In terms of quality, Toy Story 3 is probably the best animated film of the year, but in terms of entertainment I can’t deny Tangled has my vote. As I was putting this list together about a week ago I wasn’t sure if Tangled would make the top ten. I had only seen the film once and had to see it again before making this list. So I did… and it won me over all over again.
Over the Christmas holiday I was visiting my mother and took her with me to see this for my second time. As the film played on she laughed and was enjoying herself and then near the end she leaned over to me and said, “I can’t believe I’m crying at a stupid Disney movie.” She told me something similar after I convinced her to go see Toy Story 3, but we both agreed this was the more enjoyable film, and not only that, but a return to the Disney we remembered.
For the longest time Disney’s animation house seemed to be down in the dumps, playing second fiddle to Pixar and trying to somehow copy what Pixar was doing, but they continued to disappoint. Tangled spent years in production to the tune of a reported budget of $260 million as previous incarnations of the story were scrapped entirely before it became what it is today. And what it is, is a spectacular animated feature.
The Fighter is a great example of performances winning over inside of a rather cliche and several times told story. There isn’t much more you can do with a boxing story if it doesn’t turn out the way this film turns out unless you really want to send your audience out of the theater in a heap. Considering this is a film based on a true story there weren’t many other options than the impressive account of the life of Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) and his brother Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale) and it was a story worth telling.
Bale is magnificent, but just as impressive are Melissa Leo as the boys’ mother and Amy Adams as Micky’s girlfriend Charlene. I even enjoyed Wahlberg who was tailor made for the role of Micky. Sure, he didn’t really have to do much acting, but that just means it’s a case of perfect casting.
After seeing the film three times now I can say the story holds its own with a few unique flairs, but the performances are still amongst the year’s best.
Leave it to Darren Aronofsky to deliver one of the more unique, WTF features of the year as he offers up a ballet movie as only the director of Requiem for a Dream could. The film draws lines in the sand that are then blurred by madness, and it’s up to the audience to determine just what side they’re on at any particular moment. Natalie Portman has been praised for her performance, but it’s a performance she’s perfectly suited for. Who else could have played the role as the fragile yet increasingly seductive Nina and brought it to such heights?
Black Swan is a perfect marriage of performance and filmmaking techniques. Along with Portman’s talents, Aronofsky and his team created an audio and visual feast for the audience. When Aronofsky wasn’t experimenting with his setups, cinematographer Matthew Libatique and composer Clint Mansell took over creating overwhelming movement and atmosphere, supporting the unsettling tone the script provides. This isn’t a film for everyone, but it certainly was a film for me.