1. The Road
At the time I thought it was a flawed film of a flawed book. In retrospect one of the best films I saw this year. Bleak of course, relentless and patriarchal, but like the book it is based on, deep and influential.
2. A Serious Man
This is probably the best film I saw this year, certainly the most thought-provoking. A deceptively complex film from the Coen Brothers, about a Jewish academic in the 1960s and his moral and religious struggles. Like 'No Country For Old men' I think this is a dramatisation of radical uncertainty and faith.
3. 44-inch chest
A philosophical brit-gangster film. How the hell this odd sub-genre arose I don't know, but it's a major strand of British cinema. Like In Bruges this is more theatre than cinema, and I quite enjoyed it at the time, but it's a bit silly.
4. The Crazies
Ibsens 'An Enemy of the People' in zombie-outbreak form, starring Timothy Olyphant. Quite a lot like The Walking Dead. Not overly memorable.
5. The Green Zone
Paul Greengrass thriller starring Matt Damon. This is why Marxists use 'Liberal' as a term of abuse - there is hand-wringing about the war in Iraq, but no overall structural analysis, instead all the evil is attributed to individual bad apples. The corruption is exposed and sterilised by a heroic white guy passing leaked information to the New York Times and the Guardian. Wait.
6. Shutter Island
An excellent performance from Leonardo Di Caprio, in a Hitchcockian psychological thriller which ultimately didn't make a lick of sense. Hard to say anything about it without exploding the premise, but in the end I thought it was more fun to watch than to recollect.
7. I Love You Philip Morris
What a hoot! I really enjoyed this 'taken-from-life' film about amoral con-man Jim Carrey falling in love with Ewan McGregor in prison, and concoting ever more elaborate escape schemes in order to be with his beloved. Though the poor guy this is based on is in hideous solitary confinement right now, as we read this. I assume he's going mad, like Bradley Manning. Sorry, that's a bit of a downer.
A British film about Roman legionaries having their arses kicked by Picts, over and over again in gory detail. Quite liked the fighting. The overall premise was ridiculous. The legionaries spend a couple of months travelling to civilisation through prehistoric Scotland, but when they get back to the Empire - oh noes - someone built a big wall across the country. That was quick.
9. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Everyone knows this. Pretty extreme violence, and an exciting female character. I think the film and book use violent women to act out the power fantasies of liberal wishy-washy men. But I still liked it. Probably wont read the book.
10. Black Death
Another British historical film, of the folk-horror genre, not unlike Witchfinder General. Horrid monks and soldiers clash with isolated pagans in a village deep in the fens. Sean Bean as a nasty piece of work.
Ha. More written about this than any other film this year I think. I personally didn't go for it in a big way. Di Caprio continues to be exemplary though.
12. Toy Story 3
This might have been the best film of the year. Certainly the best popular success of the year. Exciting, meaningful, emotional, animation of some talking toys.
Jason-Bourne-alike starring Angelina Jolie. I like watching her do her stuff. Had no long term impact at all.
14. The Last Exorcism
Promising US hand-held-horror about a televangelist who stumbles accidentally on a real demonic entity. The last five minutes kind of ruined it, but I thought the rest was frightening and effective.
Completely minimalist film about one guy trapped in an underground coffin in Iraq. Only a partial success.
16. The Girl Who Played with Fire
Sequel to 'Dragon Tattoo' and not quite as disturbing or harrowing. I will see the third in this trilogy.
17. Paranormal Activity II
Hmmm. Another hand-cam horror. Did genuinely scare me. Could have been much, much better.
18. Deathly Hallows part 1
I wrote about this quite recently. I personally liked this much more than most of the other Harry Potter films, to the extent I went to see it twice in the end. The only film on this list I watched more than once.
Yet another shaky-cam horror film. Cloverfield in Guatamala. I thought this was a jolly effective ultra-low-budget monster picture. I enjoyed it a lot.