Henry Stewart’s Top 10
#1 Daddy Longlegs
Josh and Benny Safdie
This queasily hilarious portrait of a dad who really needs to assume some adult responsibilities also depicts a New York in desperate need of citizens who’d do the same.
#2 Life During Wartime
The sequel to 90s-defining Happiness nails the aughts, positing external enemies like “terrorism” as mere diversions from America’s real problem—ourselves!
#3 Valhalla Rising
Nicolas Winding Refn
Refn’s grungy, hypnotic, elemental period piece goes back a millennium to find violence among the Americas’ first Jesus freaks. Parallels to the present are obvious and awesome.
#4 Wild Grass
The French New Wavers all got old, dull, or dead. But pushing-90 Resnais recaptures the wacky exuberance that once made them such exhilarating cineastes.
#5 Black Swan
Aronofsky’s hallucinatory nightmare about abused actresses and sexual repression also restores New York’s edginess, which Republican mayors had almost eradicated.
#6 Shutter Island
Now that Scorsese has an Oscar, he can get back to making good movies. Or, at least, fun ones, like this gleefully kitschy bonanza of B-movie elan.
#7 NY Export: Opus Jazz
Henry Joost and Jody Lee Lipes
This adaptation of an old Jerome Robbins ballet imbues some of the city’s last gritty spots with impossible terpsichorean beauty.
About a mentally damaged outsider artist who works with dolls, this doc reveals the weird, harmful ways we all simplify our lives into narrative.
In her deceptively decorous, theologically scathing film about divine miracles, Hausner attacks “hope,” exploited by The Church here to devastating effect.
#10 The Kids Are All Right
This family-values dramedy is dumb on paper. But on screen it’s such a warmly acted depiction of family harmony, you’ll want to rush out and start your own.