It's Finally Here - The 19 Best Movies That You Didn't See in 2010
by Alex Billington
February 25, 2011
It's here and we're little late, I admit, but I thought with the Oscars this weekend it was perfect timing in the end. Back by popular demand is our fourth annual list of the 19 Best Movies That You Didn't See in 2010 (you can find our past few lists here: 2009, 2008, 2007). Featured below is a hand-picked selection of the best independent and mainstream films that were either quietly dumped by a distributor, ignored by audiences, or just not marketed well enough. So to give these films some extra time in the spotlight, and to support some of the best filmmakers out there, we've put together this final 2010 recap. Read on for the list!
I would like to encourage everyone to watch at least one of these that they haven't heard of (or didn't see) beforehand. If you spend the two hours or so that it will take to watch even one of these movies mentioned below, it would mean that much more to the filmmakers who put so much time and effort into making each of these movies. This isn't about getting kudos for mentioning certain films, this article is about pointing out movies that don't deserve to be forgotten and are begging to be watched. So pick one and watch it tonight!
Opened on August 13, 2010
Directed by David Michôd (Interview)
Tells the story of seventeen year-old J as he navigates his survival amongst an explosive criminal family and the detective who thinks he can save him.
Why it's on here: This riveting Australian underground organized crime flick has stuck with me since first seeing it at Sundance more than a year ago. Not only did Jacki Weaver, the "mother" of this creepy, crazy group of Australian criminals, earn a well-deserved Oscar nomination this year, but the film includes incredible performances by breakout lead James Frecheville and co-stars Joel Edgerton and Ben Mendelsohn, who plays one of the most unsettling roles I've ever seen. If you haven't already already discovered this fantastic film, it best be added to the top of your list right away.
Paul is a U.S. contractor working in Iraq. After an attack by a group of Iraqis he wakes to find he is buried alive inside a coffin. With only a lighter and a cell phone it's a race against time to escape this claustrophobic death trap.
Why it's on here: Those who have seen Buried almost always agree with me - it's damn good! Yes, Ryan Reynolds stars for 90 minutes inside of a coffin and that's it - the camera doesn't go "outside", but director Rodrigo Cortés uses numerous crafty visual tricks like zooming up or away to add even more of a claustrophobic and distant feel to the film. My quote that's on the poster still stands for this film - your heart will be racing from the moment it begins until the moment it ends, that's guaranteed. And if more convincing is necessary, read Ethan's glowing review as well.
Opened on September 17, 2010
Directed by Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman
Filmmakers Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost document a story involving Ariel's brother, Nev, a 24-year-old New York-based photographer, and Abby, from rural Michigan who contacts Nev via Facebook, asking for permission to make a painting from one of his photographs.
Why it's on here: Most probably heard the buzz about this last fall, but never bothered to actually see it. Despite the controversy over it's potentially deceptive storytelling (maybe you should watch this to find out exactly what that means) I think this is a damn good documentary. Catfish takes the audience on a roller-coaster-ride through a relationship between the filmmaker's goofy brother Nev and a mysterious girl from MySpace/Facebook. By the end, you'll realize this has a much greater connection to The Social Network than first thought and incites plenty of discussion that you're guaranteed to start upon finishing.
A 1970s-set coming-of-age comedy centered on three young working class friends (Christian Cooke, Tom Hughes, Jack Doolan) in a dreary suburb of Reading.
Why it's on here: It's quite uncanny that comedians Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant can get together to write and direct a film that isn't a hilarious comedy. Instead the two talented Brits come together and deliver a coming-of-age drama that's essentially American Graffiti for the United Kingdom. Keep the kids with an uncertain future ahead of them but replace the car culture with the dreary suburban setting of Reading, and you've got a spectacularly underrated film chock full of great performances and phenomenal writing. (Written by Ethan Anderton)
The Disappearance of Alice Creed
Opened on August 6, 2010
Directed by J Blakeson
Two men fortify a nondescript British apartment so it can serve as a prison, and then kidnap a woman and tie her to a bed. Before there's even time to react, we're plunged into a very nasty situation, but not a simple one.
Why it's on here: This taut, riveting thriller thoroughly impressed me when I first saw it at the Toronto Film Festival back in late '09, but its always been on my mind, as I was impressed by the sleek direction of J Blakeson, despite making his feature debut with this. If you need more blatant convincing to check out this gripping crime thriller, it's the one you've probably heard about that has Gemma Arterton nude it in for half the film. But it actually works as part of the story and damn is it an interesting story to follow - plenty of twists. Watch the opening five minutes for a hell of a tease.
Two eighth graders start to have feelings for each other despite being total opposites. Based on the novel "Flipped" by Wendelin Van Draanen.
Why it's on here: I really love this film. It's such a charming coming-of-age slice of life, courtesy of one of the masters of directing kid actors - Rob Reiner (who I had the honor of interviewing). His two lead actors, Callan McAuliffe and Madeline Carroll, give performances way above their age in a delightfully entertaining story of young romance. It has a unique narrative that flip-flops storytelling between the two off-and-on and really takes advantage of that Flipped concept, but it works and the result is totally adorable to watch.
Opened on November 5, 2010
Directed by Christopher Morris
Four Lions tells the story of a group of British jihadists who push their abstract dreams of glory to the breaking point. As the wheels fly off, and their competing ideologies clash, what emerges is an emotionally engaging (and entirely plausible) farce.
Why it's on here: This "terrorist comedy" from the UK has had copious amounts of buzz since premiering at Sundance a few years ago, then made its way through 2010 at numerous festivals and eventually getting released by Alamo Drafthouse's newly formed Drafthouse Films. But alas, many still haven't seen this hilarious flick about a group of British jihadists who push their abstract dreams of glory to the breaking point. Even if it sounds awkward, it's damn funny and you'll get over it laughing, so give it a shot and check it out.
Opened on March 26, 2010
Directed by Noah Baumbach
A New Yorker moves to Los Angeles in order to figure out his life while he housesits for his brother, and he soon sparks with his brother's assistant.
Why it's on here: With Ben Stiller taking part in Little Fockers towards the end of 2010, it's good to know that earlier in the year he teamed up with director Noah Baumbach (of The Squid and the Whale, Margot at the Wedding) for one of the best performances of his career. Since the film was sadly overlooked this awards season, we're eager to show some love to this somewhat depressing, but thoroughly satisfying film that continues to showcase breakout mumblecore star Greta Gerwig and all her charm and genuine talent. (Written by Ethan Anderton)
Opened on December 25, 2010
Directed by Sylvain Chomet
A French illusionist finds himself out of work and travels to Scotland, where he meets a young woman. Their ensuing adventure changes both their lives forever.
Why it's on here: If you saw The Triplets of Belleville in '03, then you should already be interested in The Illusionist, the next film from Sylvain Chomet, the same director of Belleville. Anyone who watches this will be astonished at how emotional and entertaining of a story Chomet can tell without using any dialogue, only hand-drawn animation and some minor "noises" for emphasis. It's a brilliant and more-than-ever heartwarming film with a great story based on a screenplay by French legend Jacques Tati. I suggest reading my Telluride review for more inspiration.
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