If you love to make movie lists yourself, then there's no better time than the end of the year. If you hate ranking movies, however, it can be a painful time of year. Unless you've found certain critics with whom your tastes tend to align, it can be tough to find a Top 10 list that you're going to agree with. So, instead of doing a rigid Cinematical's Top 10 of 2010, we decided to do things a little differently.
We asked our staff - which, at over 20 strong, collectively represents members from various film critics' organizations around the country - to give us their picks for the three best films of the year and then made a compilation of the results. This way clear favorites would emerge, but we'd also be able to spotlight individual favorites outside of the realm of the same familiar gang of films campaigning for ballot space this awards season.
11. 'Never Let Me Go' - 2 Appearances
From David Ehrlich's review: A delicate film to discuss but a difficult one to spoil, 'Never Let Me Go' tells a concise and slippery story of resignation that attempts to bridge the gap between what we know of the human experience and the turbulence of actually enduring it.
10. 'Four Lions' - 2 Appearances
From Scott Weinberg's review: "Best of all, this is some grade-A high quality DARK comedy of the "take no prisoners" variety, and I say that's always cause for some celebration. Certainly not for all tastes, but an absolutely unique treat for those who like a little danger in their comedy, 'Four Lions' is further proof that the Brits nail "topical" comedy earlier and better than anyone. Oh, and the entire ensemble is simply hilarious. Even if you find the subject matter too distasteful to poke fun at, there's little denying the quick wit and chemistry of the five leads."
9. 'Enter the Void' - 2 Appearances
From Eric Snider's review: "As usual for Noé, parts of 'Enter the Void' are hard to watch -- only it's not because they're graphic or violent but because they consist of nothing more than ethereal sound effects and trippy light displays. It's how Noé conveys Oscar's wandering mind, whether the wandering is caused by drugs or death. This sort of thing, logical though it may be in context, can be exasperating, and the film is unquestionably too long anyway. But it's a powerfully bizarre movie, a psychedelic trip that must be experienced -- not just seen and heard but experienced -- to be believed."
8. 'Exit Through the Gift Shop' - 2 Appearances
From Kevin Kelly's review: "What is art? This is not a question the film 'Exit Through The Gift Shop,' which is "directed" by famous street artist Banksy, attempts to answer. However, it is a question that you'll be asking yourself after watching this documentary. I say "directed" because this is a film that stumbled towards completion, and no one set out to make it. Confused yet? Good. Banksy probably wants you exactly that way."
7. 'True Grit' - 2 Appearances
From Erik Davis' review: "Let's get this out of the way right now: Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld own this film, every inch of it. The entire cast is fantastic, with special kudos to Josh Brolin and an unrecognizable Barry Pepper (see if you can spot him), but there's not a moment that goes by in the film when you're not itching to see Bridges' Marshal Reuben J. Cogburn and Steinfeld's Mattie Ross share the screen. The two make up the most memorable on-screen duo we've seen all year -- a beaten-up, smelly, drunken U.S. Marshal and a whip-smart 14-year-old negotiator -- and every scene they share is one you're going to want to watch again."
6. 'Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World' - 3 Appearances
From Scott Weinberg's review: "Mr. Wright's odd little adaptation manages to be sweet, smart, slick and silly all at the same time, and speaking as only one old man: I think this flick is a welcome breath of fresh air in a sub-genre (the, ugh, romantic comedy) that could use a hundred similar breaths of fresh air."
5. 'Toy Story 3' - 3 Appearances
From Joe Utichi's review: "Toy Story 3 firmly closes the chapter on this first era of Pixar's existence, but it does so in such a way that we can almost rest assured the next will be no less engaging. If in singing the film's praises one can do no more than follow a familiar hymn sheet, so be it. Like their plastic space ranger, Pixar is a company prepared to reach infinity and beyond, and there's little sense arguing with such lofty ambition."
4. 'Rabbit Hole' - 4 Appearances
From Scott Weinberg's review: "As poignant as a bittersweet love letter and as personal as a film can possibly be, 'Rabbit Hole' represents career highs for practically everyone involved. I can't remember the last time a "little drama movie" left me overflowing with this sort of affection, but 'Rabbit Hole' is a very unique and special film. In a word ... flawless."
3. 'The Social Network' - 4 Appearances
From Erik Davis' review: "As with Facebook itself, you'll have fun observing 'The Social Network' and all its moving parts, but it's very difficult to truly connect with -- or care much about -- its characters. Like that distant cousin three states over, or your old high school friends, you're interested in how their lives are playing out, but you follow them on Facebook so that you never actually have to interact with them ... outside of Facebook. 'The Social Network' will define a generation for a generation that couldn't care less about its generation, but it's as entertaining as anything you'll watch all year."
2. 'Inception' - 6 Appearances
From Todd Gilchrist's review: "But it's also the kind of movie that transcends any easy comparisons, and resists previous standards of achievement, innovation, or impact, which is why it's difficult to pinpoint the last time I felt quite so passionately about every single part of a cinematic experience. And that may ultimately be the film's greatest achievement: to consume and possess its audience with that passion, whether you're as inspired and excited as I am, or disappointed, confused or frustrated as many will no doubt also be."
1. 'Black Swan' - 11 Appearances
From Eric Snider's review: "At the center of this psychological nightmare is Natalie Portman, giving the best performance of her career. (Yes, better than the Star Wars movies.) She's in nearly every frame of the movie, often dancing, often in close-up, conveying a huge range of intense and complicated emotions. No matter how suspenseful, strange, or astonishing things get, we're right there with her, feeling every bit of Nina's fear, confusion, excitement, and eventual liberation."
The following were all considered Top 3 material by various writers on the staff, with each appearing once across everyone's lists:
'Myth of the American Sleepover'
'Last Train Home'
'The Kids Are All Right'
'I Am Love'
'A Serbian Film'
'The Good, the Bad, the Weird'
For more, check out Moviefone's 50 Best Movies of 2010