Let us praise movies that didn't suck in 2010. Begone, sequels to Twilight and Sex and the City. Begone, chick flicks that bossed us around (what if I don't want to eat, pray, love?). Begone, epics Hollywood made in 3D because they couldn't make them good. This space is for 10 films that earned a place in the year's time capsule.
For psychodrama, Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island. For crime, Ben Affleck's The Town. For political thriller, Roman Polanski's The Ghost Writer. For wit and wisdom, Mike Leigh's Another Year. For raw intimacy, Derek Cianfrance's Blue Valentine. For foreign film, Juan José Campanella's The Secret in Their Eyes. For disturbing laughs, the Duplass bros' Cyrus. For laughs that make no excuses, Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg's Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work. For muckraking doc, Davis Guggenheim's Waiting for Superman. For personal doc, Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost's Catfish.
The pure pleasure of Pixar animated magic also made 2010's biggest box-office hit.
Director Debra Granik rubs your emotions raw about family secrets that fester in the Ozarks. Jennifer Lawrence, as a girl searching for her father, and John Hawkes, as her uncle, give indelible performances.
The family that fights together tries like hell to stay together in the true story of two boxing brothers (soulful Mark Wahlberg and electrifying Christian Bale). Gifted director David O. Russell refs in high style.
Darren Aronofsky directs a fever dream of a ballet thriller with a tour de force from Natalie Portman as a besieged dancer whose body and mind are coming apart.
James Franco and director Danny Boyle carve artful adventure out of this true tale of a climber who spends six days with his arm trapped under a rock.
A sperm donor (Mark Ruffalo) comes between a doctor (Annette Bening) and a landscaper (Julianne Moore) in Lisa Cholodenko's raw, funny and humane family drama. Bening is Oscar-worthy.
The Coen brothers enter the twisted mind of novelist Charles Portis to make a near-flawless Western about a teen girl (Hailee Steinfeld) and a one-eyed fat man (Jeff Bridges) who may be her salvation.
In Tom Hooper's vibrant human drama, the king has a stammer. He can't give a speech to save his crown, even when he needs to rally his subjects against the Nazis. As George VI, Colin Firth delivers the performance of the year, equaled only by Geoffrey Rush as his Aussie teacher.
Is there a filmmaker less tamed by convention than Christopher Nolan? Don't think so. And Inception, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as a professional invader of dreams, is a visionary milestone that gets better and digs deeper each time you see it.
This is the movie that told us who we were this year, this decade: willing slaves to technology as a substitute for direct communication. Forget the letters of protest. You're probably text-messaging them on your BlackBerry. Or voicing them on iChat. Of course, the invention of Facebook by Mark Zuckerberg, played to potent perfection by Jesse Eisenberg, is just a part of the social-networking boom. What director David Fincher and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin are doing in this movie, which IMHO surpasses all other movies this year, is using Facebook to hold up a mirror to the way we live now. And doing it with wit, imagination, honesty and satire so cutting it can open wounds. Don't be afraid of friending The Social Network. It might just open your eyes beyond your computer screen.