I haven’t done one of these around here yet.

I used to blog about movies on Rotten Tomatoes (that’s not a plug, just a statement of historical fact) and I would post my yearly “top ten” lists there. I’d be better about doing that than any actual blogging. Does this surprise you, dear reader? It shouldn’t.

But then, two things happened… First, I was welcomed to blog at this much cooler site called Chud.com, you should check it out, and then the Rotten Tomatoes blog area became a fucking piece of shit. (Theseviewsdonotreflecttheopinionsofchuddotcomoranyoneaffiliatedwiththesite)

So, I decided to debut my first annual Chud Top Ten List as part of my New Year’s Resolution to… Forget it, I’d rather not go there. I keep promising and then I don’t deliver. And I’ve got this really awesome Twisted Sister blog I was supposed to post a month ago but it’s not quite finished and… Should I? Do all three of you really want to read about my experience with Twisted Sister?

But this is not that blog. This is the first annual Chud Top Ten. So, let’s get on with it.

And, boy, let me tell you that it was not easy. Not because there were so many movies to choose from. But because, looking back on the year at first, I could barely come up with 3 movies that had really impressed me – let alone a whole list of ten. It doesn’t help that I don’t get to see a lot of movies when they first come out because they don’t come down here.

So, right off the bat, let me just confirm for you that True Grit will NOT be on here because I haven’t seen it. Would it have been? Maybe. But, believe it or not and interesting film that it was, No Country For Old Men didn’t make my top ten of that year. Neither did Burn After Reading. And I like the Coens. So, who’s to say?

Now then… The way my lists used to be on Rotten Tomatoes is I’d have the movie, followed by some snarky one liner about it and that was it. I thought I was very funny and subversive. Like: I love these movies but I’m still too cool to seriously rave about them!

So… To give you an example, here are some excerpts:

From 2005

10. King Kong
Sssh! Don’t blow the ending.

From 2006

3. United 93
Isn’t that the guy from Sledgehammer?

I think you get the picture.

But I’ve decided to take things a little more seriously here, if you don’t mind. What follows is the ten films that most impressed me and/or made a big impact when I saw them this year. Followed by a little comment about why I think they’re special. And yes… In ranking order, since I know how important that is to you.

10. Hot Tub Time Machine

Because it’s funny. Really. In an age where a lot of comedies end up being very overrated here’s the one that I watched and really laughed my ass off. And then I took it over to my friend’s house the very next day, had a couple of beers and laughed my ass off again. It doesn’t need to be mean spirited and has a cast of characters that I would actually want to be friends with in real life. As much as I enjoyed The Hangover, I wouldn’t have minded if the movie ended with those assholes driving off a fucking cliff.

9. Toy Story 3

Because I like movies that make me cry. It’s therapeutic. But don’t go too far. Don’t be Up. Don’t also make me want to kill myself. Just leave me crying. That is enough. And also… I like that this kiddie movie actually had the meanest villain of the year. That sociopath played by Ned Beatty is really something else. Never before have I wanted to see a cartoon character strung up by his nutsack. But, there it is. … And then there are those people who nitpick about the ending because a college kid spends a few minutes playing with a little girl and that’s so strange and weird and fucked up all of a sudden that someone would actually want to do that and I don’t know what the hell is wrong with the world we live in. But this was a terrific movie. And you all need to speak to a therapist.

8. Universal Soldier: Regeneration

Oh yes I went there, motherfucker. I don’t give a shit that this is a direct to video release. It shouldn’t have been. Isaac Florentine and newcomer John Hyams (the director of this) are doing some great work over there in Bulgaria, or wherever the fuck this and everything else was shot, with a fraction of the tens of millions of dollars that they give to people like Michael Bay and McG to make their incoherent action movies. Here you have a film that restricts itself to basically one ugly location, stars a couple of (allegedly) “washed-up” has-beens, boils its action to mostly shoot-outs and hand-to-hand combat (meaning: no large scale stuff like buses crashing into flying airplanes or anything like that) and still manages to thrill the pants off you. Hyams works hard and, with his dad as DP, keeps things visually creative and stylish. That’s what I want from my action films. And I also appreciate that it isn’t afraid to actually hold the first Universal Soldier in high regard. I’ve been thinking about it and it just might be the best action film of the year (I’ll get to that elephant in the room, don’t worry) and most people didn’t even get to see it in a movie theater. Sucks, really.

7. The Social Network

I’m not going to say “Fincher is back” because I’m still on the fence about that. I mean, let’s face it, he followed up his previous film – a big sellout studio picture – with another slick prestige number. But here’s the interesting part: For the first time, Fincher the director appears to be absent. Obviously the movie didn’t direct itself. But this is not Fincher saying “Let me make just a fun popcorn movie” and building an entire brownstone on a sound stage so he can take his camera into keyholes and drain pipes and shit. This is Fincher just trusting the simple movie to be a simple movie. With a tight script and sharp dialogues. A movie about such an unlikable asshole shouldn’t be this compelling and engaging. The cast really excels. I don’t know that Andrew Garfield can be Peter Parker (I mean, if you’re casting the new Spider-Man from this movie, why not Jesse Eisenberg?) but he’s great here. So is everyone else. This and The Runaways had my favorite acting of the year.

6. Chloe

Infidelity has been done to death in the movies. From Michael Douglas and Glenn Close doing everything but the kitchen sink on the kitchen sink, to Richard Gere killing Olivier Martinez with a Christmas ornament. But Atom Egoyan finds a fresh take on the “troubled cuckold” sub genre here. The three leads are excellent and, even though the film has a predictable twist, Egoyan knows not to actually make it about the twist. It is a compelling, easily identifiable central theme about the nature of trust in a relationship. And, okay, the movie also features sex scenes calculated to give you boners. So, you get the best of both worlds.

5. Frozen

I never heard of writer/director Adam Green before I saw this movie. I’ve also never gone skiing. After watching this, two things will happen. First – I will track down everything Adam Green has done and keep my eyes open for more. Second – I will never go skiing. Horror movies today are rarely scary. They try really hard with newfangled special effects and thunderous bass lines on the soundtrack to make you jump out of your seat. Here I give you three fucktards and a ski lift. That’s it. Scared and disturbed the shit out of me. Thank you, Adam Green, for wrecking my week.

4. El Secreto De Sus Ojos

I like movies about grown ups. I enjoy stories about people who are older and (maybe or maybe not) wiser than me and their emotions, regrets, obsessions…. I also like absorbing, literate thrillers. This movie is both of those things. I was sucked in by the story but also genuinely affected by its depth of feeling. I appreciated that the movie was about people in their forties played by people in their forties. And I’m grateful for the Argentinean sensibilities of the piece, grounded in that country’s political reality. Because it assures me that we probably won’t get an American remake with Jim Sturgess, Kate Bosworth and Steve Zahn (in the Guillermo Francella role, of course) any time soon. … I don’t want to spit out the same critical cliche, but they really don’t make movies like this in Hollywood. This is in the tradition of the great European thrillers and dramatic American films of the 70s. I loved it. And the aforementioned Francella (a very gifted comic actor) has great chemistry with Ricardo Darin. They have a real Lemmon/Matthau thing going on. I hope they team up again for a buddy comedy.

3. Unthinkable

And here’s another movie you probably didn’t see because they didn’t release it in theaters. In this particular case, I think they just didn’t have the balls. Humanist and apocalyptic, it asks us to examine our feelings on the nature of terrorism and the methods of fighting it. It asks uncomfortable questions to which it really doesn’t have the answers, nor does it have any intention of finding those answers for you. More importantly, it doesn’t take sides. It avoids any kind of stylized approach and focuses all its energy on two galvanizing lead performances by Michael Sheen (as the terrorist) and Samuel L. Jackson (as the interrogator). These two men are riveting. Sheen continues to impress (I also loved his turn as David Bowie in Tron: Legacy). But I’m very happy for Jackson. Any time he steps out of his “bad muthafucka” comfort zone is a cause for celebration. He’s such a great actor. He should be great more often.

2. Kick-Ass

I want to say that Chloe Moretz makes the movie single-handed but that isn’t really true. Though she is adorable and I look forward to seeing her in other movies. But she’s just one important element in an exceedingly creative, tour-de-force movie. Hip but not obnoxious, stylized but not annoying. And, unlike Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, it knows to balance the in-your-face with a sense of earnestness. You can have people bursting into coins and make references to the NES and that’s all really funny. But you’re kept at a distance if nothing ever feels real. That’s their ballpark and I enjoyed that movie too. But what makes Kick-Ass really excel in the hip comic book movie competition is that balance of mayhem with accessibility. It’s very funny, exciting and over-the-top. But also grounded and genuinely moving.

1. Inception

Enough has already been written about this movie on this very site and all over the internet that there really isn’t anything left for me to say. If it connected with you, chances are you know why and you know why it’s great. If you were left cold, my guess is the movie will eventually grow on you. No film packed with this much careful detail and with that many layers can be dismissed outright. Something about it will bring you back and you will embrace it. Christopher Nolan manages again and again to make films that are absolutely commercial, yet completely personal. He gets away with being pretentious in a climate where that’s a capital offense. He has yet to make a bad film. I don’t think he knows how. We’ll see.


And there you have it.

But, Erix, I hear you saying – Where were The Expendables?

I loved that movie. I really did. It was a great throwback to the fun Cannon pictures of the 80s. It’s probably the best action film of the year to actually get a theatrical release. But, you know what? Sly doesn’t need me. He’s come back in a big way and we’re going to see more of him. I’ll be in the theater, popcorn in hand and so will you. Does it really matter that his movie didn’t make my silly top ten list?

The answer is no.

No, it doesn’t