Fish Tank and Inception might have come from different planets; of course it’s artificial to rank the year’s best films. So think of this as a reminder list of the movies most worth seeing, and seeing again. Some are splashy hits, others nearly overlooked and orphaned, but all are audacious, artistic and worth your time.
Tomorrow a more eclectic list: standouts of the year, good and bad.
1. BLACK SWAN Darren Aronofsky’s almost over-the-top psycho-thriller is the most enthralling movie I’ve seen this year, and a masterpiece of virtuoso filmmaking.
2. THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT Moms, sperm Dad and kids form a thoroughly believable family in Lisa Cholodenko’s warm, smart comic-drama.
3. THE SOCIAL NETWORK Aaron Sorkin’s dazzling script and Jesse Eisenberg’s classic performance give the Facebook backstory suspense and wit.
4. SOMEWHERE Sofia Coppola’s beautifully realized father-daughter chamber piece has grace, depth and an uncompromising artistic vision.
5. 127 HOURS James Franco cuts off his arm and director Danny Boyle makes sure we can’t turn away.
6. INCEPTION Only Christopher Nolan’s outsized imagination could have given us these dreams-within-dreams-within dreams.
7. FISH TANK Non-professional actor Katie Jarvis is remarkable as a confused working-class girl in Andrea Arnold’s gritty little gem.
8. ANIMAL KINGDOM Jacki Weaver’s performance as a lethal granny and David Michod’s direction give the crime-family genre new energy
9. TRUE GRIT The Coens make it look easy, but this beautifully balanced, tough-minded coming-of-age story set in the Old West is something rare.
10. WHITE MATERIAL With Isabelle Huppert as a French plantation owner in Africa, Claire Denis’ film is haunting and politically fraught.