1. The Hurt Locker
3. Up in the Air
4. Sin Nombre
6. 500 Days of Summer
7. District 9
8. Inglourious Basterds
9. A Serious Man
10. Summer Hours
And, for the annotated version:
1. The Hurt Locker: This profound psychological exploration of the line between bravery and bravado brings to life the Iraq War in a way that no previous film has managed to do.
2. Up : One of the funniest and most whimsical animated feats from the Pixar wizards with an exceptionally heart-wrenching montage that makes brilliant use of this shorthand device.
3. Up in the Air: An up-to-the-minute satirical dark comedy that is equal parts sharp wit and honest emotion, anchored by a charismatic George Clooney and a talented ensemble cast.
4. Sin Nombre: A harrowing Spanish-language thriller about Central American immigrants en route to the United States told in stunning, naturalistic documentary style.
5. –Sugar: This beautifully written and humanistic portrait of baseball players from the Dominican Republic defies the conventions of inspirational sports movies in myriad ways, including using athletes, not actors, as stars.
6. 500 Days of Summer: This endearing and innovative boy-meets-girl story invigorates the tired romantic comedy genre, defining contemporary relationships the way Annie Hall did for an older generation.
7. District 9: This unconventional, faux documentary style sci-fi adventure about aliens in South Africa artfully blends suspenseful excitement with nuanced political commentary and also proves that a great action film can succeed powerfully without a huge budget and all-star cast.
8. Inglourious Basterds: Director Quentin Tarantino’s brash re-imagining of World War II history is long on tension, violence and all-out wackiness as well as superbly acted and visually stunning throughout.
9. A Serious Man: Darkly humorous and deeply personal, this is the Coen Brothers’ most mature to date, featuring their trademark bleakly comic style and hapless anti-hero as vehicles to pose serious questions about faith, family and mortality.
10. Summer Hours: This profoundly eloquent and compassionate tale, in French with English-sub-titles, is the rare family drama not concerned with dysfunction, but with the meaning of culture and tradition in an era of globalism and alienation.