Sidebar re: format:

So I thought about how to do my retrospective and after that series of articles about the X-Men MCU stuff, I decided I liked the “series” format. I’ve tried it before but never stuck with it for very long so we’ll see if I can get through ten parts of this. By the time I’m done, it’ll likely be summer and the ten year anniversary of this blog. I’m gonna try to keep it up at my own pace so I won’t promise a regular schedule. Just watch out for these every so often.

This series won’t just be pieces about what movies and shit I like now vs. then or about giving appraisals for stuff I missed at the time. It’ll also be about this blog itself with probably a ton of linking to specific things I bring up. A lot of the images I used back then are links and broken now. I was also a different dude in a lot of ways so if you click links and back-read, fair warning!

When it comes to naming a “Retrospective Best” in whatever category, the criteria I have in mind are this: something that I loved then and still love now. That’s basically it. I won’t be choosing stuff I only loved then and cooled on or stuff I love now but wasn’t into until many years later. I’ll try to stick to that as close as I can so that this doesn’t become a rehash of shit I’ve already written.

Also, there won’t be many pics with this series. I would have to include pictures for either almost nothing or almost everything and the latter seems too tedious.

Last thing: this is very thorough. Maybe too thorough. That also means it’s super long!

Anyway, that’s enough housekeeping. Thanks for continuing to read this.

2010 in General

 

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What an innocent, hopeful time. This blog started out in the summer of 2010 as a platform to write about basically whatever. I was in a new relationship at the time and I was transitioning away from LiveJournal and a more “look at me, look at me” mode of engaging with the internet. I would go on to repeat that phase more than once after, but I was 23 back then and so optimistic by comparison to now that I scarcely recognize myself.

I did bad short stories on here back then! I also wrote more about video games and more general pop culture/media coverage. Stuff I wrote that I’m somewhat proud of (even if the writing could use some work) are articles that still get some traffic today. One of the biggest is my piece on what happened to the original Power Rangers actors. Another was my three-parter on making a Mass Effect movie that was in many ways the precursor of that recent X-Men series. I wrote a huge piece on Orlando Bloom, of all people, that I still think about.

2010 in TV Shows

I briefly experimented with writing an overview of new shows. Not that I stuck to any of the ones in that list except Boardwalk Empire, a show I never did finish. Anyway, I didn’t try that type of article again and my writing about TV has been sporadic at best since 2010. I keep up with shows but I’m pretty selective, maybe even more so now. I find them harder to write about than movies or games so expect these sections to mostly be brief. Who knows, though, maybe I’ll wind up with more to say about this than I expect.

Since shows go on for multiple years, don’t take this as a definitive list of all I was watching at the time. Shows like Mad Men and Breaking Bad were also happening in 2010, they simply didn’t release that year.

Shows I liked that year:

  • The Walking Dead had an iffy start for me but it’s hard to deny it was a cultural sensation. It’s also a show I’ve had a complicated relationship with, having turned on it and then given it another chance at least twice in its 10 year run.
  • Justified had Walton Goggins and Timothy Olyphaunt and it was always an utter blast when either or both of those two were on screen. I dropped out in later seasons but I think the first 2-3 still hold up.
  • Boardwalk Empire was among the best crime fiction TV shows when it was on. Unfortunately, it lost its way in later seasons like many shows do and I quit watching it. It’s one I will probably revisit and finish at some point though.
  • Spartacus was off to a good if sleazy start in 2010 and I liked the show a lot despite its shortcomings. What it went on to be was truly special. Andy Whitefield was gone too soon and Jai Courtney never got to show this side of himself as an actor in anything after. There was also nothing like being a Xena fan from childhood and seeing Lucy Lawless like this.
  • Sym-Bionic Titan only ever got the one season. Genddy Tartakovsky’s name is back on lips because of 2019’s one-two punch of Primal and his work on The Mandalorian but back then he was in a weird limbo of Clone Wars cartoons, trying to get more Samurai Jack going, and this. Weirdly, I think there’s a Netflix cartoon that bears a huge similarity to this show and I wonder what the story behind that is.
  • Terriers was a great show that also ended way before its time.
  • The Ricky Gervais Show would probably still be funny to watch but I wouldn’t say I’d try nowadays. Gervais is just an asshole and even the setup of this, where they make fun of Karl Pilkington’s abject (and affected) stupidity kinda seems mean now in a way it didn’t then.

Shows from 2010 I liked later:

  • Strike Back has a weird first season but I got into it a couple of years ago and reach for it whenever I’m in a specific mood. Cinemax has made way better shows but this is the longest-lived one, I think.
  • Louie was occasionally very good but just as often kinda self-indulgent and troubling. I wouldn’t say it was a sign of things to come for Louie C.K. but maybe it was? All I know is I got into it for about two seasons and then quit watching it. Not quite in disgust but I was just kinda bored by the guy at a certain point and that boredom never went away.
  • Broad City took 10 years to make four seasons. Wow. I didn’t even realize that. I don’t remember when I got into this show but it was a couple years after this. It’s a great show and I found it just as I was getting fed up with Girls.
  • Luther is a show I still think about sometimes, even though I don’t think I ever finished it. I thought the end we got before it was briefly revived was a pretty good capstone for the series. I need to go back to this and rewatch, maybe, which seems very doable considering how short the show is overall.
  • Adventure Time is easily the best of the 2010 debuts that I didn’t watch until later.  It changed my life but I think it took til the second half of 2011 for me to start watching it.

Shows I didn’t like:

  • Ordinary Family was one I had high hopes for early on but was so milquetoast and dull that it didn’t catch on. I was long gone before it finally got cancelled.
  • Hawaii 5-0 has some appeal and lasted a really long time but it was ultimately not my jam.
  • The Event was a hacky Lost rip-off that was bad from day 1.

Shows I didn’t watch at all or enough of:

  • Sherlock is one I’m still not all that interested in. Something tells me that I’d find it excruciating to watch now.
  • Treme is a big regret but I could just never really get into it. I’ve tried a couple of times and find myself just wishing I was watching The Wire instead.
  • Haven is another regret since I’m a big Stephen King fan and this is supposedly Stephen King: The Show from before that became an actual thing.
  • Downtown Abbey is a show I’ll never get into even though I think I kinda get the appeal. It’s also one that peaked in popularity a couple of years ago now so it’s weird to notice it started out way back then.

Retrospective Best TV Show of 2010:

 

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Easily Adventure Time y’all. Come on! I think a lot of people who got into this show would say that Season 1 is still the best season overall. I think the 1-4 run is probably going to wind up my favorite with some caveats, but it may be interesting to note that I’ve never gotten past Season 2 in any of my several attempts to rewatch the whole show. It’s not a quality issue, either. It’s more like I go looking for a certain feeling from it and I get it within that first hour or two’s worth of episodes and then I’m good for a while. Adventure Time is like chicken soup or ginger ale for a certain type of emotional sickness for me and I have gone back to it a lot in the last two or three years.

It may seem like I’m going against my own rules here (already!) because I didn’t get into this show until 2011. The thing is, it was less than a year after it launched that a friend put me onto it and it was such a big deal to me that I couldn’t imagine choosing anything else from 2010 anyway. Nothing comes close.

2010 in Video Games

 

I played a lot of video games in 2010, as with every year. Maybe a bit less than these days. Back then, I had a lot more friends who were as into video games as I was. Most of us had eclectic taste with a few personal niches, and this was the spawning ground of so many pointless (didn’t seem like it then) arguments about games. But this was also a big time for sharing games physically still and I got to play a lot of stuff I would never have been able to otherwise.

Some highlights:

  • I rediscovered Minecraft after playing the Beta a bit.
  • I wrote a now-embarassing article about Kinect in January of 2011 that I’ll link here because Kinect launched in 2010 and I was an early-adopter. We would go on to dust off and play Kinectimals for years to come but beyond that, I was wrong about the Kinect except that I have seen the potential it originally posed used in some strange places.
  • A lot of indies like Limbo and Super Meat Boy came out in 2010 and I didn’t play them until much later in some cases. Just wasn’t as into indie gaming before I had Steam.
  • World of Warcraft: Cataclysm was last WoW expansion I bought and the last time I was kind of into the game. I didn’t last very long, I don’t think. I was limping along by that point, having really been playing to spend time with a group of friends and never really being into the game enough to keep up.

Games I liked that year:

  • Rock Band 3 was the last Rock Band game I owned, I think. The second one was where it peaked for me, playing with friends in big groups and often having stressful interactions about it. Microphone hogging, showboating, people being shitty about each others’ musical abilities… all stuff I don’t think any of us would be proud of now.
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game was a really nostalgic and fun time with an all-timer soundtrack I still listen to. 2010 was just a great year to be into Scott Pilgrim in general. I played this game through many times over the years, usually with friends and girlfriends. I also played with my daughter and I think it was one of her first games, though I believe that was a few years later.
  • Mafia 2 was great and maybe a bit underrated at the time.
  • Enslaved: Journey to the West came out and was completely forgotten about. I played it and really enjoyed it. I’ve seen some reappraisals of it lately and it really was an early version of the popular 3rd person cinematic action-platformer that became more prevalent later. Its production value and world design were noteworthy in 2010 and would be now, as would its commitment to its storytelling (which is maybe why it’s being brought up in 2019/20).
  • Fable 3 was great just not as good as Fable 2.
  • Kinectimals was fun for a little while for me and I enjoy it as a concept a lot more, but mostly I put it here because it is so good for kids.
  • Red Dead Redemption came out in 2010! What a fucking game. I still remember riding my horse into Mexico the first time or racing to the farm. It’s a game I have tried to replay more than probably any other since that time. I never get to the end, but I always love that first 10 or so hours.
  • Mass Effect 2 was big for me, both as an improvement to Mass Effect which was my favorite game at the time and as a coping strategy for dealing with a pretty harrowing break-up in late winter. I have replayed this one from start to end more than any other games from that time, probably more than any other games period.
  • Alpha Protocol is flawed but replayable as shit and, given The Outer Worlds, represents a scrappier Obsidian that I kinda miss.
  • Fallout: New Vegas is most peoples’ favorite Fallout game but never mine. I liked it a lot, of course, but it was buggy and lacked (in my opinion) some of the narrative buy-in that came from the intimacy of the story in Fallout 3. This was also before all the DLC which I have never played. I have yet to actually replay New Vegas, though I’ve tried, and I’ve replayed all the other games in the series (except Tactics) at least once each. Having a definitive playthrough of  New Vegas is still a white whale for me in gaming.

Games from 2010 that I liked later:

  • Amnesia: The Dark Descent was a game I played several years later with my wife, who is really into horror stuff. It’s still a classic.
  • Darksiders came out on PC and I have it on that platform now. I got it and played through most of it last year (yet to finish). When it first came out, I kinda made fun of it and people who were excited about it. I think it’s edgelord shit is tame now and kind of ironically funny. At the time, it seemed like 2010 edgelord bait for people who think swearing and tiddies makes something “mature”.
  • Bioshock 2 was one that I don’t think I played the year it came out. I really liked it when I did, after hearing how it was mediocre or bad. It really wasn’t and I think I connected to its father-daughter story more than I did to Bioshock.
  • Metro 2033 is another one I’m not sure I played that year but wound up being a game I still consider great. Until Exodus in 2019, I would have said the series peaked here and was destined to become more generic. Exodus proved me wrong.
  • Alan Wake is one I again may have played in 2010 after all. I don’t remember! It’s a good game, though. That I do remember. It’s also the first one I can recall that structured itself like a TV series, a framing device I’ve seen used more since in games like Until Dawn and Resident Evil 7.
  • Singularity was a budget titled FPS with time travel mechanics that felt a bit like Bioshock and kinda got lost in the shuffle of similar games at the time. I played it later and it’s actually kind of a hidden gem in its subgenre.

Games I did not like much then or now:

  • Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 came out and was the last try at a narrative semi-canonical SW game until this 2019’s Fallen Order. It wasn’t as good as its own predecessor and kinda turned people off or something. I remember grudgingly finishing it.
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops was a very hyped up side game by a different but still competent studio. It boasted celebrity voice acting by Sam Worthington among others. In some ways it was a cool game and experiment, but it was also a frustrating experience playing it. The game was cheap as fuck.
  • Final Fantasy 13 was pretty divisive and marked the first time a lot of people my age had to grapple with the question of how much time video gaming really eats up and when/if it’s worth it in cases like this. This was the beginning of both the “keep playing for x and it’ll get good” sunken cost apologia as well as the still-popular tendency for people to equate value with how many hours of play-time there are.

Retrospective Best Game of 2010:

 

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Mass Effect 2 would have been a narrow pick over RDR at the time, but it’s an easy one now. This game was ahead of its time and really showed the potential of what Bioware had been doing for years when merged with higher production values and a more focused overall design. It’s also one of the few examples of a game that borrows elements from TV/movies without overdoing it or in an especially clever way. ME2 is structured like a TV series and once you notice that, it’s hard to not see it in many aspects of its presentation and structure. It was also a brilliant choice that gives the game a better ludonarrative feel than the others in the series. Mass Effect 2 is about going from place to place and solving a big mystery one firefight/negotiaton/companion quest at a time. Its large cast of characters are the most memorable and its choice/consequences the most impactful. It also did a better job with the Paragon/Renegade moral dichotomy than the other games did. It’s not quite as emotionally resonant as parts of Mass Effect 3 and it lacks the truly open exploration of Mass Effect but I still think it’ll always be the best in the series.

2010 in Film:

 

My OG Worst 10 of 2010 List:

  • 10. Daybreakers
  • 9. Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole
  • 8. From Paris With Love
  • 7. Skyline
  • 6. Alice in Wonderland
  • 5. Legion
  • 4. Jonah Hex
  • 3. Clash of the Titans
  • 2. The Last Airbender
  • 1. Let Me In

I managed to never see any of those movies again, except Alice in Wonderland which was just because I happened to have a daughter the right (wrong) age to want to watch it over and over for like three straight years.

Interestingly, Skyline is an anomaly on the list because it spawned a sequel years later that is actually a pretty good time. The rest of the movies on there are absolute garbage in all cases and none of them are worth revisiting. Some people have argued with me about Let Me In and the fucking owl movie over the years. Maybe I’ll eventually rewatch the one about the owls but I won’t feel good about it.

And man, I left Alpha and Omega out because I kind of felt bad for it but trust me when I say it’s really bad.

Retrospective Worst 10 of 2010 List:

Cut:

  • Daybreakers just didn’t stay memorable for me. I don’t care about it. It might as well be Grown Ups.
  • Clash of the Titans is one I’ve rewatched (I was made to!) and have softened on. I think I’ve mostly softened on bad fantasy films in general. They’re something of a guilty pleasure for me now.

Added:

  • Iron Man 2 is simply the worst MCU movie ever made. It’s got a few bright spots but it really shows what they overcome by the time Phase 2 came to an end.
  • The Expendables is pure trash. It’s not even ironically fun. The sequels have a few moments and there’s some The Room-level nonsense in this one, but all in all it’s playing things pretty straight which was a huge mistake.

Revised List:

  • 10. Iron Man 2
  • 9. Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole
  • 8. From Paris With Love
  • 7. The Expendables
  • 6. Legion
  • 5. Skyline
  • 4. Jonah Hex
  • 3. Alice in Wonderland
  • 2. The Last Airbender
  • 1. Let Me In

 

My OG Top 15 of 2010 List:

Overall I still think this is a pretty solid list. But there are some things I need to change, especially positioning.

Retrospective Top 15 of 2010 List:

Cut:

  • The American is a weird one because I bought it on bluray the following year and have never watched it again. I feel like it was great when I saw it but I doubt it would stick around if I ever do get around to watching it again.
  • Never Let Me Go is a film I still struggle with to this day. Adding it to the list in the first place feels like it was probably a concession to my friends who were way more taken with it. It did stuck with me at the time but now I’d sooner include something I more fully love.
  • Tron: Legacy is a movie I still like but I’ve seen it enough times now to balance out my love with its world and aesthetics with its weaknesses.

Added:

  • Valhalla Rising is the one that hurt the most to cut back in 2010. I’ve seen it a couple of times since and it has always been my #1 “if I could go back and change it” for 2010’s list.
  • Ondine is a great little film that I wound up seeing a couple of times over the years. It’s very sweet and intimate and has become one of my favorite romantic films of all time.
  • Mr. Nobody is a genre-bending, trippy science fiction movie that explores the impact of choice on the direction of our lives. It also spends a lot of time musing on big philosophical questions, particularly existential ones. I’ve seen it a few times now and it’s always got something new to offer.

Revised List:

  • 15. The Town
  • 14. Kick-Ass
  • 13. Monsters
  • 12. Splice
  • 11. Mr. Nobody
  • 10. Winter’s Bone
  • 9. The Social Network
  • 8. True Grit
  • 7. Ondine
  • 6. Black Swan
  • 5. How to Train Your Dragon
  • 4. The Wild Hunt
  • 3. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
  • 2. Valhalla Rising
  • 1. Inception

Some of these changes have to do with my changing tastes. Watching The Town again recently made me realize that I have a soft spot for it but it’s actually not that good. Aaron Sorkin has, in general, fallen in my estimation quite a bit and I find myself cringing through his writing where I used to be enamored with it. The Social Network is still a really great film, though. Black Swan and many of Aranofsky’s less “crazy” stuff has gotten better for me over time. I also used to have a tendency to keep animated or “kids” films out of my Top 5 and I’ve really, really grown out of that shit. But all in all, I still love all these movies and they were still a collection of the best films of 2010.

Retrospective Top Film of 2010:

 

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Inception is still the best movie of 2010. It’s not even close and this was one I knew I wouldn’t change. It might even have been a stumbling block for doing this retrospective because I really couldn’t imagine making too many drastic changes to my lists which made the whole thing seem pointless. Inception has a lot to do with it. It’s one of the best movies of the decade, never mind the year. I would write it differently now, but I stand by the arguments for its quality that I made ten years ago.

Old Honorable Mentions:

  • Greenberg
  • Enter the Void
  • The Karate Kid
  • Youth in Revolt
  • The Kids Are All Right
  • Cyrus
  • Agora
  • Shutter Island
  • Despicable Me
  • Easy A

New Honorable Mentions:

  • Dogtooth wound up being incredibly interesting and very disturbing. I recommend it but I couldn’t include it as a favorite.
  • The Last Exorcism wound up being really good.
  • Somewhere is a film I can never watch again because the night I watched it sucked a lot and I don’t remember the movie outside of that. I know it made me cry and I related to it a lot and hadn’t expected to. Wish I could remember more but I can’t so it doesn’t feel fair to slap it into the revised Top 15 somewhere.
  • TiMer is a small scifi film that I’ve seen a couple of times now. It’s got an idea that was ahead of its time but might seem quaint in the post-Black Mirror world. Its approach to its science fiction scenario is kinder and less cynical or nihilistic as Black Mirror can be, which I appreciate more these days.
  • A Prophet is a film I probably saw but forgot to mention. Maybe I saw it in 2011. I remember loving it and thinking it should have been on my list but I never did watch it again and don’t remember it that well. So it gets an honorable mention.
  • Repo Men is a film I was probably a little embarrassed to like as much as I do. I can’t believe how long its been since I rewatched it, either, so that’s definitely happening soon.
  • The Losers is a comic book movie with a crazy stacked cast of people who went on to be more famous later on. It’s got Chris Evans, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Idris Elba, Zoe Saldana, and the list goes on. It’s also a pretty fun movie. I thought so when I saw it in 2010 but I have seen it once or twice since and it really holds up.
  • The Human Centipede was something I actually expected to hate or feel ambivalent about but I think I may be one of the few people who genuinely, unironically kind of likes it. I thought it had heart under all the gross shit and insanity. These people struggle to survive even after all that’s been done to them. There’s something in there but I’m not sure it was ever intended.
  • Predators is still the best Predator movie made since the 90s.
  • Animal Kingdom was an Australian family crime drama that I liked a lot and eventually got turned into an American-set TV series I’ve been meaning to check out!
  • Centurion could almost be on the Top 15. I love that film a lot and I’m surprised I never mentioned it because I think I loved it right from the start.
  • 127 Hours is a film I kind of actively avoided for a while because I expected it to be as harrowing as it was. It was also really good.
  • Love and Other Drugs was a big surprise. Really refreshing and good. I need to watch it again.
  • Blue Valentine is a film I’m unlikely to ever watch again but will always feel memorable. I never recommend it to anyone as it’s basically the exact opposite to Ondine in its bleak, witheringly honest portrayal of a couple that can’t stop hurting each other. The OG Marriage Story right here.

Other 2010 Movies I missed:

  • 44 Inch Chest is one that if I ever saw it, I do not recall.
  • Creation is a biopic and I usually hate them. I’ll likely never see this.
  • The Ghost Writer is a Roman Polanski film. It’s good and I didn’t care about anything else then. I wouldn’t bother now.
  • Holy Rollers is one I forgot about. Not sure if I’d bother now.
  • Micmacs is one I still haven’t seen but would like to.
  • I am Love is one I’ve completely forgotten about. Seems interesting.
  • The King’s Speech won an Oscar or some shit. Mediocre film at best.
  • The Killer Inside Me seems really nasty and I’m less interested in that sort of thing now. Never got around to it, probably won’t.
  • Restrepo is one I still haven’t seen but would like to.
  • Get Low is one that if I ever saw it, I do not recall.
  • Catfish wound up being kind of mediocre after all the hype. Wasn’t memorable.
  • Leaves of Grass is one I still haven’t seen but would like to.
  • You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger would probably be one of the “miss” Woody Allen movies for me. I’ll likely never watch it even though it looks fun.
  • Buried is one I eventually saw but wasn’t memorable. I think the ending was bleak as fuck?
  • It’s Kind of a Funny Story is one I saw but didn’t love. It was okay.
  • Marwencol is the documentary of the movie they just made with Steve Carrel about the same guy. I heard good things about this but never watched it.
  • Stone is one I saw but wasn’t very good. I think the only thing I remember is that Enver Gjokaj played a very convincing younger Robert De Niro, which I thought about a lot during The Irishman.
  • Megamind is one I’ve seen a couple of times and don’t like that much. A lot of people argue that it’s actually really overlooked still.
  • I Love You Phillip Morris was okay. I found it heart-warming but not all that memorable.
  • The Tempest is one I still haven’t seen but would like to.
  • Casino Jack is one I forgot about. Don’t know why it’s here.
  • Everyone Else is one I’ve completely forgotten about. Seems interesting.
  • Biutiful is one I’ve completely forgotten about, I even forgot about it in 2010. Still haven’t seen it. Still kinda want to.

Movies of 2010 I’ve left out til now:

  • Exit Through the Gift Shop was the kind of thing that I think made people feel like they were being brought in on a pop culture craze (of a kind) but they were duped. This whole movie felt like a con to me and I kind of didn’t like it as a result. Even though that’s exactly the point, I think. Maybe it’s best to say I thought it was overrated when I finally saw it. This was years ago, though.
  • Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps was basically a waste of time. The original Wall Street is so good. There’s a chance I didn’t really get it, though.
  • Tangled is decent but nowhere near as good as Frozen or Moana.
  • The Fighter was a film I found pretty disappointing.

 



 

Phew. Okay. That’s just the first one. Took me a few days to put this together but it was actually really fun. If I forgot anything you’re curious about and want me to talk even fucking more about 2010, drop me a comment!

Lemme leave you with this little slice of 10 years ago. It was between this and the ICP “Magnets” video. Hard call.