Written by Suki Ferguson
This has been a rewarding year for those that enjoy a bit of spectacle at the cinema â€“ continuing where James Cameron left off in 2009, the studios that make blockbusters began to jump on the 3D bandwagon with enthusiasm. Purist film fans complained of eye ache, but most found that 3D did add a dash of pizzazz to the general proceedings. Tim Burtonâ€™s Alice in Wonderland was a huge 3D release that wouldâ€™ve received far worse reviews had it been shot in the old-fashioned style; the sense of occasion lent by fancy effects helped to mask the dull plot and perfunctory characterisation. Sadly for Johnny Depp, even 3D couldnâ€™t gild his embarrassing Mad Hatter dance routineâ€¦in fact, it probably made it worse.
Better use of 3D was employed at Pixar, who used it for the final, universally acclaimed Toy Story outing. â€śI like taking a light hand with the 3D,â€ť director Lee Unkrich explained. â€śI feel like my job, as a director, is to let people become engrossed in the story and forget theyâ€™re in a theatre.â€ť Meanwhile Universalâ€™s successful first animation Despicable Me was enlivened by a 3D rollercoaster ride, but the film as a whole was amiable at best. The Last Airbenderâ€™s last minute post-production adoption of 3D proved that fashioning silk purses out of sows ears is an ugly business indeed.
The major release that trumped the 3D brigade was Inception, a confident mind-bending thriller that became so popular it forced anyone that watched it to take up some kind of vehement position on whether it was daft, brilliant or over-hyped (answers: yes; yes; depended on at what point in its media life-cycle you saw it). Director and writer Christopher Nolan was accused of being either overly cerebral or pseudo cerebral, both pretty awesome insults for the maker of one of the biggest summer blockbusters in recent times.
Another film that treated its audiences as reasonably intelligent beings was The Social Network, an entertaining dissection of Facebookâ€™s formative years. In it, Jesse Eisenberg confirmed that he can be awkward on screen with great conviction, and Andrew Garfield launched his campaign to inveigle himself into the public conscious â€“ heâ€™ll soon be popping up in sad sci-fi romance Never Let Me Go and the Spiderman franchise reboot.
To balance out the good impression made on audiences by sharp action films and well-made dramas, Hollywood nimbly stepped up output from its rom-com dross factory. The Switch, The Back-Up Plan and Killers stood out as star vehicles (for Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Aniston and Katherine Heigl respectively) that sorely deserved to be in a three car pile up. Worst was Sex and the City 2, which ingeniously embellished the vapid consumerism of the first film with a surreal foray into offending Islamic sensibilities. It wasnâ€™t all bad though â€“ Drew Barrymore and Justin Long made a believable and funny couple in Going the Distance, and Brit flick Tamara Drewe featured a fertile cornucopia of rustic love affairs and comic characters.
As in publishing, so in film – where the Millennium trilogy triumphed, others will soon follow. 2010 was a good year to be a foreign filmmaker – the Swedish thriller series that began with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo gained widespread international distribution and swathes of positive reviews. Noomi Rapace played the damaged hacker extraordinaire Lisbeth Salandar so well that one struggles to imagine how Rooney Mara will improve upon it in the impending American remake. Pointless Let The Right One In rehash Let Me In was a timely example of remake redundancy – given a choice just watch the original and best, even if it does have (heaven forbid!) subtitles.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 rounded off the year in its customary all-out style, with added quests, quarrels and awkward dance scenes. 2011 is looking rosy â€“ not only is there the Deathly Hallows Part 2 to look forward to, thereâ€™s the annual Oscar-wooing season to enjoy. Warm and funny royal drama The Kingâ€™s Speech is out in January, as is Darren Aronofskyâ€™s superb Black Swan, a psychological thriller set in the world of ballet. The aforementioned excellent Never Let Me Go will be released in the spring, and come summer the Pirates of the Caribbean returns, featuring awe-inspiring 3D visuals and Johnny Depp slurring attractively. So long 2010, bring on 2011!
Last edited: 29th December 2010
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