1. "127 Hours." Danny Boyle brings a beautiful and electric vitality to Aron Ralston's tale of survival and redemption. Thanks to his touching, humorous and panicked performance, James Franco who owns almost every frame of the film will probably be pulling double duty at the Oscars, as both co-host and best actor nominee.
2. "Four Lions." Christopher Morris' terrorism comedy, the funniest and one of the more thought-provoking films of the year, is likely many Americans' introduction to the British satirist's work. The brilliantly cast story of bumbling jihadists is unique, clever and surprisingly heartfelt.
3. "The Social Network." Trent Reznor, Aaron Sorkin and David Fincher. How could you go wrong? Though the facts of the movie might be open to debate, there is no questioning the brilliance of the storytelling. In a strong ensemble cast, Andrew Garfield as the aggrieved Eduardo Saverin shined most brightly.
4. "Winter's Bone." This Hillbilly noir white-knuckler took viewers deep into the Ozarks, to a world most of us have never seen and could never imagine. Newcomer Jennifer Lawrence is a revelation as an indefatigable young woman looking for answers and justice.
5. "Black Swan." Darren Aronofsky's over-the-top, erotic fever dream showcases the director at the height of his powers. Rarely have terror and grace danced so delicately together. Though her character here might be stunted, Natalie Portman is definitely all grown up. And Barbara Hershey is unnervingly gruesome.
6. "Let Me In." It's time to stop worrying about the necessity of this remake of modern Swedish classic "Let the Right One In" and simply appreciate the eerie and stirring beauty of Matt Reeves' coming-of-age horror story. No film this year did a better job of capturing the fear of adolescence. Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Moretz put themselves on the map as young actors worth watching.
7. "Inside Job." Filmmaker Charles Ferguson takes a detailed look at the bad actors in the financial debacle in a movie that will leave you angry, frustrated and possibly helpless. Refusing to place the blame at the feet of one party or administration, the unflappable Ferguson proves that there is enough blame to go around.
8. "Carancho." I knew the Argentinian economy was a mess, but this pitch-black Fantastic Fest entry made it starkly evident. What begins as a slow boil erupts and tailspins, as the foot refuses to budge from the accelerator. An apt metaphor for a movie that features one of the best car crash scenes in years.
9. "The King's Speech."Director Tom Hooper thankfully refuses to wallow in sentimentality in this royal tale that eschews melodrama for an intimate story about a relationship between a king and his therapist. The scenes between Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush feature some of the year's finest acting.
10. "The Kids Are All Right."Funny and moving, director Lisa Cholodenko's film offers an honest look at the difficulty in maintaining a relationship and finding fulfillment. Annette Bening offers a pained and vulnerable performance as a character who moves from somewhat unlikable to immensely sympathetic.