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Joe Gross' top 10 movies of 2010

Joe Gross
jgross@statesman.com

1. "Waste Land." A tour de force documentary on how art can transcend circumstance, set in the world's largest garbage dump. "Inspirational" isn't even the word — it should be shown in schools, then middle-class kids should be advised never to complain about material things again.

2. "Black Swan." Director Darren Aronofsky delivers sumptuous, paranoid, funny, sexy balletsploitation, cast almost perfectly. Creepier and more fun that it had any right to be.

3. "Winter's Bone." From the Ozarks, end-of-civilization setting to the clipped, Cormac McCarthy-ish dialogue, I haven't been this destroyed by a movie since, say, "Boys Don't Cry" — and this one has a far happier ending. Actress Jennifer Lawrence is the truth, but so is former Austinite John Hawkes.

4. "Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child." It turns out there was, in fact, plenty more to say about the gentleman. The hunk of original footage sure helps, but it also helps that he was right about almost all of it all along.

5. "A Film Unfinished." A snapshot of hell on Earth circa 1942 via previously unseen footage of the Warsaw ghetto filmed by Nazis for propaganda purposes. The reactions from former residents is rough enough, but the moment when black and white gives way to color is heart-stopping — the past suddenly isn't.

6. "Exit Through the Gift Shop."No idea if this is a prank or what, but where "I'm Still Here" felt obnoxious (and simply noxious), I found this a knotty, funny and sharply relevant look at the relationship between art, artist and spectator.

7. "Inside Job." A rock-solid look at the 2008 financial crisis. Your urge to riot will rise.

8. "Restrepo." Yes, it's nearly raw footage from the war in Afghanistan, but, well, it's nearly raw footage from the war in Afghanistan. The follow-up interviews are heart-rending.

9. "How to Train Your Dragon." The thinking person's "Avatar." The themes are nearly identical, the 3-D is less self-congratulatory, and it's twice as human.

10. "Marwencol." This whole list could have been documentaries, so fertile a time this is for them. No way I could leave this off, a portrait of a man forced to reboot his personality, one World War II doll at a time.

The next 5: "The Fighter," "Troll Hunter," "127 Hours," "Still Bill," "Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work," "Inception."