Stephanie Zacharek's 10 Best Movies of 2010
There's probably no good reason to read any movie critic's Top 10 list, but lots of people -- including myself -- read them anyway. Let's not be falsely modest about it: It's an honor to be able to compile a list and to have a place, online or otherwise, to moor it. But everyone who cares about movies has his or her own private list, posted online or not, which may include some or all of the usual suspects in a given year (like The Social Network or The King's Speech, pictures which lots of people, though not all people, seem to love) as well as a selection of fiercely protected personal favorites.
It's the personal favorites that I think are most important, because for most of us those choices suggest the ways movies can reach us in ways that go beyond our sense of whether movies are "good" or "bad" in some technical, pre-ordained sense. Sometimes those choices might make us seem silly to our friends (or to our audience). We have to drop our guard to include them in the first place; then we have to steel ourselves for the howls of derision that might follow.
But why bother with movies at all if we're only allowed to love from a list of approved, reasonable choices? I enjoy looking at other critics' top-10 lists, but I almost always find the choices at the bottom -- including "honorable mentions," if a critic has included them -- the most interesting. At the top of the list, the pressure is really on: I always start with the movie I simply loved best, and then deal with the inevitable criticism that it cannot possibly be the "best" movie out there in a given year. (The only way to "deal with" such criticism is to ignore it.)
But the end of a critic's, or a moviegoer's, list is where the oddball magic really happens. The movies here are the stragglers, the drifters, the hobos that not all of society loves. These are movies that may have been kicked off the list, put back on and kicked off again -- they don't ask for easy membership in any club. These are movies that may have reached us in ways we can't quite parse, even after we've spent hours or days thinking and/or writing about them. If all top-10 lists are subjective (and all are, no matter how pompous some critics may be in presenting their choices), the tail end of the average list is truly the untamed wilderness, the place for inexplicable passions, for wooliness, for massive quantities of "What the f---itude?" And so, before I give you my list, I invite you to compile -- and please post -- your own, and please throw caution to the wind at the end. Because once moviegoing starts being more about caution than about love, we're truly sunk.
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