Den of Geek have just put up their collaborative Film of the Year article. I contributed my top 5, with my arm twisted behind my back. I will still be compiling my (unranked) films of the year later in the month; but, for the time being, here is my selection.
1. Let The Right One In / Låt den rätte komma in (review)
2. Coraline (review)
3. Vicky Cristina Barcelona (review)
5. A Serious Man (review)
This is a tough year to rank. I could easily fill a top 10 with films that are all very close in my estimation - so picking an ordered 5 is a particular form of punishment. For the purposes of this, and to make it easier, I've chopped out any films that technically belonged to 2008 (shout outs to Slumdog Millionaire, The Wrestler, Steven Soderbergh's Che), leaving a good five choices that were all given a general release in the last twelve months. Handily, I've reviewed four of my picks for this very site, and the other is no doubt on many others' lists, so I can be brief (and you can click away for more info, if you're so inclined).
Let The Right One In is a beguiling and revolutionary masterpiece, reinventing the supernatural genre just as Twilight is making it mainstream and dull. Coraline is, likewise, a great literary adaptation, twinning Neil Gaiman's tight, chilling children's book with the creative genius of Henry Selick; it also caps off one of the strongest years for animation that I have lived through - with Up, Fantastic Mr. Fox and Ponyo (general release in 2010, unfortunately) all deserving heaps of praise and regard. It's certainly going to be an interesting fight for Best Animated Feature at the Academy Awards early next year.
Already a (deserved) Oscar winner for the outstanding Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona is Woody Allen's best film in a long while. It is a mix of his quirky, neurotic comedy moments, psycho-philosophical ruminations and dramatic character interactions that emerges as a perfect novella film, with brilliant performances all round. The appeal of Moon is rooted in Sam Rockwell's load-bearing, one-man turn - and deserves notice for that at the very least - but the whole film is a serious, atmospheric triumph. Speaking of serious, The Coen Brothers' A Serious Man may not be a crowd-pleaser, but it ties together their best traits - bold characters, sharp dialogue, moments of surreal barminess - and combines them with what is their richest narrative yet.
Read the full article, with other writers' picks and the tallied list here.