I'm not sure it was a good movie year, but it was definitely an unusual one. We had a gourmet smorgasbord of animated films all year long, as well as a high number of excellent films directed by women. Then there were the war movies, a genre I usually can't stand for its preachy seriousness. But this year there were at least two flat-out masterpieces, not to mention the best period battle epic in decades. (Meanwhile, it seems as if the sci-fi genre has taken over for the war genre.) There was even one breathtaking example of another of my most hated genres, the costume movie. In all, it was a year to challenge the conventions, even if the conventions still continued to make the most money. But above all, 2009 was unusual...

Following is my list of ten best, in ranked order. For fun, I'm including one or two "runners-up" along with each choice, making up a kind of artistic or thematic double- or triple-feature.

(See the full list after the jump.)