Tom’s Top 10 films of 2010 - If You Ask Me

“127 Hours”: James Franco’s committed performance dominates this true-life story about a young hiker who becomes trapped in a narrow crevice in Utah’s Blue John Canyon, his arm wedged beneath a boulder for five days. One of the miracles of this inherently claustrophobic story is the way director Danny Boyle has made it so thoroughly alive and suspenseful.

“Black Swan”: An outlandish, over-the-top, cockeyed masterpiece by Darren Aronofsky about an insecure ballerina (Natalie Portman, simply astonishing) driven to the brink of madness when she is cast to play dual roles in “Swan Lake.” This is filmmaking at a fever pitch and, of course, a true audience-divider. “Black Swan” is “All About Eve” meets “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” Hang on.

“The Fighter”: All the boxing movie clichés are firmly in place, but David O. Russell’s heartfelt biopic about the pride of Lowell, Massachusetts — boxer Micky Ward (a low-key and effective Mark Wahlberg) — struck all the right notes nonetheless. Sterling support was provided by Christian Bale (give him his Oscar now, please!), Melissa Leo and Amy Adams.

“Inception”: Director Christopher Nolan’s mind-bending head trip showed us the power of movies to manipulate reality. Mr. Nolan is an exciting visionary who, with just a few films on his resume, is taking moviegoers to places they’ve never been before. On DVD.

“The Kids Are All Right”: Annette Bening and Julianne Moore deliver the best performances of their careers in this wonderful domestic comedy about a lesbian couple whose grown children decide to seek out their father. Lisa Cholodenko, who also directed, co-wrote (with Stuart Blumberg) one of the year’s most endearing original screenplays. On DVD.

“The King’s Speech”: Colin Firth deserves an Oscar playing the Duke of York, a reluctant king who is cursed with a paralyzing stammer. Geoffrey Rush, as his unconventional speech therapist, offers perfect support in a richly satisfying historical drama with juicy supporting roles played by the best of Britain’s current acting pool.

“Rabbit Hole”: David Lindsay-Abaire’s profoundly moving Pulitzer Prize winning play about a couple coping with the accidental death of their young son, has been faithfully transferred to the screen under the sensitive direction of John Cameron Mitchell. Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckert give splendid, heart-breaking performances as the grieving parents.

“The Social Network”: The birth of Facebook and the resulting lawsuit against founder Mark Zuckerberg made for compelling storytelling in David Fincher’s up-to-the-minute film hit. Credit writer Aaron Sorkin for the marvelously articulate dialogue and the central star-making performance of Jessie Eisenberg as Zuckerberg, the ultimate computer nerd. On DVD.

“Toy Story 3”: Another year. Another Pixar instant classic. Need I say more? On DVD.

“Winter’s Bone”: Jennifer Lawrence’s auspicious movie debut as a backwoods teenager trying to track down her deadbeat father while caring for an unbalance mother and two siblings, is the soul of this unsentimental, riveting piece of filmmaking from director Debra Granik. On DVD (for all of you who missed it!)

I can also happily recommend “The Disappearance Of Alice Creed,” “Exit Through The Gift Shop,” “The Ghost Writer,” “Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows,” “Hereafter,” “I Am Love,” “Joan Rivers: A Piece Of Work,” “Mother,” “Mother And Child,” “A Prophet,” “Restrepo,” “Splice,” “The Town,” “True Grit,” “Vincere,” and the year’s best documentary, “Waiting For Superman.”

Tom Holehan is Co-chairman of the Connecticut Critics Circle and Artistic Director of Stratford’s Square One Theatre Company. He welcomes comments at: His reviews and other theatre information can be found on the Connecticut Critics Circle website: