Monday, January 10, 2011

My Favorite Movie of 2010

To be clear, this isn't a movie that I think will -- or even should -- be nominated for Best Picture by any organization. It's not the type of movie that will make most critics' top ten lists. But it's the most fun I had at a movie theater in 2010, and it's one of the most original visions I've seen on the big screen in years. And I'd put my money on its longevity; expect to see it at midnight screenings and in constant cable reruns in the decades to come.

My favorite movie of 2010 is (as if you haven't already noticed the picture)...

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

For those of you who missed it -- and based on its box office performance, that's most of you -- Scott Pilgrim is about a guy who meets the girl of his dreams and must come to terms with her baggage and his own personal issues in order to stay with her. Standard romantic dramedy stuff... until the movie reveals that Scott's metaphorical struggle will unfold literally. He's forced to defeat the girl's seven evil exes in order to stay with her.

What you end up with is a clever blend of elements from manga/anime and video games. Fights begin in the classic fighting game style, with contenders on opposite sides of the screen with a "vs." in the middle. They conjure gigantic weapons from behind their backs. They execute super moves. They can take a massive pummeling before they feel any real effects. And the loser of each fight explodes into a pile of coins, which makes perfect sense in that video game logic way.

For good measure, underground rock, film noir, and Bollywood also play a part; and I'm just scratching the surface of all the influences and references in this movie.

Scott Pilgrim is as fast-paced, energetic, humorous and stylish as you'd expect from Shaun of the Dead's Edgar Wright. Tirelessly attentive to detail, Wright nails the look and feel of everything he's referencing. Notice the flashing lights and contrasting shadows when characters land punches. Notice the pixelization as characters brandish their weapons. Notice the motion lines as characters whoosh toward each other. And that's not to mention all the old school sound effects in the audio mix.

Having underperformed in theaters, Scott Pilgrim seems to be getting its due on home video. But if you haven't seen it yet, do yourself a favor and buy or rent the freshest, most original, innovative and enjoyable movie of 2010.

Runner up: The Social Network


  1. I just re-watched Pilgrim and I still liked it, especially the stuff you highlight, but the film also suffers in the middle as it slows down and meanders...not unforgivable, just a negative for me, but that being said I love the cast (except maybe Ramona, which is a bummer since she's the female lead) and the references and after reading some of the comic I have to give the film a lot of props for being as succinct as it is.

  2. Hmmm... I'm thinking I might have to give this another try, but when Matt and I watched it, I did not like it at all. I pretty much stopped paying attention before the first fight scene because I wasn't interested in the characters, the pacing was too slow for me. I also felt the visual effects were, for the most part, pointless attempts to prop up the plot.

    Then, once the evil exes part was introduced, I lost all interest. I thought the movie could've been interesting if it was about the girl and why she's so amazing that she's created evil exes or whatever, but since it seemed created as an excuse for ridiculous fight scenes, I just couldn't get into it.

  3. I think, to a large extent, the marketing set people up for something that wasn't quite what the movie was. I think we were set up to think that the laughs and the video game fights would be non-stop. But there's really quite a bit of ordinary life happening, especially in the first act; and I'll admit that that's not the movie's strongest element. But I think it works as setup for what the movie is ultimately about: coming to terms with the relationship history of someone you're dating. And I greatly appreciate that the movie has a point like that to make, whereas a lesser creative team could have easily made a movie that was all style and no substance.

  4. After re-watching it last night, I think Wallace (Culkin) really makes the movie for me. Besides his great delivery of throw-away/side comments, he's the voice of reason for Scott.


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