So, as we approach the end of the 2010s and leave another decade of cinema behind us, it seems the prime time for reflection, does it not? But with ten whole years of cinema to cover, we can’t fob you off with just a single list, oh, no – we’re breaking down each year, with deep-dives into our favourite movies (along with a few honourable mentions where we couldn’t make our minds up), in dedicated articles that will be coming out between, uh, right now, and the end of 2019. Without further ado – let’s look at the cinema that stuck with us the most.
Kevin’s Movie of 2010: Shutter Island
Honourable Mentions: Never Let Me Go, Blue Valentine, Inception
Out of the four collaborations between director Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio that spanned almost a decade, Shutter Island is usually the most overlooked. On paper this makes sense; 2002’s Gangs of New York was their first film together and, despite being one of the filmmaker’s more divisive works, did garner several Oscar nominations. The Aviator, a personal favorite of mine, kicked their partnership into high gear with Leo putting in his best performance to date and Scorsese treating his story like a blockbuster, much like Howard Hughes lived his life. The Departed gained Scorsese his belated Best Director Oscar, the last hurdle of a career in which Academy recognition was the only thing missing. What these three films share is the feeling that that gold statue was always part of Scorsese and Leo’s main goal.
Shutter Island is the first film the two made after Scorsese’s Oscar win. It was promised in the hilariously literal phrase, “Scorsese does Horror!” to be something new in his filmography, and that promise has been fulfilled. There may be better films released in 2010, but there are none that sucked me in the same way as Shutter Island did. It certainly helped that I saw it in the cinema, which was also the first time I saw any of his films on the big screen, but more than anything, Shutter Island feels like a director both in complete control of his talent, but also free of expectation. He doesn’t approach the horror genre in the same way as someone like Wes Craven, instead he goes back to the psychological horror present in much of film noir, a horror that is based in tension, in confusion, and not on fright.
In terms of his filmography, Shutter Island sticks out in the same way as Hugo or Kundun. It’s a film in which Scorsese keeps us guessing until the very end, using every tool at his disposal to keep us off-balanced, and, unlike Joker, seems to understand how psych medication works (I’m nit-picking, but Todd Philips should have watched this after King of Comedy). Shutter Island is a ridiculous film, a film that probably wouldn’t work with any other director (okay, maybe Fincher) but from the performances, editing, the oppressive cinematography, and a fantastic Leo to lead us through this nightmare, this is easily my favorite film of 2010 and one of my favorite Scorsese films of all time.
(also, please comment if you understand the Patricia Clarkson cameo. Was she real? If she is how does that effect the story.? Ten years and I’m still bamboozled)
Louise’ Movie of 2010: I Saw The Devil
Honourable Mentions: Toy Story 3, Troll Hunter, Shutter Island
I could talk to you about all the technical reasons that make Kim Jee-woon’s masterpiece such a magnificent piece of cinema; I could tell you about the astonishingly well-constructed action, the noir-ish horror, the fantastic performances. The complex morality, the enormous story and everything it encompasses about violence, revenge, and redemption. I could tell you that I’ve never seen a film like it, and mean it, but that’s not why it’s right here as my pick of the year.
When I think about this movie, it’s hard to think of where to start. Rarely has a movie, with such pinpoint accuracy, dragged me into a protagonist’s emotional journey; when the credits rolled, I just burst into tears, this gruelling journey done for me but only just starting for the man I’d invested all this time and energy in. Once in a while, I watch a movie that hollows out a piece of me and comes in to fill that spot for good; I Saw The Devil is one of those movies. I think that’s a good thing, probably.
Part horror, part violently intrusive psychological thriller, part action flick, part crime meta-nightmare, I Saw The Devil is simply and without a doubt one of the best films I’ve ever seen, and by far and away the best film of this year. There’s a reason we won’t stop banging on about it, after all.
What are your standout movies of 2010? Let us know the ones we missed in the comments below, and tune in again soon for our 2011 coverage.
By Louise MacGregor and Kevin Boyle
(header image via Toronto Star)