Local fans choose year's top movies

In this film publicity image released by Warner Bros., Leonardo DiCaprio is shown in a scene from "Inception." The Golden Globe awards air live at 8 tonight on NBC. (AP Photo/Warner Bros., Melissa Moseley)

Published: Sunday, January 16, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 13, 2011 at 3:49 p.m.

These first few weeks of 2011 have movie aficionados buzzing about the best of 2010.

Tonight's Golden Globe Awards will set the stage for endless Academy Award predictions and watercooler talk. Will the same films and stars who claim Globes tonight take home Oscars in February? The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will announce its nominees on Jan. 25, with the ceremony set for Feb. 27.

So what is the buzz among local movie experts and diehard fans? If people in Marion and Alachua counties were to crown Hollywood's best of 2010, what films would win the bling?

Topping several local lists is Golden Globe Best Drama nominee “The King's Speech,” the Colin Firth-anchored biopic about King George VI getting help from a radical speech therapist.

“So many movies are based on overcoming adversity, but most are fiction. This was the first I've seen that's nonfiction,” noted Adriana Rosas, an Ocala movie buff who owns Purple Cow Communications. “It was interesting to see how fragile the parent-child relationship was. An abusive environment can make us or break us. These real-life stories exist but are rarely presented, especially something about the royal family. The cinematography and acting were superb.”

“I thought it would be very good, and it was,” added Cam MacGregor, an Ocala-based character actor and producer whose documentary “What Is the Electric Car?” debuted Dec. 14 at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood.

“The King's Speech” is second on his list of Top 5 movies of 2010, which is topped by the Coen Brothers' Western “True Grit.” MacGregor's list also includes “Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows, Part 1,” “Twilight Saga: Eclipse” and “Inception.”

“ ‘Inception' was brilliant,” noted Ocala artist Jessi Miller. “I love a good psycho-thriller that keeps you hooked the whole time and makes you think.”

The drama “Winter's Bone” — about a girl's dangerous search for her drug-dealing father — topped many end-of-the-year critics' lists. Locally, it also is a top pick for John Johnson, a video production teacher at Howard Middle School in Ocala.

The rest of his Top 5: “The King's Speech,” “Black Swan,” “Inception” and “Exit Through The Gift Shop,” a documentary and multi-film-fest champ about a French shopkeeper and amateur filmmaker who try to befriend graffiti artist Banksy.

“These five films of 2010 pull at the inner being, the core of our existence,” Johnson said. “They propel us to a path, a decision of what we must do to be an overcomer, and the importance of being true to ourselves.”

Echoing accolades for “The King's Speech” and “Winter's Bone” — and such other films as “The Kids Are All Right” — is Shirley Lasseter, director of the Hippodrome Cinema, the oldest movie theater in Gainesville and the only art house in the city as well.

She described “The Kids Are All Right,” about a lesbian couple and their two children who were conceived through artificial insemination, as greatly succeeding in its message about the universality of family.

“As you looked at that family, you realized they're just like every other family you know. And the fact that they're two women instead of a man and a woman didn't make the kids better, it didn't make them worse,” Lasseter said.

Allison Rittmayer, president of the Graduate Film Studies Group at the University of Florida, pointed to such films as “Exit Through The Gift Shop” and “Black Swan,” as well such others as “Greenberg,” “The Social Network” and “A Prophet.”

While the trailer for “Greenberg” portrayed it almost as a romantic comedy, the film itself had a darker tone and darker lead character played by Ben Stiller, a New Yorker who moves to Los Angeles to house-sit for his brother and becomes attracted to his brother's assistant.

“His character has a serious problems in his life, and it turns out that he's really kind of a despicable character,” Rittmayer said.

Rittmayer also praised “A Prophet,” a French film about a 19-year-old Arab who becomes involved with the Corsican mafia while in prison, for its different take on a gangster's story, and “The Social Network” for eschewing a cliched look at computer programmers and giving balance to its characters as well.

“I think the director [of ‘The Social Network'] did a good job of showing the business side of Facebook without overly demonizing any one person. I think of all the characters had their flaws, and it wasn't necessarily blaming one specific person for being the biggest villain in the growth of Facebook,” she said.

That said, there is much to be said for big-box-office champs that simply make people happy.

“Obvious ones,” Miller added, “are ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1' and ‘Toy Story 3.' But even though they are obvious, they are great!”

“Toy Story 3,” incidentally, is a Golden Globe nominee for Best Animated Feature.

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