#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 The Social Network
A film not about Facebook, but the face of the guys behind the book.
|"The Social Network" is a great film and it does deserve all the credit it's getting. The key is in how Sorkin crafted the story and the characters and then how the actors ably portrayed those characters. This isn't about Facebook, but more the guys, or guy, who invented it. And the way Sorkin presented these characters was perfect.||2010 |
Directed by: David Fincher
Screenplay by: Aaron Sorkin
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield
|See full review of The Social Network|
#3 The King's Speech
"The King's Speech" is fit to wear the crown.
|"The King's Speech" gave us the story of a man who shouldn't have been King but staunchly rose to the position. Colin Firth was King George VI who had a deeply-rooted, severe stuttering problem. Geoffrey Rush had the perfect touch as his speech therapist.||2010 |
Directed by: Tom Hooper
Screenplay by: David Seidler
Starring: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush
|See full review of The King's Speech|
#4 $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|
#5 Shutter Island
A genre-defining film.
|Martin Scorsese has done it again. He pays attention to every detail in this film, making "Shutter Island" one of the best suspense thrillers of all time. |
Visually intriguing, simplistic and absolutely phenomenal. The story is kept simplistic enough so it doesn't get absurd, but allows for an ending which you probably won't see coming.
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Screenplay by: Laeta Kalogridis
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo
|See full review of Shutter Island|
#6 Rabbit Hole
Intelligent subtexts in "Rabbit Hole".
|"Rabbit Hole" stars Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart as a married suburban couple. As with all married suburban couples, there is more going on beneath the surface. Here, though, what's beneath the surface are insightful concepts, instead of additional plot lines. Becca and Howie are trying to find solace after their young son dies.||2010 |
Directed by: John Cameron Mitchell
Screenplay by: David Lindsay-Abaire
Based on his Pulitzer Prize-winning play
Starring: Aaron Eckhart and Nicole Kidman
|See full review of Rabbit Hole|
#7 The Town
Thoughtful, character-driven crime drama thriller.
|Take a crime-ridden community with gritty streets but with young men trying to get to a better life and the hopefulness of a possible romance, and you get "The Town", a thoughtful and discerning dramatic thriller.||2010 |
Directed by: Ben Affleck
Screenplay by: Peter Craig, Ben Affleck and Aaron Stockard
Starring: Ben Affleck
|See full review of The Town|
#8 Never Let Me Go
An interesting, high-quality film that crosses over into most genres.
|"Never Let Me Go" is an interesting, haunting and affecting story of love and jealousy. The story that we see occurring on the surface is fairly commonplace of friends growing up together and falling in love. But the backdrop of this film, which eventually takes over the main story, is science fiction like. It's dark and tragic and thought-provoking.||2010 |
Directed by: Mark Romanek
Screenplay by: Alex Garland
Based on the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro
Starring: Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield
|See full review of Never Let Me Go|
#9 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|
#10 The Kids Are All Right
Comedy was great, drama slowed things down a bit, but still a well done film.
|Lesbian mothers, one a hippie chick (Julianne Moore) the other more of an alpha male (Annette Bening) have raised two kids, Joni and Laser. "The Kids Are All Right" begins with the teenage kids contacting their sperm donor biological father (Mark Ruffalo). We follow the interactions between all of the characters.||2010 |
Directed by: Lisa Cholodenko
Screenplay by: Lisa Cholodenko, Stuart Blumberg
Starring: Annette Bening and Julianne Moore
|See full review of The Kids Are All Right|
Merges style with substance.
|"Inception" is what you get when a filmmaker knows how to merge style with substance. Christopher Nolan has crafted a story (not an original one, but that's OK) that takes slightly abstract ideas and places it in a reality you can almost grasp, and then tells it with little complexity. It's a movie for all the masses - and that's where Nolan's genius comes in.||2010 |
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Screenplay by: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio
|See full review of Inception|
#12 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|
"Adam" is one of the best written films of its kind.
|The adjectives used to market "Adam" include: romantic, funny, delightful, poignant, uplifting, humorous. I have to disagree with most of those, especially: funny, humorous and delightful. A comedy it is not. But that's not to say that it isn't good. It's actually quite good.||2009 |
Directed by: Max Mayer
Screenplay by: Max Mayer
Starring: Hugh Dancy and Rose Byrne
|See full review of Adam|
#14 The Box
Intelligent science fiction thriller.
|"The Box" is not what you're expecting, and that will hold true no matter what you are expecting. I had assumed it was going to be a moral and philosophical exploration of a couple's choice between money or an unknown death. There are moral and philosophical ideas presented, but in such a way that you don't yet understand.||2009 |
Directed by: Richard Kelly
Screenplay by: Richard Kelly
Starring: Cameron Diaz, Frank Langella and James Marsden
|See full review of The Box|
#15 Weather Girl
Absolutely hilarious from beginning to end with just a hint of self-awareness.
|Tricia O'Kelley is our sassy weather girl, Sylvia, except she insists she's not sassy, she just has boyfriend problems and now employment problems giving way to the numerous emotional issues which our heroine explores in this romantic comedy.||2009 |
Directed by: Blayne Weaver
Screenplay by: Blayne Weaver
Starring: Tricia O'Kelley
|See full review of Weather Girl|
#16 Tamara Drewe
A comedy of affairs.
|Ewedown is an idyllic, little English countryside village where writers retreat to seek inspiration, and peace and quiet. Or at least it was idyllic until Tamara Drewe returned home.||2010 |
Directed by: Stephen Frears
Screenplay by: Moira Buffini
Starring: Gemma Arterton
|See full review of Tamara Drewe|
#17 You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger
Lacks most of Allen's intelligent wit, but still has his subtle jabs at society.
|In "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger" we are swiftly introduced to the complicated plot with who is married to whom, who is cheating with whom, and who is in love with whom. I found that the slowest part. I wasn't able to find much of Allen's underlying comedy in all of the criss-crossing relationships.||2010 |
Directed by: Woody Allen
Screenplay by: Woody Allen
Starring: Anthony Hopkins and Naomi Watts
|See full review of You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger|
A simple, dramatic story told well through emotional performances.
|"Conviction" is a simple, dramatic story, told well. Betty Anne (Hilary Swank) puts herself through law school for the sole effort of freeing her innocent brother Kenny (Sam Rockwell) from a life-sentence in prison for murder. Swank and Rockwell both carry this emotional film on their very strong shoulders.||2010 |
Directed by: Tony Goldwyn
Screenplay by: Pamela Gray
Starring: Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell
|See full review of Conviction|
#19 Get Low
A stylized drama - part comedy, part psychology.
|"Get Low" is, in part, considered a psychological drama, it's also one of those films that can be classified as almost anything because the actors are able to add so many layers of interest with intrigue and comedy. Starring an almost unrecognizably old Robert Duvall and a Jarmusch-styled Bill Murray, respectively, as a hermit wanting to host his own funeral and a funeral home director wanting his business.||2009 |
Directed by: Aaron Schneider
Screenplay by: Chris Provenzano and C. Gaby Mitchell
Starring: Robert Duvall, Bill Murray and Sissy Spacek
|See full review of Get Low|
#20 127 Hours
More of a bold adventure film, less soulful drama.
|Based on the true, survival-against-all-odds story "Between a Rock and a Hard Place", James Franco is Aron Ralston, and he is literally stuck between a rock and a hard place—a canyon wall in the Utah desert to be more exact. "127 Hours" records the time from when Aron finds himself stranded and trapped alone in a canyon, and has to use everything that he is mentally and physically capable of to try and get himself free.||2010 |
Directed by: Danny Boyle
Screenplay by: Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy
Starring: James Franco
|See full review of 127 Hours|
#21 The American
Interesting mix between character study and thriller.
|George Clooney is "The American", an assassin, hiding out in Italy. That, and his love of prostitutes, are pretty much all we know about him. It turns out to be an interesting mix between a character study and a thriller.||2010 |
Directed by: Anton Corbijn
Screenplay by: Rowan Joffe
Starring: George Clooney
|See full review of The American|
Somewhere is an indescribable place, but a beautiful one.
|In the beginning, "Somewhere" is L.A. as Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) lives it up with fast cars, easy women, and lots and lots of alcohol. The simplistic shots of the film and minimal dialogue belie the depth to which we get to know him. It's quite amusing when his 11-year-old daughter, Cleo (Elle Fanning), shows up and knows less about his lifestyle than we do.||2010 |
Directed by: Sofia Coppola
Screenplay by: Sofia Coppola
Starring: Stephen Dorff and Elle Fanning
|See full review of Somewhere|
#23 Blue Valentine
"Blue Valentine" is tragically real, beautiful, and blue.
|Bathed in blue light, intimate romance, and raw emotion, "Blue Valentine" is a beautiful, but harrowing, exploration of one relationship. Cindy (Michelle Williams) wants to find love to get past her parent's hatred for each other; Dean (Ryan Gosling) is a sucker for romance and pretty blond girls. Too bad, as he believes, that the pretty ones are always the crazy ones.||2010 |
Directed by: Derek Cianfrance
Screenplay by: Derek Cianfrance, Cami Delavigne and Joey Curtis
Starring: Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling
|See full review of Blue Valentine|
#24 Please Give
Hilariously compelling characters with bleeding hearts.
|"Please Give" is an independent, character drama. What I loved about this film was the interesting array of characters that it presented. The characters that were on display for us to watch were all well written, fully-developed, interesting and funny as they each struggled with their moral dilemmas. I found myself being able to relate to all of them in one way or another.||2010 |
Directed by: Nicole Holofcener
Screenplay by: Nicole Holofcener
Starring: Catherine Keener and Rebecca Hall
|See full review of Please Give|
#25 It's Kind of a Funny Story
A well written, light-hearted teen drama.
|"It's Kind of a Funny Story" is an aptly titled film. It's just a story, and it's kind of funny. It's more drama than comedy, and although it was slow, they really did drag me into the story. It stars Keir Gilchrist as Craig, a teenager who thinks about killing himself and seeks help. He finds help at an adult psychiatric ward.||2011 |
Directed and Screenplay by: Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck
Starring: Keir Gilchrist
|See full review of It's Kind of a Funny Story|