Ten best films of 2010
10. Enter the Void
I can't fully condone director Gaspar Noe's trip—in my review, I called it a "mashup of the sacred, the profane, and the brain-dead," and I stand by that. But I've come to appreciate its stoner stoopidness as part of its charm. And nothing else in 2010 set off my "What the fuck am I watching?" censor quite like it.
9. The Ghost Writer
The best Hollywood thriller Hollywood didn't make this year.
8. Shutter Island
The best Hollywood thriller Hollywood did make this year.
7. Everyone Else
Director Maren Ade's second feature is a grueling (but gorgeous) snapshot of a young couple whose vacation idyll is slowly eroded by the insecurities brought in from outside.
6. The Red Chapel
The surprise winner of the World Cinema Documentary prize at Sundance in January, director Mads Brügger's hilarious document of his subversive journey into North Korea with two Danish-Korean comedians in tow is, like Dogtooth (see below), concerned with a closed system maintained through manipulation of reality. But Brügger and gang come armed with their own complicated series of manipulations: in The Year of Being Fucked With, the year's best doc offered a game plan for how to fuck with Them back.
The year's second masterful portrait of L.A. ennui as seen through the camera of Harris Savides (the other is Greenberg), Somewhere should be remembered as a game-changer for director Sofia Coppola, the point at which she shrugged off the crutches — music video language and decorative design — that defined her first three films, adopting an entirely new stylistic approach while remaining true to her key concerns. Don't think of it as a movie about the rich, famous, and beautiful from the perspective of a woman who has been all three since birth; think of it as a movie about what happens when you get everything you thought you wanted, and you're still miserable.
The second film from Greek director Giorgos Lanthimos is a matter-of-factly violent, blacker-than-black comic parable about sex, pop culture, and closed societies set in a single suburban home.
3. Daddy Longlegs
Ronald Bronstein, the director of the 2007 underground opera of awkwardness Frownland, is starting to attract awards attention for his go-for-broke performance as the desperate dad of two young sons in this manic, electric 16mm roman à clef. If only all awards-bait family dramas were as unflinching, honest, and funny-horrifying as this.
Through Ben Stiller's epic depresso Roger Greenberg, a 40-ish refugee floundering around L.A. and anti-seducing the much younger and surprisingly receptive Florence (Greta Gerwig), Noah Baumbach and soon-to-be-ex-wife Jennifer Jason Leigh distilled a certain toxic stew of unearned snobbishness, generational entitlement, and self-defeating self-obsession — familiar from "Losing My Edge," the 2002 single by James Murphy, who composed Greenberg's soundtrack — and gave it a name. They also gave Stiller the best role of his career.
1. Trash Humpers
Influenced by surveillance and prank videos, but hardly haphazard, director Harmony Korine's faked relic about a separatist group of drunken, garbage can-fetishizing, self-mythologizing miscreants is the ultimate, twisted fairy tale allegory for our decaying times.
Get the Film & TV Newsletter
Stay up to date on the best new movies with our critics' latest reviews, interviews and trailers for the films coming to a theater near you each week.