Thursday, March 10, 2011

Maggi Noodle Review: The best movie of 2010

2010 was an odd year for me. I saw very few movies, so much so, that during the recent Oscar telecast, the only nominated movies I had seen were Inception, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - part I and *ahem* Tangled.

So when I present to you the best movie of 2010, I do so from my limited viewing list. I thought about making it Inception but I decided against it. Much as I was impressed by the movie and all the conversations it has generated in its aftermath, the movie that moved me the most was:

I saw Secretariat almost by accident. Having already read the book it was based on, by Bill Nack, I wasn't sure if it would live up to my preconceived notions. You see, it is a hard story to tell. Most sports movies live off the feats of an underdog punching above its weight. The story of the horse, nicknamed Big Red is that it was always the favorite. How does one get the audience to root for the favorite? On top of that, anyone with the slightest knowledge of horse racing has heard of the legendary feats of Secretariat. Or at least has some idea that the horse did something great.

The moviemakers, luckily, decided to keep the focus of the story on the efforts of the owner Penny Chenery (portrayed magnificently by Diane Lane) and the trainer Lucien Lauren (the irrepressible John Malkovich) to ensure that the horse, destined for immortality, did not falter on its path. In a clever twist of story-telling, you are now rooting for the owner to do well, even as you know that it all worked out in the end for everyone concerned.

And how well did it work out? In 1973, Secretariat became the first horse in over 25 years to win the Triple Crown, the big trioka of races on the US circuit. Horses before him and after him have won the Triple Crown. What made the wins spectacular was that Secretariat won all three races in the fastest times ever recorded for those races. Two of those records (for the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes) still stand today, almost 30 years later.

That Secretariat would win the Triple Crown was considered to be a foregone conclusion. What folks did not know was how dominant it would be in the third race.  Secretariat won by 31 lengths, the biggest margin of victory ever in the Belmont Stakes and ran the fastest 1 1/2 miles on dirt in hitory (2:24 minutes), a feat that has still not been matched or broken.  An iconic image taken just before the finish line exemplifies the dominance of the stud.  Secretariat was running so fast that it was accelerating at the finish line. Endurance matched with speed is a rare phenomenon, and Secretariat was probably one of the best horses at that, ever. The secret to it's success was revealed after its death. An autopsy revealed that Secretariat's heart was two and a half times larger than than that of a normal horse. Big heart, big speed equated to big feats.

I had goose bumps all over me during the climax of this film and came away filled with a sense that I had really seen the horse in action.  I can think of no higher praise for a movie.  Hence, it gets my vote as the best movie of 2010.


Leela said...

I really liked Secretariat, however my best movie of 2010 would be The Fighter.
It is a typical boxing story, vey predictable, kinda simplistic, yet nuanced.
And the actors did a top-notch job too.

Did you not like Tangled? Oh, C'mon!

p.s. Maybe I just don't get it, but I thought Inception was overrated.

Jaunty Quicksand said...

I did not see The Fighter even though I was happy that Christian Bale got the Oscar for it.

I never said I did not like Tangled. I actually enjoyed it a lot. Did I give off that impression? I was just *aheming* the fact that it was one of the Oscar-nominated movies I had seen which very few others would have probably identified from a line-up of Oscar contenders.

P.S. I wrote about Inception when it came out. I think it took on a life of its own and fan-boys may have carried the adulation too far but it has generated a lot of discussions at my workplace and very few movies are able to sustain that kind of interest after they are seen.

Leela said...

Oh cool, I misunderstood :p.
I liked how Disney sort of "updated" the old Rapunzel story in Tangled and made it so fresh and modern.