Tag Archive: black swan


The Best Films of 2010

I’ll go out on a limb and declare 2010 the best year for movies since I’ve been watching them, going back almost fifteen years. That has something to do with Netflix, through which I’ve accessed more foreign, independent, and documentary titles than ever before, but it’s more a credit to the work of great filmmakers.

2009 was the nadir. That year had no shortage of good films, and a few great ones, and I unreservedly stand by each I listed among the best, but there were few I felt unequivocally passionate about, few that held up against previous years’ offerings. I started to question myself, wondering if I’d lost some of the thrill of moviegoing. 2010 put that fear to rest.

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The Academy Awards telecast is tomorrow. Here is who I think will take top honors:

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Oscar punditry isn’t an exact science, but it’s close. As the years go by, nearly two months of precursors are more and more accurately distilled into predictions, removing most of the suspense on the morning of Oscar nominations. Some of this year’s choices were more surprising than others (Javier Bardem in Biutiful, John Hawkes in Winter’s Bone), but every single one was mentioned at at least one stop on the Oscar campaign highway. These days, the Oscars feel more like the victory lap than the race.

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Dir. Darren Aronofsky
(2010, R, 108 min)
★ ★ ★ ★

At its heart, the hypnotically brilliant Black Swan is about the conflict between expression and control. It stars Natalie Portman as Nina Sayers, a New York ballerina working relentlessly for her chance at stardom. She’s fanatically disciplined, and her technique is flawless, but her face is hard and tense, like a cable pulled tight and ready to snap. Ballet is an art that forgives no mistake, not a foot out of place or an ounce of fat to alter the balance of a perfect physical form. Nina has dedicated herself at the expense of all else.

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