10. "I Love You, Man"
Although Judd Apatow had nothing to do with this brilliant comedy, it very much feels like on his films. Certainly it was miles and miles above Apatow's "Funny People", which was anything but funny. "I Love You, Man" captures the honesty and bravado of a friendship between two straight men like no comedy before it. And it truly is FUNNY!
A nightmare animation move that made me remember my own bad dreams as a child. Completely different in tone and theme from the other classic animated film of the year ("Up"), "Coraline" is a visual marvel, especially in 3D (the only way to see it, as far as I'm concerned).
A mother-daughter relationship story taken to a whole new level. This is your city-tough "Terms of Endearment", but not for the tender hearted. And it features the single best performance of the year, by M'onique, in whom I had no faith before, but will surely pay attention to from now on.
7. "(500) Days of Summer"
Just like any great cinematiclove story, this one succeeds because we learn early on that the two lovers will not make it long-term, and that's just the thing: we watch their relationship deteriorate in different places, out of sequence, in all its tragic beauty and heartbreak.
The best comic book hero movie of the year, and one that was poorly received by the majority (I'm not really sure why). I was never a big fan of Zak Snyder, but his adaptation of the graphic novel of the same name is visually stunning, conceptually inventive and for those not familiar with the book, thematically ingenious. Who would've thought we'd ever accept such a harrowing ending, but we do.
5. "Bad Lieutenant"
Nicolas Cage's best performance in years (or perhaps ever?), in a remake of another film of the same title from 1992. This one is better, but its tone, which is all over the place, works amazingly well as a comedy, an action picture and wacky acid trip into the shady underworld of post-Katrina New Orleans. I was surprised by how much I liked it. It's Herzog at the top of his form.
4. "Drag Me to Hell"
Sam Raimi returns to his EVIL DEAD roots, and delivers once again. A complete 180 from his SPIDER MAN franchise, "...Hell" is a horror movie with brains: it's terrifying, hilarious and socially satirical, sometimes all in a span of a minute. Clearly Raimi's best film since "A Simple Plan", and the best horror film in years.
Leave it to Pixar, as usual, to deliver an amazing looking animation visual masterpiece that will not only dazzle your eyes, but also break your heart. Oh, that's just after the first 5 minutes. The great writing keeps coming, and I dare you not to cry by the time the final credits roll. In a word: Amazing.
2. "The Hurt Locker"
One of the best movies ever made about the Iraq war (after "Three Kings" and "In the Valley of Ellah"), this was the smartest and most observant film of the year, on any topic, anywhere, period. Not much can be said about the film's plot, since it doesn't really have one, but it's exhilirating nonetheless: it makes war look both exciting and incredibly painful, and stands by both arguments.
1. "Inglorious Basterds"
Quentin Tarantino's brilliant screenplay really is what keeps this thing go to places no other war-comedy ever has before: a complete and utter unpredictability. Sure, it helps that Brad Pitt and the newcomer Christoph Waltz are just plain awesome, but seriously folks... we have to chalk all of its brilliance to Tarantino. That is one talented Basterd.