(10) Unstoppable -- Your basic popcorn movie but with good chemistry between Denzel Washington and Chris Pine. Director Tony Scott, if nothing else, is not bad with action flicks and has had a few films that even rise above that (True Romance, Enemy of the State).
(9) Harry Potter: The Deathly Hallows Pt. 1 -- Basically the first half of a particularly long movie, but it sets the scene well for this summer's finale. The youngsters acting skills have rounded out quite nicely while the veteran British actors do what they do best.
(8) The King's Speech -- From a strictly historical perspective, this is a fascinating story and gives you a better appreciation of the role of King George in World War II and how different it could have been if his brother had not abdicated the throne. But beyond that, it's a perfect excuse to witness two awesome actors (Rush and Firth) go at it.
(7) The Town -- Who knew that mediocre actor Ben Affleck would turn into such a fine director? A gritty crime drama with a fantastic sense of place. Looking forward to more from Affleck in the future. And he actually acted quite well in this one.
(6) True Grit -- True Grit, like all Coen Brothers films, has the vernacular of the time and place perfect ... something that has been most evident in films like Fargo and O Brother, Where Art Thou. But also with the essential Coen twist - that sense of irony. The sense that you are getting a knowing wink from the directors and that you are privy to some inside joke. All the actors are great in this, but I was particularly impressed by the child actor, Hailee Steinfeld.
This is probably the most straightforward of all the Coen films, but masterfully done and beautifully shot.
(5) Inception -- Visually original with a plot intriguing enough to keep you interested. Maybe not as odd as other Christopher Nolan fare (most notably Memento), but still a very good film. I am rarely disappointed by Leo DiCaprio's choice of films or his performances in them.
(4) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo/The Girl Who Played with Fire -- For those that don't normally check out foreign films, do yourself a favor and check out these thoroughly original Swedish films based on the Steig Larsson books. Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander is riveting and an unforgettable character. Looking forward to seeing her in the Ridley Scott sci-fi project, Prometheus, due out in 2012.
(3) The Social Network -- One can question the fidelity of the facts of Mark Zuckerberg's life as told in the Social Network. But it would be hard to question the use of the story as a metaphor for the nature of relationships in the modern age. Well-acted and wonderfully directed by David Fincher. Great music by Trent Reznor.
(2) Exit Through the Gift Shop - My favorite documentary of the year ... or is it (a documentary)? Directed (or staged) by street artist Banksy. A fascinating and funny study into the nature of art, the art scene, hype and documentaries. What is "truth" in a documentary? Is "truth" about facts or is it about revealing some kind of truth through an artful lie?
A quote during the movie by Banksy's former spokesman Steve Lazarides says it all, "I think the joke is on... I don’t know who the joke is on, really. I don’t even know if there is a joke."
(1) 127 Hours A story of adventure, ingenuity and of opting out of the rat-race ...a perfect mixture for me. Plus, its directed by one of my favorite directors, Danny Boyle. Much like Into the Wild appealed to me a few years ago, 127 Hours explores a lot of the same areas of nature, society, and success. I love movies that make you examine what the hell you are doing with your life and if you are living it for someone else's definition of success. James Franco is incredible and my pick for best actor.
Honorable mention: Waiting for Superman, Creation, Black Swan, Alice in Wonderland, Green Zone, Book of Eli, Shutter Island, Salt, Tron: Legacy
Several good kid stories that I liked: Despicable Me, Toy Story 3, Megamind, How to Train Your Dragon
A couple of 2009 movies that I didn't see in time for my list of that year: In the Loop,