2010 -> AUDIO -> VIDEO -> DAVE
I'm going to split my list of top ten video entertainments for 2010 between television and movies. I'm only including stuff I've seen, which is why films like True Grit (which I understand is great) aren't showing up.
Here is a list of my favorite television shows from 2010 :
#1 Raising Hope.
As perfect as a television show gets. Flawless cast. Priceless writing. Endlessly entertaining. Hysterically funny. Nothing I could say would do the show justice... just tune in and watch it.
#2 The Human Target.
To be honest, I don't quite have the words to describe how much I love this show. Loosely based on a comic book of the same name, The Human Target is the story of Christopher Chance, an ex-assassin who now works as a bodyguard for hire. His dark and mysterious past is always coming back to haunt him, but with help from his business parter (an ex-cop named Winston played by Chi McBride) and fellow rogue assassin (Guerrero played by Jackie Earle Haley) he tries to make up for past wrongs. Part of what makes the show so great is that it has a low bullshit factor. Bad guys die when the shit goes down. This is a welcome change from the unrealistic approach taken by other shows in this genre. Two new characters were added this season, which is a little annoying since it messes up the dynamic of the show, but it's not a deal-breaker for me.
It's Murder She Wrote for the 20th century! Smart, clever, and funny, Castle stars Nathan Fillion as famous mystery writer Rick Castle who gets inspiration for his novels by helping out the police, led by the brutally hot Kate Beckett (played by Stana Katic). Hilarity and murder ensues.
#4 The Walking Dead.
Somewhat based on the comic book of the same name, this show is about a small group of people trying to survive a zombie apocalypse of unknown origin. It's totally brutal and kicks copious amounts of ass.
#5 Tower Prep.
I started out as a big fan of Lost but eventually grew tired of the show meandering without purpose because the writers didn't know what the fuck they were doing. Enter Tower Prep. Billed as a school for kids with special abilities, students are recruited for some mysterious purpose with no memory of how they arrived. With no escape possible, a small group of students make it their mission to figure out the secrets of this mysterious place and find a way back home. Unlike Lost, the writers behind Tower Prep actually seem to have a plan for what's happening. Don't let the fact that it airs on Cartoon Network and stars a bunch of kids fool you, this is a great show.
ALSO GOOD IN 2010: The Big C (smart, smart, smart television), 30 Rock (Consistently funny. Thank you Tina Fey), Community (Defining excellence in television comedy), Grey's Anatomy (Still managing to surprise me), Modern Family (Isn't running out of steam yet!), Fringe (I initially didn't care for this show, but am really digging it now), Breaking Bad (Um. Wow), Mad Men (Declining, but I can't help watching it), Cougar Town, The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, Burn Notice, White Collar, Psych, Project Runway, Graham Norton, Top Chef, On the Road with Austin & Santino, Rules of Engagement, Hot in Cleveland (BETTY WHITE!!), Doctor Who, Hawaii Five-0.
DISAPPOINTING IN 2010: Outsourced (Holy crap. Take a movie a really liked, strip it of everything that made it great, and you get this pile of FAIL!), The Event (Boring, plodding, meandering, bad television).
COMPLETE SHIT IN 2010: Survivor (Look, the formula for this show is dead-simple... find interesting people, make them play games. The end. Stop fucking up the show by having Jeff Probst inject himself into the drama at Tribal Council. Stop influencing the natural progression of things with producer-meddling bullshit. Stop picking boring-ass people to be on the show).
Here is a list of my favorite movies from 2010 (with ALL the films I remember seeing this year):
#1 Iron Man 2.
Look, I know that this was a massive drop from the sheer awesomeness of John Favreau's original Iron Man. I know it didn't crack the vast majority of "best of" lists this year. I know a lot of comic fans criticized the movie. I know. I know. I know. So how DARE I have it as my #1? Simple. I just don't care what anybody else thinks. I loved this film. Robert Downey Jr. embodies the role of Tony Stark so brilliantly that he's easily my favorite movie version of a super-hero ever... even surpassing Batman, my favorite comic book character. Add in yet another great performance by Sam Rockwell, plus Scarlett Johansson in her skin-tight Black Widow costume, plus an over-the-top Mickey Roarke as the villain Whiplash, and you've got a movie I am compelled to enjoy. I've watched Iron Man 2 on Blu-Ray no less than a half-dozen times, and will undoubtedly watch it dozens more.
#2 Toy Story 3.
It always amazes me how Pixar manages to pack such heartfelt emotion into a computer-generated cartoon, but they never fail to deliver. Near-perfect, Toy Story 3 is an amazing finale to two of the best films ever made. I love how Lasseter & Co. are not afraid to keep moving things forward as opposed to constantly re-treading the same stories over and over again. And, when you consider the fact that all the human characters are computer generated and could stay the same age forever, it's even more remarkable. This sequel sequel has the toys treading waaayyy outside their comfort zone and finding the value of friendship in even the worst of circumstances. Touching and funny, it makes me hope there's more Toy Stories to come.
Yet another comic book adaptation, and one that still surprises me it was ever made at all. Kick-Ass is the story of an ordinary teenage kid who decides to become a real-life super-hero. Things quickly get out of hand when he gets tangled up with Big-Daddy and Hit-Girl's mission to take down crime kingpin Frank D'Amico. Things also get more interesting. As a hyper-violent, foul-mouthed, and deadly "hero" of entirely another kind, Hit-Girl ends up stealing the movie. Assuming you can stomach all the bloodshed, it's bloody good fun.
In many ways, I'm not 100% convinced that I even liked this film, which is just part of the reason it's so darn compelling. Another reason would be that the story wasn't dumbed down for the typical movie-going audience. There was real complexity and ambiguity that you just don't find in the dreck that usually comes out of Hollywood. Even putting aside the mind-bending special effects, Inception has a lot going for it.
#5 The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.
This is one of those rare instances where I am very glad I saw the movie before I read the book... for one reason only: Noomi Rapace's absolutely brilliant portrayal of troubled punk-rock hacker Lisbeth Salander. Being able to picture her as I read the novel made it that much better. Easily one of the best movie characters ever, Lisbeth gets embroiled in an investigative reporter's quest to unwrap a mysterious murder in the powerful Vanger family. Since the film is Swedish, of course there's an American remake underway, though I can't for the life of me understand why. Maybe too many Americans are just too damn stupid to have to deal with subtitles? In any event, I genuinely pity whatever actress they get to fill Noomi's shoes on this one. There's just no way they can measure up. Dark, disturbing, violent, and wholly wonderful, I can't wait to see the two sequels (which, like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo were released in 2009 in the rest of the world, but are flowing like molasses here in the USA).
ALSO GOOD IN 2010: The Social Network (A much better film than the subject would imply, I loved it), The Illusionist (Wonderful animated feature from France that's a bit depressing but ultimately rewarding), Salt (Angelina Jolie brings it in this taught action-thriller), The Kids Are All Right (A much-deserved slap in the face to assholes everywhere who think their definition of "family" is the only one that matters), Exit Through The Gift Shop (surprisingly smart and entertaining), MacGruber (Go ahead, mock me, but this film was funny as hell), Red (Actually improved a bit over the comic book it was based upon. Not great movie fare, but highly entertaining), Despicable Me (Clever, fun, animated delight that ISN'T from Pixar... who'd a thunk it?), Last Train Home (Brilliant film from China that's guaranteed to move you), TRON: Legacy (As a fan of the original, I am compelled to enjoy this flawed sequel with lots of eye-popping visuals, but little character), Let Me In (Color me shocked. A fantastic remake of a fantastic Swedish vampire film that puts that Twilight shit to shame).
DISAPPOINTING IN 2010: Black Swan (My review is here), Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (It had such awesome potential but Michael Cera IS NOT SCOTT PILGRIM!), Alice in Wonderland (It has Tim Burton and some excellent production values... but didn't click with me for some reason. Maybe if I see it again but skip the 3D this time?), Jonah Hex (I have no fucking clue what in the hell they were thinking. While not a huge fan of the comic book it was based on, the source material is literary GENIUS compared to this bullshit, The Ghost Writer (I struggled not putting this film on my "GOOD" list but, despite some tense moments, I think it ultimately falls a bit flat).
COMPLETE SHIT IN 2010: The Last Airbender (What. The. Fuck. A joyful, fun, exciting, amazing cartoon had the very life sucked out of it to create this horrendous pile of shit. Shameful. Just shameful.), Skyline (Who greenlit this crap? HELLO, YOU NEED A STORY BEFORE YOU SHOOT THE MOVIE!).