10. The Messenger
War again, this time on the home front, as soldiers played by Ben Foster and a never-better Woody Harrelson knock on the doors of wives, husbands and parents to deliver the worst kind of news. Director Oren Moverman, in an auspicious debut, creates a different kind of hurt locker. The fireworks here are implosive. Having known battle himself as a soldier in Israel, he exposes the intimate trauma we all face when we lose sight of our shared humanity.
TIE FOR 11th: Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds took on the Nazis in four languages; Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story stuck it to Wall Street; Armando Iannucci's In the Loop skewered politics; Louie Psihoyos' The Cove exposed dolphin slaughter; Clint Eastwood's Invictus made Mandela and rugby a winning team; Michael Mann's Public Enemies reinvented the gangster movie; Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox was smart fun in stop-motion animation; Tom Ford's A Single Man found painful beauty in lost love; Rob Marshall's Nine reinvigorated the musical; James Toback's Tyson showed Iron Mike on the ropes and fighting his way back.