1. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead: Sidney Lumet's 50th film, this finely crafted crime drama is taut, dark and brilliant. Ethan Hawke and Philip Seymour Hoffman play conniving brothers who fail to successfully rob their parents' jewelry store: What follows is a twisting, gut-wrenching piece of film as dark as charred earth. From the director of Dog Day Afternoon, this is a chillingly good work.
2. The Bourne Ultimatum: Fast, sharp and uncompromising, the third chapter in the Bourne trilogy is a continuation of not only Matt Damon's growth as a bold action player, but also the coronation of director Paul Greengrass as one of the new masters of direction in Hollywood.
3. The Host: Hilarious, exhilarating and unsettling, this Korean mash-up of Little Miss Sunshine and Godzilla is startling not only in its quality of entertainment, but also in how well it re-invents and re-invigorates the monster genre. Easily the best import to the States this year, and one of the best looking films anywhere.
4. Eastern Promises: David Cronenberg's follow-up to A History of Violence is sparse, brutal and surprisingly subtle. It's a progression for a director who continues to create unsettlingly clear films that deal with crime (this time the Russian crime underworld in London) and questions of identity.
5. Sunshine: Danny Boyle has made some truly gritty films in the past, so it's surprising when Sunshine begins with such sterility. But the sci-fi thriller, about a crew of astronauts entrusted with re-igniting the sun, is pitch-perfect. It is a bold step for the maverick director in his crafting of visually appealing as well as horrifyingly real situations; this time abroad a claustrophobic spaceship.
6. The Darjeeling Limited: Wes Anderson's latest film isn't a progression for the director either stylistically or thematically, but it doesn't need to be. It's a visual gem, and Anderson uses the setting of India to create startlingly beautiful images.
7. Ratatouille: A wonderful romp that is heart-warming without being saccharine, and light-hearted without being pandering, this film by Brad Bird (who last made The Incredibles), continues not only the director's winning streak but also Pixar's. It is another seemingly effortlessly created satisfying and sophisticated animated feature
8. No End In Sight: A sobering look at the lead-up to and execution of the first months in Iraq, this documentary, from director Charles Ferguson, exhibits equal parts unwavering clarity, balanced composition, and an astounding access to those who were responsible.
9. Waitress: A heartwarming and light-hearted dramedy featuring the fantastic Keri Russell as a waitress who creates world-class pies while struggling to relieve herself of her abusive dead-beat husband and the question of whether or not she's ready for motherhood, Waitress is a wonderful diversion from most of this year's heavy material.
10. Things We Lost in the Fire: A poignant drama about the addictions we face as a collective society, this film exhibits a fantastic performance from Benicio Del Toro, one of the greatest actors alive today, as a heroine addict trying to cope with the death of his best, and only, friend. It's equal parts tragically crushing and heartbreakingly gentle.
Honorable Mentions: 300
No Country For Old Men