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10/10/10: The 10 best movies of 2010 (so far) that you might have missed

October 10, 2010 | 10:10 am

You know it's award season when the multiplexes start to brim with quality offerings for avid moviegoers. With more and more Oscar-bait films lining up for their theatrical runs in the coming weeks, let's not forget some of the great fare from earlier in the year that's just as deserving of acclaim. Here are 10 of our critics' favorites -- some of which are still playing on the big screen -- to mark the date 10/10/10.

"Animal Kingdom:" The impressive debut of Australian writer-director David Michod manages to be both laconic and operatic. Faultlessly acted by top Australian talent, including Guy Pearce, Ben Mendelsohn and Jacki Weaver, "Animal Kingdom" marries heightened emotionality with cool contemporary style to illustrate one of the oldest of genre truths: "Crooks always come undone, always, one way or another." Michod and his team use all the tools at a filmmaker's disposal to create a disturbing, malignant atmosphere in which every pause is pregnant with menace and every word could cost you your life. -- Kenneth Turan

"Cyrus:" A comedy of discomfort that walks a wonderful line between reality-based emotional honesty and engaging humor, this film demonstrates the good things that happen when the quirky independent style of the Duplass brothers combines with the acting skill of John C. Reilly, Marisa Tomei and Jonah Hill. -- Kenneth Turan

"Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould:" A thoughtful, confident, completely engrossing documentary about a cultural figure every bit as iconic as Jim Morrison or James Dean. Working with a formidable amount of archival footage as well as interviews with the pianist and all the significant figures in his life who are still alive, including many who have never spoken before, the filmmakers succeed in giving us Gould whole. –- Kenneth Turan

"The Kids Are All Right:" Witty, urbane and thoroughly entertaining, "The Kids Are All Right" is an ode to the virtues of family, in this case a surprisingly conventional one even with its two moms, two kids and one sperm donor. Whatever your politics, between peerless performances from its core ensemble of Annette Bening, Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo, lyrical direction by Lisa Cholodenko and an adventurous script, this is the sort of pleasingly grown-up fare all too rare in the mainstream daze of  summer. -- Betsy Sharkey

"Mademoiselle Chambon:" Proving one more time that the French make the best screen love stories, this is the latest in a long line of deeply moving romances, an exquisite chamber piece made with the kind of sensitivity and nuance that's become almost a lost art. -- Kenneth Turan

"Prince of Broadway:" An independent film that thinks outside the box. It's an undeniably small yet almost indefinable film, warm-hearted and bittersweet, set amid small-time clothing hustlers in Lower Manhattan and laced with both humor and tough emotions.-- Kenneth Turan

"The Social Network": Maybe it’s fitting that when I caught “The Social Network” at my local theater over the weekend, the chick in front of me was posting on Facebook throughout the movie, a detail I know from the very recognizable icon on the front of her very bright iPhone that she kept accessing and the heated etiquette exchange we had just as the Harvard crewing, buff, blond, we-will-be-kings Winklevoss twins entered the picture. Because David Fincher’s incisive thriller is about the bloody battle over the ubiquitous site’s creation rights, let’s face it: The film wouldn’t exist if Facebook hadn’t created a culture of young feathered friends like the annoying one in front of me. And that would have been a serious cinematic loss. Fincher has turned a business deal gone bad into an extraordinary cloak-and-dagger corporate espionage nail-biter with a nerd genius at its center. Aaron Sorkin’s script is razor sharp and 120-mph fast, Jesse Eisenberg’s vacant eyes and social shortcomings as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg are mesmerizing to watch (you seriously wish someone would check for a pulse), Andrew Garfield is exceptional as Zuckerberg’s best friend (only friend?) Eduardo Saverin. But the real pulse-pounding (ours, not Mark’s) comes in watching a new zeitgeist literally emerge before our eyes. -- Betsy Sharkey

"The Tillman Story:" In watching the riveting, yet depressing, "The Tillman Story," about the military's unforgivably manipulative deceit in the death of former football star Pat Tillman, an Army Ranger killed in Afghanistan, it's hard not to be reminded of Jack Nicholson in "A Few Good Men," and the line he made a classic: "The truth? You can't handle the truth." Director Amir Bar-Lev has used the truth to devastating effect to show, beyond doubt, how a horrific friendly-fire accident was blown into a heroic piece of propaganda. It's a powerful piece that you come away from fearing that what happened in the aftermath of Tillman's death is all too common. -- Betsy Sharkey


"Toy Story 3:" OK we all know these guys are animated, i.e. "not real," but never a truer story has been told about growing up, leaving home and that painful process of leaving childhood things behind than you'll find in "Toy Story 3." Its animation is beautifully rendered, the cast lead by Tim Allen's Buzz Lightyear and Tom Hanks' affable Woody are all there and in excellent form (these toys just never lose their kick). But it is the story and the way that director Lee Unkrich and the animation hordes who worked on the film have literally brought it to life that makes for an unforgettable movie. -- Betsy Sharkey

"Waiting for 'Superman' ": In this withering examination of the country’s public school system, Oscar-winning documentarian Davis Guggenheim proves as potent a storyteller and showman as activist filmmaker. Much of the film is told compellingly and heartbreakingly through the wide-eyed innocence of five children. It is already kicking up dust in large part because of what is arguably a broadside attack on teachers unions. Just how right he is, only time will tell. For the millions of children who flow through our public school systems, you hope the film will invigorate a debate that makes schools better. Meanwhile, give Guggenheim an A for effort. –- Betsy Sharkey

MORE 10/10/10

10commandments Photos: Ten films with '10' in the title

Culture Monster: Ten masterpieces for the decaphilic

Hero Complex: The Top 10 sidekicks of all-time

Photos: Ten stars by the age of 10

Show Tracker: TV's top 10 moments of the first 10 months of 2010

Pop & Hiss: Ten great songs about drinking (and five others about sobering up)

Ministry of Gossip: Celebrity scandals from a spicy year so far

Jacket Copy: The 10 best 'Best of' books of 2010


Photos from top: "Animal Kingdom." Credit: Sony Pictures Classics; "The Kids Are All Right." Credit: Focus Features; "Toy Story 3." Credit: Pixar


Comments () | Archives (30)

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Kenneth Turan's commentaries make me want to flee . . . somewhere . . . more than anything else.

This is called many things: the powers of ten, Eames Day, 42 Day, etc. Some are simply calling 10/10/1910 day, or ten days Diez Diez. It’s one of those rare calendar that nobody really knows how to explain, but for some reason, we are all fascinated by it.
10/10/10 http://apusa.us/101010-3-4051/

Do you really think a union can persuade people to not see a film? Maybe people do not want to spend money on a poorly made documentary that sheds no new light on a problem.

Hopefully, Waiting for Superman will spark debate about our educational system. To put things in perspective, I've heard folks complain about the 578 million RFK mega school campus in LA. People ask why did we spend so much to educate tens of thousands of students over decades? I have another question, how could we spend so little? Over the last 10 years, we have spent 345 billion dollars on the Afghanistan War, enough to build 7000 RFk type campuses. Yet somehow the public is kept docile about our out of control War spending.

The Defense budget is a giant black hole sucking dollars out of taxpayers wallets at the rate of 663 billion/yr ---that's 21000 dollars per second! Defense accounts for half our budget deficit. Worse, the Pentagon failed its audit and can't account for trillions of dollars! If we could account for all the spending we could make decisions but this looks like good old fashioned looting.

Our schools will always be at a competitive disadvantage as long as we blindly fund war over education. The American people are demanding a great public education system. It's our money, it's about time we get it.

Fund schools, not war.

How would you have missed Toy Story 3? lol. Unless you are like my moron best friend "WHY WOULD I WANT TO SEE AN ANIMATED MOVIE!"

But I would add to the list, in place of TS3 "Exit Through The Gift Shop"

I would add "Catfish" to this list. It is an essential companion to "The Social Network." The latter film describes how Facebook came into being, the former describes how we actually use it, in all its misshapen glory.

Truth be told I think having the #1 grossing movie of the year on a list of the 10 best movies someone might have missed this year is silly. Sort of the same thing applies to The Social Network and The Kids Are All Right, hits that did very well with the time of film lovers that would be interested in an article like this.

A few under-seen 2010 U.S. releases I'd recommend to film lovers:
A Prophet (Superbly acted and moving story)
Let Me In (A more than worthy remake undeservedly ghettoized with other recent horror trash)
Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1974 (1980 and 1983 are good as well, for my money '74 is the best of the trilogy)
Monsters (If it was actually made for only $15,000 then it's one of the most impressive dollars-to-result films ever made)
The Crazies (Extremely well made horror with fantastic performances from all three leads and a few legitimately chilling scenes)

Uhhh were's inception, the town and let me in those are easily three of the best films to come out this year

The title seems a bit misleading... that you might not have seen? Sure, you MIGHT not have seen any of these, but both The Social Network and Toy Story 3 dominated the box office, so even though both are great Oscar-worthy films, I don't think they qualify as "might have missed." Let Me In and Nowhere Boy would've been my picks.

The chick in front of me.......???

I agree that Toy Story 3 shouldn't be on this list because, while it is one of the best of the year (certainly my number 1, though that might be influenced by nostalgia), I do believe that it is this years top grosser so far. Social Network is in the same boat where it is a fantastic movie, but it's not a movie that is being overlooked -- it is doing great at the box office and it is going to have staying power for several more weeks.

What this list absolutely needs is Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, because it makes me cry that a movie that good could be overlooked even in wide release. It is not only the most fun movie of the year, but it is also vastly different from most of the crap that is released. I really hope that the failure of Scott Pilgrim doesn't hamper Edgar Wright's future in making movies as similarly bold, fast, witty, and flat out awesome.

Isn't this supposed to be a newspaper or something? Shouldn't you know better about misusing "literally" as in LITERALLY bringing the movie TS3 to life? Come on, it's not that hard to understand what the word means.

And agreed, since TS3 is the top grosser of the year, it hardly belongs on a list like this.

Really? Toy Story 3? On a list of movies that we "might not have seen"? It's the 5th-highest-grossing film of all time worldwide. I'm pretty sure that most of us have seen it.

I think you guys forgot INCEPTION...

LOL at Inception...dur, what's that?

Everyone saw Toy Story 3. The Social Network has been #1 in the box office 2 weeks in a row. You need to replace these with Winter's Bone, which is in my top 5 so far this yr, and Let Me In which is the best vampire film in years.

Hey, all

I believe the Toy Story 3 inclusion on this list is earned. Though tons of folks saw it, many of us surfing through the 'net and stopping on this article (read: grown folks) may have felt too old to check it out. Now, I did see it, but only because this young, pretty lady wanted to see it with me; otherwise, I would not have seen it.

And as for Inception, I believe the majority of this writer's audience have seen it.

FYIZ: I love the Cyrus inclusion. As I watched that film, I thought "This might be the best movie I'll see this year"--and so far, I'm right.

inception desrves a place on this list

Where is "Inception"

City Island was the most fun I had at the movies this year.

ENTER THE VOID will expand your mind, even if you don't want it to. If you hate it...good.

Never Let Me Go should be on this list. Instead of The Social Network.

Ya,, all this movies are great.. I like the toy story 3.

Animal Kingdom lacked everything. Nothing compelling or even remotely interesting happened. SPOILER ALERT: The movie ended in the same convoluted, brain dead way it started: on a whimper. There may have been a good performance or two, but the slow pacing, thick accents, and intense lack of action buried any notice of that. Don't believe the hype. Oh yea, and no you can't include Toy Story 3 in an article about movies people may have missed. These two films being included kill the credibility of the writer.

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