I'm done calling my year-end film lists "Best of". I don't buy it anymore. There are simply too many diverse criteria at play for it to be safe to call one great film better than the next great film. These movies are all great, but for wildly different reasons. This list should really be called: "Colin saw these films during 2010 and liked them a lot based on their possessing some combination of Social Significance, Visual Beauty, Excellent Storytelling, Skillful Filmmaking, Literary Merit, Honesty, His Having Connected With It On a Personal Level and Nearly Having Cried While Watching It, Fascinating Undefinability, Great Acting, Etc. Also, he may have just been in a particularly receptive mood when he saw them." But "Top 10" seems less cumbersome. You're welcome.
Notes regarding this list:
...If it was released in a theatre near me in 2010, it's eligible. This does not include reissues of 50 year old films like Breathless, but does include movies like A Prophet which was 'officially' released in 2009 but didn't actually make into theatres for general viewing until February.
...Each title--save one--is linked to its Wikipedia page. I have linked to IMDb in the past, but IMDb's new format is garbage so Wikipedia gets the nod. Besides, should you feel so inclined, a link to the film's IMDb page is available at the bottom of its Wikipedia entry.
Cutting to the chase...
...And this is why I can't call this list a "Best of". By pure cinematic standards, Restrepo wouldn't touch the top of this list. But it's the most important movie I've seen in quite a long time, and the only movie concerning the ongoing war in Afghanistan that doesn't have an agenda. It is documentary filmmaking at its best: no narration, and no filmmakers trying to make themselves famous by stepping in front of the camera. Restrepo is a rare thing--a pure, uncorrupted document of life (and death) for real American soldiers in Afghanistan.
2. A Prophet
3. My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done
...To my knowledge, very few people have seen this film, and that's a shame. Directed by Werner Herzog, produced by David Lynch, and starring Michael Shannon (for my money, the most talented actor currently working) among other greats, My Son, My Son... saw strangely limited distribution. It's on Netflix now; you can even watch it instantly! Seriously, go watch it right now.
4. Exit Through the Gift Shop
...Hey, I just blogged about this one! Just below this post! Or, if you can't find it there, you can be magically teleported to it by clicking right here!
6. The Fighter
...The best film in serious Oscar contention by leaps and bounds. And it's still in theatres most everywhere, so go see it while you still can.
7. I Am Love
9. Inside Job
...The two most stomach-turning images from Movie Year 2010 were almost carbon-copies of one another. In one, Donald Rumsfeld & Co. smile and pat each other on the back after successfully deflecting blame for the death of Pat Tillman in The Tillman Story. In Inside Job, similarly scummy assholes deflect blame for the economic collapse during congressional hearings then go home to the billions they made off with. These buck-passing thieves and murderers-by-proxy are the supervillains of today.
10. It's a tie! Between: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1, The Social Network, & True Grit (and probably some others, too. Sorry.)