There Will Be Film
1) The Lives of Others Released at the beginning of the year, it may feel like old news, but there was no more powerful or lyrical document of resistance.
2) The Diving Bell and the Butterfly Near tactile in its collage of life's little moments – once disposable, then indispensable – in the wake of a tragic incapacitation.
3) Atonement A marvelous adaptation with Brief Encounter in its blood; the kind of picture that revives the classic cinematic swoon.
4) There Will Be Blood Everything about this brutalizer spelled epic: the Marfa-shot terrain, Daniel Day-Lewis' tragic savage, an under-the-skin score, and derricks spitting oil like ... well, like, blood.
5) No Country for Old Men The Coen brothers go beyond genre-bending kicks to make a masterstroke in existential dread.
6) After the Wedding The fluid definition of family. The push/pull between selflessness and selfishness. Sigur Rós. Susanne Bier's exquisite compassion. A mighty fine weep.
7) Juno The year's other comedy about courtship after conception was winning and winsome and sharp as a tack.
8) Into the Wild The kind of film that makes you tuck into a whiskey and wonder what the fuck you've been doing with your life ... but not enough to wander so far off the grid.
9) Zodiac Unbearably tense, taut at well nigh three hours, and a fierce return to form for David Fincher. Too bad it got buried.
10) Once The year's sweetest surprise: Even when its twin troubadours were feeling bad, they gave us nothing but feel-good.
NEAR MISSES: Ratatouille, Persepolis, The Savages, Michael Clayton, Eastern Promises
MOST OVERRATED: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, The Bourne Ultimatum, Superbad
MOST UNDERRATED: Breach, Catch and Release, Margot at the Wedding
ACTING KUDOS (MALE): Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild), Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood), No Country for Old Men's triumverate of good, bad, and off-the-charts evil (Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem)
ACTING KUDOS (FEMALE): Ellen Page (Juno), Imelda Staunton (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix), Charlotte Gainsbourg (I'm Not There)
BEST DIRECTOR: Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood), Sean Penn (Into the Wild), Julian Schnabel (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly)
BEST SCREENPLAY (ORIGINAL): Juno (Diablo Cody), The Savages (Tamara Jenkins), Ratatouille (Brad Bird)
BEST SCREENPLAY (ADAPTED): No Country for Old Men (Ethan and Joel Coen), There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson), The Namesake (Sooni Taraporevala)
BEST REVIVAL: The Up Series
WILD CARD: Too Long in the Tanning Bed: Danny Boyle's lovely, Kubrickian Sunshine morphed midway through into a Kentucky-fried slasher starring an extra-crispy sociopath. Whaa?