I saw 56 films this summer that I counted as 2010 releases, and frankly the standard was embarrassing, with adequacy the prevailing theme of this year's blockbuster season.
So here's a brief look back at the best and worst of summer 2010.
BEST MAINSTREAM FILM
TOY STORY 3: It wasn't even a question, and nothing else got near Pixar's latest masterpiece, the beautiful and brilliant capper to perhaps the greatest of all film trilogies. If you were unmoved by TOY STORY 3 then I suggest you check whether you actually have a soul.
WORST MAINSTREAM FILM
A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET: This film is the recipient of the longest (and possibly the most vitriolic) review I've ever written. It's perhaps best seen as a summation of the case against remakes; a film that adds gloss to an old original, but in the process removes sense, story and scares. Hooray for Hollywood, huh?
BEST INDIE / ARTHOUSE FILM
LE REFUGE: Unsurprisingly, French auteur Francois Ozon produced yet another slice of his very particular genius with the second of two films he shot in 2009. He managed here to make a film about a pregnant junkie, yet indulge in precisely none of the cliches of either the drug or the pregnancy movie. A beautiful, quiet, intimate and highly original film.
WORST INDIE / ARTHOUSE FILM
HEARTBREAKER: Charmless, unfunny, poorly shot, and as romantic as a kick in the balls. It's not the worst rom-com of the year, but the eminently hateable characters and deeply implausible romance of HEARTBREAKER give THE BOUNTY HUNTER a run for that particular wooden spoon.
BEST NON-2010 FILM
VAGABOND: A real treat from the Agnes Varda season at the BFI. Features a brilliant early performance by Sandrine Bonnaire. Highly reccommended if you can track it down.
KICKS: A brilliant British film, the debut of director Lindy Heymann. I've described it as a kitchen sink thriller, but that doesn't capture either the skill of the performances by Kerrie Hayes and Nicola Burley or the incredible beauty with which the film is shot. One of the most striking films of the year.
ROBIN HOOD: The decision to take the intriguing sounding Nottingham script (which cast the Sherriff of Nottingham as a hero, and Robin Hood as a local insurgent) and turn it into this boring barrel of self-important claptrap just exemplifies all that is wrong with Hollywood right now.
NAMES TO WATCH
Sophie Lowe: The one thing that really made Rachel Ward's BEAUTIFUL KATE stand out was the (perfect) casting of Lowe in the title role, she gives a vital, energetic, fearless performance. It's a shame she missed out on the Salander role in David Fincher's THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, but mark my words, this is a movie star.
Toby Kebbell: A young British actor, on the rise since appearing in Shane Meadows' DEAD MAN'S SHOES, but now well on his way to becoming a valuable Hollywood character player. He makes this list for managing to be interesting in two of 2010's dullest, most non-descript, films; PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME and THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE.
Jac Schaffer (Centre): Writer / director of TiMER; the best film you didn't see this summer (because it only played at Sci-Fi London). TiMER marks Schaeffer out as a witty and original talent, with a firm grasp on both storytelling and acting, and a refreshingly offbeat sensibility. I just wish all rom-coms were as funny and as smart as TiMER.
Irina Potapenko: This Ukranian actress made a huge impression with a role in the Austrian thriller REVANCHE, she's so affecting in fact that when she leaves the movie half way through you never quite regain the same level of engagement with it. Her clear skill as an acress, not to mention her dazzling beauty, should see her offered a lot of interesting roles in the next few years. I can't wait to see what she does next.
I'll have much more detail on the best and worst in cinema in 2010 come the multi-part review of the year, towards the end of December. Hopefully this has given you a flavour of a summer that largely saw me tearing my hair out, screaming at Hollywood to make better movies, but often impressed me too, with distinctive films coming from all over the world.