Living in a small town makes life hard for a movie reviewer and movie lover. Many of the movies that appear on “best of” lists have not played in my area. I haven’t seen “The King’s Speech” and “The Kids Are All Right,” for example. Therefore, they and some others cannot appear on my list.
That said, here are the 10 best movies I saw in 2010:
Hilary Swank plays a dropout who gets motivated to get her GED, then goes on to college and law school. Why? The unjust conviction of her brother for murder. She gives her life for a brother no one believes is worthwhile.
9. “Get Low”
Robert Duvall brings full circle the character of Boo Radley in this movie about an old hermit who wants a funeral before he dies. Add Bill Murray as the undertaker for comedic effect, and you have a nice story about living with a past.
8. “The Fighter”
I love boxing movies, and this one uses the ring to explore a dysfunctional family. Two great performances by Melissa Leo and Christian Bale make this a worthy meditation on a family impacted by addiction.
A trippy movie that leaves you with more questions than answers – and a desire to see it again to find more clues to the story. Any movie that generates public debate has to be a great movie, and the question of what is happening with the top at the end is still being discussed.
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6. “True Grit”
The Coen Brothers took a huge risk remaking a movie that had an iconic performance by John Wayne. But they turn the story into a showcase for newcomer Hailee Steinfeld. The Coens’ gift for dialogue shines through again, which makes for a great movie.
Animation doesn’t preclude a great story, and this movie has so much more going on than a chance to market toys to children. Taking a stand against community dogma and believing in your truth are the themes here, and they’re worked in a unique way.
4. “The Town”
Ben Affleck’s directorial debut tells a story about friends who rob banks. It crosses over into a love story, and we see how crime and lies make for an impossible relationship. If you love heist movies, this is a great one.
3. “Winter’s Bone”
This one continues a theme on this list: family. Jennifer Lawrence plays Ree Dolly, who’s on a journey to find a missing, ne’er-do-well daddy.
2. “The Social Network”
This is the Facebook movie. It’s not told linearly, but rather through the prism of lawsuits around the company’s founding. This one, about a social movement you are probably part of, is a future classic.
1. “Toy Story 3”
No movie touched me more than this. It may be a “child’s movie,” but it hits adults, especially parents, in the heart. Buzz and Woody go on a final adventure, and we learn that toys can live forever, but children grow up. When Andy goes to college, what happens to Buzz, Woody and pals? Pixar hits another home run with the best movie of 2010.
Mike Parnell is pastor of Beth Car Baptist Church in Halifax, Va.