This list will change, I'm sure, especially since there are several films -- The Hurt Locker, The Lovely Bones, Up in the Air -- that I have yet to see. But here it is, my favorite of the year.
10. TakenSometimes movies are only about cheap thrills. This doesn't have a lot of redeeming values (e.g. depth, good dialogue) but if I'm honest with myself, watching Liam Neeson absolutely annihilate his way through a sex-ring to get to his kidnapped daughter was 82 minutes very well spent.
9. AdventurelandThis reminded me of my own early adulthood and was probably one of the major reasons I liked it so much. That said, it was a charming, funny, slice-of-life film that never devolved into movie cliches (except for the very end).
8. An EducationA smart, funny coming-of-age film about a young woman trying to figure out her place in the world. Carey Mulligan was great but I also loved Dominic Cooper and Rosamund Pike as a slightly immoral couple.
7. Fantastic Mr. FoxA Wes Anderson film that happens to be based on a children's book and happens to be done with stop-motion animation. Touching, clever and incredibly lively. Probably my favorite Anderson film since The Royal Tenenbaums.
6. CoralineMy favorite 3D film of the year. Beautifully animated (again with stop motion) and wickedly creepy.
5. Star TrekI've loved J. J. Abrams' TV shows since Alias (I never watched Felicity) and he totally gets how to combine emotion, character, and action. The first five minutes of this movie is more effective that all the Star Wars prequels.
4. Bright StarAbbie Cornish as Fanny Brawne was probably my favorite performance of this year. The way this film visualized both romance and romanticism was pretty stunning.
3. Summer HoursA fascinating tangential study of the past and present, all centered around one woman's possessions and what happens to them after her death. A great film.
2. The Brothers BloomI know this wasn't for everyone, and I will admit that at times it gets a little too twee, but it totally worked for me. Funny, sad, and with the energy of some of the great caper films of the 1960s. Also, Rachel Weisz's best performance.
1. Inglourious BasterdsThis is a heartfelt, intelligent, crafty suspense thriller that comments on history, propaganda, violence, film-criticism, language, nicknames, and the list goes on and on. Best film of the year.
runners up: A Christmas Carol, Sherlock Holmes, Up