For many years, prior to the Oscar nominations, the boy from Mattoon and his friend Tim have put on their Ebert t-shirts and run down their personal best movies of 2010. It's cute. Sometimes I chime in. My list is below.
10. The Abalone and The Crestfallen Kerchief:
Japanese anime sensation Kurozawa Nakamtomi Niputo stunned international audiences 12 years ago with his four-minute short film Wang-Wang, The Boulder Crusher, a sensational adaptation of The Myth of Sisyphus, and featuring Wang-Wang, the philosophy-spouting washing machine trapped in an existential crisis. In TAATK, we're introduced to another inanimate object, Penelope, the potty-mouthed kerchief who can't find a "real" man and hesitantly begins a whirlwind romance with Bonky, the smooth-talking abalone who wins her heart with his velvet baritone and his "big ol' pile of goo." I'm not one to fall for sappy date movies, but when Bonky and Penelope take that long romantic ride in a carriage made of corral, my cheeks become hot.
A homeless man. A ketchup bottle. The Arizona Diamondbacks. What do all of these things have in common? Only those who've managed to sit through Jonathan Emerson Longcratchet's homage to the classic murder mystery films of beloved Swiss-English filmmaker Sir Frederick Digby will you ever find out. And, believe me, you won't be disappointed, especially right before the 22-minute steeple chase.
8. Pants Off, Who Knockin'?, Part II
Okay, okay — I know I was one of the only ones to leave Desiree "Gravy" Washington's first installment of Who Knockin'? off my list in 1998, but she won me over this time around. Yes, Busy D, Crotch Rot, and Percy all return to their respective posts at the fictional "Hangin' Up!" telephone repair company, but it's the emergence of newcomer Lucy St. Washington (the director's 5-year-old daughter) who steals all the lines from this ring-ring party. "This ol' pie pan ain't worth shit, bologna pants!" and "Take it up with the castle boss!" are lines that will define a generation.
7. The Pieces of Our Faces on the Crooked Fan
Two half-brothers, who haven't spoken in years after both were injured in an airplane hangar accident, finally reconnect and learn to laugh again. Kudos to makeup artist Kit Clintock and the incredibly detailed work she put into making both brothers — Sidney, who lost his nose and right cheekbone, and Clinton, who had his lower jaw hacked off — still handsome and charming even though their faces are mangled. It also has a toe-tapping soundtrack featuring Grammy-winning folk artist Peek-a-boo Lazarus, whose song "The Mirror Makes Me Scary" also received a nod from the Academy this year.
6. Feast Your Eyes on the Biggest Feast, Dick Arrow
To whom do you turn when a big-shot Jewish bib-making company turns out to be a fence for for the Ukrainian mob? Dick Arrow, of course. And for those critics who said that longtime character actor Montgomery Melhew was finished after his turn as Storchy in the children's classic Blue Wagons for Storchy, you're going to feel quite foolish when you see him don the trademark ascot and wield a scythe.
5. No More Umbrellas on Love Island
There's a small part of me that wishes famed cinematographer Gorko Hegenbottom would just go back to making beautiful pastoral sets for all of Iggy Von Treblehorn's mountain goat films, but he's definitely coming into his own as a director, too. It takes a unique talent to figure how to film an entire underwater sequence from the vantage point of a handicapped starfish.
4. The Flat-Chested Stewardess Has Found The Equator
Jose Flautino's high-flying epic about the rise and fall of Conquitardo, Chile's first charter airline service in 1963, definitely has its cringe-inducing moments. It spares no detail on how the company's pilots were all taken down by a sexual harassment lawsuit just as it began to turn a profit. But because it's a musical, we can almost tolerate some of the underlying misogyny in songs like "Pretty Juanita Should Blow Me if She Wants Off on Friday" and the rousing big band swing of "Up to the Elbow (Inside of Nina)".
3. Please Don't Lick The Mailbox
Most films about mentally challenged children always leave the audience uplifted, but you rarely find one as terrifying as Ari Shinehorn's thriller about Dolph, a personable young mongoloid boy in Bangor, Maine, who terrorized mailmen throughout the 1930s. Brilliantly portrayed by newcomer Roan Masterson, we find out that Dolph is not as playful as he seems and possesses quite the temper when he's distressed about stamp placement. This film does to the postal system what Jaws did for night swimming.
2. Moonbeams for Quinto
Sashi is a little tiny sailor from Uruguay who becomes stranded on an island after his parents are killed by razorbacks. But he makes one friend, Quinto, a talking baby zebra who gives him hope while they scour the island in search of the elusive moonbeam. Quinto says the moonbeam will give him great power. Sashi knows the moonbeam will give him hope. Subtle performances by Italian character actor Jocko Linguino (Patches! Iguanas Can't Invade the Radiator!) and Broadway legend Franz Bilder (Top Hats Get Tilted at Dawn) give this beloved allegory the much-needed zest it lacked for centuries.
1. Toy Story 3
Just a great, great film.