Top Ten 2010

1. The Fighter
2. Poetry
3. My Joy
4. Black Swan
5. Inside Job
6. The King’s Speech
7. The Social Network
8. The Ghost Writer
9. Another Year
10. Meek’s Cutoff


Universal accolades rained down upon Colin Firth for his portrayal of George VI in the excellent The King’s Speech, and it is easy to see why. It’s a beautifully heartfelt film about a friendship that develops between a stuffy monarch and an unconventional speech therapist, and Firth’s years of working in tight-laced, brainy English movies prepared him perfectly for the occasion. He maintains all the aristocratic reserve that is necessary for the part, but when it comes time for the crowned head to show that he fears going in a new direction to cure his speech impediment, or to break the emotional barrier that his newfound confidence destroys, Firth performs with the precision that is as perfect as perfect can be.

Honour Roll: Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network; James Franco,127 Hours; Elio Germano, Our Life; Ryan Gosling, Blue Valentine


Watching a masterful actor go through even a mere exercise of their abilities is enough to merit the price of a movie ticket. Abbas Kiarostami’s first foray into filmmaking outside his native Iran, Certified Copy, might not be for all tastes with its playfully quasi-reality plot and talky scenes of dialogue, but there is no denying the mesmerizing work that Juliette Binoche pulls off as one half of the starring couple. Kiarostami throws her into a situation and dares her to go the full route of his whimsy, and she meets him at every step, enjoying a full emotional ladder of expression and some beautifully deep, touching moments. Her winning Best Actress at Cannes was protested by some rabble-rousers for the fact that she was, conveniently, also the festival’s poster girl that same year, but the strength of her work here will long outlive that silly conundrum and survive the test of time.

Honour Roll: Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right; Isabelle Huppert, Copacabana/Special Treatment; Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole; Natalie Portman, Black Swan


It’s the kind of part that always gets awards attention, but when it is done this well, it is worth celebrating. As per his usual self-torture techniques to prepare for a role, Christian Bale lost tons of weight and sports a bald spot as the drug-addicted loser brother to Mark Wahlberg’s aspiring boxer in The Fighter, the year’s best and most emotionally engrossing film. Sure, he does a great job with the physicality of the role, and nails down that accent, but it is the charisma and sympathy of the character that really makes his work so outstanding. It’s a part that begs to be observed, but Bale goes the extra mile in making us care.

Honour Roll:  John Hawkes, Winter’s Bone; Dustin Hoffman,Barney’s Version; Jeremy Renner, The Town; Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech


The Fighter has no shortage of terrific performances, right down to the terrifying monster sisters that inhabit Mark Wahlberg’s home. The best of them, however, is a downright petrifying Melissa Leo as his gorgon of a mother; the film is a hilarious joke on boxer movies given that all the most intense conflict happens outside the boxing ring, and much of that is because of the brilliant madness that Leo brings to the role. It’s impossible to hate her, but I’ll be damned if I would ever feel safe alone in a room with this woman.

Honour Roll:  Amy Adams, The Fighter; Helena Bonham Carter,The King’s Speech;  Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom;  Yeo-Jong Yun, The Housemaid


David O. Russell, The Fighter

Honour Roll:  Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan; David Fincher, The Social Network; Sergei Loznitsa, My Joy; Roman Polanski, The Ghost Writer