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Tyler Hanley's top films

 

10. Hereafter

Watching Clint Eastwood's metaphysical drama is sort of like taking a road trip to the Grand Canyon. The journey is long and plodding, but the destination is breathtaking. Matt Damon's likable protagonist leads the viewer through a wave of emotions and Eastwood presents the afterlife in a peaceful light instead of as something morbid or terrifying. But "Hereafter" requires patience and maturity. Those willing to give it are rewarded with a complex, heartfelt and spiritually inspiring experience.

9. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Audacious director Edgar Wright ("Shaun of the Dead") throws a jolt of energy into the cinematic pantheon with this imaginative romp. Rock-music, video-game and comic-book sensibilities collide for a refreshingly unique blend of action and comedy. Michael Cera plays the geek/hero role perfectly while arcade-inspired visual effects and wildly inventive transitions add to the picture's whimsical flair.

8. Robin Hood

Ridley Scott's under-appreciated epic boasts a strong performance by Russell Crowe, admirable production values (costumes, lighting, cinematography, etc.) and a fresh perspective on the bow-wielding adventurer. The storyline is engaging and the action is visceral -- although many critics labeled the film a disappointment (lofty expectations can often lead to mediocre reviews). But an argument could easily be made that this is the most historically accurate and well-crafted "Robin Hood" film to date.

7. The Town

Ben Affleck's cinematic love letter to the city of Boston is a taut, suspenseful action/drama in the vein of Michael Mann's "Heat" (1995). Affleck offers up one of the best acting performances of his career while "Hurt Locker" standout Jeremy Renner threatens to steal the spotlight with another gutsy portrayal. But the film's overall success -- not unlike a heist itself -- is all about solid execution. Affleck deserves applause for his directorial vision.

6. The Ghost Writer

Kindling memories of his heartbreaking masterpiece "Chinatown," director Roman Polanski empowers his "Ghost Writer" with the perfect balance of suspenseful atmosphere and intelligent substance. "Writer" is the sort of thoughtful mystery Alfred Hitchcock would have sunk his teeth into. An admirable script and cast (which includes Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan and Tom Wilkinson) stoke the dramatic fire while the film's tension steamrolls into a powerful climax.

5. The Fighter

Strong acting performances from Mark Wahlberg, Amy Adams, Melissa Leo and especially Christian Bale lend dramatic gravitas to this uplifting true story. Bale's wired and wide-eyed portrayal of crack-addicted former pugilist Dicky Eklund is mesmerizing. "The Fighter" is more than just an "underdog boxer beats the odds" tale -- it's about family bonds, independence, cooperation and overcoming adversity.

4. The Social Network

There's a lot to "Like" about "The Social Network." The riveting film about Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg defines a generation (a la "Easy Rider" and "The Breakfast Club"). Director David Fincher ("Zodiac," "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button") helms with a deft touch, Aaron Sorkin's screenplay is razor-sharp and the acting is excellent across the board. The well-paced drama is also sprinkled with a healthy helping of humor and suspense.

3. Inception

Director Christopher Nolan's ("The Dark Knight") visually stunning and exceptionally cast "Inception" is a cinematic marvel -- a rare film inspired by imagination rather than potential box-office return. Although the big-budget flick features persistent and impressive visual effects, it is also thought provoking and emotionally poignant. In fact, "Inception" is almost hypnotic -- a mind-bending experience laced with palpable tension and fueled with drama. Sweet dreams.

2. Toy Story 3

The toys are back in town and they're better than ever. This third installment in Pixar's uber-popular "Toy Story" franchise is witty, heartfelt and thoroughly entertaining. Phenomenal animation, outstanding vocal talent (from the likes of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Ned Beatty and others) and a sentimental climax help elevate "Toy Story 3" into the upper echelon of the Disney library. A G-rated film that appeals to both adults and children alike is a rare breed and deserves to be celebrated.

1. The King's Speech

Historical insight, phenomenal acting, top-notch production values: "The King's Speech" is a royal example of what good filmmaking is all about. Colin Firth delivers the year's best leading performance as King George VI (although James Franco of "127 Hours" and Natalie Portman of "Black Swan" are in the argument) and Geoffrey Rush is exceptional as quirky speech therapist Lionel Logue. Costuming, set design and (especially) sound are tremendous and aptly highlight the period and the king's paralyzing stammer. "Speech" has capably voiced its case to be crowned Best Picture come Oscar time.

Tyler Hanley's pans

Date Night

The comedy-gold combo of Steve Carell and Tina Fey looks more like cubic zirconia thanks to a bland screenplay, absurd plot and poor execution. A memorable scene featuring James Franco and Mila Kunis as a low-life couple is one of the few bright spots.

The Expendables

This macho vanity project features a way-past-his-prime Sylvester Stallone and a boneheaded script that harkens back to the days when bad action movies were hip. Jason Statham and a cornucopia of familiar manly men help make the film somewhat entertaining, albeit in a gimmicky, sugar-rush-headache sort of way.

Jonah Hex

From John Malkovich's apathetic performance to a nauseating glut of eye candy and ear-rattling explosions, "Hex" is full of bad mojo.

Repo Men

Jude Law and Forest Whitaker make an intriguing tandem, but the majority of the film is a bloody, unrealistic mess that snowballs toward a rotten ending.

Valentine's Day

Director Garry Marshall packs this schmaltzy holiday offering like a clown car, using a bundle of actors known more for their physical appearance than thespian prowess (Ashton Kutcher, Jessica Alba and Jennifer Garner, to name a few). The result is enough to make your teeth ache.

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Dave
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Jan 10, 2011 at 10:55 am

Robin Hood? Really? Were your drunk and/or high when you saw this, and that's the reason you liked it? One of the worst of the year.


Like this comment
Posted by Tyler Hanley
digital editor of Palo Alto Online
on Jan 10, 2011 at 12:11 pm

Tyler Hanley is a registered user.

Dave:

That film split viewers quite a bit this year. I saw more than a hundred films in 2010 (none while "drunk or high," thank you very much), and in my opinion "Robin Hood" was one of the year's best. Again, a review is inherently opinion, and your opinion of what constitutes "one of the worst of the year" obviously differs from mine. Here is what some national critics said about the film:

"Instead of the usual romantic adventure, Scott and screenwriter Brian Helgeland offer a gritty drama, using the Robin Hood story to depict the birth pangs of liberty. They ground the film in the details of medieval life." -- Mick LaSalle, SF Chronicle

"Robin Hood is head and shoulders above the sort of lightheaded epics Hollywood typically offers during the summer season." -- Lou Lumenick, New York Post

"What this Robin Hood lacks in fun it makes up for in epic sweep." -- Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

"Robin Hood is a high-tech and well made violent action picture using the name of Robin Hood for no better reason than that it's an established brand not protected by copyright." -- Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

"It doesn't breathe new life into a genre as did Gladiator, Scott's first pairing with Russell Crowe, but it's a brawny reimagining of a beloved old myth, a period popcorn movie turned out with professionalism and gusto." -- Ty Burr, Boston Globe


Dave: Please feel free to use this space to tell Town Square readers what you consider to be the top 10 films of 2010. We know what your worst is -- what are your best?


Like this comment
Posted by Agree with Tyler
a resident of Meadow Park
on Jan 11, 2011 at 5:50 am

Tyler, I was surprised to see Robin Hood as one of your top, along with Toy Story 3. I agree with you. Having movies such as these, which deliver a GOOD story line without vulgarity and gore, in a more 'old fashioned' tradition of good acting and good writing ( yes, cartoons can 'act') is heartening.

I tend to stay away from most movies now, frankly, because of the strong tendency to "push the envelope" in both gore, violence and language in place of a finely tuned written piece, taut direction and good acting a la the Hepburn ( Katherine) movies, but these 2 win top 10 for me also.


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 11, 2011 at 8:18 am

I do agree that Robin Hood was a good film. Unfortunately it was called Robin Hood, but I see very little that followed the Robin Hood legend. Saying this, it was a wonderful prequel for a real Robin Hood film. I would love to see the sequel where Robin Hood continues his outlaw life which started at the end of this movie. Perhaps a few Oscar nominations and good reviews will make this happen.


Like this comment
Posted by bert klein
a resident of another community
on Feb 13, 2011 at 8:07 pm

Hi Tyler,Your list is right on the money!
We just released a feature documentary that is being distributed on dvd by Indiepixfilms on the life of David Klein-the forgotten founder of Jelly Belly jelly beans...Its an amazing true story that has to be seen to be believed...It is the Social Network with candy...we were just written up in USA Today...we'd love for you to review the film...This film really is truly inspirational for anyone who has had major ups and downs in life. It is directed by Costa Botes(Forgotten Silver).
Web Link communities/popcandy/post/ 2011/02/candyman-spills-the- beans-on-an-inventors-life/1
Candyman the David Klein Story is directed by Costa Botes(Forgotten Silver) and exec produced by Eddie Schmidt(This film is not yet rated)

website and trailer is at www.candymanfilm.com


Bert Klein


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