Top 10 of 2010

My top movies for the year of 2010. I am trying this out because I had a lot to say about these movies, and I figure no one really reads my blog anyway so I might as well spout off on my favorites of this year.

Honorable Mentions

The Book of Eli- This was by far the best post-apocalyptic movies of the bunch that came out around the end of last year and the beginning of this year. It was very entertaining and had an interesting plot that kept you interested until the end of the film. It wasn’t one of the top ten of year for me because it had it’s flaws. The theme was not one that  challenged much, nor did it have you leaving the showing thinking in some way i want to change some part of my life. It was a good and entertaining film. Worth a watch.

 

 

 

 

The Lovely Bones- Obviously not as good as the book. This movie did pull on emotions. The acting was brilliant. Stanley Tucci really made you hate, and despise the antagonist of this film. Mark Wahlberg really makes you feel the pain and anguish of a father that lost his daughter. Saoirse Ronan captured the dreamy and otherworldliness of the role she was in as well. This only deserves an honorable mention because as a film it was not fantastic. Peter Jackson went a little too far with imagery to the point where it lost it’s focus. It was a beautiful film, but not to the point where it was a great one. Very much worth a watch. Great Acting, good plot, visuals that are more than a bit distracting, and a disappointing ending make for an good film that could have been great.

 

The Final Season of Lost- Ok ok i know it’s not a movie, but for me it was the best television of the year. It did justice to the personal relationships of the characters that we had grown to fear, love, and hate. It did not answer many of the questions we had about the island, and there are tons of internet videos devoted to that fact. But I do believe that the final episode made closure for those of us who were hooked from the moment the plane broke and crashed into this mysterious Island. It is not a film so that is why it is only an honorable mention. If you have not seen this series at all, get a netflix membership and watch them all commercial free online. It is worth wasting a good week of your free time to watch all of the episodes of this ground breaking television. There is only one series that rivaled this as the best television of the year in my mind and that was “The Walking Dead”, but it is one to watch to see where it will go in the future.

 

The Top Ten of 2010

10.  She’s Out of My League- Not a fantastic film, but it was very entertaining and reminded me a lot of my own life. I am marrying a girl who i feel is a bit out of my league. We went to see this together. This was a good feel good movie and was worth the time and money spent. So for that I am awarding it the 10th place in my top 10 of the year, but had I watched more movies at the end of the year I am more than positive this would have been bumped. So if you are looking for a fun feel good movie pick this one up.

 

 

9. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1- The greatest of the potter films thus far. The film makers did a good job of trying to include the important plot points and pieces that had been left out by the other films. It was very dark and foreboding. This film made you feel the hopelessness and lost feelings of the characters. This film does not have all of the novelty and whimsy that the former films had which made this one much much better in my opinion. I watched this film before finishing the book, which I think made it better for me. I was impressed with the film as a film without the foreknowledge of what was to come, or being biased by the writings. I re-watched the film after i had finished the book and found that had influenced my opinions on the film. They did leave out some of the things I wanted to see from the book. But from the perspective of the film being a completely different “Potter” universe it made the experience a lot better. A great beginning of the end.

8. Date Night- I was very impressed by this film. I admit I came in with notions that Steve Carell would never get out from under the shadow of his beloved television character Michael Scott from the popular television series “The Office”, but in this film he did so. I also have to admit I am not a very big fan of Tina Fey, but this comedic pairing worked for me. Their on-screen chemistry and the give and take of the characters made the film worth it. It was a very funny film and was also a good narrative on the modern american marriage seeking a better story. The seeking of a better story reckons back to a book I read this year too, “A Million Miles in a Thousand years”  by Donald Miller (pick it up). Date night was a very amusing movie about being content with what you have and learning more about the one you are with. Pick it up. My recommendation is to buy, since for me this is a movie I will want to watch again and again.

7. Kick-Ass- This movie was well… Kick-ass. This is a movie about a teenage boy who wants to become a superhero, so he does and ends up getting very badly hurt, he ends up meeting some others who have done the same. This film is a fun, but very violent film. I am not one for a ton of violence, but this film actually makes it worth watching. It is a good adaptation of a graphic novel. You certainly feel for the characters and root for them, or hate them. If you have not yet seen Kick-ass and can deal with a lot of violence and blood, it is worth seeing. If that really isn’t your bag i suggest not watching it. It is certainly not family friendly. This was great for me because honestly what boy young or old does not dream about becoming a real superhero.

 

6. Shutter Island- 2010 was a comeback year for Leonardo DiCaprio. Two excellent films with excellent roles to match. In the first 5 minutes of this film I was thinking oh this must be one of those movies that has a big twist that you won’t get until the end. I guessed at what it was, but the film made me doubt that guess. It had you trilled and at the edge of your seat throughout. It was very Hitchcock-esk in it’s presentation. I was impressed by the character development. DiCaprio did a wonderful job of sub-texting the pain and confusion of his character. This was a great film. I have not watched it a second time, though i still want to. It was one of those movies that keeps you guessing and once the twist is revealed even then you are guessing at what really happened. It makes you want to watch over again and see if you could really tell.

5. Inception- The second DiCaprio movie of the year. I really enjoyed this one. If you loved or hated this film you have to admit you talked about it. This movie still has people saying “WTF?” This film was done in such an artful way that made you want to see what was next. there was not any cheesy CG imagery. All of it looked real and wonderful. It made you believe you were exploring the dreams of other people. But this is something we are coming to expect from Chris Nolan the director. He brings a bit of reality to these otherworldly stories.  His take on the Batman series has been a great re-boot for those movies, and this film helps to show that he can take fantasy and make it a reality. Excuse me for a moment i have to go spin a top…

 

4. The Social Network- The final four of my list could definitely tie as the best films of the year in my opinion. These were all great movies, but they need to be put into an order. So I chose to put them into an order of my own emotional attachment to the films. Unfortunately I am not overly attached to this film, but it was an incredible one. As a fan and user of the popular social networking site “Facebook” this movie was one that brought the journey of its creation into light. Whether or not this story is accurate or not is irrelevant. It is a great story of personal relationships, betrayal, friendships, and what people will do for love and money. It has been called the “Citizen Kane” of our generation and it can well be so. It was well acted, well written, well filmed, and well presented. Certainly one of the best films of 2010

3. Toy Story 3- With the exception of “Up”, never before has an animated movie pulled on my heartstrings so much. Like a lot of people I grew up with the Toy Story films. I recently went through and watched the first two, and was ready for the 3rd to come out. Little did i know the emotional journey this movie would take me on. There were ups, downs, and everything in between. I feel like you could watch this movie as a stand-alone apart from its prequels, and still be emotionally invested in this film. Still as i sit an think about some of the moments in this movie I am on the verge of tears thinking about Buzz, Woody, and the others. For my generation the links to our childhood are very important to us. We hold on to our toys as a memory of “easier” and “simpler” times. This movie makes you want to go up into the attic or basement of your parents house and dig out all your old toys and either put them in a place of honor, or donate them to someone you know will love them just as much as you did. Great film, definitely a contender for one of 2010’s best.

2. Easy A- Certainly the underdog pick of 2010. This movie didn’t get a lot of the recognition it deserved. It was very much in the same arena as the late John Hughe’s classic coming of age movies. This is another great coming of age comedy. This is certainly one I want to show to all Youth ministers in the country. I want them to see what we are making teens into, as well as the good that is in those who aren’t in our ministries. This film has some great moral messages for teens as well as adults (since we all still act like we are in high school anyway). This movie was fun, well acted, and well written. Emma Stone is a great actress and I will expect to see her in more roles that display her talent as an actress. This film also has one of my favorite images of a modern family. Go rent this film! It may not win any awards, but in my book one of the best of 2010.

1. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World- To borrow a catch phrase from a beloved “Simpsons” character; best movie ever! I loved this film. For the longest time I have been a fan of cinema without an absolute favorite. I am pretty sure Scott Pilgrim has won that role, at least for now. I identified a lot with the characters, the visuals, the music, the feel, and the general funness of this movie. I am a big fan of Michael Cera’s ever since the short lived television series “Arrested Development” (bad move cancelling it tv people!). He always seems to play the same types of characters that he does so well at; the shy, nerdy, insecure guy. I have to say that is me all over. If i were to make a movie of my life I would cast him but make him gain weight so he could play me better. Back to the film. This film pulls from nerd culture gallore. It is what live action anime movies should have been, what video game movies should aspire to, and just the movie for those of us who love those nerdy things to watch. A romantic movie about a boy who meets a girl, and has to defeat her seven evil exes to be with her. It says a lot about relationships, ourselves, and what we imagine the world to be at times. In my opinion the best movie of 2010.

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The Continuing Adventures of Missing the Point

I know I often write about faith and culture, about the dichotomy that does not exist between them; despite the constant rhetoric from the western church that it does. I was sorting through my I-tunes library this morning in an attempt to get more of my good music that I haven’t listened to in a while onto my I-pod. (wow, how yuppy do I sound right now) I came across a song by Steven Curtis Chapman that I loved when it was first released. My friend Johnny G. can attest to that! Anyway i would like to share the lyrics with you before moving on:

See the Glory

By: Steven Curtis Chapman

I never did like the word mediocre
I never wanted it to be said of me, oh, no
Just point me to the top and I’d go over, over
Looking for the very best that could be
So what is this thing I see
Going on inside of me?
When it comes to the grace of God
Sometimes it’s like …

I’m playing Gameboy standing in the middle of the Grand Canyon
I’m eating candy sittin’ at a gourmet feast
I’m wading in a puddle when I could be swimming in the ocean
Tell me what’s the deal with me
(I know the time has come for me to)
Wake up and see the glory

Every star in the sky tells His story, oh
And every breeze is singing His song
All of creation is imploring
Hey, come see this grand phenomenon
The wonder of His grace
Should take my breath away
I miss so many things when I’m content with …

How could I trivialize it
This awesome gift of God’s grace?
Once I have come to realize it
I should be speechless and amazed

Wake up and see the glory
Open your eyes and take it in
Wake up and be amazed
Over and over again

God’s love is calling to you and to me
Wake up, wake up
Open your eyes

Yesterday I was chatting with the pastor of the church i work at. She had me looking for a quote which i was unable to find, despite my internet prowess. Her friend had found it before us and this made me think as well:

Why do people in church seem like cheerful, brainless tourists on a packaged tour of the Absolute? … Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake someday and take offense, or the waking god may draw us to where we can never return.”

—Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters (New York: Harper & Row, 1982), pp. 40-41.

I think that the unthinkable has happened. We have become complacent with mediocrity. We are content to live our lives ignorant of the greater reality that surrounds us everywhere we are. Have we gotten so used to the amazing that it doesn’t phase us anymore?

I am currently sitting in my office which faces the park and the Rimrocks beyond that. It is so beautiful and green. We have had a very long winter and in fact it keeps trying to sneak back in the door without going through the usual seasons of summer and winter first. I see people running around the park playing, picnic-ing, and enjoying the surroundings. I wonder though, how many of us have just taken the time to observe the incredibleness of spring. We have come out of a season of death and cold. We are now observing the season of new life. A resurrection of creation that is taking place all around us in the northern hemisphere. We miss the point.

Unfortunately, I feel this story is true about the majority of the western church as well. We are missing the point of the incredible gospel that is told to us every day. I mean we hear the words “God loves you”, but do any of us really believe it? Or do we rather go through the motions to just be labeled as “spiritual”, “holy”, or “religious”? How many of us actually believe that? How many of us actually let it impact us? Like Anne Dillard said, We are children playing on the floor with our chemistry sets! We have no idea the power and the beauty of God’s love, power, and care for us! We have put those things aside like they didn’t matter. We are missing the point.

The church has become so influenced by culture that the church has become an agent of culture. We just end up reinforcing the ideas of general society instead of becoming the counter cultural revolutionists that Jesus once was. We have put a beauty pageant sash on Jesus, and made him up. He doesn’t look like the same person. He now looks like this nice guy who likes everyone and pets little lambs. That isn’t Jesus. Do you know that man? He was a counter culture reformer. He was telling people that the kingdom of God is here! He said that God had already made peace with the world. We didn’t have to earn God’s favor! I think it’s funny that the church likes to quote so often the verse that states “Be in the world, not of the world” John 8:23b, Jesus isn’t even talking about culture there at all! Jesus is talking about belief. He was saying he was different than all the other teachers. The dichotomy that doesn’t exist should be our message. It should be the power and message of the true gospel, which states: “God loves you, there is nothing you can do about it!” That is what should set us apart from the world. The world that wants you to think that you have to appease the powers that be. This, unfortunately, has become the “gospel” the western church is obsessed with and therefore made it into an agent of culture. This “gospel” states: “be moral and turn from your evil ways and maybe God will take notice of you”. There is a whole lot more to this idea that will have to be saved for a different post on a different day.

I think it is rather appropriate that Lent takes place during the winter and usually ends toward the beginning of spring. It’s like God is using the whole world to tell us, “There is always a second chance!” Wow, that is incredible is it not? God loves us so much that there is nothing at all we can do to screw it up. No matter how bad we get,  No matter how much we ignore it or God, No matter the circumstances God loves and forgives us! That is the Good News is it not? If we truly believed that why don’t we live like it? Do you live like God loves you? Do you live like God loves everyone and everything?

I don’t know about you, but I want to live like that. I don’t want to continue overlooking the beauty and the grace that surrounds me every day. I don’t want to continue ignoring the power and majesty of God’s love and grace! God is here! God is now! God’s kingdom is here! God’s kingdom is now! I am a citizen, are you?

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