1. Enter The Void (Dir. Gaspar Noe)
Although technically this was released in 2009, it was not released to a wide audience until this Summer (2010) - and there is no way I am letting it slip by without the credit it deserves. Enter the Void is not just a movie, but an incredible emulation of an experience that we may or may not go through once our lives have reached their end. There hasn't been an artistic interpretation of life and death as profound or as stimulating since Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey". Of course, since it is a Gaspar Noe film, you're going to get a very heavy plot on TOP of the experience which is both disturbing and endearing at the same time. Enter the Void is not for common moviegoers - it's art; it's dark visual poetry. It's very challenging (although not nearly as challenging as Noe's last film, 'Irreversible') and in my opinion, it is one of the most innovate and important films made in the last 10 years.
2. Black Swan (dir. Darron Aronofsky)
The ultimate converging of psychological drama, horror, and dark surrealism. Join Natalie Portman in her Oscar worthy performance on her spiral into stress-induced psychosis. Aronofsky again proves himself to be one of the true modern masters of his craft through tastefully beautiful cinematography and intensity when need be. Clint Mansell, his partner in crime, kills it again with an amazing orchestral score that basically never lets up through the entire film, and is just as important an element as every other perfect aspect. Vincent Cassell also destroys with his performance as usual - Barbara Hershey gives a great performance as well, playing the effectively detestable mother figure. Of course, what really makes the film so phenomenal is the flow and the experience of slowly sinking into the black hole along with Portman's poor character. It's a grueling ride - one that everyone should take.
3. I'm Still Here (dir. Casey Affleck)
This is the greatest joke anyone has played on movie audiences/Hollywood in my lifetime. From Oscar-winning actor to hobo-esque, white-rapper wannabe, amphetamine-snorting goon - JOAQUIN PHOENIX wins for the man of the year. Even after Casey Affleck officially stated in interviews that it was all a hoax, people are still CONVINCED it's real. Joaquin had that character down to a T, hmmm - i wonder why?!?! Genius!!!!
4. 127 Hours (dir. Danny Boyle)
Danny Boyle rules, and in this film especially, James Franco rules even harder. I loved Boyle's style of cinematography and choice of music - while it still has an innovate modern feel, it also feels like a bit of a throwback to his 90's feel ala one of my favorite movies of all time, Trainspotting. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll cringe - and you'll think about the fact that it could happen to you. Fantastic film.
5. Kick-Ass (dir. Matthew Vaughn)
This movie was such a surprise! I did not expect the level of brutality I received! Watching Hit-Girl murder dudes will never get old. Nicolas Cage was where he belongs in a dry, campy role. We have found a new, young, worthwhile actor in lead Aaron Johnson as well. I have a feeling we'll be seeing more good things from director Matthew Vaughn in the future! Definitely my favorite blockbuster-style movie of the year. Wildly entertaining throughout. I would recommend it to anyone.
6. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (dir. Edgar Wright)
Absolutely the best campy film of the year! And definitely a new modern/cult classic, there is no denying it. The style in the cinematography, editing, and even in the dialogue is so insanely personable and obscure - it would have to be hard for any artist not to admire it. Cera's 3rd best role, only after Arrested Development & Superbad. Kieran Culkin (Igby Goes Down 4-EVR) & Chris Evans also shine. From the opening shot featuring a song directly out of Legend of Zelda, I was already in love.
7. Cyrus (dir. Jay & Mark Duplass)
You have to love the awkward chemistry between John C Reilly and Jonah Hill. It's just too believable, and way too entertaining. And after "The Wrestler", what man isn't completely in love with Marisa Tomei (I am, that's for sure). I just love the realism in this film - it makes the humor very relatable and raw. And god damn, I'll never forget Jonah Hill's one-man electronic performance. Also, Human League has become my favorite band to sing karaoke to - thanks Cyrus.
8. Inception (dir. Christopher Nolan)
Amazing CGI and visual concepts. Stellar cast, stellar performances. These were enough to keep the movie VERY entertaining. The only downfall to me however...what is it that happened in this movie again? I can't remember...
9. The Social Network (dir. David Fincher)
Loved being able to learn the story behind something so fresh and modern. Tasteful effective cinematography and flow throughout thanks to David Fincher. Jesse Jewgenburger proves himself worthwhile with a performance far superior to his in that pile of garbage, Zombieland. Oh, and duh, the Trent Reznor soundtrack totally made the whole movie.
10. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (dir. Niels Arden Oplev)
Slow as fuck for the first half, then all of a sudden it starts getting hardcore. Noomi Rapace stabilizes herself as a desirable icon for both men and women alike and hopefully a new Swedish star of the silver screen - she deserves it. They don't release thriller/mysteries like this in the US anymore. It takes patience and in the end the reward is worth it. It's intense and tasteful. Cheers.
11. Get Him To The Greek
I'd hit it.
***BEST MUSIC RECORDS of 2010***
1. Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti 'Before Today'
Apparently, Ariel Pink has been around for a decade now putting out lo-fi albums full of zany songs exploding with so much personality and tape hiss that most commoners would not be able to fathom it. In 2010, he decided to up the production values and make a record that was a little easier to swallow. It seems like it was a pretty good idea. 'Before Today' is probably the best album since Of Montreal's 2006 endeavor 'Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?'. It covers so much different ground musically that you could never put a genre label on it. Each song has such a different persona, so much character, and they're each as memorable as the track before it. All classics - every single song. From the feel-good surf opener, through the hauting melodies of "L'estat" and "Fright Night", into the throwback singalong "Round and Round", to the stoned out dance party "Beverly Kills", to the grunge garage with "Butt House Blondies", into the emo 80's with "Can't Hear My Eyes", through the kraut-inspired sexually questionable "Menopause Man", and capped off with the punk-gaze conclusion "Revolution's a Lie" - 'Before Today' is one of the best musical collections in some time. It's like a god damn Greatest Hits collection for a phenomenal 70's/80's rock band that never even existed!
- every single one
2. Caribou 'Swim'
Dan Snaith blows minds with his 5th album. As far as music that is extremely effective, 'Swim' is the freshest, most innovative release of the year. Although Caribou has changed up his sound on each of his releases quite dramatically, I think he may have found a sound here that he may be smart enough to stick with for another album or two. Comparable to when Radiohead released 'Kid A', Caribou's 'Swim' is the most important electronic based release of the year. Opener "Odessa" is one the strongest songs of the entire year. "Sun" seems to be a throwback to the vibes of classic techno ala Orbital, Chemical Brothers, etc and since it's the only track with that vibe it becomes a stand out. "Kaili" sets the tone for the entire record with it's thematic vocal melody and dreamy sounds. "Bowls" makes it's mark as one of the most unique jams of the year, instrumentally (especially when done live), "Leave House" would make a great radio single, and album closer "Jamelia" pretty much steals the show in my opinion, building up to an emotional vocal breakdown over an off-kilter synth pattern which in combination creates quite possibly the most beautiful musical moment put onto tape in 2010. Fantastic music. Dan Snaith has put himself onto the A-List with this one.
3. Crystal Castles 'Crystal Castles (II)'
When I first heard this I was a little disappointed that they let go of the 8-bit sound they got popular for with their first record, THEN I realized it doesn't matter because this album is probably FIVE times better than the first one. Basically, if you like to party, or like to do drugs, or if you like to party while doing drugs, this is the album you want. Alice Glass has become a new icon through her tweaked out spasms, both vocally and through her presence - and that's all she needs to do to make her mark in the band. As far as everything else (the music), Ethan Kath has the best taste in selecting sounds and in writing riffs out there right now - at least catering to my tastes. Almost every song is a tripped out, subtle epic - laying low in it's own drowned out darkness, then exploding out when the time is right. I'll be cranking this one for a long time. Can't wait to see them do it live in March.
4. Bear in Heaven 'Beast Rest Forth Mouth'
This band surprised me. They still sound like a full band, which is rare, and nice, these days. I love the dudes semi-monotonous vocals - they're very droned out, which is a wonderful compliment to the repetitive, droned out music! The record feels heavy, without actually ever being heavy - and that is a wonderful thing. Although their sound is very thick, the album remains calm and quiet the majority of the time which ends up being a very impressive, enjoyable sound. I have a feeling this one will appeal most to actual musicians and fans of music (not lyrics, or choruses they can sing a long to). Every track is fantastic, all the way through. I highly recommend any true music fan to give this a chance!
- "You Do You"
- "Lovesick Teenagers"
- "Beast in Peace"
5. Cold Cave 'Love Comes Close'
Although this technically came out at the very end of 2009, I believe it is too good to let slip by without recognition! It is amazing to see so many old hardcore/metalcore faces break through once again in 2010 with fresh sounds and new bands (ala these guys and Sleigh Bells). Wes Eisold, the infamous one-armed ex vocalist of American Nightmare/Give Up The Ghost has proved himself worthy as a new cold wave, goth-worshipping force to be reckoned with. His Joy Division-esque, uber-low vocals work pleasantly with these minimal synth jams, full of quirky hooks. The addition of Jenny Clavin's dreamy vocals is a necessary addition to many of the tracks including "The Trees Grew Emotions and Died", "Theme From Tomorrowland", and the album highlight "Life Magazine". This is the kind of music that makes me happy to be alive in 2010.
- "Life Magazine"
- "Youth and Lust"
6. Salem 'King Night'
Basically, I've been talking about wanting to make music for the last couple of years and I've had a specific sound in my head - Salem is now capitalizing on that sound and calling it "rape-gaze". They're definitely the most intriguing new musicians of the year, mostly due to their degrading interviews and really really horrible live videos. Fortunately for them, this record is so perfect that it fully redeems every other aspect that could be seen as faults. These guys look like dirty hipster demons, and their debut release was called "Yes, I Smoke Crack" - and it comes off as being no surprise if it's true. The music is hardly as tongue-in-cheek as that title though. If M83 were part of a yin yang, M83 would be the white, and Salem would be the black. Drowned out, minor-chord synth riffs are really the only aspect that truly matter through these deep, dark hallucinative ballads. And, it's fun when that Jack kid decides to rap over them too. Drown in this self-proclaimed "rape-gaze" and let it guide you into the next decade!
- "Release Da Boar"
7. Robyn 'Body Talk' collection
We have a new pop goddess, ladies and gentleman! Not only was 'Body Talk Pt. 1' full of the best pop songs of the year, but then Robyn had to go and release TWO MORE albums full of fun-ass pop tracks! She is a god damn force of nature! Thank god for Sweden, because no one in the U.S. seems to be capable of keeping AHEAD of the trends, instead of just sitting there right on top of them.
- "Dancing On My Own"
- "Cry When You Get Older"
- "In My Eyes"
8. Beach House 'Teen Dream'
This one took a long time to really grow on me! At first, it's almost too simplistic and almost stale. Then, with each listen the melodies start to stick with you. You want more of that voice. You want to float in that 'Teen Dream' along with it, over and over again. It's the best "universal background music" record of the year, but you can listen to it while singing along and bobbing your head just as well. It's just so chill! And, I didn't even realize the girl who sings was hot until just now! She gets down so hard at the live shows!
- "Lover of Mine"
- "Take Care"
- "Silver Soul"
9. Deerhunter 'Halycon Digest'
Calm, tasteful music in a traditional sense. While it may not live up the the absolute classic that was their last album, 'Microcastle', this is still a thoroughly enjoyable album through and through. Guitars, guitars, guitars. I'm glad someone still knows how to use guitars and make songs that don't sound like they have been done a million times before already.
- "Memory Boy"
10. Sleigh Bells 'Treats'
Derek Miller ditched Poison The Well years ago, and apparently with good reason - I guess he had something sweet in mind this whole time! Sleigh Bells debuts with one of the freshest new sounds of the year. I mean, c'mon - nobody sounds like Sleigh Bells. And I like it because it hits so hard - nobody hits hard anymore! The only complaint is that yeah, all the songs kind of sound the same, and yeah some of them are a little repetitive and annoying - but THAT SOUND! It's nuts! I can't wait to see what they do with the next record.
- "Riot Rhythm"
- "Run The Heart"
- "Rill Rill"
11. LCD Soundsystem 'This is Happening'
It's too bad that James Murphy has decided to retire from being an artist/performer just as he has reached his prime. He's made it clear on this record that he is capable of capitalizing on any genre of music, as long as it's unbearably catchy. This record holds some of the greatest party jams of the year, especially "I Can Change".
- "I Can Change"
- "Dance Yrself Clean"
- "All I Want"
12. Owen Pallett 'Heartland'
Nobody else is making music like this. The man who used to go by the moniker, Final Fantasy, has switched over to his real name due to obvious copyright issues. This guy is the new king of strings, building epic songs through his violin riffs and a loop pedal almost entirely alone. Also, that voice is incomparable in the way that's slightly operatic and so far off from everyone else's right now. This is the kind of music you listen to while drinking tea and crumpets on your patio on a Sunday morning.
- "The Great Elsewhere"
- "Midnight Directives"
- "Keep The Dog Quiet"
13. Panthu Du Prince 'Black Noise'
Love this shit! A new important leader in analog minimalism! It's like Aphex Twin's early ambient works/analogue bubblebath material has converged with the modern electro sounds of fresh artists like Caribou. Not only do the songs grow and break apart - but so does the entire album as a whole. Each track is a wonderful journey in itself ala the soundscapes of bands I'm super into like Zombi, but each piece is crucial to the whole. I listen to this A LOT!
- "A Nomad's Retreat"
- "Stick To My Side"
- "Satellite Snyper"
14. Die Antwoord '$0$'
Is it a joke, or is it serious? It doesn't matter. Much like the effect of Joaquin Phoenix's "I'm Still Here" - we need great hoaxes in 2010. The album has a lot of obnoxious (almost unlistenable) tracks, but the great ones make up for it. Plus, we need an outlet for Ninja and the hottest new bitch in music Yo-Landi Vi$$er. I don''t like rap - but I sure as fuck like this...
- "Enter the Ninja"
- "Very Fancy"
- "I Don't Need You"
15. Gorillaz 'Plastic Beach'
Damon Albarn continues making appealing, innovative music as he allows Gorillaz to blossom into something entirely new with each record. The middle of this record holds all the strong tracks, mostly consisting of slower dynamic electronic ballads. "On Melancholy Hill" is one the strongest songs of the year.
- "On Melancholy Hill"
- "Rhinestone Eyes"
16. Circa Survive 'Blue Sky Noise'
Rock is no longer a very easy genre to make standout records in, but Circa Survive manages to stick around as one of the best bands the rock genre has to offer currently. Although isn't quite up to snuff with their first two records, it does hold it's own and continues to get better with repeat listens. Anthony Green continues to push his voice further and further, reaching a new height in the albums first single "Get Out". I hope this band sticks around for a long, long time. "I Felt Free" is the greatest rock ballad of the year.
- "I Felt Free"
- "Get Out"
- "Imaginary Enemy"
17. Tobacco 'Maniac Meat'
The main man in Black Moth Super Rainbow has basically ditched the band because he discovered he can make similar music just as well on his own. It doesn't seem like too horrible of a decision. Maniac Meat hits harder than any album BMSR ever put out. The sounds are ridiculously crunchy, very melodic and very abrasive simultaneously. Most tracks are instrumental, rightfully so, and do fine without vocals - but when Tobacco's vocoded vocals or Beck's guest vocals do effectively take place, they do end up being the highlights of the record. Fun stuff!
- "Unholy Demon Rhythms"
- "Fresh Hex"
- "Heavy Makeup"
18. Fang Island
Members of Daughters and a bunch of guitar-loving dudes from Rhode Island prove themselves to be the rookies of the year when it comes to invoking good times with bright, shredded riffs. To me it brings on fantastic feelings somewhere between those provided by Andrew W.K. and old Saves The Day (it doesn't sound like either of those, simply provokes similar posi vibes). This is a great debut!
- "Life Coach"
- "Careful Crossers"
19. Tegan & Sara 'Sainthood'
It doesn't have the memorability of the last two crucial albums, probably due to it's change of pace from being incredibly emo to a more aggressive sound. But, it's still full of nearly perfect pop songs. These hot sisters can do no wrong.
- "Red Belt"
20. Of Montreal 'False Priest'
Kevin Barnes continues dominating the world with his brand of schizophrenic funk, carried over from the last record. 'False Priest' is superior to the last album in the way that it's clashing instruments are just as chaotic as before, but the song structures have been simplified dramatically. While in a lot of cases complexity is something to be proud of, this seems to be working better for Barnes...at least in the genre of psychedelic funk.
- "Hydra Fancies"
- "Enemy Gene"
- "Our Riotous Defects"
***BEST SONGS OF 2010 (THAT WEREN'T ON ANY OF THOSE RECORDS)***
1. THE KNIFE "Colouring of Pigeons"
2. La Roux "Bulletproof"
3. Yeasayer "O.N.E."
4. Hot Chip "One Life Stand"
5. Girls "Substance"
6. MGMT "It's Working"
7. Liars "Scarecrows on a Killer Slant"
8. Health "Die Slow"
9. Burzum "Kaimadalthas' Nedstigning"
10. Arcade Fire "Sprawl II"
11. School of Seven Bells "Windstorm"
12. Delorean "Real Love"
13. Health "USA Boys"
14. Starring "Wife of God"
15. Girls "Carolina"
16. Broken Social Scene "Forced To Love"
***THE BEST MUSIC VIDEOS of 2010***
Lady Gaga - Telephone
LCD Soundsystem - Drunk Girls
Health - USA Boys
Sufjan Stevens - Too Much
Hot Chip - I Feel Better
Health - We Are Water
***Worst movie of 2010***
Things in 2010 I didn't get to check out that might've made the list?:
Sufjan Stevens - Age of Adz
ALBUMS THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN ON MY TOP 10 for 2009:
NEON INDIAN 'PSYCHIC CHASMS'