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#1 Film Socialisme
JLG offers us an arresting video parable—saturated in primary colors as rich and blocky as a Mondrian painting, not to mention his own 1960s classics—in which we are all in the same boat, and that boat is a cruise ship. In a banner year for the old men of the French New Wave (Alain Resnais's Wild Grass, Jacques Rivette's Around a Small Mountain), this is the standout.
#2 The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu
Completely unnarrated and put together entirely from state-commissioned footage of the former Romanian dictator, the year's best documentary is also a found-object horror film, a Trash Humpers of another sort.
The story of an idealist becoming a mercenary, and of the Left eating its own tail, Assayas's biopic of the Jackal is a Cinemascope monument.
Generation X is getting older, and we are not happy about it.
#5 Inspector Bellamy
The late New Waver—Chabrol died at 80 in September—leaves us with a beatific portrait of a long marriage.
#6 Everyone Else
See Greenberg, German division.
#7 Black Swan
I'm a sucker for a good tortured ballerina movie.
#8 The Social Network
Fight Club for today's twentysomethings.
#9 Please Give
Skewering the class prerogatives of Manhattanites with an insight and compassion not seen since Metropolitan, Holofcener gives us a White Material for Americans.
This summer sleeper didn't get the audience it deserved. As nuts in its own way as Black Swan, Natali's debut is a fresh and witty update on Cronenbergian themes and the most giddy fun I had all year at the movies.