Here’s my list of the 10 best films that I saw in 2010, with 10 more runners-up.
1. Social Network- Some complained that the movie wasn’t really about Facebook. But it was actually about something bigger than that: the shift from a social elite—where the privileged Winklevoss brothers of this world would hire and discard its geeky Mark Zuckerbergs—to the true meritocracy of the digital age. The smug, awkward, voluble Zuckerberg (brilliantly inhabited by Jesse Eisenberg) wasn’t the most likeable of heroes, but he was a hero of our times. He made Facebook because he could—and because he was smarter than everyone else around him. The same could be said for this incredible film.
2. The Kids Are All Right- Lisa Cholodenko’s smartly observed, wryly funny, and loveably lived-in portrait of a lesbian couple (Julianne Moore and Annette Bening) disrupted by the unexpected appearance of their children’s’ sperm donor (Mark Ruffalo) features some of the best ensemble acting of the year.
3. Toy Story 3- The year’s sharpest comedy, most edge-of-your-seat adventure film, and sweetest love story. Not bad for a little animated film with the number 3 after its title.
4. The King’s Speech- Director Tom Hooper’s near perfect film, about a stammering king (Colin Firth), his fiercely supportive queen (Helena Bonham Carter), and the impudent commoner (Geoffrey Rush)—a speech therapist—who rescues them both and, in doing so, bolsters an entire nation.
5. 127 Hrs. – Danny Boyle’s thrillingly visceral and intense film that takes place in a very confined space: Our hero is pinned under a rock in a remote canyon. James Franco is excellent as hiker Aron Ralston—the adrenaline junky loner who realizes, with grim irony, that he’s in a hell of his own creation. Yes, it’s gory when Aron saws his way out. And no, you won’t be able to look away.
6. Please Give – A mid-century modern antique store makes money off the under-appraised furniture of Manhattan’s recently dead. Bourgeois guilt is keenly examined in Nicole Holefcener’s best collaboration yet with her alter-ego and muse, Catherine Keener.
7. Winter’s Bone – A glimpse at real poverty in the Ozark mountains. This film—about a teenager (Jennifer Lawrence, in a star making performance) who, in order to save the family farm, must solve the mysterious disappearance of her meth-making father—is as rugged and unsentimental as its unforgettable heroine.
8. Dogtooth – An exquisitely weird and disturbing film from Greece (who knew?) about a father who takes family togetherness to a whole new level. He keeps his teenage children as unwitting captives in their fortress-like home—creating alternate definitions for any word or concept that disrupts their zombified bliss. Inevitably, sex creeps in and ruins everything.
9. Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work – A wickedly funny, poignant, and at times brutally honest portrait of a true show biz survivor.
10. True Grit – In the Coen Brothers’ gorgeous Western, a no-nonsense little girl in her dead daddy’s overcoat (the astonishing Hailee Steinfeld) and a crusty, washed up U.S. Marshall (Jeff Bridges, pretty much a national treasure) create an unlikely odd couple as they survey Indian country, searching for her father’s killer.
Blue Valentine, Despicable Me, The Town, Shutter Island, The Fighter, Greenberg, The Runaways, Tiny Furniture, Inside Job, Conviction.