My top ten list...with stupid quips intended to convey my main impression after each title.
1. A Christmas Tale
2. The Wrestler
The best American movie of the year. Premise is a man in suburban Jersey caught between two "families" and The Sopranos comparisons only start there.
3. Reprise A cinematic novel
4. Vicky Cristina Barcelona I don't get what people who say this is B-grade Woody see in some of his other movies that they can't find here. It's funny and fresh from beginning to end, with some very good performances.
5. Mister Lonely Lyrical is not a word I would use in real life, but it might be the best way to describe this movie. It's funny too.
6. Be Kind, RewindSort of a guilty pleasure, but Mos Def, Danny Glover, and Jack Black are all so charming and the movie has good vibes to spare.
7. Chop Shop A true "indie" movie that lives up to the "slice of life" label so many Sundance pretenders flaunt. There isn't a false note in the whole movie and it extracts some fascinating performances from local nonactors.
Gus Van Sant's opera.
[See Luke's review of Milk here.]
9. Flight of the Red Balloon The Indiewire critics poll is the best place to figure out what the "best movies of the year" were because of the number of high caliber critics it includes. I've lost the link to this year's list, but I know Flight of the Red Balloon was #1, which is reason enough to check it out.
10. Speed RacerClever, creative, exciting. A kids' movie I actually liked because it was too busy being insane to hit all the predictable kiddy story beats.
The next 10 (in order of appearance vis a vis the alphabet): Blindness, Burn After Reading, Che, Cloverfield, The Dark Knight, Encounters at the End of the World, The Fall, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Gran Torino, In Bruges, Step Brothers.
Some of the significant movies I didn't see and might have liked: Waltz with Bashir, The Class, Gomorrah, Silent Light, In the City of Sylvia, The Last Mistress.