Sitting in the Dark With Strangers 2010: Part Four

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film / sitting in the dark with strangers

At long(ish) last, the top 10 movies I saw in 2010! WARNING SPOILERS.

Hausu poster

10. Hausu (House) (saw at the Metro): This is probably the most obscure movie I saw this year, but I would recommend it to you instantly. If you’ve ever wondered why Japanese horror films like Tokyo Gore Police or The Machine Girl are so weird, I’d list off Hausu as potentially a cult classic/forerunner for that sort of genre. While it isn’t as, well, gory, as its successors, I found that Hausu had a similar approach to body horror to them, a sort of familiarity, I suppose, with dismemberment and the contorted human body. Add this to the fact that it’s completely meta and weird and kind of soap-opera-y and what you have is something definitely worth seeing.

Mother poster

9. Mother (saw at the Metro): Here’s another fantastic Asian import that takes a few genres and blends them into a creamy whole, this time combining domestic melodrama, crime and comedy. I have not seen The Host, director Joon-ho Bong’s take on the giant monster movie, but I would like to sometime in the future if it’s anywhere near as good as this old lady mystery.

Hot Tub Time Machine poster

8. Hot Tub Time Machine (saw for free from work): The farther I go up this list, the harder it is for me to think of justifications for why I liked movies, but this one might need a little bit. This was probably the funniest movie I saw all year; a year that, looking back, seemed to be all about drama, horror, action and movies about sad old men reliving their glory days (that would be The Expendables, if you’re keeping track). Why did I like this one better than, say Get Him to the Greek? Well, I felt this one was a lot less meandering and self-aware. I also really enjoyed the bit parts played by Chevy Chase and especially Crispin Glover. Plus it had at least one naked girl in it, which definitely bumps it up a notch.

Shutter Island imdb

7. Shutter Island (rented, but it still came out in 2010 so whatever): You know who had a good year? Leonardo DiCaprio. I was somewhat reticent to go see this one when it came out in theatres (which is stupid, I know, not least for the fact that I’ve really enjoyed every Scorsese movie I’ve ever seen), so I rented it from the Movie Studio. I think I was put off by the trailers, come to think of it, which to me marketed the film as having a very easy to solve mystery. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy mysteries, but they have to be pretty well put together for me to not just sit there and pick them apart (I’m also more of a fan of the Raymond Chandler school of mystery solving, i.e. just shaking people down for clues). This movie, however, was all about the ride, the ending was more of a foregone conclusion. It’s like watching Penn and Teller dissect a magic trick on stage, briefly letting you behind the veil; and instead of attempting to puzzle you narratively, letting you revel in the way the trick is put together.

Black Swan poster

6. Black Swan (paid to see): Do yourself a favor, go see this if you haven’t. Lots of other people online will expound upon how good this movie is, but I will say this: I felt like I learned more about ballet, and more than that, I really cared about it. Also, if that didn’t convince you, this is also the scariest movie of the entire year. Believe it.

True Grit poster

5. True Grit (paid to see): A better display of badassery you will not get in this decade. And, what a striking and cool-looking poster as well, although the best actor in the movie’s not on there. No, not the guy in the bear suit, it’s Hailee Steinfeld, but I’m sure she will have many years of headlining films to look forward to in her future. (I’m really running out of stuff to say on the really good movies here, aren’t I?)

4. The Social Network (saw for free from work): You all know this movie’s the tits, so let’s talk about security at pre-screenings instead. Usually, it’s not too bad, for example at MacGruber, I was afraid they were going to search E’s bag (and find the booze hidden within), but we got there a little late and no one cared. It was great, the lack of security, I mean. The movie itself was utter garbage. They also occasionally watch the crowd with an infrared camcorder to see if anyone is trying to make a movie of their own during the screening. Again, this too happened at MacGruber, so I was a little paranoid about pouring schnapps into my comically large movie cup, but again they didn’t care because come on. MacGruber. Anyway, there is a point to this story, and it concerns the screening of The Social Network. At this screening, instead of just telling us to turn our phones off, they made us check anything electronic at the door, wrapping phones and cameras up in brown paper bags. It was kind of ridiculous, but possibly prudent in regards to this tech-heavy film. I think maybe the studio was really worried about social networks picking up negative early reviews on the “facebook movie.” Thus ends today’s “First World Problems” segment.

Toy Story 3 imdb

3. Toy Story 3: (saw twice, in two countries, paid each time): If Pixar is ever to win a Best Picture, it’ll probably be for this one, even though I feel that the award would be more for Wall-E. The same thing happened with Scorsese’s The Departed winning when it really should have been The Aviator. There’s scenes in this film that still haunt me, and for your information, yeah, I cried a little, fuck you. The part in the incinerator, where the toys accept their fate, that shit would be unthinkably dark in a live-action film, much less something ostensibly designed for children. I’m reading Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men right now (for the Resolution Project), and while I know the Southern Demagogue Willie Stark in the novel is supposed to evoke Huey “The Kingfish” Long, in my mind at least, he speaks in the sweet dulcet tones of Ned Beatty, aka Lotso Huggin’ Bear. Not too sure what that says about me, but whatever. Toy Story 3 is one of the most sophisticated entertainments (and biggest heartbreakers) you could inflict on your friends and family in 2010.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World poster

2. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (saw for free, then paid to see again): I was really torn between this film and the number one on this list. I eventually stuck it at number 2 due to the fact that I knew this movie was going to be great, whereas the number one was more of a crapshoot. If you were one of the (obviously) many who chose to skip this one because of some sort of “anti-hipster” d-bag bias, you definitely missed out, and will probably tell your kids you saw it on opening night once you realize your mistake. Actually, I do have a theory about this, I think this is definitely a young people’s movie and it’s actually that what scared people away. The depth of allusion and metaphor in Scott Pilgrim would definitely prove challenging if you didn’t have the requisite background at Bruise-Thumb Academy, I suppose.

Inception poster

1. Inception (paid to see twice, in two different countries): In retrospect, this one had to be number one. It was, as Film-Crit Hulk says, a real game-changer.

And that’s all for this year, everyone! I’ll be back soon with some data I’ve accrued from my lists over the years, though, and we’ll have a Resolution Project post done soon and also perhaps some D&D stuff too. Seeya!

The Author

Matt Bowes is a self-proclaimed cultural commentator/arbiter of good taste from Edmonton, Alberta. He enjoys movies and books, and writes about them sometimes at

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