1.) Greenburg I just loved this movie, though I know plenty of people who didn’t. To me it’s the closest thing to an American Bergman or Antonioni without being pretentious in the slightest. It’s also a kind of tragic-comic elegy for a certain brand of cool that was in effect from my childhood until, well, not that long ago.
2.) Please Give Another amazing movie that nails the fabric of modern life to the wall, of what it’s like to be old, middle aged and young in America these days. Great acting and understated direction. This is what indie flicks should be.
3.) Black Swan Just saw this. Amazing, audacious, expressionistic, surreal, beautiful, operatic and a bunch of other adjectives. Darren Aronofsky is one of the few auteurs left standing and he’s absolutely fearless. This is among the great dance flicks of all time but is also a discerning look at the artistic life and process.
4.) Toy Story III Kind of a sad commentary on modern culture that the most humane, moving and deeply, unironically affecting movie this year was a computer animated one about a bunch of toys. But it was.
5.) The Social Network Another penetrating look at an important part of contemporary life that didn’t exist that long ago. Some people saw a hero and some a jerk in Jesse Eisenberg’s brilliant performance in a very well written script.
6.) Catfish This maybe documentary makes a great companion piece to the preceding as it explores the less glamorous, more ambiguous side of the internet as well as the strange new forms of creativity and even identity springing up there.
7.) Inception Mind blowing visuals, an interesting conception and a star turn by Leo. I have to applaud the scope and ambition but for me the deeper resonance wasn’t completely there.
8.) Tiny Furniture Another thoroughly contemporary effort, an examination of over-documented life that’s become indistinguishable from a reality show. Ever prescient Any Warhol said that knowing at all times that they might be filmed causes people to act in a different more dramatic yet more ironic way, which is pretty much where this movie lives. But yet there’s an acutely intelligent and most of all funny consciousness shaping it all, (except for the ending which kind of poops out).
9.) Little Rose I had to pick at least one obscure foreign film. I saw this at the Polish Film festival here and it was really pretty good, with a talented cast whose names not only had I never heard of but couldn’t even pronounce. Sexy, savvy and intelligent it also looks better when I think of how most American film makers would cheese up this story of a political system in which everybody loses.
10.) The King’s Speech Yeah, it’s like an extended Masterpiece Theater production and we’re asked to feel for the problems of royalty. But the acting is spot on and the writing and look are anything but boring. Like much good English art it’s very much about the social system with a lot of sly comedy.
I haven’t yet seen Winter’s Bone, True Grit or Somewhere, a trio of films that I suspect might muscle their way on here, but for what it’s worth there’s my ten, lucky reader.