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The 20 Must-See Films of 2010

The 20 Must-See Films of 2010

All week here in California — on a relaxing holiday break — I’ve been catching up on some of the best movies of this past year.

Lounging in front of a big screen TV with my family, I’ve watched countless DVD screeners, catching some films for the first time (“I Am Love,” “The American,” “Conviction”), while re-watching others (“The Social Network,” “Greenberg,” “127 Hours,” “Rabbit Hole,” “Black Swan,” “Babies,” “The Kids Are Alright”). Over the past few weeks I’ve submitted a number of Top 10 lists, voting in polls from Film Comment Magazine (results), indieWIRE (ballot), and the Village Voice/LA Weekly (ballot). Now, survey season concludes with the indieWIRE list of staff and contributor Top 10 lists (my full roster below).

PHOTO: A scene from “Blue Valentine,” opening in theaters this week.

Lixin Fan’s “Last Train Home,” my top film of 2010, is a documentary that I saw for the first time back in November of ’09. Reporting from IDFA — the leading doc fest in The Netherlands — I was blown away by the movie when I saw it in Amsterdam. A few months later, at the San Francisco International Film Festival, I was on a jury that gave Lixin Fan a prize for his film.

Most of the other films on my top ten were movies I caught at film festivals over the past 18 months or so, at Sundance (“Blue Valentine,” “The Oath”), Cannes (“Fish Tank,” “A Prophet”), Telluride (“Black Swan”), or New York (“Wild Grass,” “Sweetgrass”). While “True Grit” and “Somewhere,” which I watched in just the past couple of weeks, made such an impression that they quickly moved to the top of my personal roster. I’ll surely watch them again and, as with any annual list, am curious to see how films fare over time. So, I’ve picked a top ten, chosen ten more runners-up and then picked five films that just didn’t rank for me, but are worth watching to gain a wider snapshot of film in 2010. Not included anywhere are a few films that I still haven’t seen, but that are at the top of my list to watch soon: “Boxing Gym,” “The Ghost Writer,” “White Material,” “Mother,” “NY Export: Opus Jazz,” “Secret Sunshine.”

Note: This list was chosen from the long roster of films released theatrically for one-week in New York City. Choosing a top ten based on such criteria is a long tradition that will likely have to change some time. In fact, in 2011 it may finally be time to abandon the theatrical hurdle that defines distribution. More and more films reach substantial audiences via film festivals and digital platforms, stirring a dialogue and finding followers via alternative means. At the vey least, it would probably make sense to keep an annual list of films available commercially (in theaters, online or via various forms of VOD) to use as a foundation for creating “Best Of” lists in the future.

The Ten Best Films of 2010:

1) “Last Train Home”
2) “Blue Valentine”
3) “Somewhere”
4) “Black Swan”
5) “The Oath”
6) “True Grit”
7) “Fish Tank”
8) “Sweetgrass”
9) “Wild Grass”
10) “A Prophet”

Ten More That Mattered to Me:

“Enter the Void”
“Trash Humpers”
“Another Year”
“Ne Change Rien”
“Shutter Island”
“Father of My Children”
“Rabbit Hole”

plus five that don’t rank but are at least worth talking about:

“The Social Network”
“Exit Through The Gift Shop”
“127 Hours”

Feel free to follow me on Twitter @eug, find me on Facebook and/or post a comment below.

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