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The Best Films of 2010

Written by on December 30, 2010 

After hundreds of ticket stubs and thousands of hours spent in a theater this year, we want to share with your our favorite cinematic experiences of 2010. Over the next few pages you will find our favorite films of the year, split up by contributor here on The Film Stage formatted to their liking. The mix of tastes should cover all grounds and give you a few new films you may have missed, or urge you to revisit the ones you loved. I’ll kick things off below with my top 10. As a disclaimer, I’m going by US 2010 theatrical releases and not counting things I’ve seen at film festivals that have yet to be released.

Jordan Raup’s Top 10 of 2010

Honorable Mentions:

10. Flipped (dir. Rob Reiner)

This would be the most under-appreciated film of the year – if anyone actually had a chance to see it. Warner Bros. pulled its wide release at the last moment, but seeing an early screening of this was one my favorite moments of the year. Rob Reiner‘s latest is a much-needed nostalgic jolt of classic film making.  Covering all areas on the emotional spectrum, this is one film that anyone can love.

9. Dogtooth (dir. Giorgos Lanthimos)

If Flipped portrayed a “classic” American family, this Greek film goes to the absolute opposite breaking point in this brilliant satire. Dogtooth is an uncomfortable film that you may not enjoy will watching it, but its shots, ideas, and characters will stick with you until your deathbed.

8. True Grit (dir. Joel & Ethan Coen)

Roger Deakins‘ cinematography is gorgeous and Carter Burwell‘s score is fantastic, but it is the cast that makes this Coen adaptation a marvel. Newcomer Hailee Steinfeld goes beyond simply holding her ground next to Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon. Along with Jennifer Lawrence in Winter’s Bone, she delivers the break-out performance of the year.

7. Inception (dir. Christopher Nolan)

The best blockbuster of the year, Christopher Nolan‘s meticulously crafted adventure demands a theater for the ultimate experience. While home viewings haven’t necessarily held up for me, the initial awe of devouring and compressing every single frame of this puzzle is something I’ll never forget. Check out my full review here.

6. Carlos (dir. Olivier Assayas)

It’s amazing how a 5.5-hour biopic can feel faster then many 90-minute films we’ve gotten this year. Édgar Ramírez gives the performance of the year as the infamous Carlos. Split into three parts, you won’t find a more expansive and personal narrative in 2010 then this masterwork.

5. A Prophet (dir. Jacques Audiard)

Although I saw it over a year ago, this prison crime drama got a release this year, and it is still ingrained in my memory. Many have thrown around comparisons to The Godfather, and its an apt description. Tahir Rahim is stunning as Audiard continuously re-invents a tired genre.

4. The Social Network (dir. David Fincher)

The depiction of Facebook’s birth by David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin changed my life. Mark Zuckerberg‘s obsessed genius drive, conveyed brilliantly by Jesse Eisenberg, sparked a passion to work harder at everything I do. Many are against the notion this film “captured our generation,” but I truly believe it has, and will only be more prevalent in the years to come. Check out my full review here.

3. Black Swan (dir. Darren Aronofsky)

Completely captivating horror that continually amps up until every part of your body is left senseless. Aronofsky’s portrait of the mentally insane is hardly subtle, but that is all part of the absurd fun. Check out my full review here.

2. The Secret In Their Eyes (dir. Juan José Campanella)

Last year’s Best Foreign Oscar winner is a masterpiece. Campanella conveys a sprawling romance tale set alongside a gripping crime adventure, taking place over multiple decades. Not only is it technical proficient (just look at the elaborate single-take stadium scene), there is an extravagant amount of heart running through these feverishly fleshed-out characters. Specific lines changed the way I looked at my own life, and nothing this year has enthralled me more, from the first to the last frame.

1. Exit Through The Gift Shop (dir. Banksy)

2010 has been a remarkable year for documentaries. Restrepo, Waiting For Superman, and Inside Job all tackled vital issues and exposed a previously unseen truth; then there was Exit Through The Gift Shop. Exploring the underground world of street art, this documentary not only made a vital statement on the medium itself, but delivered the most charming, thought-provoking film of the year.

Dan Mecca’s Top 10 of 2010 >>

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