Last year, Paranormal Activity had audiences all across the nation screaming in terror. Having always been a sucker for the horror genre, I believed the hype and committed to an hour and a half of laughable scenes that made me roll my eyes at the current state of our society. (They obviously have a very thin skin, those poor saps.) Ever since, my trust in public opinion and the five-star rating system has wavered tremendously.
Now, as my filmmaker boyfriend builds me into a burgeoning movie buff, I have come to see the things that constitute true cinema, as opposed to those that only qualify as spectacle. And as 2010 comes to an end, my opinions decided to hop on the countdown list bandwagon. The films listed below, though all enjoyable in their own right, garnered an abundant amount of praise. Such intense over adulation can only lead to inevitable disappointment, hence why I’ve come to consider these blockbusters to be a tad overrated, for everything that’s overhyped creates the potential for letdown.
**Spoiler Alert: The following blurbs may contain information regarding key plot points. If you haven’t seen a given film, skip that one and go on to the next!**
5. Inception – With amazing effects and shifting architecture, Inception’s greatest optical illusion may still be Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s striking resemblance to the late Heath Ledger. Upon second viewing (or mere contemplation), viewers will begin to notice numerous plot holes that cannot be filled. However, the fast-paced progression and confusing nature forces the audience to ignore the things they cannot readily answer, pushing forward so they do not lose their place. And though the film proves to be entertaining and thought provoking, I simply hope this speedy style of storytelling doesn’t become Hollywood’s new way of glossing over less than perfect writing. However, leaving the ending entirely ambiguous was the only way to proceed, for a concrete finale could have very well killed the magic of the film overall.
4. Black Swan – Once again, we find ourselves faced with incomprehensible confusion, culminating in what must be Natalie Portman’s most demanding, provocative role of her career thus far. However, her Oscar-worthy performance still cannot overshadow the overly sexual, “in your face” atmosphere that pervaded the entire film.
Black Swan depends on the visceral imagery and perplexing plot line to distract audience members from the fact that one cannot and will not ever figure out which moments were real and which took place solely in Nina’s (Portman) mind. The only scary thing about this film (other than Portman’s toes) is how moviegoers everywhere are afraid to speak their mind. I have yet to find one person who adamantly hates this film, finding only those who claim this movie has “blown their mind” and that “you must see it for yourself.” Unfortunately, Black Swan has blown most minds to bits, casting dissenting opinion to the shadows for fear of looking dumb due to confusion.
3. Despicable Me – Everyone keeps boasting about the endearing super villains, adorable children and silly aliens, claiming this to be one of the greatest children’s movies of all time. Not just the year – all time. Unfortunately, Steve Carell’s voice infuses his stale comedic style into an already bland atmosphere that makes this computer-animated film less appealing than most. Why the exhausted concept of a reformed bad guy has won the hearts of so many still baffles me, especially when there was no shortage of animated pictures this year. (Insert unyielding praise for How to Train Your Dragon here.)
2. Toy Story 3 – While families flocked to theaters across the country (with children who weren’t even alive for the first two installments), we 20-somethings headed to the movies floating on a cloud of nostalgia. However, I grew wary of this film’s actual intent when Andy’s mom insisted on wiping his room clean and erasing him from the house when he was only going away to college. (He’s got to come home for break eventually, and if he’s like those of us who grew up along with him, he may just be moving back in after graduation, too.) Yet people have spent the last six months praising a film that rubs our faces in how much it stinks to be an adult. What’s next, Pixar – Up 2: Carl Kicks the Bucket?
1. Shutter Island – Leonardo DiCaprio stars as a man haunted by the memory of his dead wife in this stunning, visual thriller. Wait, that sounds familiar… Thankfully, DiCaprio makes a delightful deranged widower. Unfortunately, the wonderful imagery cannot quite cover up the ridiculously predictable plot. Having heard the end brought about a “shocking twist,” my mom, sister and I made the trek to the theater in search of a good ol’ surprise (and Mark Ruffalo). Unfortunately, it seems that the majority of moviegoers have never seen a movie, nor had a thought of their own, in their entire lives, for anyone could have seen that DiCaprio was the very psychiatric patient they were searching for within the first 20 minutes.