Best Lesser-Known Movies from 2010

The Best of 2010! Check out these great lesser-known films, and forgive me for the inclusion of a small number of bigger indie releases.

#1 The Disappearance of Alice Creed

Stark and brutal but this is the paramount of independent filmmaking.

In "The Disappearance of Alice Creed", Alice (Gemma Arterton) is kidnapped. Danny (Martin Compston) and Vic (Eddie Marsan) are careful criminals and think they know what it takes to get what they want and not get caught. What follows is a well written, unconventional and startling exploration of the relationships of everyone involved and their plans to get to a better life. 2009

Directed by: J. Blakeson

Screenplay by: J. Blakeson

Starring: Gemma Arterton, Eddie Marsan and Martin Compston
See full review of The Disappearance of Alice Creed

#2 $5 a Day

The best of independent filmmaking.

"$5 a Day" is a father-son road trip movie. You may think you've seen that done way too many times before, but this plays out as if it's completely original. This is, quite simply, one of the best indie films ever. It may not be completely independent as it does have an all-star cast behind it. The handsome and completely endearing Alessandro Nivola is Flynn, the son, who is just trying to live a normal life. 2008 (with 2010 DVD release)

Directed by: Nigel Cole

Screenplay by: Neal H. Dobrofsky and Tippi Dobrofsky

Starring: Christopher Walken and Alessandro Nivola
See full review of $5 a Day

#3 The Joneses


A thoughtful and original twist on keeping up with the Joneses. 

"The Joneses" asks, can you keep up with the Joneses (David Duchovny and Demi Moore)? And the answer is yes. The plot has enough original twists and turns to keep it interesting, but not so many that you can still notice the few levels of nuance and intelligence that they added. A very original take on the "keeping up with the Joneses" idea - everybody wants what the Joneses have. 2009

Directed by: Derrick Borte

Screenplay by: Derrick Borte and Randy T. Dinzler

Starring: David Duchovny and Demi Moore
See full review of The Joneses

#4 Me and Orson Welles

"Me and Orson Welles" has the perfect blend of coming-of-age and theatre.

The "me" in "Me and Orson Welles" is Richard (Zac Efron) a high school student who gets himself a part in Orson Welles' production of Julius Caesar at the Mercury Theatre. He's the kind of kid that loves everything creative in the world, is romantic, and is confident and sure of himself. Well, that is until he's alongside Orson Welles. Christian McKay plays Welles as the cocky and out-spoken man that he surely was. 2008

Directed by: Richard Linklater

Screenplay by: Richard Linklater

Starring: Christian McKay, Zac Efron
See full review of Me and Orson Welles

#5 Flipped

"Flipped" has all the comedy, naiveté and bewilderment of first love.

Juli just had to take one look at Bryce's blue eyes, and she knew it was true love. Bryce just had to take one notice of Juli's manic desperation, and he knew it was going to be a friendship of torment. I just had to take one look at the film's artfully designed poster, and I knew "Flipped" was a film to be savoured. 2010

Directed by: Rob Reiner

Screenplay by: Rob Reiner and Andrew Scheinman

Starring: Madeline Carroll and Calan McAuliffe
See full review of Flipped

#6 TiMER

A romantic comedy that is actually well written, good, romantic and funny.

Finally our clocks have counted down and we have "TiMER" in a our lives; a fantastic romantic comedy has been brought into the world. Sure, all romantic comedies follow the same trend, cute girl wants to meet her soul mate. The poor ones do it with horrible main characters and ridiculously unfunny contrived situations. The somewhat better ones, which we have been forced to accept as good, add comedy and likable characters. But now, we have "TiMER". 2009

Directed by: Jac Schaeffer

Screenplay by: Jac Schaeffer

Starring: Emma Caulfield, Scott Holroyd
See full review of TiMER

#7 The City of Your Final Destination


Like a classic piece of literature performed beautifully.

"The City of Your Final Destination" is about a young man (Omar Metwally) trying to write a biography of a late writer. He travels to Uruguay to meet the family still living on the estate. It's very reminiscent of "The Last Station" (2009), and just as good — in its own way. 2009 (with 2010 DVD release)

Directed by: James Ivory

Screenplay by: Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
Based on the novel by Peter Cameron

Starring: Omar Metwally
See full review of The City of Your Final Destination

#8 Big Fan

Soul-fulfilling examination of a "Big Fan".

"Big Fan" is about Paul (Patton Oswalt) who is a really big fan of the New York Giants. It's a simple premise and one that you think you see on a regular basis. But this movie is different because we really meet Paul, on a very personal level. We see everything in his life that makes him who he is. Even though Paul takes the word "fanatic" to a very serious level, he's accessible and it seems very real. 2009

Directed by: Robert D. Siegel

Screenplay by: Robert D. Siegel

Starring: Patton Oswalt
See full review of Big Fan

#9 The Blue Tooth Virgin


About trying to understand one's self and accepting constructive criticism.

Screenwriter Sam (Austin Peck) has written "The Blue Tooth Virign". He's awfully excited about it; he tells his friend David (Bryce Johnson) that it's a thriller driven by characters, and he wants David to read it and give him notes. This film offers an hilarious and critical analysis of his script, David trying to tell Sam what he really thought about it, and Sam trying to accept who he really is. 2008 (with 2010 DVD release)

Directed by: Russell Brown

Screenplay by: Russell Brown

Starring: Austin Peck, Bryce Johnson
See full review of The Blue Tooth Virgin

#10 City Island

A dysfunctional family dramedy in all its glory.

"City Island" is set in City Island, a small fishing community of the Bronx, New York. Generally, in these small communities, everyone knows all your secrets. But this film is centered on the Rizzo family, who all have their own secrets. These secrets don't so much tear them apart but keep them angry and on edge. The good thing is, it's not nearly as dark as it sounds, it's a comedy too. 2009

Directed by: Raymond De Felitta

Screenplay by: Raymond De Felitta

Starring: Andy Garcia, Julianna Margulies
See full review of City Island

#11 Leaves of Grass

A violent, comedic, crime drama character study.

Edward Norton stars as Bill Kincaid a sensible ivy league philosophy professor who makes a trip home to Oklahoma, and Edward Norton stars as Brady Kincaid, twin brother, a rash hillbilly drug dealer who gets himself mixed up in bad drug deals and murders. "Leaves of Grass" is a dark comedy, crime drama and ultimately character study. 2009

Directed by: Tim Blake Nelson

Screenplay by: Tim Blake Nelson

Starring: Edward Norton, Keri Russell
See full review of Leaves of Grass

#12 Cemetery Junction

Ricky Gervais comes of filmmaking age with "Cemetery Junction".

Cemetery Junction is one of those poor, small British towns, where the men go to work in factories and the women try to keep their kids out of jail. Freddy (Christian Cooke) wants something different; he wants to wear a suit to work, drive a Rolls Royce home to a beautiful wife and kids in a big house. He thinks this is a more noble life to live, and at least he's doing something about it. 2010

Directed by: Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant

Screenplay by: Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant

Starring: Christian Cooke, Felicity Jones
See full review of Cemetery Junction

#13 Serious Moonlight

Like a romantic comedy, except completely different.

"Serious Moonlight" deserves to be seen for a number of reasons.

First, it is written by the late Adrienne Shelly (best known for "Waitress" (2007)). After her death, her husband set up the Adrienne Shelly Foundation to help women pursue their film-making dreams. Money earned from her films goes towards this foundation.

Directed by: Cheryl Hines

Screenplay by: Adrienne Shelly

Starring: Meg Ryan, Timothy Hutton, Kristen Bell and Justin Long
See full review of Serious Moonlight

#14 Wake

"Wake" criss-crosses genres but shines with originality.

"Wake" is a weird type of movie, completely unique and original, and because it's so off-kilter, you're left thinking about it after it ends. It is marketed as a quirky romantic comedy. It isn't, but that is how it begins. Bijou Phillips stars as Carys Reitman, an emotionally-stunted pretty girl who is searching for a life connection. Not a guy, but emotion, to be able to feel the same way inside as others do. 2009

Directed by: Ellie Kanner

Screenplay by: Lennox Wisely

Starring: Bijou Phillips, Ian Somerhalder
See full review of Wake

#15 Nice Guy Johnny

Johnny is handsome, sweet, and, well, nice.

Johnny (Matt Bush) is a nice guy, or a push-over, depending on how you see it. But he's also a pretty good character. Very handsome, sweet, and well, nice; he's a good romantic comedy hero. It's basically a twenty-something finds himself romantic comedy. It's nothing you haven't seen before, but it is cute, funny and romantic. Matt Bush and Kerry Bishé have great chemistry and their romance is engaging. 2010

Directed by: Edward Burns

Screenplay by: Edward Burns

Starring: Matt Bush and Kerry Bishe
See full review of Nice Guy Johnny

#16 My Girlfriend's Boyfriend


Boy meets girl, and then girl meets boy.
"My Girlfriend's Boyfriend" is a boy meets girl, and then girl meets boy story. It starts out exactly as you expect a romantic comedy to go. Jesse is unlucky in love, Ethan is unlucky in his writing career, she vows to help him, and he easily falls in love with her. But then Troy is there to sweep Jesse off her feet, and before we know it Jesse has a dilemma. 2010

Directed by: Daryn Tufts

Screenplay by: Daryn Tufts

Starring: Alyssa Milano, Christopher Gorham
See full review of My Girlfriend's Boyfriend

#17 Pretty Bird


"Pretty Bird" doesn't have much of a story but it does have great characters.

"Pretty Bird" is about entrepeneuring a 'rocket belt', which is a real invention. It centers on Curtis Prentiss (Billy Crudup) who at one point in the film says "It's not just a rocket belt, it's an attitude." That says exactly what this film is, it's not about a rocket belt, it's about the attitude of its characters. 2008 (with 2010 DVD release)

Directed by: Paul Schneider

Screenplay by: Paul Schneider

Starring: Billy Crudup, Paul Giamatti
See full review of Pretty Bird

#18 The Good Guy

"The Good Guy" surprises with its drama.

"The Good Guy" is a relationship drama. You would be forgiven if you assumed it was yet another twenty-something girl trying to sort out her love life and career in a romantic comedy. You would be forgiven for thinking that, but you would also be wrong. It's actually better than that. The film is driven by three characters, all of them completely fleshed-out and three-dimensional. Not one of them is central, but all of them individually and triangularly. 2009

Directed by: Julio DePietro

Screenplay by: Julio DePietro

Starring: Alexis Bledel, Bryan Greenberg and Scott Porter
See full review of The Good Guy