2010 has been a crap year for Hollywood so far, but that doesn't mean there hasn't been a wide array of extremely compelling releases that bypassed the multiplex. So before we enter the season of prestige pictures and festival stunners, here are my five favorite films of the year that weren't seen much beyond the major markets but deserved larger audiences (and that larger audiences deserved in turn). For those interested, I've also included the info about when you might be able to check out the movies you missed.
Johnnie To's latest isn't his greatest, but it might be the most brutally fun and deliriously stylized film of his career. To continues to find new facets of the Hong Kong underworld to explore in his unique and increasingly balletic fashion, time melding the succinctly cold dynamics of his favorite milieu with the fluid slo-mo frenzy of his pickpocketing comedy Sparrow. To's titles never lie, and Vengeance is no exception -- this is a cut and dry story of payback done right and with a Gallic twist. French legend Johnny Hallyday comes to Macau with a memory disorder and a hankering to end the gangsters who murdered his daughter (Sylvie Testud) and her family. Some of To's most insanely awesome set-pieces ensue, including a nighttime park shootout that borders on the symphonic. The parts are greater than the sum, but Vengeance has some great parts. Available now On-Demand.