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Posted at 12:20 PM ET, 12/31/2010

The best movie moments of 2010

By Jen Chaney

"Toy Story 3": One of the more animated highlights of the year in movies. (Pixar)

It's the time of year when we all compile lists. Lists of resolutions, lists of what's in and out, lists of what we read and what we listened to in 2010.

Of course, we also make lists of the best movies of the past year, as Post film critic Ann Hornaday recently did. Since Ann's list is so strong and my top 10 would likely just echo much of what she mentioned, I've decided to make an end-of-the-year movie list of a different sort.

So here's my rundown of the cinematic highlights of 2010, from the strongest performances to the best movie trailer to most exceptional non-use of 3-D. (Yeah, that last one's an honor that definitely won't be conferred at this year's Golden Globes or Academy Awards.) Feel free to chime in with your own favorite 2010 movie moments by posting a comment.

Male performance of the year: Christian Bale in "The Fighter." Plenty of actors did exceptional work this year, including Colin Firth in "The King's Speech," James Franco in "127 Hours" and Jesse Eisenberg in "The Social Network." But no one immersed themselves as deeply and convincingly in character as Bale did when bringing the twitchy, boastful Dicky Eklund to life.

Female performance of the year: Natalie Portman in "Black Swan." The only element more vital than Darren Aronofsky's direction of this over-the-top ballet breakdown is Portman's ability to convince us she's both impossibly fragile and capable of dark-hearted deeds. She scores on both counts.

Adrenaline rush of the year: "Kick-Ass." Despite the millions of dollars spent on high-profile summer sequels, it was this ruthlessly bloody comic book adaptation -- released in April and featuring a preteen assassin with the vocabulary of a Quentin Tarantino character -- that most made my heart race.

Breakout star of the year: Jennifer Lawrence. With her portrayal of the thick-skinned Ree Dolly in "Winter's Bone," Lawrence gave us the kind of hardscrabble, nearly hard-as-nails teen girl we rarely see onscreen. She didn't just win the attentions of film lovers and critics either, which is why, over the next year, you'll be seeing her in Jodie Foster's "The Beaver," "X-Men: First Class" and at the upcoming Sundance Film Festival, starring opposite Anton Yelchin in the indie "Like Crazy."

Movie that most demanded repeat viewings: "Inception": Christopher Nolan achieved one of the most impressive feats of 2010: He created an intellectually challenging puzzler that became a massive hit and made us hungry to go back, rewatch and resolve every subconsciousness-implanting mystery.

Best trailers: "The Social Network": Despite the fact that David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin were involved in it, a movie about the interworkings of Facebook didn't initially scream ultra-compelling. Then the teasers and trailers started to come out and we got a glimpse of what could be a whip-smart, rapid-fire look at the arrogance, betrayal and ironic social alienation involved in the building of an online friend-generating empire. Best of all, the film actually lived up to everything those clips promised.

Best romantic comedy: "The Kids Are All Right." OK, so this lesbians-meet-sperm donor love triangle wasn't technically classified as a romantic comedy. It could also just as easily be described as a family drama, a gay relationship movie or a portrait of contemporary California life. But here's the thing: "The Kids Are All Right" was sexier, more insightful about relationships and funnier than pretty much every rom-com that came out this year. For the sake of the rom-com genre's survival, I must declare this the winner.

Most underrated film of 2010: "Let Me In." Everyone who saw "Let the Right One In" didn't think Matt Reeves needed to direct this Americanized remake. And they're probably right. But he did a hell of a job regardless, adding some intriguing new plot elements to the original vampire tale and delivering the rare movie set in the '80s that actually gets the time period right.

Best non-use of 3D: "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1." Warner Bros. had the courage to eschew a 3-D upgrade for the penultimate chapter in its signature franchise when it became clear that the effort might detract from the story rather than add in-your-face impact. Of course, it's easy to be courageous when you know your movie is going to make (roughly) 87 zillion boatloads of cash regardless of how many dimensions in which it gets released. But it was a smart call nonetheless.

Best 3-D experience, and the year's biggest crowd-pleaser: "Toy Story 3." It made us laugh, it made us cry and it made more money than any other movie in 2010. On top of all that, "Toy Story 3" used 3-D to its most thrilling, eye-popping advantage without forgetting the most obvious cinematic truth, one that applies to movies this year or in any year: Above all else, the story's the thing.

By Jen Chaney  | December 31, 2010; 12:20 PM ET
Categories:  Movies, Pop Culture  
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Next: Three epic fails -- and one win -- from the holiday weekend box office


toy story was just a miserable negative experience.
the joy of the previous two was missing

Posted by: newagent99 | December 31, 2010 7:08 PM | Report abuse

Inception was an awesome movie but I don't see why it would need repeated viewings, it wasn't that difficult to follow.

Posted by: ozpunk | December 31, 2010 7:19 PM | Report abuse

Warner's 3D decision on HP7 had NOTHING to do with courage; if time permitted, they would have gladly made the movie subpar 3D and ganked use $20 each to see it.

Besides, if it did have something to do with "courage," why is Pt. 2 next year in 3D?

Posted by: playahatah | December 31, 2010 10:17 PM | Report abuse

My boyfriend and I broke up a week ago. yeah.. i'm young ,beautiful,lonely and still hurting.i maybe need someone to love..still.. My friends told me about -----told It's the best place to meet an older boyfriend or a younger one. ..So i got a username(Anna Bely) there in order to find a new boyfriend.i just don't know if it's right !!!!

Posted by: sasago | January 1, 2011 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Glad to see your nod to Christian Bale! James Franco's performance in Howl was the most fascinating movie moment of the year for me. It made my #1 at

Posted by: dregstudios | January 2, 2011 10:27 PM | Report abuse

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