Top Ten Lists

The 10 Best Movies of 2010

1. INSIDE JOB (Charles Ferguson) The crisis of finance capitalism as a great crime story.
(Lee Unkrich) The triumph of consumer capitalism as an epic love story.
(Olivier Assayas) The failure of global revolution as farce, melodrama, erotic thriller and music video.
(Sofia Coppola) An eccentric, perfect poem about fame, loneliness and cross-generational need.
(Lisa Cholodenko) An eccentric, perfect comedy about love, betrayal and cross-generational confusion.
(Noah Baumbach) A deliberately imperfect comedy about an eccentric fleeing from love, running from betrayal and wallowing in cross-generational confusion.
7. 127 HOURS
(Danny Boyle) It’s all fun until someone loses an arm. And then, strangely enough, it’s even more fun.
(Lixin Fan) The future of global capitalism, in China and elsewhere: a family tragedy in the form of a documentary, as full of anger, dignity and pathos as a play by Arthur Miller.
(Lee Chang-dong) A family tragedy from South Korea, in the form of a melodramatic crime story. As dense and gripping as a great novel.
(Banksy) All of the above. None of the above. Everything and nothing. An elaborate art-world stunt in the form of a documentary. Or vice versa.

Canada’s Top Ten honors “excellence in Canadian cinema and raises public awareness of Canadian achievements in film.” (via IndieWire)

Canada’s Top Ten feature film selections for 2010 (in alphabetical order):

  • Les Amours imaginaires – Xavier Dolan
  • Barney‚Äôs Version – Richard J. Lewis
  • Curling – Denis Cote
  • The High Cost of Living – Deborah Chow
  • Incendies – Denis Villeneuve
  • Last Train Home – Lixin Fan
  • MODRA – Ingrid Veninger
  • Splice – Vincenzo Natali
  • Trigger – Bruce McDonald
  • Trois temps apres la mort d‚ÄôAnna – Catherine Martin

Top 10 shorts after the cut.

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Peter Rainer at The Christian Science Monitor stakes out a Top 10 that doesn’t infringe on many others.

  1. Another Year (“Beneath its deceptively casual surface is an entire world of feeling.”)
  2. I Am Love (“One of the rare movies that makes your eyes swim without also clouding your mind.”)
  3. Inside Job (“the most lucid and straightforward cinematic rendering to date of the 2008 financial collapse”)
  4. The Last Train Home (“An epic portrait, intimately told.”)
  5. The Ghost Writer (“simultaneously scabrous and comedic… The Ghost Writer finally sounds a note of pervasive dread.)
  6. The Illusionist (“ineffably sweet and melancholy”)
  7. The King’s Speech (“Two better performances together you won’t find all year.”)
  8. Toy Story 3 (“A triumphant conclusion to a series that just kept getting better and better.”)
  9. Vincere (“in many ways the most jolting experience I had in the movies all year.”)
  10. Winter’s Bone (“Jennifer Lawrence is probably the most gifted actress of her generation”)

Michael Phillips at The Chicago Trib with his lists, after the cut.

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A variety of critics were called upon to write up the best movies of the year. Here are three of them:

1. The Social Network – by Jim Emerson

“We lived on farms. We lived in cities. And now we live on the Internet!”

Technology has long served as an extension of our bodies and minds, from basic tools and weapons (think “2001: A Space Odyssey”) to eyeglasses, musical instruments, pens and paintbrushes, QWERTY keyboards, computers. David Fincher’s “The Social Network,” scripted by Aaron Sorkin, is a film about a Web interface that extends the human social and emotional experience into online interactions — just as the movie itself begins by creating a minutely detailed physical world and then builds outward into fictionalization of actual events. Most of the movie focuses on people communicating and miscommunicating in codes, whether it’s computer code, legal codes, codes of ethics, social conventions, body language, rules of proper attire … virtually every scene is about people trying to connect or refusing a connection. Not unlike the practice we now know as “friending.”

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The Telegraph‘s Tim Robey weighs in with his 10:

Reminding us of everything David Fincher does well, this story of Facebook fallout was the year’s timeliest movie, among its wittiest, and conjured such an indelible aura of melancholy amid the back-stabbings that it looks certain to last. Aaron Sorkin’s fleet script doesn’t skimp on rapier put-downs, but it’s shaped beautifully to make us feel the overwhelming loneliness of Mark Zuckerberg, both the odd basis of his success and the reason it rings so hollow. In Jesse Eisenberg’s hands, he’s the vindictive nerd as tragic archetype, a know-all who doesn’t, finally, know himself.

1. The Social Network
2. A Prophet
3. Toy Story 3
4. Another Year
5. I Am Love
6. The Kids Are All Right
7. Dogtooth
8. How to Train Your Dragon
9. The Ghost Writer
10. Inception

Top 10 Indies and a more dubious 10 Worst list after the cut.

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1. Night Catches Us (Magnolia)
2. Inception (Warner Bros.)
3. Kick Ass (Lionsgate)
4. Winter’s Bone (Roadside Attractions)
5. Prince of Broadway (Elephant Eye Films)
6. The Social Network (Columbia)
7. Toy Story 3 (Disney/Pixar)
8. The Karate Kid (Columbia)
9. Never Let Me Go (Fox Searchlight)
10. Scott Pilgrim vs the World. (Universal)

Edwards extends his assessments to supplemental lists of his most favorite and least favorite posters and trailers of the year. As well as the newest form of year-end cruelty: the 10 Worst Movies of 2010, after the cut.

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More honey for the hive.

  1. Toy Story 3
  2. Inside Job
  3. Never Let Me Go
  4. Life During Wartime
  5. The Social Network
  6. Rabbit Hole
  7. Wild Grass
  8. Green Zone
  9. Waiting for Superman
  10. Four Lions


Richard Brody’s top ten has Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island at the top of the list:

“Shutter Island” (Martin Scorsese) РImages that seem wrenched from the most visceral side of the director’s mind—a sort of cinematic self-psychoanalysis that becomes a collective confession of the substantial fears and horrors of a historical moment that’s not only not lost but constantly being rediscovered as style.

And the rest:

2. The Social Network РTwo movies for the price of one—the Sorkin version, with its rueful psychologizing, and the Fincher version, with its principled wonder. A portrait of genius that’s reminiscent of “Amadeus” but is closer in artistic quality to—while bearing the generational force of—“Rebel Without a Cause.”

3. Somewhere РOne of the most radical films ever made in Hollywood, if the root of the cinema is the conjuring of inner life through outer particulars. The gap between the life lived and the life perceived—a quiet tragedy, Sartre-style—is traversed with the tender, near-weightless glide of a Ferrari on a freeway.
Check out the rest over at the New Yorker — his list goes all the way to 25. Also on it, Hereafter and Black Swan.

The New Yorker Critics don’t rank their favorite films and don’t even officially list them. But here are the titles they highlight. David Denby does say that The Social Network is the best of the year (“of course”) and asks, “Has there ever been a funnier use of digital technology for sly social commentary?”

  • The Social Network — “one of the rare big-studio efforts that ravish the audience with sheer intelligence‚Äîin this case an inexhaustible vivacity of observation, temperament, wit.
  • The Ghost Writer — “the niftiest and most beautifully designed thriller of the year.”
  • The Fighter
  • Company Men
  • Toy Story 3
  • Please Give
  • Winter‚Äôs Bone — “Debra Granik‚Äôs grim but entirely expressive murder mystery” … “the atmosphere is as authentic as rotgut cut with turpentine, and the actors seem to have been planted in the earth.”
  • Exit Through the Gift Shop — “seems to be making itself up as it goes along; every time you think you understand what it‚Äôs about, the subject shifts slightly, yet the entire movie hangs together as a devastating commentary on art-world fakery and fashion.”
  • Restrepo
  • Inside Job — “gathered together the essential facts of the economic breakdown and financial malfeasance into brisk units spiced with devastating interviews.”

Anthony Lane after the cut.

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  1. The Social Network
  2. Inception
  3. The King’s Speech
  4. True Grit
  5. The Kids Are All Right
  6. 127 Hours
  7. Black Swan
  8. The Fighter
  9. Winter’s Bone
  10. Toy Story 3

(thanks vcb, & wb!)

To check Traver’s track record in matching up with the Oscars, take a look at his past Top 10 Lists going back more than a decade, after the cut.

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  1. Winter’s Bone
  2. Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer and Inside Job
  3. Please Give
  4. Toy Story 3
  5. Another Year
  6. Mother and Child
  7. Vincere
  8. Exit Through the Gift Shop
  9. Marwencol
  10. Despicable Me

Wonder how long Edelstein has been this way? Check out his 2009 favorites after the cut.

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Which films did he choose for his best of 2010 list? King picked Matt Reeves‘ Let Me In as his #1 film of 2010 declaring it “the best horror film of the decade.” Hit the jump to see the full list in brief.

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The Social Network has earned the rare distinction, for an American studio film, of topping Sight & Sound’s list of the best films of 2010. According to Guy Lodge at, the full lists are only available in the print magazine right now, but will be online Dec. 7. This year’s Best Picture list is a Top 12, due to numerous ties.

1. The Social Network (David Fincher)
2. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
3. Another Year (Mike Leigh)
4. Carlos (Olivier Assayas)
5. The Arbor (Clio Barnard)
6. Winter’s Bone (Debra Granik)
6. I Am Love (Luca Guadagnino)
8. The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu (Andrei Ujica)
8. Film Socialisme (Jean-Luc Godard)
8. Nostalgia for the Light (Patricio Guzman)
8. Poetry (Lee Chang-dong)
8. A Prophet (Jacques Audiard)

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Todd McCarthy has delved into two of what he considers the year’s best films. He goes deeply into Carlos and The Social Network and then tosses in the others he thinks fit the bill, which should give us a loose idea of what top ten lists might start shaping up to look like:

Assayas, like Fincher, obsessively tracked down virtually everything it was possible to learn about his subject. But then a writer or filmmaker must acknowledge when they’ve reached the end of that road and give themselves permission to invent, add and speculate about what seems justifiable and plausible within the context of everything else they’ve got. It’s where biography and myth-making meet and it’s why Assayas calls his film “a fiction” based on the life of the real man. One would imagine that it’s a description Fincher would similarly embrace as regards his own film.With these two films so decisively more provocative, absorbing, energetic, entertaining and in all ways rewarding than any other dramatic features that have come out this year, what can be said about the rest of the pack? In going over my personal list of the year’s best so far, it strikes me that, to an inordinate degree, the good films were what are often called “festival films;” all but one, in fact, made their debuts at festivals, not in commercial release. In no special order, these films include “A Prophet” (shown in Cannes 2009 but not opened in the U.S. until this year), “Animal Kingdom,” “The Kids Are All Right,” “Let Me In,” “Winter’s Bone,” “Enter the Void,” “The King’s Speech,” “North Face” and, a bit below those, “Blue Valentine,” “Black Swan” and “Please Give.”

The only non-festival title I would include in this company is “Toy Story 3,” and while I would concede that “Inception” is a must-see, it remains too problematic to be ranked in any top ten of mine. Festivals really were where the action’s been for me this year, including for documentaries: Sundance served up “Waiting for Superman” but, far better yet, Cannes premiered “Inside Job,” which I would agree warrants the label mandatory viewing if I didn’t fear making attendance sound more like a duty than a pleasure.

Don’t miss this McCarthy article. Note the mention of Let Me In.

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