Favorite Movies of 2010 Sunday, Feb 27 2011 

In honor of tonight’s Oscars, I thought I would finally compile my annual list of favorite movies. Living in a small college town means that many of the smaller films take a long time to get here or never come here at all.

Consequently, I can’t make my films list until well into the new year. This year I’ve been putting off making the list until I saw a few last films, one of which still hasn’t come to Athens, so I’ll just have to add it later if I want to. So, here’s my list of favorite movies from 2010 that I’ve seen to date. As in past years, I’ll include the trailer and a link to my original post about the movie.

Number one on my list is Blue Valentine, which was one of the movies I was waiting to see.

Often, anticipating a movie is just setting yourself up for disappointment. But not in this case. Blue Valentine is exquisite. Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams are amazing, and everything about this heartbreaking movie is perfectly designed to maximize its quiet despair. I reviewed it here.

Number two on my list is The King’s Speech.

I know a lot of the movie blogs I read are against this movie sweeping the Oscars tonight, but I think it will deserve any award it gets. Just as I love the heartbreak of Blue Valentine, I love the optimism and sentimentality of The King’s Speech. Colin Firth should finally get an Oscar tonight. I would also love it if Helena Bonham Carter won Supporting Actress. I wrote about it here.

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A Prophet: A Review Sunday, Feb 20 2011 

Early in Jacques Audiard‘s Un Prophete, 19-year old Malik El Djebena, played by Tahar Rahim, newly incarcerated on a six-year sentence for assaulting a police officer, is talking with another inmate, Reyeb. Malik is illiterate and without assistance from outside the prison; he also has no protection from the other inmates. When Reyeb realizes that Malik can’t read, he tells him to use his time in prison wisely. As he tells Malik, come out of prison better than when you went in.

Reyeb simply means that Malik should learn to read, but these words have a much greater impact on Malik than Reyeb could ever imagine. Against his will, Malik has been sent by the Corsican mafia running the prison to Reyeb to kill him. His choice is to do this job or be killed himself. With nowhere else to turn, Malik ultimately chooses survival and kills Reyeb in a bloody struggle. This “success” sets him on a path towards his goal of coming out of prison better than he went in.

Here’s the trailer:

Of the three crime movies I’ve seen this year, including The Town and Animal Kingdom, A Prophet is by the far the best. Suspenseful, action-packed, and even kind of magical, A Prophet is an excellent movie.

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SotW: This Time by Cassidy Haley Saturday, Feb 19 2011 

I  saw the video for Cassidy Haley‘s new single, “This Time,” on Towleroad and love it:

Haley’s video obviously uses Fight Club as a metaphor for a romantic relationship. While this is a rather pessimistic view of romance, the concept is interesting and well done. It captures much of the spirit of the movie but also gives it its own twist.

As usual, I immediately noticed how hot both of the guys — including Haley — are: I can be just as shallow as the next gay man. But I’m also impressed by the visual contrast between the guys’ hotness and the blood and violence of the fight club imagery. This contrast creates an interesting comment about relationships, gay or straight, I think. On the one hand, romance can be beautiful and sexually hot; on the other hand, relationships can be destructive and hurtful to the participants. Something that starts so beautifully can end up being tragically wrong. By the end, the video seems to ask why we do this to each other. Why do we hurt each other so much when we should love one another instead. At least that’s how I read the sadness of Haley’s face in the final part of the video.

Of course the video is also a commentary on the queerness of Fight Club. Weren’t we all expecting Ed Norton and Brad Pitt to make out during it?! This video is what should have happened!

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The Honey Badger Don’t Give a Shit Friday, Feb 18 2011 

I saw this on a blog today and couldn’t stop laughing. I love it!

This faux nature documentary is narrated by Randall, a comic character by Christopher Gordon. You can check out similar videos on his YouTube channel.

At first I was a little nervous about this clip: using a “gay” narrator like this seems potentially homophobic — reveling in stereotypes and casting aspersions on an entire group of people, us gays. But then I decided that, as a comic piece, the creator is entitled to make us of us gays and even draw upon gay stereotypes to make us all laugh. I don’t think it’s hating on gays; it’s laughing at a certain type of gay. The sad thing is that such narration would make most nature documentaries more interesting!

Now I want a t-shirt that says, “The Honey Badger don’t give a shit!”

The Social Network: A Review Sunday, Feb 13 2011 

I finally got the chance to see The Social Network when PJ ordered it from Netflix and we watched it on Friday. He had already seen it when it was still in theaters, but I had been too busy at the time to go with him.

It’s won nearly, if not all of the critics awards this season, and it’s nominated for multiple Oscars. The primary film site that I read, Awards Daily, has been championing it for Best Picture, Director, etc. and readers there have been adamant about its superiority over The King’s Speech, a film that I really enjoyed. So, I’ve really been looking forward to seeing it so that I could judge for myself.

Here’s the trailer:

As I’m sure everyone knows, The Social Network depicts the foundation of Facebook by Mark Zuckerberg and suggests that he succeeded at the expense of his friends. The frame story is that he is “now” being sued by multiple people, all of whom claim that he stole their ideas and/or illegally screwed them over. The film further suggests that Facebook is the product of Zuckerberg’s efforts to impress women and to be accepted by the monied elites at Harvard and that when these goals aren’t achieved Zuckerberg decides to make his creation even bigger in order to show the girls and elites just what they’re missing.

Overall, I think this movie has to be evaluated on two different levels. The first is just as a movie. On this level, The Social Network is a tale of greed, computer nerdiness, and revenge with Zuckerberg as the anti-hero who uses his computer savvy to pave his way to fame and fortune. Along the way, he screws over every friend he’s ever had, but, since he only cares about his creation, his lost friends don’t really phase him.

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SotW: Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” Friday, Feb 11 2011 

Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” was released today, so I immediately listened to it on YouTube and then downloaded it from iTunes. As I’ve written before, I think Gaga is a genius:

I’ve already been reading that people are comparing it to Madonna’s “Express Yourself.” I can hear a few slight similarities, but overall it seems entirely different to me. In particular, Madonna’s never explicitly acknowledged anything but heterosexuality in her lyrics. For this song’s political and social message alone, I think it’s revolutionary. Maybe I’ll teach Gaga in my GLBT lit course next year!

But it’s also just a fun dance track!

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Blue Valentine: A Review Sunday, Feb 6 2011 

PJ and I just got home from seeing Blue Valentine starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams as a couple, Dean and Cindy, whose marriage is falling apart. The film, directed by Derek Cianfrance, cuts back and forth between the past and present, comparing moments in these people’s lives: happy moments and sad ones, moments that have brought them together, and moments that are driving them apart.

Here’s the trailer:

This movie is exquisite. The performances, the screenplay, the direction, everything about this movie is beautifully tragic, an examination of what Elizabeth Inchbald once called “the exquisite sensation of pain” that occurs when you’ve done something that you believe is right but that will also cause you suffering. I love that Blue Valentine explores this relationship, showing us exactly who these two people are and how they got this way while never blaming either of them. Neither one is right or wrong, or maybe they’re just both wrong.

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