UPDATE: Because I apparently had a brain-lock after 6 hours of football, I left two big ones off my list - "The Town," and "Machete." The revised list, which now includes 12 films, is below.
Now that I've seen "The King's Speech," I think it is finally time to put my Top Ten "to paper":
1a. “The Social Network,” directed by David Fincher, screenplay by Aaron Sorkin, and starring Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Armie Hammer, and Max Minghella. I’ve included Sorkin in the credits here because his screenplay is probably the most brilliant component of a movie that includes a lot of brilliance. From the very first scene, you know you’re in the hands of masters. “The Social Network” will make you angry and you’ll want to punch Mark Zuckerberg in the face, particularly at those moments when you’re posting something on Facebook.
1b. “Inception,” directed by Christopher Nolan, and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Tom Berenger, and Ken Watanabe. More brilliance – but of an entirely different type. I’ll concede that much of the screenplay (especially early on) is devoted to clumsy exposition, but the sheer scope and audacity of the entire enterprise renders that a moot point. This is the kind of movie where you just let the experience wash over you…the kind of movie where you buckle your seatbelt, hold on tight, and just enjoy the ride.
3. “The King’s Speech,” directed by Tom Hooper, and starring Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham-Carter, Guy Pearce, Michael Gambon, and Derek Jacobi. Uplifting, inspiring, and moving. Great performances all around.
4. "The Town," directed by Ben Affleck and starring Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall, Jeremy Renner, and Jon Hamm. Affleck is well on his way to becoming an A-list director, and he seems to have a knack for intelligent action/thriller films like this one, which also includes a notable and memorable performance by the late Pete Postlethwaite as a crime boss who moonlights as a florist.
5. “The American,” directed by Anton Corbijn, and starring George Clooney. An art film, one that seemed to bore most critics to tears, about an assassin. I found its attention to detail and focus on the craft demonstrated by a master of his trade to be compelling and suspenseful.
6. “Black Swan,” directed by Darren Aronofsky, and starring Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassell, and Barbara Hershey. Trippy.
7. “True Grit,” directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, and starring Jeff Bridges, Hailee Steinfeld, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, and Barry Pepper. Terrific remake, fueled by another a great performance from Bridges, and a remarkable debut from Steinfeld.
8. “The Fighter,” directed by David O. Russell, and starring Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, and Melissa Leo. Intense, satisfying story that is about family and relationships as much as it is about boxing.
9. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I,” directed by Peter Yates and starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint. It’s hard to believe the series is almost over. I’d hazard a guess that anyone with kids about the same age as ours (now 20 and 16) is feeling a little misty-eyed about the prospect of seeing one last Potter outing together. It’s also amazing how much more distinguished and mature the films have become as the characters have aged.
10. “The Crazies,” directed by Breck Eisner and starring Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell and Joe Anderson. Not exactly a zombie movie, but close enough – after all, the original was directed by George Romero. Very well done, with a great, charismatic starring performance by Olyphant.
11. "Machete," directed by Robert Rodriguez and starring Danny Trejo, Don Johnson, Steven Seagal, Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez and Robert DeNiro. Blood-soaked, B-movie fun.
12. “Kick Ass,” directed by Matthew Vaughan and starring Aaron Johnson, Mark Strong, Nicolas Cage and Chloe Moretz. Most people seemed to prefer “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World,” a movie I would put in a similar category, but I liked this one better. An underappreciated performance from Cage, possibly because he’s been in so many bad movies in recent years.
And there you have it!