1. Toy Story 3
  2. It’s hard to believe the we first met Woody, Buzz, and the rest of the toys fifteen years ago. This third and final installment of the widely popular series is, of course, an emotional one. We see Andy gearing up to start his college days, which causes some cleaning and purging at the household. After the toys mistakenly become donations, they spend the rest of the film trying to get back to Andy in time for his last day.

    The slew of new characters fit flawlessly and make you think they’ve been in the toy chest this whole time. The film elicits tears if you’re someone who’s ever packed up and left home. I sobbed under the 3-D glasses and still get goose bumps thinking of the final scene. Toy Story 3: You’ve got a friend in me.

  3. Inception
  4. There’s true beauty in Director Christopher Nolan’s work: he takes an insanely complex script, idea, and theme and, oddly enough, makes it tangible for the everyday viewer.

    The cast fits just like a dream, which is what you’re watching, right? Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Leo, Ellen Page, Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy, Ken Watanabe, Marion Cotillard, and Michael Caine (this is a Nolan film, after all) share the screen effortlessly. Cobb (DiCaprio), reminiscent of Danny Ocean of the Ocean’s movies, is the ring-leader of all the other cast members, making it hard to pick a run away favorite. Gordon-Levitt’s stunt scenes ensure you look past his boyish charm from (500) Days of Summer.

    How this movie isn’t up for a film editing Oscar continues to be one of life’s quandaries.

  5. Cyrus
  6. The 2010 year did not seem to be comedy’s friend at all. Thankfully, in mid-summer we got the indie gem Cyrus, with Jonah Hill and John C. Reilly playing an insanely fun-to-watch adult-kid duo. Cyrus (Hill) is the momma’s boy of Molly (Marisa Tomei). When Molly falls for the goof ball John (Reilly), she has to introduce him to her son. While John tries to figure out how to break through to Cyrus, he’s hitting up his ex Jamie (Catherine Keener) for advice, none of which goes according to plan.

  7. The Boston Trifecta: The Fighter / The Town / Conviction
  8. Boston and its suburbs had a big year this year. The Fighter is as superb as everyone says it is. It’s tough to watch, and Christian Bale somehow makes you sympathize for the crack addict who continually screws up. The Town was Ben Affleck’s sophomore directorial, and it was every bit of good as Gone Baby Gone (also another Boston film…). Jeremy Renner continues his silent but deadly role (à la The Hurt Locker) as James Coughlin. I’m still blown away by directors acting in their own films. I sang the praises of Conviction, and I think it got overshadowed this year because of The Town. Hilary Swank, Sam Rockwell, Juliette Lewis, and Melissa Leo bring exquisite characters to the screen.

  9. True Grit
  10. If The Dude from The Big Lebowski and Bad Blake from Crazy Heart had a love child, it would be Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges). Bridges brings what we expect from him to this western film while making us fall in love with his mocking of everyone around him. Hailee Steinfeld couldn’t have picked a better role to make her film debut. She’s a true strength as Mattie Ross.

  11. Trust
  12. Painful to watch at times, Trust documents what happens after a teenage girl, Annie (Liana Liberato) falls victim to an online predator. While we hear the stories of this happening more often than we like, very few of us think of life after the incident. Clive Owen’s performance as Annie’s father, Will, is gut-wrenching. The father’s experience is rarely ever brought to light, making Will’s emotions and actions addictive to watch. Directed by David Schwimmer, this film should release sometime in spring 2011.

  13. Easy A
  14. I resisted this film for a long time, thinking how could the girl from Superbad hold a film on her own? Once I broke down, I couldn’t believe I ever held the grudge. Emma Stone is fantastic in this modern Scarlett Letter faux-tale, seeing as she never really truly earns her “A” badge. In a day in age when it seems like everyone is having sex, Stone proves to young girls the consequences and repercussions of having to uphold a “loose-moral” gal. Her line on John Hughes gets me every time; everyone wants that.

  15. The King’s Speech
  16. If you liked The Queen, you’ll like this. If you can recall a teacher or mentor who made all the difference in your life, you’ll like this. The duo of Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush (playing King George VI and Lionel Logue, respectively) is superb. As someone who had no notion of King George, let alone his stutter, I quickly became entranced with the film. You’ll think Firth had a stutter his whole life. There’s a reason the film is up for so many awards this season: it’s a nice piece to watch, you learn a little something, and you feel something.

  17. The Social Network
  18. The score and one-liners really made this movie, aside from the superb script and acting ensemble. The cast was some of the lesser-known Hollywood actors (is that an oxymoron?), which contributed greatly to a viewer’s focus on the script. Had I been inundated with, say, staring at Zac Efron or any kid from Glee, I would have been thoroughly distracted.

    Sometimes, it’s hard to separate truth from fiction no matter how many friends you ask. But fact: this movie was the best of the year as all of its parts make one finely tuned cinematic journey, with the best playlist.

  19. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1
  20. Seeing as I’m probably in the minority in this one, let me explain: as someone who’s grown up with Harry Potter, I’m a harsh critic. I read those books cover to cover for so many summers and am devastated to see the end nearing. This film was one I’ve waited awhile for, both for the release itself and in a line for four hours before the film started, and could not have been happier with.

    It was dark, it was thrilling, it was sad, and it was just as you imagined. The film set up perfectly for Part 2 this summer, leaving you begging for more and more of Harry and the gang. Though I will admit, if you hadn’t had affection for Harry and company, you might not appreciate this one as us die-hard wizards do.

Honorable Mention: Temple Grandin
This movie ran on HBO this past year but is available for renting! It depicts the puzzling lifestyle of autistic Temple Grandin and her rise to renowned scientist on humane livestock practices. The cinematography and the way director Mick Jackson gets you inside of Temple’s head is unreal. You will certainly have a new appreciation for autism.

The film stars Claire Danes, David Strathairn, and Catherine O’Hara.

Worth a mention: Exit Through the Gift Shop

Hanna Soltys is a green tea drinker and film critic living in Chicago.

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