The King's Speech might be the Oscar frontrunner, but it was soundly silenced by many of Charlotte's most visible film enthusiasts.
That's not to say the movie didn't find favor among some of those polled, but none of the 12 folks who participated cited it among the very best of the year. However, in looking over these lists of local movie mavens' picks for their favorite flicks of 2010, a few select titles do tend to make repeat appearances. Here, then, are the top choices of various local critics, film programmers and more.
* LINNEA BEYER, FILM DIRECTOR, THE LIGHT FACTORY *
Inception. No other director aside from Christopher Nolan could pull off an existential Hollywood blockbuster. Elaborate and visually stunning, Inception was a dream I didn't want to wake up from.
Runners-up: Black Swan; Exit Through the Gift Shop.
* MATT BRUNSON, FILM EDITOR/ REVIEWER, CREATIVE LOAFING *
Black Swan. No other movie from 2010 got under my skin as much as Darren Aronofsky's technically dazzling and emotionally frazzling drama about an unhinged ballerina striving for perfection. It also doesn't hurt that Natalie Portman delivered the performance of the year.
Runners-up: Toy Story 3; Inception.
* TWIGGY CERNIGLIA, CO-OWNER, VISART VIDEO *
Black Swan. Since Requiem for a Dream is my favorite movie of all time, my opinion may be a bit biased. A lot of Aronofsky's films share common themes of desperation, loneliness, and an internal struggle of beauty versus ugliness. Black Swan, equally as beautiful as it is disturbing, is a perfect example.
Runners-up: Winter's Bone; True Grit.
* JULI EMMONS, CO-FOUNDER/ ORGANIZER, CHARLOTTE FILM COMMUNITY *
The Book of Eli. It has been a long time since I left the theater still "feeling the film." It did a great job of keeping me thinking and contemplating the thought of "what am I willing to die for?" And as always, an excellent acting job by Denzel Washington.
Runners-up: Inception; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.
* JEFF JACKSON, DIRECTOR, NODA FILM FESTIVAL; ARTS EDITOR, CHARLOTTE VIEWPOINT *
Enter the Void. In a year where many films played it safe, Gasper Noe's visionary masterpiece offered up jaw-dropping visuals, transgressive jolts, and a wholly unique point of view. A version of The Tibetan Book of the Dead set in raves and strip clubs, it's a sly and affecting commentary on matters of both flesh and spirit.
Runners-up: Dogtooth; Trash Humpers.
* J. MORONG, LECTURER OF THEATER & FILM, UNC CHARLOTTE; PROGRAMMING DIRECTOR, 2010 CHARLOTTE FILM FESTIVAL *
Dogtooth. This film from Greece is bold, surreal, daring, shocking and very, very funny. Essentially a bizarre (understatement of the year), satiric comedy about child abuse and parental dominance that quickly spirals into prostitution, incest, cat killing, and the freedom of movies. You may love it or you may hate it, but I guarantee you'll be mesmerized and you'll never forget it!
Runners-up: Black Swan; Four Lions.
* SEAN O'CONNELL, FILM CRITIC, AMC FILMCRITIC; FILM CRITIC, WASHINGTON POST *
Rabbit Hole. In the wrong hands, the story of suburban parents mourning the loss of their 4-year-old son could've been maudlin, button-pushing drivel. But this triumphs because director John Cameron Mitchell and his cast, led by Nicole Kidman, embrace the tenderness, the honesty, and, yes, the humor that comes with the healing process.
Runners-up: 127 Hours; Toy Story 3.
* ANN MARIE OLIVA, FILM EDITOR/REVIEWER, ARTS A LA MODE *
The Social Network. The founding of Facebook by socially awkward genius Mark Zuckerberg rendered in all its Shakespearean turns of betrayal/deceit/revenge/ambitious glory-seeking. Excellent directing, acting, adapted screenplay, in addition to outstanding technical elements, make a complex subject understandable yet highly entertaining.
Runners-up: 127 Hours; Black Swan.
* BRAD RITTER, GENERAL MANAGER, MANOR THEATRE *
Inception. Massively brilliant on every level (pun intended) — direction, screenplay, cinematography, acting. I can't think of a better constructed, more intelligent film in the past several years.
Runners-up: Winter's Bone; The Social Network.
* TIM ROSS, FILM WRITER, CAROLINA WEEKLY NEWSPAPER GROUP *
127 Hours. Intense, innovative filmmaking and the most visceral scene of the year.
Runners-up: The Fighter; Toy Story 3.
* SAM SHAPIRO, PROGRAM COORDINATOR AND FILM PROGRAMMER, CHARLOTTE MECKLENBURG LIBRARY; INSTRUCTOR, FILM STUDIES, UNC CHARLOTTE *
Greenberg. Reminiscent of '70s-era filmmaking (difficult characters, untidy endings), Greenberg was a delightful surprise — even better the second viewing, when I could better follow Ben Stiller's misanthropic rants. As a recently discharged mental patient transplanted to LA, Stiller creates a fully rounded character: charming and likable at times, witheringly caustic when provoked.
Runners-up: True Grit; Winter's Bone.
* LAWRENCE TOPPMAN, ARTS WRITER, CHARLOTTE OBSERVER *
Winter's Bone. Though I've never lived among hardscrabble folks in the Ozarks, this story of a woman determined to confront a family of crystal meth makers and find her father's corpse seemed rivetingly true and terrifying. Jennifer Lawrence and John Hawkes were justly Oscar-nominated as the heroine and her embittered but not utterly amoral uncle.
Runners-up: Inception; True Grit.
The Film Issue: