As our society increasingly conducts large sections of its life online, that society becomes increasingly difficult to realistically portray on film. After all, who wants to watch a man sitting at his Mac for three hours while he taps away, conducting his social life, his love life and creating business in a virtual world? Or so we might have thought, but in 2010 filmmakers overcame the obvious obstacles with The Social Network, the Facebook and TIME Person of the Year Mark Zuckerberg creation story. The film received rave reviews from all corners of the press and was even deemed “decade defining”. It also inspired much social commentary on “a generation that can’t communicate despite its obsession with social networking.” But some asked why there weren’t more “women of any substance” in the movie?” And others feared that a “sexist” movie really did “define a generation”.
Black Swan wasn’t marketed as the high art, ballet-based psychosexual thriller that it undoubtedly was. Instead, much of the viral marketing focused on the promised steamy scenes between two ballerinas, played by Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis. Never-mind: The film has been tipped for the Oscar nominations that critics feel it is due nonetheless. The critics called it “gloriously and darkly absurd,” “wicked, sexy and ultimately devastating”, and “a near masterpiece of a film”, praising Portman’s turn as a dancer descending into madness and heralding Winona Ryder’s performance as a has-been prima donna as her comeback. Looks like director Darren Aronofsky might have done for ballerinas what he did for washed up wrestlers in The Wrestler.
This year saw the first installment of the final Harry Potter, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One, and it was certainly the longest half-a-film that we’d ever seen. It was darker, creepier and scarier than any of its predecessors, “Suffused with a profound sense of solitude and loss”, but some argued that it could have been abridged. But why cut this epic short? Fans love every extra second that they can stay in the magical world and all seven films in the franchise rank in the top thirty “highest grossing films of all time”. The final-finale is promised for the summer of 2011, after which Potter fans and movie-execs will be left bereft of Harry’s magic and his box-office takings respectively. Twilight, anyone?
At the top of that “highest grossing movies of all time” list, sits Avatar, James Cameron’s first film since the colossal Titanic (which features at number two on “the list”). Having spent $230 million (£141 million) on state-of-the-art 3D technology (Cameron had to pay to build the technology to match his ambition, because it didn’t exist) it must have been a relief that critics and audiences alike found it an “overwhelming, immersive spectacle.” But Cameron created the world of Pandora and the Na’vi people so convincingly that some movie-goers suffered from Avatar Withdrawal Syndrome (AWS), experiencing “depression and suicidal thoughts after seeing the film because they long to enjoy the beauty of the alien world Pandora.” The Urban Dictionary suggested surrounding yourself with “Avatar related stuff” in order to combat AWS. And this may account for the reports that Avatar was the most illegally downloaded film of 2010 (downloaded 16.6 million times from torrent sites) – people needed it for medicinal purposes.
When Andy goes to college, his collection of toys that Pixar have so brilliantly animated into life and into our hearts, are sent to a nursery school so that they may be played with once more. More than just a plot device, the re-homing of the toys gave the film “the poignancy of a Tennessee Williams play,” according to one critic who, like many of his peers, was swept away by Toy Story 3. It was not only this year’s “most unlikely tearjerker”, but also the year’s most unlikely political film after one pundit claimed that the film predicted the results of the midterm elections. But while fans waved a sad goodbye to Woody, Buzz and co., rumours began to circulate that a short film may be added to the franchise which will feature Ken and Barbie from Andy’s playroom, going on a trip to Hawaii. We wish them a heartfelt bon voyage.