2010 was a great year for the movies. With animation thriving, new stars rising and a number of records broken, audiences proved they will still turn out for a quality film. As we prepare to look forward to 2011, let's take a quick look back at the most buzzed about movies from this year.
ALICE IN WONDERLAND
Starring: Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter,
Alan Rickman, Michael Sheen & Mia Wasikowska
Directed by Tim Burton for distribution by Walt Disney
The Plot: Tim Burton’s take on the classic children’s story.
The Final Word: When Tim Burton says he wants to put his stylistic touch on an iconic story, you just sit back and sign the checks. Burton, known for his creative visions, did a masterful job bringing Wonderland to life in the 3rd dimension and with Johnny Depp as the eccentric Mad Hatter, audiences were racing to go down the rabbit hole.
Starring (voices): Steve Carell, Jason Segal, Russell Brand,
Miranda Cosgrove, Danny McBride & Julie Andrews
Directed by Chris Renaud & Pierre Coffin for distribution by Universal
The Plot: A supervillian’s (Carrell) plan to steal the moon hits a snag when he ends up the guardian of three orphaned girls.
The Final Word: 2010 was definitely a good year for the animated genre and when all is said and done, “Despicable Me” may be one of its most profitable winners. Coming out of nowhere the movie has solidified Universal as a force to reckoned with in terms of animated films. Shepherded by Chris Meledandri, who oversaw Blue Sky’s development of the “Ice Age” series, the movie struck a cord with viewers who fell for Steve Carrell’s “superbad superdad” and his army of endearing minions.
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Eric Roberts, Randy Couture, Steve Austin, Terry Crews, Charisma Carpenter, Mickey Rourke
Directed by Sylvester Stallone for distribution by Lionsgate
The Plot: A team of mercenaries embark on a suicide mission to South America in an attempt to overthrow a dictator.
The Final Word: This year was all about taking gambles at the Cineplex and Lionsgate hit the jackpot. Giving Sylvester Stallone the keys to the kingdom proved to be a smart move as good old Sly assembled the most kick-ass group of action stars around to end the summer season with a bang.
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON
Starring (voices): Jay Baruchel, Gerald Butler, America Ferrara,
Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse & Craig Ferguson
Directed by Chris Sanders & Dean DeBlois for distribution by DreamWorks
The Plot: A Viking outcast (Baruchel) befriends a dragon and in the process changes the way his tribe looks at the mythical creatures.
The Final Word: Not since the original “Shrek” has DreamWorks had a creative success as big as “How To Train Your Dragon.” The animated picture appealed to audiences of all ages and could very well unseat the not so jolly green ogre at this year’s Academy Awards. With a string of sequels and a TV series still to come, this story of Vikings and Dragons isn’t anywhere near over.
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph-Gordon Levitt, Ellen Page,
Ken Watanabe, Tom Hardy & Michael Caine
Directed by Christopher Nolan for distribution by Warner Brothers
The Plot: A skilled thief (DiCaprio), who uses a person’s subconscious to extract secrets, must reverse the process to reclaim his past and settle a score.
The Final Word: Warner Brothers knew it had something special in this action thriller from the incredibly talented Christopher Nolan; although they didn’t know just how special until the movie ballooned up the box office. Included as part of his deal to direct “The Dark Knight,” the film succeeded because audiences know what to expect from the visionary director and the WB was rewarded tenfold as a result of their trust and patience. Now Nolan, his cast and the studio all could reap the befits this award season.
IRON MAN 2
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle,
Mickey Rourke, Samuel L. Jackson & Scarlett Johansson
Directed by Jon Favreau for distribution by Paramount/Marvel
The Plot: After outing himself as the superhero Iron Man, Tony Stark (Downey Jr.) must contend with a government sub-committee and a Russian scientist (Rourke) bent on revenge.
The Final Word: While not the critical success the 2008 original action film was, the sequel was still a financial success and continued to show just how bankable Robert Downey Jr. has become in Hollywood. Furthermore it sets the table for Paramount/Marvel/Disney to roll out the rest of Tony Stark’s costumed comrades in what will certainly be “must see” events next year and beyond.
THE KING’S SPEECH
Starring: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter,
Guy Pearce & Michael Gambon.
Directed by Tom Hooper for distribution by The Weinstein Company
The Plot: The true story of how King George VI (Firth) found his voice courtesy of Lionel Logue (Rush), a maverick speech therapist called in to help him overcome a stutter.
The Final Word: If early critics lists are to be believed, this year’s “Best Picture” race is over and “The King’s Speech” is the winner, which automatically makes it one of the most buzzed about movies of the year. Breaking it down further, the movie does have everything voters love and with the Weinstein’s guiding the PR ship, it should be a smooth ride across the award season waters.
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley,
Michelle Williams, Patricia Clarkson & Max von Sydow
Directed by Martin Scorsese for distribution by Paramount
The Plot: A detective (DiCaprio) with a tragic past finds himself in the middle of a mystery on an isolated island that is home to a mental hospital.
The Final Word: DiCaprio has come a long way from his breakthrough role in “Titanic” and paired with legendary director Martin Scorsese, it only made sense this Oscar contender would be the first hit of 2010. A fascinating thriller with a killer twist, Paramount is banking on this drama come nomination morning, although a late run by Leo’s other 2010 hit “Inception” could steal some of its thunder, regardless this remains of the year’s best in so many categories.
THE SOCIAL NETWORK
Starring: Jessie Eisenberg, Justin Timberlake, Andrew Garfield,
Joe Mazzello & Rashida Jones
Directed by David Fincher for distribution by Columbia Pictures (Sony)
The Plot: The story behind the rise of the Facebook social networking phenomenon and the trouble sudden fame brought to its creator.
The Final Word: As if a movie about one of the world’s topic website wasn’t going to be enough of a draw by itself, the movie landed in theatres with a great pedigree which included “Fight Club” director David Fincher and “West Wing” creator Aaron Sorkin, along with a who’s who of young Hollywood rising stars. Already a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nominee, “The Social Network” is in line to add a few more “friends” by the time it ends its run.
TOY STORY 3
Starring (voices): Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Ned Beatty,
Michael Keaton, Timothy Dalton & Whoopi Goldberg
Directed by Lee Unkrich for distribution by Disney/Pixar
The Plot: As their owner prepares for college, a group of toys begin to realize they face an uncertain future.
The Final Word: Pixar took its arguably most beloved set of characters and gave them a send-off worthy of the era of they helped usher in back in the late 1990’s. With this third and presumably final entry into the franchise, the studio has proven once again there’s animation and then there’s Pixar.
Previewed next week: "The Most Anticipated Movies of 2011"