As another year begins, it’s always important to take a look back and acknowledge the films that kicked your ass in the past year. For this column, I thought I’d do something I’ve never done before and list my favorite films of 2010 (in order of release).

Shutter Island (Paramount)

This film was a marriage between Martin Scorsese and Alfred Hitchcock. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as a U.S. Marshal investigating a missing persons case at a mental institution on an island. Marking Scorsese and DiCaprio’s fourth collaboration, the movie creates a very terrifying atmosphere, very much like in the way Hitchcock’s films did.

Inception (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Another DiCaprio film, this time written and directed by Christopher Nolan (Memento, The Dark Knight). What can I say about this film? It kicked so much ass on so many levels. After I saw Inception it reminded me of Stanley Kubrick, not in the sense that the two filmmakers make the same types of movies, but that Nolan has been able to bring a level of creativity to big-budget filmmaking in a way that most filmmakers don’t or have not been able to.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (Universal)

A lot of people were split on this film, but I sure wasn’t. It has a lot of 1980s 8-bit video game references, which I totally loved because I played all those old Atari and Nintendo games. I like that writer/director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) structured the film like a video game, which I think got lost on some people. But what I liked most about it was how visually arresting and creative it was.

Catfish (Universal)

One of the most relevant films of the year and a must see for everyone. Kind of a mix between documentary and cinema vérité, Catfish exposes an aspect of Facebook that you’re not going to hear about in The Social Network. Entertaining and terrifying, the film gives you a picture of a dangerous new kind of Internet-based identity fraud.

Nowhere Boy (The Weinstein Co.)

Aaron Johnson (Kick-Ass) stars as a young John Lennon during his teenage years growing up in Liverpool, England. Johnson is fantastic in the role and really captures the essence of Lennon. What I love about this film is it focuses on a particular part of John Lennon’s life as opposed to trying to tell his whole life story in one two-plus hour film.

127 Hours (Fox Searchlight)

Based on the book by Aron Ralston, James Franco (Raimi-era Spider-Man films) portrays Ralston in this harrowing look at what happened when he went mountain climbing alone, got his arm stuck under a boulder and then had to cut it off with a dull pocket knife in order to survive. Director Danny Boyle and writer Simon Beaufoy do a great job of a making a 90-minute film about one person standing in one spot – a real achievement. Be warned: The amputation scene is really raw, so I’d recommend that anyone who is squeamish look away when that scene comes up.

Black Swan (Fox Searchlight)

Probably one of the best psychological horror films I’ve ever seen. Darren Aronofsky directs Natalie Portman in this chilling portrayal of the psychological decay of a ballerina chose to be the lead in a big-deal version of “Swan Lake.” The filmmakers did a great job of creating a feeling of dread that comes totally from within the character and externally.

The Fighter (Paramount)

This is the best uplifting, inspirational boxing film since the first Rocky. Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale star as real-life half-brothers Micky Ward and Dickie Ecklund. David O. Russell (Three Kings, I Heart Huckabees) directed the film, and the performances are top-notch, especially Bale who portrays Ecklund as a washed-up ex-boxer who has become addicted to crack.

Tron: Legacy (Disney)

I actually haven’t seen this film at this time, but since the original Tron is one of my favorite films, I’m reserving a spot for it on the list just in case.

True Grit (Paramount)

What is a year without a new Coen brothers’ film? The Coens readapted this book of the same name that was already once put on screen as a John Wayne-starring vehicle. With the new film being more faithful to the book, Jeff Bridges replaces Wayne as Rooster Cogburn, a grizzled old marshal who helps a 14-year-old girl hunt down the killer of her father. This probably is my favorite film of the year. I love westerns and I love the Coens, and the mix of the two has delivered an instant classic.

Send feedback to