From time to time, the Before The Cyborgs staff comes together to answer questions relating to the current events of that particular week. This week with the decade approaching its end we ask: What’s Your Favorite Movie from the year 2010?
The Social Network taught me a valuable lesson: never doubt David Fincher. At the expense of historical accuracy (at least, according to Mark Zuckerberg himself), Fincher and Aaron Sorkin turn “the Facebook movie” into social media Shakespeare: a tragic story of rise and fall, and power vs. friendship. The decision to focus less on the exact beats that turned Facebook into a worldwide powerhouse gives way to a character study of Zuckerberg, a man whose jealousy and yearning for power exiles him from his only friend, and Eduardo Saverin, unsung co-founder of Facebook and aforementioned friend, steadfast to Zuckerberg’s vision until he’s quietly deceived.
Jesse Eisenberg leads the way as Zuckerberg with a performance that he has yet to surpass, alongside an ensemble of supporting actors whose careers the film ignited (Andrew Garfield, Rooney Mara, Armie Hammer). Fincher himself offers what may be his strongest work behind the camera: the dark and snowy Harvard campus creates an omnipresent melancholy, and the brilliant decision to hire Nine Inch Nails frontmen Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross to provide a haunting electronic score is a defining moment in modern cinematic music. Many have since clamored for a follow-up, as Zuckerberg and Facebook have become embroiled in controversy once more, but it almost certainly would lack the same powerful intimacy of The Social Network, and ruin the closure of Zuckerberg’s arc: achieving his goal, but at what cost? You just can’t top perfection.
After revolutionizing blockbuster filmmaking for a new generation with The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan solidified himself as an intellectual blockbuster auteur with one of the most imaginative, high-concept summer tentpole spectacles in Inception. Tackling the premise of entering the mind through dreams, accessing memories, and implanting ideas into a subject delivers a psychological mind game through the guise of a high-octane action thriller that drastically increases the tension and urgency with every additional layer that gets introduced. Nolan manages to combine the large-scale thrills of TheDark Knight trilogy with the twist-filled setup of Memento, which makes Inception the culmination of all of Nolan’s greatest strengths as a director.
Introducing unique visual setpieces such as a city folding in on itself and a fist fight in a rotating hallway, which deliver genuine awe and amazement at the sheer magnitude of this world’s capabilities, the visual creativity on display is a true reminder of what every summer action blockbuster should aspire to evoke. Throughout all of the larger than life visual spectacle and high-concept sci-fi scenarios, at the heart of Inception is an honest and human story of learning to accept and reconcile with departed loved ones, not to let the memories of them continue to haunt you as you take those first steps of moving on. This all leads to one of the most hotly debated final shots in recent film history, ensuring that the legacy of Inception is represented by its thought-provoking narrative that left long lasting impressions on moviegoers and solidified Christopher Nolan as a brilliant mastermind of Hollywood.
In a year that features the likes of The Social Network, Inception, Black Swan, True Grit, and Shutter Island (a collection of films made by the internet’s most beloved directors) I get how selecting Somewhere feels like an odd choice. Unfairly held against her previous masterpiece Lost in Translation because they tackle similar themes of existential ennui, it is more a reflection of the earlier film’s quality than a lack of quality on the part of Somewhere. Moving from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo to the secluded vista of the Chateau Marmont fictional Hollywood star Johnny Marco (played by Stephen Dorff) lives an empty life despite seemingly having it all. Here Coppola does retrace her previous work almost as if Marco is a younger version of Bill Murray’s Bob Harris in Lost in Translation but the execution of these same steps is what separates a Coppola film from that some similar indie mellow dramas on disillusioned people.
Coppola has an uncanny knack for drawing intrigue from little to no discernible plot – a skill that lends itself to her themes. Somewhere ramps up the minimalistic effect capturing a lifestyle that while certainly, upper class pales in comparison to the imposing backdrop of a foreign city or the glamour of French Royalty seen in her previous efforts. Instead, the Chateau Marmont has a Hotel California vibe (“You can check out any time you like, But you can never leave!“) trapping the physical and mental entities inside to deal with their own demons. Coppola frames this ongoing battle like a fly on the wall – long atmospheric takes accented by a killer soundtrack – the lonely star’s only reprieve? His daughter who attempts to break through her father’s loneliness and form a connection. Audiences may be alienated by the notion that Somewhere expects them to have empathy for this man who is so privileged but that’s what makes it a compelling character study because these feelings of existential dread are universal.
As the stirring exceptionalism of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony fills our ears, a nervous, yet determined King George VI delivers his wartime address to the citizens of the United Kingdom in 1939; aided by his diction coach Lionel Logue, the king grows to overcome his stammer and help lead the British people in a spirit of defiance that would define them. At once deeply emotional and moving, this final scene of Oscar Best Picture winner The King’s Speech, is like the film itself a masterstroke of human storytelling.
Although it profiles a reluctant monarch, his debilitating speech disorder, an eccentric speech therapist, and the watchful eyes of an entire nation, the movie uses its specific characters and scenarios to create an inspiring universal tale of friendship, vulnerability, and courage in the face of daunting demands. And yet even with its universality, The King’s Speech succeeds as an informative glimpse into perhaps a lesser-known chapter of British royal history. While certainly guilty of predictability at times, this is without a doubt a handsomely made movie, brimming with rousing emotion and lighthearted comedy. Colin Firth is splendid in a role that would win him Best Actor, while Geoffrey Rush’s comedic and inspired turn as Lionel Logue earned him a nomination for Supporting Actor. Together the initially tense relation between king and therapist would become one of the great friendships of the 20th century, and Firth’s and Rush’s on-screen chemistry moves the film’s narrative along in entertaining fashion. Coupled with a wonderful eye to historical detail, The King’s Speech is as Roger Ebert says “ a superior historical drama and a powerful personal one”. With this, it surely stands as one of the best of the decade.