1. Precious When I think back to 2009, this will be the film I remember—and the miraculous way Lee Daniels managed to coax humor, and even joy, from the story of obese, illiterate, abused Precious (remarkable Gabby Sibide).
2. The Hurt Locker Kathryn Bigelow's Gulf war film, about a soldier (Jeremy Renner) who defuses roadside bombs, works as both a you-are-there action flick and an examination of the awful paradox of war: that once it gets into your blood, it becomes almost impossible to leave behind.
3. Inglourious Basterds A Jewish WWII revenge pic that plays like Tarantino's video store education thrown into a blender. There are elements of Spaghetti Westerns, German art pictures, blaxploitation films, kung fu flicks, and studio melodramas. The result? The single most audacious (and entertaining) film of the year.
4. Up in the Air Might very well win the Oscar, not just because it's shrewd and sexy and funny, but because it seemed to so accurately sum up our decade—the scourge of air...