, and Aishwarya Rai directed by Shankar. Bollywood has not given a
paisa-vasool like this in a long time, which is why I couldn’t limit my favorites to Bollywood. Kollywood is where the action is these days.

Lead roles: Arya, Amy Jackson
Director: Vijay
Language: Tamil
My Review:

Why? Epic romance, thy name is

I loved everything about this film - the songs, the acting, the humor, the writing... and for introducing me to Arya. Plus, kudos to a film for actually casting a person who can speak English with an English accent (i.e. Alexx O’Nell) in the role of the evil baddie and not just shoving some German tourist in a uniform.

Black Swan
Lead Roles: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Language: English

Why? Director Darren Aronofsky pulled off a spectacular feat in
Black Swan - he made Natalie Portman turn in a good performance and he made a film that delved into psychological grey areas without ever dumbing anything down for the audience (A Beautiful Mind, I’m looking at you). I suppose I should have expected as much from the man who brought us Pi but I am still impressed.

Plus, nobody else has made Western Art Music seem as compelling and fresh in years! It’s amazing what modern updates in aesthetics can do for an old ballet.

Lead roles: Vikram, Aishwarya Rai, Prithviraj
Director: Mani Ratnam
Language: Tamil
My Review:

Why? Oh, for so many reasons... Simply put, I loved this film. I cannot even imagine life before it - before I knew Vikram. The Hindi version may not have come together but Vikram and Aishwarya make the screen sing. In Vikram’s hands, the character of Veera is a many-headed demon with the heart of a man. We feel everything he feels.

The film is an exploration of myth and man, set in the rainy Mani Ratnam countryside.

Everything about it is beautiful.

(I can only hope that the bad press surrounding the Hindi release, won’t prevent people from checking out the Tamil one.)


Ness said...

Haven't seen all of these, but those I have I heartily agree with, those I haven't (with the exception of TMK, which I am still on the fence about) I am looking forward to seeing. Oh, Black Swan especially, I can't WAIT until it releases in NZ. Only a few more days....

Kick-Ass end fight: amaaaaze. I was slightly distracted all the way through the film though because Aaron Johnson looks almost EXACTLY like my ex.

Amaluu said...

Excellent list Kara! Love almost everything on here except the ones I haven't seen - Black Swan, BBB, Madrasapattinam and TMK, and I really hope I love those ones too. So we do have common ground after all! :-)))

Filmi Girl said...

@ness I loved Black Swan but it might be one of those films that divides people - it's kind of dark and non really realistic.

@amaluu See, I have this theory that the good stuff is always good but we have our own tastes in the terrible. It's like that quote about happy families v. sad families. :) The problem is that recently, Bollywood has been putting out more crap than good stuff...

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

Raavanan Raavanan Raavanan all the way! I do wish I could get a good DVD version with subtitles so I could understand the tamil version better, but the language hasn't deterred me from the endless watchings Ive devoted to it. Happy new year filmigirl!

Lime(tte) said...

I really want to see Black Swan, Ishqiya, BBB, Robot and Raavanan! Thanks.

Note from Filmi Girl:

I love Bollywood - and all the ridiculous things that happen in Bollywood - but it doesn't mean that I can't occasionally make fun of various celebrities and films.

If you don't like my sense of humor, please just move on by - Trolls are not appreciated and nasty comments will be deleted.

xoxo Filmi Girl
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