10. The Town - People were too hard on The Town. Some lapped it up because it hit theatres in the middle of the Boston Parade that was 2011, others despised it for the same reason. It's hard to view movies in a vacuum, but if you filter out the headache-inducing Boston accents and your feelings about Ben Affleck, you'll find The Town an innovative and stylish crime film, a high compliment when Jason Statham cranks out (no pun intended) 4 of these a year. The performances are strong and believable (I don't know why people came down so hard on Jon Hamm as the FBI agent) the plot is smart and dense, and it never resorts to trotting out generic action movie elements. The car chases are thrilling, the robberies are exhilarating, and the climactic scenes are as tense as any this year. Anyone still harboring reservations about Ben Affleck's directing chops can kindly get bent.
9. Cyrus - From one movie everyone had an opinion about to one I wish more did. After seeing this at the Boston Independent Film Fest, I thought for sure this would be this years Little Miss Sunshine or Juno, but after a little digging, I found out it only made 7.5 million, which makes me sad. Maybe it wasn't marketed right. This poster makes it look like some Italian drama where everyone dies at the end. Instead, Cyrus was one of the funniest movies I saw all year, and also one with some of the mostt candid things to say about relationships and trust. This film gave legitimacy to Jonah Hill's acting career, proved the John C. Reilly is the best "everyman" in Hollywood, and confirmed my suspicions that Marissa Tomei knows the precise coordinates of the fountain of youth.
8. 127 Hours - You must have been trapped under or next to a giant rock to be unfamiliar with the premise of this film. I know that joke was in poor taste, but it just spoke to me. James Franco plays Aron Ralston, a risk-taking adrenaline junkie who finds himself trapped in a crevice for 5 days with enough food and water for an afternoon hike. Coming from director Danny Boyle, I was apprehensive about this film from the start, having been less than inspired by his previous film Slumdog Millionaire and 28 Days Later. I did love Sunshine though, so I held out hope that a change in genre might do him well. Boyle has a reputation for being an extremely stylish director, and with little to work with for much of this film, his visual style is what keeps this film engaging. Using muddy flashbacks and dream sequences alongside Fincher-esque super-zoom shots, Boyle keeps the camera busy and dynamic, even though his protagonist isn't going anywhere fast. It's also Boyle's style that makes the end of the film so powerful and emotional (Sigur Ros doesn't hurt either). Franco is good, but Boyle is the star of this show.
7. I Love You Phillip Morris- Jim Carrey has no right to be this funny. He's supposed to be in terrible dramas like The Number 23 and hamming it up in comedy blackholes like Yes Man and Fun With Dick and Jane. He is an Adam Sandler/Nic Cage hybrid, that may miraculously find a perfect role once a decade (Truman Show, Eternal Sunshine), and otherwise stink up the box office. So what his he doing in the true story of a gay conman who falls in love with his cellmate in prison? Did his agent get the script mixed up with Ace Ventura 3? I can't answer that, but what I can tell you is that this movie is a riot, and crosses the line into amazing territory when you realize the entire thing is true. I still didn't believe it after the movie was over and had to cross-reference with Wikipedia, but sure enough, it was all there.
6. Inception - And the backlash of the year award goes to......Inception. Sometime around September, hating on Inception became very much en vogue. It was became the fodder for internet memes, South Park parodies, and even people who had raved about it a month earlier were sheepishly retreating to their basements. I'm here to coax them out of hiding. It's ok to like Inception, and just as ok to make fun of it. Just make sure you acknowledge what a tremendous feat it really is. Brazenly original and masterful in it's storytelling, it was like no blockbuster to come before it. It forged its own genre and made its own rules. Nolan blends a simple premise into a furiously complex and thrilling final act that brilliantly leaves the largest question unanswered. Others may not be, but time will be kind to Inception.