By Rachel Lutz and Brendan Barnes
10. ‘The Last Exorcism' Stamm's take on the Christian ritual of exorcism limps onto this list, not for lack of overall quality, but for a twist ending that robs the film of its gripping realism. ‘The Last Exorcism' follows a cynical and jaded minister who sets out to prove that exorcism is simply a ploy of con-artists and frauds, but ends up finding more than he expected in the case of a "possessed" teenage girl.
9. ‘The Other Guys'
Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell do not work as well together as did Ferrell and John. C Reilly in ‘Step-Brothers,' but this film certainly has a respectable amount of laughs. Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson make the most of their cameo, but Ferrell still steals the show as a former college pimp named Gata.
8. The Social Network' ‘The Social Network' may be David Fincher's weakest film to date but that's no insult considering his catalogue. Fincher does a good job portraying the drama behind the creation of the most popular website with a cast of relatively unknown actors who step into their roles admirably.
7. ‘Iron Man 2'
The worst thing about having a great first installment is trying to better that success in the sequel. Robert Downey Jr. and Mickey Rourke give strong performances in the return of Iron Man, but the climactic fight scene ends a bit prematurely.
A surprisingly enjoyable adaption of the comic book, ‘Kick-Ass' is a far darker film than the trailers lead on. The gritty, and sometimes downright disturbing, tone of the film keeps it from being a generic superhero movie and allows Vaughn to craft a refreshing interpretation of the suddenly popular "real-world" superhero.
5. ‘The Town'
Ben Affleck's second stint behind the camera has a plentiful yield. But with a cast featuring Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, and Ben Affleck as well, a well-crafted piece of cinema is the lowest expectation. Affleck's performance as a hardened criminal is neatly juxtaposed with Hamm's portrayal of a clever FBI agent.
4. ‘Toy Story 3'
The gang finally returned after a painfully long 11 years. The film wastes no energy, wrapping up a near-perfect trilogy cleanly. The final installment is noticeably darker than the previous two and leaves you biting your nails until the very end, as you wonder what will become of your favorite childhood toys.
You may be asking: "what is ‘Restrepo'"? This touching and eye-opening documentary about a company of American soldiers stationed in the most turbulent region of Afghanistan is a blunt reminder of the sacrifices and hardships of our military that often--shamefully--go unnoticed.
Tie for First Place
Christopher Nolan doesn't make bad films. ‘Inception' is no exception, as the entire cast complements an impeccable script and spectacular cinematography. What is surprising is that Nolan can take a mainstream actor like Leonardo DiCaprio and still deliver a terrifyingly intelligent film without the stamp of Hollywood cliché.
1. ‘Shutter Island'
The film is at once a homage to horror classics and a pioneer in the exploration of the disordered human mind. At times uncomfortably disturbing and at other times heart-breaking, ‘Shutter Island' is one of only a few films to successfully handle the complexity of human experience and the substantial palette of emotions that comes along with it.
10. ‘Kick Ass'
I'm throwing this a bone because while I was reluctant (I literally had to be forced) to watch it, it was actually an interesting take on the typical superhero movie. Kick Ass, literally, is a loser who just happens to have an infinite pain threshold.
9. ‘Dinner for Schmucks'
Affectionately known in my mind as "the other" Steve Carrel movie that came out over this summer. It gave him a chance to reprise the sillyness of Evan Baxter that we fell in love with him for in Bruce Almighty, as well as show audiences that there are redeeming qualities in everyone, and that sometimes they just need a little polishing up.
Some may say that this is merely another Angelina Jolie spy movie, but it was actually enjoyable. The action scenes were loud and choppy, but got the point across. It had a few major plot twists (admittedly, predictable) and set up for a possible sequel.
7. ‘The Other Guys'
The first half hour of this movie had little to nothing to do with the movie that was advertised, but was still funny. The longer that Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg were on screen together, the more I liked their chemistry: the cool NYPD officer and the guy from accounting that they had to promote because they had no one else for the job.
6. ‘Remember Me'
When this came out in April, I was gushing about it for its theatrical value, but as time went on, I realized that it didn't get as much attention as it probably deserved. It was possibly brushed off as just another Robert Pattinson movie, but I thought it had a great storyline.
I haven't actually seen this movie, but I knew people would flipif I didn't include it. It's on my list of things to do; I'm just not a super huge Leo DiCaprio fan.
4. ‘Date Night'
This list is definitely Steve Carrel-heavy, but he was all over the silver screen from April to August. Along with costar Tina Fey, the entire movie had me shaking with laughter.
3. ‘Despicable Me'
A slew of NBC's top voice actors came out to put this film together- Steve Carrel, Kristen Wiig and Jack McBrayer. I went into this movie not really expecting much, but the cuteness of the minions and the girls from Miss Hattie's were fantastic and are only eclipsed by the return of Andy's toys.
2. ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I'
While I thought this movie was one of the greatest of the year, it's not worthy of the number one spot. Sure, the actors were rawer than ever and it was the truest to the book, but what actually happened in this movie? I loved it and saw it a number of times I am not comfortable disclosing, but I'm more excited for the final installment.
1. ‘Toy Story 3'
What else is there to say about this movie? It tied up every loose end, brought the gang back together and left audiences of all ages bawling like babies. A pretty strong campaign is being set up for this movie to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards, and I will be rooting for it even harder than I rooted for Up.