Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio and Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Director: Christopher Nolan
2. Toy Story 3
Starring the Voices of: Tom Hanks and Tim Allen
Director: Lee Unkrich
3. The King’s Speech
Starring: Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush
Director: Tom Hooper
4. The Town
Starring: Ben Affleck and Jeremy Renner
Director: Ben Affleck
A surprisingly great film from a multi-tasking Ben Affleck (who also co-wrote), this Boston crime drama about a group of bank robbers is both exciting and suspenseful. Just as Affleck’s previous film Gone Baby Gone was not a stereotypical kidnapping film, neither is this caper picture that boasts some wonderful performances from Renner and Rebecca Hall.
5. The Kids are All Right
Starring: Annette Bening and Julianne Moore
Director: Lisa Cholodenko
When two teenagers of a lesbian couple seek out their donor father, awkwardness, subtle chaos and unusual plot twists ensue. Not since Little Miss Sunshine has a film cast left this much of an impression on me. Gloriously understated performances and a surprisingly moving script by Cholodenko make this indie flick well worth a look.
6. Robin Hood
Starring: Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett
Director: Ridley Scott
This criminally underrated film by Scott is probably the best version of the Robin Hood myth since the Errol Flynn version of the 1930s. Blanchett is particularly engaging as a tough-as-nails Marian. Why no one saw this movie is beyond me.
7. 127 Hours
Starring: James Franco and Amber Tamblyn
Director: Danny Boyle
The always underrated James Franco is astounding as Aron Ralston, a carefree outdoor enthusiast who literally gets trapped between a rock and a hard place. This is ultimately a one man show and Franco gives it his all as a man who comes to terms with his own life and has to make a decision that will alter him forever. Boyle is a master at filming what is generally considered the unfilmable and his incorporation of both cinematography and music (especially in this film) are impeccable.
8. Black Swan
Starring: Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Portman gives a devastating, all or nothing performance as a professional ballerina in a New York company who replaces an aging dancing (a wacky Winona Ryder) as the lead in a production of Swan Lake. Contending with a sex-starved instructor, a crazed (I repeat, CRAZED) mother and a possible rivalry from a new dancer (a surprisingly good Kunis), Portman loses her mind…or does she? Leaving many questions both unasked and unanswered, Aronofsky’s film is a psych major’s dream come true.
9. Winter’s Bone
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence and John Hawkes
Director: Debra Granik
The depressing and mega-acclaimed independent film of the year, Granik’s picture follows Rae (Lawrence) on a several day quest in search of her criminal father. Rae’s father put their house up as collateral for bail and the sheriff is threatening to repossess it unless dad shows his face. In the wake of the current recession, residents of Rae’s Ozark community find work on both sides of the law, including cooking crank. Desperate to keep her home, Rae must uncover some awful truths about her family and discover how far she’s willing to go to protect them.
10. I Am Love
Starring: Tilda Swinton and Flavio Parenti
Director: Luca Guadagnino
An unusual Italian film features Swinton (who also produces) as a Russian immigrant who married into the wealthy Recchi family, the owners of an exclusive fashion business. What starts as a family drama quickly turns into a sexual awakening as Swinton begins an affair with the much younger friend of her oldest son. Probably the most beautifully filmed movie of the year with elegant sets and costumes. Those who like art house cinema rejoice!