10. Let Me In
The remake of Swedish horror film Let the Right One In did indeed prove the naysayers wrong when it actually improved on the carefully crafted vampire flick from just a handful of months before. I'm perfectly fine with it existing as a smoother, better played version of the young vampire story. The two leads (The Road's Kodi Smit-McPhee and Kick-Ass's Chloe Moretz) are wonderfully subtle. It's a shame their hard work wasn't seen by more Americans.
9. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I
Film nerds find it easy to call the third Harry Potter installment the best. It is, after all, directed by Alfonso Cuaron, the famed director of Y Tu Mama Tambien. We would be remiss, though, to assume that the indie cred director has provided us with the best Potter film. For some reason, the deep character exploration, beautiful locations, and steady script of the first half of Deathly Hallows has not gotten its due. So what if Warner Bros. broke up this film into two to sell more tickets and DVDs and the director is the same as the last two mediocre HP flicks? It works.
8. Black Swan
Darren Aronofsky returns to his more bizarro form, with a film unfortunately not bizarre enough, but still enough to make it one of my favorites. God Winona Ryder is amazing. And, Natalie Portman is quite tolerable...good, even.
7. The Oath
Laura Poitras is back with an absolutely fascinating exploration of devotion and morality, following two men who had ties to al-Qaeda earlier in their life. Sadly, this one is wholly absent from the awards race. What gives?
6. 127 Hours
James Franco, you're amazing! And don't forget Boyle and Rahman.
A high drama mystery about the devotion of a mother with top notch performances form Kim Hye-ja and Bin Won.
3. Fish Tank
A mother. A daughter. A man. Big fucking drama. Andrea Arnold has big talent, as do her three leads.
2. Blue Valentine
Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams will depress the Hell out of you, but more importantly, they make you feel. A couple in a downward spiral, their relationship slowly wilting, it all feels a little too real.
I confess. In the first act of Dogtooth, I may have checked my watch. As the film's concept slowly unfolded, it turns out at just the right pace, this family drama is one of the most mind-blowing experiments in science fiction or psychological drama (it depends on your own ideology) that has ever been brought to the screen.