The Ten Best Films of 2010

10.) The Kids Are All Right
Lisa Cholodenko’s dramedy resonates so strongly because she manages to make this “non-traditional” family incredibly relatable. I found myself taken aback with just how insightful it is, how clever the writing is, and how strong the performances are.

9.) Biutiful
Only a fool would expect an Iñárritu film to be an easygoing, uplifting affair, but there’s little you can really do to prepare for the emotional exhaustion that accompanies his latest—Biutiful—which features the finest performance of Javier Bardem’s very illustrious career.

8.) The King’s Speech
The film does everything right—amazing performances, beautiful sets and photography, a dynamite script. I felt there was a little something missing, as if it was just a little too polished for its own good, but its strengths are just impossible to ignore.

7.) Shutter Island
I think it’s a shame how easily this early-year gem has been forgotten. Martin Scorsese steps out of his comfort zone in a big way to present us with a film worth exploring and studying again and again. It’s technically brilliant and features the better of two sensational Leonardo DiCaprio performances this year.

6.) Exit Through the Gift Shop
I had no idea just how bizarre yet intelligent Banksy’s street art “documentary” would be. Is it all true? Who knows. But I can say it’s highly entertaining and raises some impossible-to-definitively-answer questions about art and what it means to different people.

5.) Inception
The film blew me away the first time I saw it, and it got even better the second time. Christopher Nolan has quickly become our generation’s go-to action filmmaker, and it’s not hard to see why. He takes chances and crafts unique, challenging stories. This one—a cerebral heist film—is action-packed and, despite what many others might say, very emotional.

4.) Rabbit Hole
Of all the performances I’ve extolled on this countdown so far, none affected me the way Nicole Kidman’s did in John Cameron Mitchell’s latest film. And the strong supporting cast members—Aaron Eckhart, Miles Teller, and Dianne Wiest among them—don’t rate too far behind her.

3.) 127 Hours
An incomparable achievement in direction and making something out of nothing. The only real character in Danny Boyle’s latest film isn’t permitted to move anywhere, yet his harrowing survival story is told with incredible energy.

2.) Toy Story 3
A genuine masterpiece of a film and arguably Pixar’s finest hour. No one was really clamoring for another Toy Story sequel, especially considering a decade has past since the last one. But Michael Arndt’s screenplay will move you to tears on more than one occasion.

1.) The Social Network
David Fincher needs very little to make magic happen, but with someone as sharp and capable as Aaron Sorkin penning the script for The Social Network, anything short of sensational would have been disappointing. Guess what: This film is #1 on so many people’s lists for a reason. I had crazy high expectations, yet it surpassed them on every level imaginable. There wasn’t any other choice. The Social Network is the year’s best film, and as good as these other films are, the contest wasn’t close.

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