Illustration by Adeline Pericart
We start 2010 by looking back at a few of our favourite films of 2010. Throughout January we’ll be adding to the list. As always, feel free to add your own favourites. If you’d like to include your own review, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
It would be easy to acknowledge that we have entered the generation of film recycling when we realise that some of our most beloved screen favourites are making a comeback, now complete with Liam Neeson. 2010 was certainly a big year for silver-screen recycling with The A-Team, Predators, and Tron: Legacy among others making an appearance in our cinema listings. Fortunately for us, in 2010, whilst this recycling habit may have felt at times like lazy filmmaking, certain films came along this year that sought to change the face of storytelling, and, when watching a film like Shutter Island, we can relax with our popcorn and enjoy the delicious understanding that 2010 was, in fact, a wonderful year for filmmaking.
Shutter Island is the film adaptation of the incredibly crafted Dennis Lehane novel of the same name. The inevitable groans escaped the throats of die-hard fans of the novel, only to be inevitable quashed by Martin Scorsese’s masterful vision. Scorsese has an uncanny talent for creating atmosphere. There is something almost Hammer-esque about the way we feel immediately uneasy before the movie even begins, before we have been introduced to our characters. We’re nervous, but we don’t quite know why. Gorgeous performances from Michelle Williams, Emily Mortimer, and Mark Ruffalo draw us in to a film that both irresistible and horrifically beautiful.
2010 was a big year for Leonardo DiCaprio, in which he left the memory of his days as a mere heart-throb far behind and took on some difficult roles which required heavy dedication and a suspension of sanity. Having stated that he likes characters that aren’t always what they seem, 2010 became the year in which DiCaprio became the acting epitome of these characters. Through this year’s Inception and Shutter Island, DiCaprio has proven himself to be a new breed of method actor, one whom is a joy to watch change and adapt to suit any character, although here, his accent may have been vaguely irritating, whilst the plaster on his head became a mind-boggling feat of modern engineering as it clung on for dear life. Minor irritations aside, DiCaprio is one of many reasons for Shutter Island’s appearance as one of my top films of 2010.
Shutter Island remains one of my top films of 2010 purely because it is a feast for the eyes and the brain cells which were often little stimulated in cinema seats this year. Here was a modern haunted house tale with so many twists and turns that the audience were never entirely sure where they had ended up. Shutter Island is immediately revealed as an asylum for the criminally insane, and as it looms dark in the distance, tension builds to breaking point. The outcome is never what you had expected and many theories immediately surfaced about the true meaning of the final scene. That, for this reviewer, is the mark of a great film.
Shutter Island is not merely a film, it is an experience. I genuinely don’t know how Scorsese managed to take a text to such lofty visual heights, or how he has managed to visually denote such a difficult text to such perfection, but here he has proved himself to be not only one of our most beloved directors, but also a master craftsman. Like some others, I choose to believe that he’s hiding some of his talent in those magnificent eyebrows.