Greatest Films of the 2010s
Greatest Films of the 2010s

Greatest Films of the 2010s
2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019


Academy Awards for 2010 Films
Title Screen Film Genre(s), Title, Year, (Country), Length, Director, Description

The American (2010, US/UK), 105 minutes, D: Anton Corbijn
British author Martin Booth's 1990 novel A Very Private Gentleman provided the basis for this predictable, slow-moving yet suspenseful drama and crime-thriller. The central character was a lone American assassin for mercenary hire - with an interest in butterflies (serving as a metaphor). In the opening scene, cold-hearted contract killer Jack (George Clooney) was under an ambush-attack in the idyllic surroundings of Dalama, Sweden by sniper fire - his cover blown - and he was forced to kill the armed men hunting him and also his own blonde lover Ingrid (Irina Björklund). Weary of his life of murdering people, he retreated to Castel del Monte, a small town located in the mountains of Central/Southern Italy, where he took the name Edward and posed as a photographer. He was warned by his handler Pavel (Johan Leysen) - "No friends!" As a firearm craftsman, he was hired to assemble a custom-made, compact, rapid-fire rifle (with silencer) for another lethal assassin named Mathilde (Thekla Reuten), a mysterious Belgian woman, and he expected it to be his last job. At the same time, he befriended a prostitute named Clara (Violante Placido) - tempting fate, by entering into a loving, romantic relationship in the open with her. However, he realized that he was still under the threat of being hunted down when he was forced to kill another assassin (Samuli Vauramo) from Sweden. He also reached out to the local elderly priest Father Benedetto (Paolo Bonacelli), who urged Jack/Edward to seek redemption and absolution for his sins by confession. When Jack/Edward had completed the gun-assembly and was to deliver it, the suspicious Mathilde received orders from Pavel to kill him. Sensing that she would attempt to shoot him, he successfully sabotaged the rifle so it misfired and exploded back into her face when she aimed the rifle at him from a rooftop. Jack gave Mathilde's payment envelope with cash to Clara and instructed her to meet up with him later. Pavel exchanged gunfire with Jack and was killed. However, Jack also realized once he reached a river rendezvous point with Clara that he had been lethally shot in the abdomen, and he collapsed over the steering wheel and died, as a white butterfly took flight.

Black Swan (2010), 103 minutes, D: Darren Aronofsky
In Darren Aronofsky's great psychological thriller and show-biz drama (with some supernatural elements), Natalie Portman won the Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of damaged, fragile, severely repressed and sadomasochistic 28 year-old ballerina dancer Nina Sayers. The perfectionist Nina was competing for the role of the Swan Queen in an upcoming NYC Ballet performance at Lincoln Center of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake. The former prima ballerina and director's lover, Beth Macintyre (Winona Ryder), was forced out and to be replaced with someone younger, after auditions. The troubled and joyless, but flawless Nina had secured the lead role of the virginal and pure White Swan (Odette), but was uncertain that she could also adequately perform in the dual role as the seductive, visceral and dark Black Swan (Odile). Her manipulative and sleazy director/choreographer Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) selected her for the role, and tormented her with high expectations. Slowly, she underwent a mental breakdown as she began hallucinating, suffering at the hands of her smothering, infantilizing, overbearing and resentful stage mother Erica (Barbara Hershey), an ex-ballerina herself who resented giving up her career for her daughter. They lived together in a claustrophobic apartment they shared on the Upper West Side. She found a free-spirited, sexually-confident rival in tattooed, sexy SF dancer Lily (Mila Kunis), her understudy, but felt semi-threatened. There were many signs that the unhinged and agonized dancer didn't know the difference between reality and her imagined world. In her climactic delusional performance as the Black Swan (which she morphed into), she took masochistic self-destruction to the limit, stabbing herself in the abdomen with a mirror shard (although she imagined herself murdering Lily in a blood-soaked gory scene in her dressing room), and dying in the swan song finale as the White Swan - falling backwards onto a mattress at the rear of the stage. She admitted that she had ultimately found freedom when other cast members and Thomas surrounded her and congratulated her ("My little princess. I always knew you had it in you") - although they noticed the growing blood stain on her white costume. She had attained or fulfilled her tormenting goal of bloodying her innocence, of being perfect, as she affirmed in the film's final line: "I felt it. Perfect... It was perfect." The audience chanted her name as the bright lights of the stage obliterated her view - she appeared to die.

Blue Valentine (2010), 112 minutes, D: Derek Cianfrance
The major subject of writer/director Derek Cianfrance's downbeat, indie romantic drama was a dysfunctional working-class marriage. The story told about a married couple in rural eastern Pennsylvania with a 5-year-old daughter Frances "Frankie" (Faith Wladyka), a daddy's girl (who was actually fathered by her mother's past high-school boyfriend Bobby Ontario (Mike Vogel), during rough sex and a broken condom). In a series of cross-cutting, non-linear scenes set over a six year period (covering both the couple's courtship and later dissolution of marriage), the emotionally-authentic film told of the highs and lows in the troubled, whirlwind relationship and disintegrating marriage between the two struggling spouses: Cindy Heller (Michelle Williams), a medical assistant working in a clinic, and high-school drop-out Dean Pereira (Ryan Gosling), a charming, semi-alcoholic, blue-collar worker/slacker who was part-time employed as a house painter. Their initial courtship was very loving, although stresses and strains began to develop in their marriage, including the issue of Frankie's conception, Dean's lack of ambition and frequent drinking, their caring for elderly relative Jerry (John Doman), and the death of their family dog Megan (blamed on Cindy's negligence) To reconcile with a romantic getaway, they visited the blue-lit "Future Room" (with a rotating bed) in a couples-oriented themed pleasure hotel in the Poconos, but the night turned out to be a disaster. After showering naked together, she rejected Dean's efforts to make love, role-play rape, and his request to make a baby. The next morning at Cindy's place of work (where she had just learned of her boss Dr. Feinberg's (Ben Shenkman) salacious interest in her in exchange for a job advancement), Dean barged in. The destructive encounter began with a heated argument with Cindy that led to Dean's physical assault on Dr. Feinberg, and Cindy's firing from her job. Plans were immediately made for a divorce and a final split between the two, although the fate of their marriage was left ambiguous.

Despicable Me (2010), 95 minutes, D: Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud
This was the first of a long-running series of popular, computer-animated comedy films. It would be followed by two sequels: Despicable Me 2 (2013) and Despicable Me 3 (2017) and a spin-off prequel Minions: The Rise of Gru (2021). The main character of all of the installments was evil super-villain Felonious Gru (voice of Steve Carell), living in a blackened house-hideout with his elderly, weapons-specialist/assistant Dr. Nefario (voice of Russell Brand) and his army of Minions. They had already notoriously stolen the Times Square JumboTron and the Statue of Liberty. He was jealously competing with his younger rival - supervillain Vector/Victor (voice of Jason Segel), an arrogant mastermind who had upped the ante by taking the Egyptian Great Pyramid of Giza. To outperform and outsmart Vector in his next theft, the heist of the Moon, Gru requested that Mr. Perkins (voice of Will Arnett), the director of the Bank of Evil, finance his new and expensive heist, but Gru was first required to steal a powerful shrink ray gun. (It was soon revealed that Perkins was Vector's or Victor's father, and he informed his son about Gru's successful possession of the shrink ray.) After the cunning Vector snatched back the shrink ray, the foiled Gru plotted to gain access to Vector's fortress to reacquire the ray. He noticed three innocent girls from an orphanage: Margo (voice of Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (voice of Dana Gaier), and the youngest Agnes (voice of Elsie Fisher) who easily entered Vector's base. For his grand scheme to work, he decided to take the young girls under his adoptive care to be used as pawns. He took on a dentist's disguise and selfishly adopted them from orphanage head Miss Hattie (voice of Kristen Wiig). The newly-adopted threesome began to look upon him as their new father-figure, but he soon became very annoyed by their presence, until he found himself enjoying their company during a fun day at a theme park. He also commissioned Dr. Nefario to build robots disguised as cookies and instructed the girls to sell them to Vector, in order to steal the shrink ray. Although successful, Gru was still denied the bank loan funding, so he had to raise the money for his project on his own - with the aid of the three girls and the Minions. As the day of the Moon's heist approached, Gru was forced to make a choice - would he instead attend the girls' ballet recital scheduled on the same day? Although Gru heartlessly decided to carry out his plan (with the girls returned to the orphanage by Nefario), he was forced to give up his stolen Moon to Vector in order to rescue his kidnapped girls, with the help of the Minions. As a result, the Moon was launched back into orbit, and Vector became trapped there. Some time later, Gru began to melt under the adoring love of his three re-adopted girls - his new family of daughters.

The Fighter (2010), 115 minutes, D: David O. Russell
This sports-oriented biopic and family drama, about sibling rivalry and support both in and out of a boxing ring, was based on a true-life story. An HBO documentary film crew was following 40 year-old, ex-US boxer Dick "Dicky" Eklund, Jr. (Christian Bale) around his working-class, inner-city hometown of Lowell, MA in the early 1990s. He had become a local hero ("The Pride of Lowell") many years earlier in July of 1978, when he lasted 15 rounds in the ring as a welterweight against Sugar Ray Leonard. But currently, Dicky had become mostly incapacitated and enmeshed in various criminal activities as a crack addict, but he falsely believed that the documentary (later seen and titled: "Crack in America") was about his possible 'comeback' as a fighter. To keep the family's boxing legacy alive, he had been training his decade-younger half-brother "Irish" Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) for ten years as an up-and-coming, junior welterweight boxer. Unfortunately, the brawling pugilist was regarded as an intermediary "stepping-stone" to be beaten by other more aspiring boxers on their way to the top. Micky was being managed by his domineering, self-interested bottle-blonde mother Alice Eklund-Ward (Melissa Leo), a controlling matriarch who had also managed her favored son Dicky years earlier. Although Micky had debuted with an impressive career in the 80s, he suffered a very recent serious defeat when he had been unwisely pressured by his family's handlers to participate in an unfairly-matched bout. He was faced with a life-changing decision - should he leave his family behind - causing angry retaliation - and train instead with a more competent manager and other serious professionals in Las Vegas, NV? With determination, he decided to escape the undermining effects of both his self-interested mother and unreliable older brother. He received stalwart support from his new girlfriend (and future wife) - college athlete-dropout and bartender Charlene Fleming (Amy Adams), as well as from his father George Ward (Jack McGee). With better training, hard work, and a new business-savvy manager Sal Lanano (Frank Renzulli), Micky was able to make a true ascendancy and comeback. Before the climactic conclusion, Dicky - who was newly-released from prison, reconciled with Charlene and urged the two of them in the fractured family to work together for Micky's future success. In the biggest fight of Micky's career after being trained again by Dicky, he won the WBU Light Welterweight title as a redeemed underdog by defeating the current British light-welterweight champion Shea Neary (Anthony Molinari) in an 8-round slugfest in the year 2000 in London.

The Ghost Writer (2010, UK/Germ./Fr.), 128 minutes, D: Roman Polanski
This taut and increasingly-claustrophobic political thriller from director Roman Polanski was about paranoia and power struggles. In the opening, a new unnamed ghostwriter or "The Ghost" (Ewan McGregor) was hired to help revise the memoirs of retired, semi-disgraced British PM Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan) who had been forced into foreign exile. His previous autobiographer had mysteriously and suspiciously died in an alleged drowning accident or suicide. The naive and apolitical Brit replacement writer arrived at the site for the writing - the publisher's secure, isolated, luxury modernist beach house on Martha's Vineyard off the coast of Massachusetts in the town of Old Haven where Lang was staying with his wife Ruth (Olivia Williams). The 'ghostwriter' was to be assisted by Amelia Bly (Kim Cattrall), also his mistress. Lang was a controversial political figure who was threatened with charges of war crimes (the "extraordinary rendition" of terror suspects) and faced possible extradition. During his research into Lang, the 'ghostwriter' uncovered a tangled web of secrets, conspiracies and lies uncovered by the previous dead writer. He learned how the deceased biographer had begun to discover the real truth about Lang and his wily wife (the power behind the throne). It was entirely possible that the 'ghostwriter's' predecessor was killed there because he had discovered a link between Lang and the CIA. Evidence revealed that suspicious and shady Harvard Law Professor Paul Emmett (Tom Wilkinson), a nefarious CIA operative in the Foreign Resources Division, had been Lang's "handler" for many years. In the mind-bending conclusion, Lang was unexpectedly shot dead at the local airport by an embittered peace protestor and his memoirs were published posthumously. During a book-release party in London, the final clues were pieced together - "Lang's wife Ruth was recruited as a CIA agent by Professor Paul Emmett of Harvard University." Ruth (a CIA operative also under Emmett's control) had nudged her husband into politics. In the film's ending, the 'ghostwriter' was run-down (off-screen) in the street - murdered like McAra, in order to silence him.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 (2010), 146 minutes, D: David Yates
This was the first of two parts (both films were an adaptation of J.K. Rowling's 2007 novel), comprising the 7th and 8th films that would conclude the entire Harry Potter series. In this dark sequel to the previous film, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009), evil Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) had returned to power with his Death Eaters, and had gained control of the Ministry of Magic. Deceased former Hogwarts Headmaster Professor Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) had been killed by Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) to attain the position of Headmaster and ally himself with the Death Eaters. Voldemort told bloodlusting ally Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter): "I must be the one to kill Harry Potter," but that he needed a new wand to do the deed. Before his death, Dumbledore had bestowed a mission on the student threesome of Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) ("The Chosen One"), Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) to search for the missing fragments of Voldemort's own soul and power, known as Horcruxes that had been extricated from his body and distributed. They needed to destroy the Horcruxes in order to render Voldemort mortal. After his death, Dumbledore had bequested to each of them an item to guide them - a tattered copy of a wizard's children's story (to Hermoine), an inventive Deluminator homing device (to Ron), and the Quidditch match's golden snitch (to Harry). They soon found themselves on the run from Death Eaters - in their quest to locate the first Horcrux: Slytherin's Locket. They successfully retrieved it from Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton) in the Ministry, but then needed to locate the Sword of Gryffindor to destroy it. Complications, threats and personal disruptions between the three hindered their mission, but they were able to destroy the Locket. They soon learned that a symbol in Hermione's children's book represented the Deathly Hallows - three powerful and magical objects that if brought together could make a wizard master of Death. The three objects included: the most powerful Elder (Tree) Wand (sought by Voldemort), the Resurrection Stone, and the Cloak of Invisibility. Unfortunately, they were taken prisoner by Snatchers and Malfoy's sister-in-law Bellatrix, and brought to Malfoy Manor. They were rescued by the heroic and selfless efforts of Dobby (Toby Jones) who died saving them, as the group retreated to Shell Cottage. The film ended with a cliffhanger - Voldemort's visit to Albus Dumbledore's White Tomb (located near Hogwarts) where he opened the coffin and stole the Elder Wand.

How to Train Your Dragon (2010), 98 minutes, D: Chris Sanders
This was the first installment of three action-fantasy films in DreamWorks' major computer-animated franchise that was semi-based upon children's books written and published in 2003 by British author Cressida Cowell. It was followed by How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014) and How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019). In the coming-of-age story set on a remote mythical Viking island in the village of Berk, clever 15 year-old Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III (voice of Jay Baruchel) was the son of the village's fearless leader-chieftain Stoick the Vast (voice of Gerard Butler), a widower. Hiccup was scrawny, underweight, and awkward, and considered a misfit because he was unworthy or unable to become a dragon slayer and gain the tribe's acceptance. The tribe was often invaded and attacked by fire-breathing dragons who seized the livestock and damaged property. On one occasion during a night-time raid, Hiccup used his bolas net cannon-launcher invention to snare his first dragon - a rare, mysterious Night Fury breed. The dragon was injured and brought down deep in the forest, where Hiccup found the fallen creature. He decided to secretly befriend the dragon, feed it, and name it "Toothless" (voice of Randy Thom). He rigged up a harness, saddle, and prosthetic wing to enable "Toothless" to become his flying mount. Meanwhile, Hiccup's father enrolled him in dragon-training school with other teenaged recruits to learn to fight dragons, including brash Snotlout Jorgenson (voice of Jonah Hill), quarreling twins Ruffnut Thorston (voice of T.J. Miller) and Tuffnut Thorston (voice of Kristen Wiig), knowledgeable but timid Fishlegs Ingerman (voice of Christopher Mintz-Plasse), and Astrid Hofferson (voice of America Ferrera) - Hiccup's future love interest. With "Toothless" as his close companion, Hiccup was able to transfer his vast knowledge about dragon behavior to the ones that were captive during his training, in order to calm and subdue them. His success in training class brought him both praise and suspicion. With Astrid, Hiccup learned that the dragons that raided the village were actually peace-loving and only fought to defend themselves. They had been coerced to attack the village in order to feed a giant dragon named the Red Death situated in a mountain nest. Hiccup's secret was revealed to his father, who disowned him and thought of Hiccup as a dragon-loving traitor. "Toothless" was taken captive and led back to the nest by Stoick and other Viking warriors, where the gargantuan Red Death counter-attacked. Together with his classmates in a flying corps atop the village's captive training dragons, now allied, Hiccup flew in to rescue the Vikings and to defeat the beastly dragon in battle. Hiccup lost his lower left leg in the conflict, but was reconciled with his father and was now admired by the rest of the village. Humans and dragons (regarded as pets) could now live in peace and harmony.

Inception (2010), 148 minutes, D: Christopher Nolan
In writer/director Christopher Nolan's mind-bending, non-linear, smart and very complex sci-fi heist thriller and fantasy film, Leonardo DiCaprio played the part of Dominick "Dom" Cobb, a skilled corporate espionage spy and professional thief who often performed psychic thefts (or mind-hacking extractions) of corporate secrets by invading people's dreams. However, he had become an international fugitive and had ruined his own personal life. He was tasked with one final, seemingly-impossible "inception" job - this time not to steal an idea ("an inception") but to plant one. A wealthy, aging Japanese corporate businessman named Mr. Saito (Ken Watanabe) hired Cobb to plant an idea into the subconscious mind of a rival energy corporation competitor, Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy), the son and heir of dying Maurice Fischer (Pete Postlethwaite) and his business empire. The idea would be that Robert Fischer - out of his own self-generated volition - would choose not to follow in his father's footsteps and would break up his corporate energy empire. If Dom succeeded in the task, he would be redeemed. His criminal record as a fugitive for the murder of his suicidal wife Mal (Marion Cotillard) would be erased - and his family life with his children would be restored. To accomplish the dangerous, complicated and daunting task, Dom assembled a team of experts, including manager/researcher Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), maze-building architect Ariadne (Ellen Page), identity forger Earnes (Tom Hardy) and pharmacologist Yusef (Dileep Rao). They were required to create three dreams-within-dreams (or dreamscapes) described as mazes. It was necessary to enter very deeply into Fischer's subconscious, possibly to a third dream level. At each stage, one member of the team who was creating the dream remained behind while the others fell asleep to travel to the next level. For Cobb's successful efforts at inception with Fischer, Saito made a phone call to clear away Cobb's legal troubles with immigration at LAX, enter the US, be freed of his guilt, and be reunited with his children - at the film's conclusion. In the ambiguous ending, Cobb tested out his totem (his wife's spinning top) to help identify if he was in the dream world or in the real world. If it kept spinning around, he was in a dream world. The film ended with an abrupt cut to black from the slightly-wobbly spinning top. Had he joined his children in the real world?

Iron Man 2 (2010), 124 minutes, D. Jon Favreau
This action-packed, comic-book sci-fi sequel to the original 2008 film about a super-hero was the third film in Marvel's Cinematic Universe, and part of the franchise-series that began with Iron Man (2008) and ended with Iron Man 3 (2013). The previous film ended at a press conference, when world famous industrialist, inventor, playboy and master engineer Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.), the CEO of Stark Enterprises, publicly admitted to being "Iron Man." Six months later, Stark resisted pressure from the US government, specifically from Senator Stern (Garry Shandling) and military weapons expert Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell), to reveal and sell his Iron Man technologies in his designed suit to be used for the US military. Meanwhile, Russian scientist Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke), the vengeful son of dying physicist Anton Vanko (Yevgeni Lazarev) who had worked with Tony's visionary father Howard (John Slattery) years earlier to create new energy sources, sought to compete with Stark. [Ivan's vengeance was in reaction to Howard's accusation that his father Anton was conspiring to sell weapons to the Soviets - leading to Anton's arrest for treason, and deportation-imprisonment in Russia.] Vanko's intention was to build his own miniature version of the technology found in Stark's arc reactor, and to create his own weaponized suit. At the same time, Stark was feeling physical side effects of slow poisoning due to palladium, the toxic element in the core of his arc reactor that he was dependent upon to keep him alive, while also powering the armor in his suit. Feeling depressed about his health, Stark named his assistant business partner Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) as CEO of his company, thereby alienating trusted personal friend US Air Force Lt. Col. 'Rhodey' Rhodes (Don Cheadle), who began to wrestle with the idea of sharing Stark's Iron Man suit with the military. At the Monaco Historic Grand Prix where Stark was competing in the race, he was attacked by Vanko, who had built his own arc reactor-powered weapon using stolen Stark blueprints. In his Mark V armored suit, Stark overcame and defeated Vanko (in his own special suit) and had him arrested. Ivan's act of retribution spurred Stark's rival weapons manufacturer, Justin Hammer, to break Vanko out of prison and build a line of armored suits for drones to compete with Stark. Fortuitously, Stark discovered a hidden message from his father's old research about a new element that could be synthesized and used to replace the palladium, thereby ending his dependency and poisoning. In the film's climactic confrontation at the 1974 Stark Expo, Stark faced Hammer with Vanko's armored drones, and was able to defeat Vanko (who committed suicide) and the Iron Man drones with assistance from Rhodes who operated a superhero War Machine - his signature armored battlesuit.

The Kids Are All Right (2010), 106 minutes, D: Lisa Cholodenko
Writer/director Lisa Cholodenko's acclaimed and compelling comic romantic drama was about a modern unconventional family, advertised with the tagline that referred to a romantic triangle: "Nic and Jules had the perfect family, until they met the man who made it all possible." A same-sex lesbian couple composed of driven, controlling, and workaholic obstretrician Dr. Nicole 'Nic' Allgood (Annette Bening), and open-minded, eco-conscious landscape-designer and housewife Jules (Julianne Moore), lived in Southern California. The two were 'married' with two teenaged children (who were half-siblings): Laser (Josh Hutcherson) - Jules' 15 year-old son, and Joni (Mia Wasikowska) - Nic's 18 year-old daughter named after singer Joni Mitchell. Both were fathered by the same unknown sperm donor. It was revealed that free-spirited, bohemian life-styled Paul (Mark Ruffalo), the motorcycle-riding owner of an organic foods restaurant/farm, was their biological father (an anonymous "donor dad"), who was soon introduced to the entire family. Inevitably, Jules began a lustful affair with Paul when she took on the job of weeding his "fecund" terraced backyard. It was devastating for Nic when she learned about the romantic betrayal, although their long-running committed relationship survived the incident, as Joni went off to college and Laser told Nic that his 'parents' were "too old" to break up.

The King's Speech (2010, UK/Australia), 118 minutes, D. Tom Hooper
This R-rated inspiring historical drama and rich character study, a Best Picture-winner, followed the true-to-life story of Prince Albert (the Duke of York), the son of strict King George V (Michael Gambon) who inherited the British throne in 1936, literally on the eve of WWII in Europe. His sudden ascension to the UK monarchy and leadership as King George VI (Colin Firth) was due to the abdication of his older brother David (the Prince of Wales) as King Edward VIII (Guy Pearce), so he could marry American divorcee and socialite Wallis Simpson (Eve Best). The new but despairing and insecure King (known to close family members as "Bertie") reluctantly accepted the duties of the crown, due to his personal struggles with a life-long affliction and disability - stammering. His wife Queen Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) was loving and supportive, and early on realized that he was handicapped by nervous anxiety, self-doubts, and emotional outbursts of rage. Even before his ascension to the throne, the Duchess knew that "Bertie" was fearful of making radio broadcasts - the main form of communication to the people. She sought the counsel of Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), an unconventional Australian speech and language therapist, who had worked as an elocution coach. Through a succession of practice exercises and other unorthodox techniques to rid George of his stammer, to gain confidence, and to overcome his overwhelming fears, the two men eventually bonded as close friends and confidantes. In the film's stirring conclusion, Logue assisted King George VI to deliver a flawless speech - his first wartime broadcast heard around the world by radio, when the UK declared war on Nazi Germany in September of 1939.

127 Hours (2010), 93 minutes, D: Danny Boyle
This intense adventure and survival docu-drama was based upon the inspiring and remarkable true story of canyoneer-hiker Aron Ralston (James Franco), documented in Ralston's own 2004 memoir Between a Rock and a Hard Place. With extensive experience in off-road areas in southeastern Utah, he was comfortable with outdoor climbing and hiking on his own, often without telling anyone of his whereabouts. On a late April weekend day in 2003, Aron parked his truck close to an isolated and secluded slot canyon known as Blue John Canyon near Moab, UT. Before an accident that would change his life, he met two young and lost female hikers, Kristi (Kate Mara) and Megan (Amber Tamblyn), showed them an underground cave lake where they went swimming, and helped them reorient themselves. Then, in a split second as he climbed down a crevice, he slipped on loose rock and found his right hand and wrist pinned, wedged and trapped by a large stone boulder against the canyon wall. Over a period of five days (the 127 hours referenced in the title), he chipped away at the rock and tried various maneuvers to move the rock, to no avail. During his ordeal, he became delusional and fantasy-imagined and hallucinated events in his past - and in his improbable future, but realized that soon enough, without water or food, he would become totally exhausted, shut down, and die. He made the extraordinarily brave and courageous decision to break his own arm - by applying a tourniquet, and then using a cheap Chinese-made multi-tool (with a dull knife) to slowly self-mutilate himself by amputation, in order to free himself. He was able to stagger back to civilization where authorities were alerted and he was helicopter-lifted to a hospital. The end-credits showed adventurist Aron years later - married and with a son (that he had envisioned) and still climbing, although now leaving behind a note about his destination.

Shrek Forever After (2010), 93 minutes, D: Mike Mitchell
DreamWorks' computer-animated adventure-fantasy comedy was the fourth and last feature film in the franchise-series of Shrek films from 2001-2010. It was preceded by Shrek (2001), Shrek 2 (2004), and Shrek the Third (2007). There was also a spin-off film, Puss in Boots (2011). All the Shrek films featured the title character - a solitary, often angry, large green ogre, who went on various adventures in his fairy-tale world, including rescuing a princess. In this final installment, Shrek's (voice of Mike Myers) life had become seemingly idyllic and domesticated after marrying Princess Fiona (voice of Cameron Diaz) and having a family of triplets about a year old, in Far Far Away land, where he spent time with his pals Donkey (voice of Eddie Murphy) and Puss in Boots (voice of Antonio Banderas). Suffering from a mid-life crisis, he began to contemplate the old days when he would terrorize the villagers like a real ogre. On the day of his childrens' birthday party, he became frustrated, morose and drunk and was easily enticed by shrewd, devious, and smooth-talking, vengeful magician Rumpelstiltskin (voice of Walt Dohrn) to sign a "Ogre For a Day" contract to imagine what it would be like, for one day, if he was erased from existence. He had to give up one day from his childhood and trade it for the opportunity to become an ogre again. He then discovered he had been tricked - he had traded his birth day, and therefore would no longer exist after the day was over. He was transported to a twisted, metaphysical alternate-universe - a land where Shrek didn't exist, where ogres were hunted by flying witches and enslaved, where Mr. Stiltskin was a supreme tyrannical king who commanded the witches, and Puss was lazy, semi-obese and retired - and Fiona's pet. Shrek had not met Fiona (in ogre-form) - the warrioress leader of an underground Resistance movement of warrior-ogres, and she was not in love with him. Shrek saved Donkey from slaving for a coven of witches and they became companions. Shrek also rescued all of the ogres captured by Stiltskin's ogre bounty-hunter Pied Piper (voice of Jeremy Steig) by turning himself in, and then teamed up with Fiona, Donkey, and Puss to defeat Stiltskin. In the conclusion, just before Shrek was about to die (vanish) at the end of the day, Fiona kissed him - her "true love's kiss" was the escape clause that rendered the contract null and void. Shrek was returned to the birthday party in progress - now joyfully reunited with his family and friends.

The Social Network (2010), 120 minutes, D. David Fincher
Alan Sorkin's film adaptation was based upon Ben Mezrich's 2009 book The Accidental Billionaires, about the chief protagonists who founded and created the social media giant Facebook. The multi-leveled drama, told through flashbacks, surveyed how success in revolutionizing communication was achieved in the technological age, at the expense of both chaotic personal and legal complications. The biopic followed the early activities of computer-science genius and super-bright geek Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) and his best friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) when they attended Harvard University as sophomores. As a means to rate or rank their fellow female classmates as romantic prospects, the two created a website first known as Facemash. The extreme popularity of the site was noticed by two rich, entrepreneurial Harvard seniors Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss (both played by Armie Hammer) and their business partner, who in late 2003 hired Zuckerberg to work with the team that was developing a social networking dating site specifically for Harvard students, known as Harvard Connection. Plans were to expand the site to other schools. However, Zuckerberg kept the team leaders at arms-length and in the dark by stalling while he simultaneously worked on the launch of his own competing social networking site, registered in early 2004 as and launched a month later. The Harvard Connection leaders contested Zuckerberg's usurpation, sent him a cease and desist letter, and filed lawsuits against him. Soon, the site was extended to include other major universities, and then with the financial backing of Napster co-founder Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake) who approached Silicon Valley's venture capitalists, was soon transformed into Facebook with expansive efforts worldwide. Zuckerberg faced more threatening suits regarding theft of intellectual property from the Winklevoss', and a confrontation from former co-founder friend Saverin, who accused him of phasing him out by diluting his shares in Facebook.

The Town (2010), 124 minutes, D: Ben Affleck
Co-scripter, actor and director Ben Affleck's tense crime thriller was adapted from Chuck Hogan's bivek novel Prince of Thieves published in 2004. The violent heist film was based upon the real-life events surrounding the daring daytime robbery of Fenway Park by a crew of Boston bank robbers living in Charlestown, MA. The film opened with an earlier and smaller heist of the Cambridge Merchants Bank conducted by a team of professional bank robbers, including its long-time leader Doug 'Duggie' MacRay (Ben Affleck), his childhood best friend Jimmy 'Jem' Coughlin (Jeremy Renner), and two other buddies: Albert "Gloansy" MacGloan (Slaine/George Carroll), and Desmond "Dez" Elden (Owen Burke). Doug was the son of penitentiary-imprisoned Stephen 'Big Mac' MacRay (Chris Cooper) who had passed down his criminal profession to his son. Although Doug's career goal had been to be a pro hockey player, he was sidelined by drug use. During the heist, the assistant bank manager Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall) was abducted, but then released unharmed. Doug began to date Claire, who lived in the neighborhood, to assure the gang, mostly Jem (who could be identified by a prominent "Fighting Irish" tattoo), that Claire wouldn't report or identify them to the authorities. Close on their trail was special FBI Agent Adam Frawley (Jon Hamm). Although Doug and Claire had established a romantic relationship, she broke up with him when she learned he was the ringleader of her assailants. However, Doug had hopes that after the gang's last heist of Fenway Park, pressured to take place by their local Irish mobster connection and money launderer Fergus "Fergie the Florest" Colm (Pete Postlethwaite), he would be able to cut ties with his criminal past (and possibly reconcile with Claire). During the botched heist at Fenway, the gang was surrounded by an FBI Swat team, and Dez and Gloansy were killed, while a wounded Jem purposefully and suicidally died. Doug escaped unharmed and unnoticed, executed Fergus and then attempted to rendezvous with Claire (in the company of FBI agents), but a verbal warning clue from her caused him to flee. In the conclusion, Claire found the stolen money in a community garden, planted there with a note from Doug, who had safely retreated to Florida and was presumably waiting for her. Claire used the money to finance the renovation of a local hockey rink that she dedicated to Doug's mother.

Toy Story 3 (2010), 103 minutes, D: Lee Unkrich
Disney/Pixar's computer-animated film was the second sequel to the original 1995 film, and part of the trilogy of the Toy Story film-franchise series. The fantasy comedy again followed the adventures of anthropomorphic toys, led by Sheriff Woody (voice of Tom Hanks), a classic cowboy doll and spaceman action figure Buzz Lightyear (voice of Tim Allen). As the story opened, 17 year-old Andy (voice by John Morris) was off to college, so his mother (voice of Laurie Metcalf) prepared to store his favorite toys - excluding Woody (who had survived many yard sales), in a trashbag in the attic. The trashbag was mistakenly put out on the curb. The toys escaped a dumpster fate, and were encouraged by Jessie (voice of Joan Cusack) to hide in a donation box in Andy's mother's car, to be delivered to the Sunnyside Daycare Center. There, the toys (including Bullseye (voice of Frank Welker), the piggy bank Hamm (voice of John Ratzenberger), Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head (voices of Don Rickles and Estelle Harris), Slinky Dog (voice of Blake Clarke), and dino Rex (voice of Wallace Shawn), as well as Barbie (voice of Jodi Benson) who belonged to Andy's sister Molly (voice of Bea Miller) were greeted by other toys. The leader was grandfatherly, strawberry-scented purple teddy bear Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear or Lotso (voice of Ned Beatty), along with his associate Ken (voice of Michael Keaton), plus others. In their new environment where they were terrorized by pre-schoolers in the Caterpillar Room, the toys realized that Lotso was actually dangerous and in charge of the 'toy prison,' and that they definitely had to escape back to Andy's home. The toys understood that Woody and Andy hadn't abandoned them, but now they were trapped. With ingenious efforts led by Woody, the toys were able to slide down a garbage chute into a dumpster that was then transported by garbage truck to a Tri-County landfill where additional dangers awaited (a shredder and an incinerator). They were able to ride in another truck back to Andy's house before he left for college. All of the toys ended up, with Andy's blessing, in a nearby home with a new, grateful and appreciative young owner, Bonnie (voice of Emily Hahn).

True Grit (2010), 110 minutes, D: Joel and Ethan Coen
Based upon the 1968 Charles Portis novel, of the same name, and beautifully filmed by long-time Coen collaborator and cinematographer Roger Deakins, this classic revisionist western was a more violent and faithful adaptation with a flashbacked structure. It was earlier filmed as a 1969 John Wayne western (with an Oscar-winning role). Set first in 1878 at Fort Smith in Arkansas, the main character was US federal Marshal Reuben J. "Rooster" Cogburn (Jeff Bridges), a gruff and tough, drunken, one-eyed (leather eye-patched) lawman. The film opened with the robbery and murder at Fort Smith of farmer Frank Ross by his own hired hand - a cowardly drifter named Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin), who then fled west with his fellow gang-leader/criminal "Lucky" Ned Pepper (Barry Pepper). Afterwards, precocious and stubborn 14 year-old orphaned Mattie Ross (13 year-old newcomer Hailee Steinfeld) was seeking a man with "true grit" to locate and capture her father's killer (with her express wishes to execute him by hanging in AR). She hired Cogburn. The Marshal was reluctantly allied with cocky and vain Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) who was also searching for Chaney in the lawless Choctaw Indian Nations territory (the present state of Oklahoma), and alternatively wanted to return him to Texas for killing a Texas State senator. During the search, the headstrong and vengeful Mattie insisted on joining the boozing Marshal and often bickered with him. Their search led to a climactic shoot-out and the deaths of the two main outlaws: desperado partner Ned Pepper was shot by La Boeuf from 400 yards away, while Chaney was killed by Mattie herself wielding La Boeuf's rifle. Mattie suffered a rattlesnake bite, and was sped on horseback to a doctor by Cogburn, but she had to have the arm amputated to avoid gangrene poisoning. The film concluded 25 years later, when elderly 40 year-old spinster Mattie missed reuniting with Cogburn (a performer in a traveling wild west show) who had died only three days earlier. She had his body buried in her family cemetery.

Winter's Bone (2010), 100 minutes, D: Debra Granik
Daniel Woodrell's 2006 novel was the basis for the adapted screenplay by director Granik and co-producer Anne Rosellini. The grim family drama's basic plot was about an Ozark, MO teenage girl who set out to find her missing father in order to protect her destitute family from eviction. 17 year-old Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence) was the care-giver for her poor family - mentally ill, catatonic, and invalid mother Connie (Valerie Richards), 12 year-old brother Sonny (Isaiah Stone), and 6 year-old sister Ashlee (Ashlee Thompson). The whereabouts of Jessup, the family's father, had been unknown for a few weeks, although he had recently been released on bail after being jailed on meth drug-dealing charges. The Dolly home, put up as bail, would be repossessed if Jessup didn't show up for his court date in a week's time, according to Sheriff Baskin (Garret Dillahunt). The persistent Ree set out on a courageous and brave odyssey to locate him (like a dog digging for a 'winter's bone'), traveling amongst violent, redneck drug-dealers in the backwoods and experiencing an unsuccessful attempt to speak to the local patriarch Thump Milton (Ronnie Hall) who dealt in meth. On her journeys, she heard rumors from her mean, meth-addicted uncle Teardrop (John Hawkes) that her father had possibly died in a meth-lab fire, or had fled. Her actions endangered her life by her unorthodox questioning of her kin's 'code of silence.' When the Dolly house was about to be seized in a week's time, Ree was told that she had provide solid proof that Jessup was dead, or the bond would be forfeited. Another visit with Teardrop revealed that her father had probably been murdered to silence him as an informant against the Miltons. Jessup's risky motive to collaborate with the Sheriff was to avoid a long prison sentence. Teardrop believed that the Sheriff let it be known that Jessup had talked, knowing full well that Ree’s father would be killed by those he betrayed, and also knowing he wouldn't have to fulfill his deal with Jessup.
In the harrowing conclusion, Ree learned of her father's fate. With a sack over her head, she was led to her father's corpse (submerged in a pond) by three women in the Milton clan, who came to help her. She was coaxed and helped into chain-sawing off her father's hands (to provide proof of his death to the Sheriff), thereby saving her home. Although ambiguous, it appeared that someone in the surrounding clan (Teardrop, or a Dolly extended family member, or a Milton clan member, or a neighbor) had murdered Jessup. If it was someone other than Teardrop, it was implied that Teardrop would then suicidally seek revenge for his brother's death.

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