Just because the Academy only nominated ten films doesn’t mean we need to limit ourselves to that pool! Indeed, the Oscars often overlook the best movies of the year (Ahem, Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties). With that in mind, here are HEAVE’s picks for the best movie of the year:
Amy Dittmeier: I have to admit, I didn’t see a lot of new releases in 2010. I’m a very bad film student it seems. But Exit Through the Gift Shop is a film that I’ve seen at least 20 times with 20 different people. I don’t know what it is about Banksy’s documentary that captures so many people’s attention. Maybe because it’s a total mindfuck, or maybe I know too many hipsters that want to fellate Banksy. Whatever it is, I’ve enjoyed watching it every time. There really is something for everyone in that film. Do you like documentaries? Exit is a superbly crafted one. Do you like fiction films in the shaky-cam style? Exit’s got that too. Is it fiction or is it fact? I have no idea. And every viewing sparks that same question. It’s a film that needs constant viewing and can be viewed with every one. Well done Banksy.
Ryan Peters: The Town – Most people are probably going to disagree with this pick, but I’d argue that this is the best-made film of the year. It doesn’t have the sustained gravitas of Ben Affleck’s last directorial effort, Gone Baby Gone, but The Town evokes the same sense of culture and place—South Boston, in both films—in the same authentic way. Martin Scorcese’s work became synonymous with New York city, and Affleck has shown a similar ability to show the symbiotic relationship between people and place—how each define and trap the other. All of which happens in the backdrop of a thrilling bank-heist flick. It doesn’t all work; Affleck is significantly better as a director than an actor—indeed, he is fast becoming one of the best American film makers—and the film’s central romance feels tacked on the a more interesting story about families who live and work in the same community from which they steal, but the final shootout and chase is so expertly staged that you’ll overlook the movie’s other deficiencies.
Dominick Mayer: Exit Through The Gift Shop was my favorite movie of last year, in that it was not only the least obnoxious documentary ever made about the art world, but also a deftly funny, remarkably insightful look at the fine line between hero worship and blatant plagarism. It’s also one of those rare, beautiful stranger-than-fiction tales of ambition being taken to an absurd extreme. It’s not that unbelievable that Thierry Guetta, a self-admitted ripoff artist from the start (he flips “vintage” clothing in L.A. for tons of money) would evolve into Mr. Brainwash within about a year and make millions by aping the styles of everybody he meets. The closing moments, in which Banksy and Shepard Fairey try to make sense of what they created, are as memorable as anything I saw in a theater last year. It’s a shame that this brilliant film lost Best Documentary at the Oscars to Inside Job, which was basically the filmic equivalent of a huge research paper on economic collapse.
Chris Osterndorf: It’s hard for me not to say from a relevance perspective that The Social Network is the movie of the year. But as for my movie of the year, I once again have to go with “Black Swan.” The whole thing is just this insane, gorgeous nightmare, centered around an awe-inspiring performance from Natalie Portman. I think it’s unquestionably Arronofsky’s best film, and although he’s once again going back to familiar themes with it, they’re themes that I think are totally fascinating, and in a director like Arronofsky’s skilled hands they also feel utterly important. Is it ridiculous? Yes, but it sells us so hard on it’s own ridiculous reality that if you’re like me, you bought into it every second of it. And not that this even needs to be said, but it’s also just a beautiful film to look at, with music that’s equally breathtaking. And it has the best final sequence of not only any film this year, but for my money, one of the best in any film ever. As soon as Portman’s Nina Sayers steps onstage to give her big performance, I am totally locked into every shot, every sound, and every moment. It’s a psycho-sexual thriller that’s the perfect balance of psycho and sexual, and although it’s been compared to film’s like Polanski’s Repulsion, it’s also new and fresh and vibrant. Frankly, the whole thing is just a masterpiece.
Wes Soltis: Inception was a masterpiece, but my favorite movie of the last year is probably Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. It was one of those movies that you feel was tailored specifically for you. And, apparently there aren’t enough “kids like me” because it absolutely bombed at the box office. Everything about the movie was just so…hip. Edgar Wright (who also did Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz) doesn’t get enough credit for being, quite possibly, the most stylish director working today. Seriously probably the most fun I’ve had watching a movie since I was a little kid