Best of 2010

In 2010, The Social Network made over 75% of the 575 critics’ lists.  Although no film could keep up with The Social NetworkInception edged out some close competition from Black Swan and Toy Story 3 to take second place.

50. Marwencol (21 lists; 2 top spots)

Jeff Malmberg’s documentary does an amazing job of turning this small patch of dollhouses into a vibrant world of its own, utilizing Hogancamp’s own extraordinary pictures of Marwencol’s inhabitants to great effect. — David Fear, Time Out New York

49. Red Riding Trilogy (21 lists; 3 top spots)

You can see the films separately but you might as well see them one after the other; while the quality of the filmmaking varies, the sense of a vast provincial spider web of evil extending off the screen keeps you rapt in your seat. — Ty Burr, Boston Globe

48. Restrepo (22 lists; 1 top spot)

Though Hetherington and Junger’s film doesn’t ultimately have anything new to say about the nature of war, it will nonetheless have a strong impact on those of us fortunate enough to have experienced combat only in its motion-picture form. — Jason Anderson, Toronto Star

46. The American (23 lists)

If you’re willing to let go of your Hollywood-bred expectations for a movie of this type, The American is a great pleasure to watch, an astringent antidote to the loud, frantic action movies that have been clogging our veins all summer. — Dana Stevens, Slate

46. Buried (23 lists)

Although the entire movie takes place in the enclosed space, director Rodrigo Cortes and writer Chris Sparling are ingenious in creating more plausible action than you would expect possible. — Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

45. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 (24 lists)

For those caught up in the “Potter” world — and surely anyone who isn’t dropped out of this franchise long ago — “Deathly Hallows” is immensely satisfying. — Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times

44. Secret Sunshine (24 lists; 4 top spots)

There is a natural tendency to appreciate movies that are neat and concise. “Secret Sunshine” makes a striking argument for the antithesis. — Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune

43. Easy A (26 lists)

Olive is a kind of modern day Ferris Bueller. She has it pretty close to all figured out, and she even gets her own big, gratuitous musical number. It’s a terrifically deadpan, lively performance from Stone. — Jake Coyle, Associated Press

42. Alamar (26 lists; 5 top spots)

Moving but never sentimental, ambient but rigorously focused, this is an assured, refreshingly simple film where the dramas and responsibilities of parenthood exist inside a bubble of blissed-out tropicalia. — David Jenkins, Time Out

41. The Secret in Their Eyes (30 lists; 1 top spot)

Campanella approaches the material with a classic hand — no quick cuts, special effects or gimmicks here. This is a flesh-and-blood movie, and both Darin and Villamil bring earthy presence to the story. — Tom Long, Detroit News

40. Fish Tank (30 lists; 2 top spots)

“Unfolds as a conventional coming-of-age story, yet Andrea Arnold hasn’t altered her persuasively jaundiced view of men, who seem as pitifully helpless against their horndog urges as the women foolish enough to care for them.” — J.R. Jones, Chicago Reader

39. Sweetgrass (33 lists; 1 top spot)

“Sweetgrass is an unexpectedly intoxicating documentary, unexpected because it blends high artistic standards with the grueling reality of one of the toughest, most exhausting of work environments.” — Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

38. Four Lions (35 lists; 2 top spots)

“Gradually, the madcap farcical tone of “Four Lions” gives way to something darker, as it becomes clear that Morris intends to follow his characters’ pathological aims and motivations right to the end of the road.” — Andrew O’Hehir,

37. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (36 lists; 2 top spots)

“Everyone has secrets in the The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, a mind-bending and mesmerizing thriller that takes its time unlocking one mystery only to uncover another, all to chilling and immensely satisfying effect.” — Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times

36. Vincere (36 lists; 3 top spots)

“Her story is one of endurance and martyrdom, and Bellocchio treats her with grave courtesy, focussing on her battered face as she is subjected to years of beatings in the asylum, and on her drive to escape.” — David Denby, New Yorker

35. Rabbit Hole (40 lists; 1 top spot)

“The film is in a better state of mind than its characters. Its humor comes, as the best humor does, from an acute observation of human nature. We have known people something like this. We smile in recognition.” — Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

34. Never Let Me Go (41 lists; 2 top spots)

“Romanek does an extraordinary job translating Ishiguro’s deliberate, almost excruciating pace onto the big screen: His images haunt us in much the same way the author’s words do.” — Elizabeth Weitzman, New York Daily News

33. Wild Grass (42 lists; 5 top spots)

“Along with such fantasy elements as rich, primary colors and an ending that suggests we’ve jumped to some other cinematic dimension, Wild Grass, like compulsive filmmaking, embraces the intensity of subjective experience…Along with such fantasy elements as rich, primary colors and an ending that suggests we’ve jumped to some other cinematic dimension, Wild Grass, like compulsive filmmaking, embraces the intensity of subjective experience…” — Tom Keough, Seattle Times

32. Enter the Void (46 lists; 4 top spots)

“From the rapid-fire, purposely unreadable opening credits to the final baby POV shot of a birth, this is a dazzling and brutal exercise in cinematic envelope-pushing.” — V.A. Musetto, New York Post

31. Greenberg (48 lists; 4 top spots)

“Greenberg will do a lot for Stiller’s reputation and Gerwig’s profile, but its awkward, messy humanity and uncomfortable honesty won’t necessarily do a lot for ticket-buyers more used to lighter, warmer and breezier entertainments.” — James Rocchi, MSN Movies

30. Please Give (49 lists; 1 top spot)

“The movie is about imperfect characters in a difficult world, who mostly do the best they can under the circumstances, but not always. Do you realize what a revolutionary approach that is for a movie these days?” — Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

29. White Material (50 lists; 2 top spots)

‘White Material” unites France’s most precious actress, Isabelle Huppert, with one of that nation’s leading directors, Claire Denis. The result is as impressive as one would expect.” — V.A. Musetto, New York Post

28. How to Train Your Dragon (52 lists; 1 top spot)

“It’s a thrilling action-adventure saga with exhilarating 3-D animation, a clever comedy with witty dialogue, a coming-of-age tale with surprising depth and a sweetly poignant tale of friendship between man and animal.” — Claudia Puig, USA Today

27. Everyone Else (54 lists; 6 top spots)

“Ms. Ade doesn’t pretend to have an answer to our most profound questions about love in her plaintive scenes from a romance. But the wonderful last line — “look at me” — suggests one place to start.” — Manohla Dargis, New York Times

26. Inside Job (55 lists; 1 top spot)

“You don’t have to know the difference between a credit default swap and a collateralized debt obligation to feel enraged anew by Charles Ferguson’s thorough dissection of the country’s economic collapse of 2008.” — Christy Lemire, Associated Press

25. Animal Kingdom (55 lists; 4 top spots)

“The film’s depiction of the raw fear lurking below the brothers’ braggadocio is the most pronounced emotion in a movie whose focus on the personalities of its criminals suggests an Australian answer to Goodfellas, minus the wise-guy humor.” — Stephen Holden, New York Times

24. Blue Valentine (55 lists; 8 top spots)

“The scenes cut so close to the emotional bone that you can understand why they might cause a panic amongst MPAA boardmembers, although of course, it’s nothing to be afraid of: just the realism of love in its varied forms.” — Mary F. Pols, TIME Magazine

23. Kick-Ass (58 lists)

“Fast, periodically spit-funny and often grotesquely violent, the film at once embraces and satirizes contemporary action-film clichés with Tarantino-esque self-regard — it’s the latest in giggles-and-guts entertainment.” — Manohla Dargis, New York Times

22. Let Me In (59 lists)

“[Director] Reeves had the smarts to identify and appropriate everything that made the original film so moving and visually memorable. Even better, he invigorates this faithful reproduction with remarkably effective contributions of his own.” — Kathleen Murphy, MSN Movies

21. Dogtooth (62 lists; 9 top spots)

“The most original, challenging, and perverse film of the year so far, Giorgos Lanthimos’s artfully rigorous treatise on human conditioning can be viewed as absurdist horror or the cruelest of comedies.” — Aaron Hillis, Village Voice

20. Mother (66 lists; 4 top spots)

“Bong’s ability to sustain three or four different tones in one movie without betraying the emotional truth of the story is nothing short of amazing: He can pat his head, rub his stomach, and break our hearts all at the same time.” — Dana Stevens,

19. The Town (71 lists; 2 top spots)

“Ben Affleck has a good brain for filmmaking — he’s clearly a smart and avid student of the medium — but the elements that make his second outing as a director, The Town, such an enjoyable and exciting movie have more to do with what’s in his heart.” — Mary Pols, TIME Magazine

18. I Am Love (71 lists; 4 top spots)

“Cinematographer Yorick Le Saux’s elegant images of buildings — stony exteriors, lux interiors — and weather-worn statuary suggest centuries-old tradition but also invite a meditative or appreciative silence.” — Lisa Kennedy, Denver Post

17. Another Year (76 lists; 7 top spots)

“Perhaps no one but Leigh could make such a character so sympathetic; perhaps no one but Leigh would then weave an entire movie” — David Denby, New Yorker

16. Shutter Island (78 lists; 7 top spots)

“Shutter Island” is not from the Scorsese who stands astride film like a colossus; instead, it’s a giddy, gory gift from the Scorsese who sits beside us in the theater, elbowing us at the good bits and taking in the sinister spectacle up on screen.” — James Rocchi, MSN Movies

15. A Prophet (94 lists; 9 top spots)

“A Prophet is as gripping as any recent film about crime and criminals, although its ill-focused attempts to incorporate elements of the supernatural (prophetic visions and ghostly apparitions) are bizarre and ineffective.” — James Berardinelli, ReelViews

14. Exit Through the Gift Shop (96 lists; 7 top spots)

“The brilliantly untrustworthy documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop reminds us that a film can start out in one direction and then change course so radically, it becomes an act of provocation unto itself.” — Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

13. Carlos (109 lists; 27 top spots)

“Olivier Assayas’ three-part drama about Carlos the Jackal, the Venezuelan-born radical-Marxist terrorist of the ’70s and ’80s, is a rivetingly journalistic account of a scoundrel’s rise and fall.” — Owen Gleibermann, Entertainment Weekly

12. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (123 lists; 5 top spots)

“It’s a razzle-dazzle compendium of quick-draw humor, superhero stunts and gamer references wrapped around a teen dream love story, starring — who else? — Michael Cera, the first genuine nerd superstar.” — Tom Long, Detroit News

11. The Fighter (133 lists; 2 top spots)

“The Fighter easily could have slipped into boxing-film clichés, but Russell doesn’t let that happen. Instead, it lands its hardest blows while chronicling the struggle of a family, which is a far more interesting fight.” — Billy Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic

10. The Ghost Writer (134 lists; 9 top spots)

“From the chic austerity of the Langs’ undisclosed location to the gradually revealed nexus between academia, politics and corporate influence, The Ghost Writer offers an unusually astute glimpse of power at its most alluring and corrosive.” — Ann Hornaday, Washington Post

9. The Kids Are All Right (152 lists; 8 top spots)

“The best thing about the film is its bigheartedness. It’s not out to mock these people, but rather to show how any person of any orientation can become unraveled when high-minded principles meet with base human instincts.” — Peter Howell, Toronto Star

8. 127 Hours (165 lists; 16 top spots)

“Directed and co-written by Danny Boyle in a style that travels from ecstatic to nerve-wracking and back, this is a film about perseverance, strength and the importance of always letting people know where you’re going.” — Tom Long, Detroit News

7. The King’s Speech (182 lists; 17 top spots)

“No holiday season would be complete without a starchy British historical drama, and the Weinstein Company obliges us this year with this pleasant story the Duke of York, who had to overcome a serious stammer.” — J.R. Jones, Chicago Reader

6. True Grit (184 lists; 12 top spots)

“In choosing not to reinvent the wagon wheel with True Grit, the Coens ironically seem radical by being conformists. There’s truth and beauty in their faithfulness, though, and a reminder never to presume too much about these sibling ciphers.” — Peter Howell, Toronto Star

5. Winter’s Bone (228 lists; 24 top spots)

“This is a world out of time and, despite the trappings of flinty realism, the film too unfolds like an elemental myth from the stormy past — a Greek tragedy driven by dark fates and struggling toward a catharsis.” — Rick Groen, Globe and Mail

4. Black Swan (247 lists; 36 top spots)

“Synthesizing Aronofsky’s previous work and foregrounding a breakthrough star performance from Natalie Portman as its tormented protagonist, this is a marvelous construction that’s in line for multiple Oscar nominations…” — Andrew O’Hehir,

3. Toy Story 3 (264 lists; 33 top spots)

“Toy Story 3 succeeds not because of its glossy and gleaming high-tech pixels, but rather because it is so well-written that you could tell it with low-tech hand puppets and still thrill and reach an audience of children and adults both.” — James Rocchi, MSN Movies

2. Inception (273 lists; 55 top spots)

“Nolan’s film is surely the most ambitious psychological thriller ever, and yet also the most personal. His baroque imagination makes most directors’ efforts look like beach-pail sand castles alongside Mad King Ludwig’s Neuschwanstein Castle.” — Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune

1. The Social Network (421 lists; 109 top spots)

“The Social Network shares creative DNA with a handful of classic, zeitgeist-savvy films like Network and All the President’s Men, as well as more recent fare such as The Insider and Michael Clayton.” — Lisa Kennedy, Denver Post

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