As with any other cinematic year, many of the best movies of 2010 flew so far under the mainstream, 3D-centric radar that there was almost no way to catch them in theaters, unless you live in New York or L.A., or are blessed by a local arthouse.
Now, then, is an appropriate time to thank the movie gods for Netflix (and, to a lesser extent, video on demand), where these ten terrific movies will be given the shelf-life denied them on the theatrical circuit. Without further ado, here are our picks for the year’s best movies you didn’t see.
10. A Film Unfinished
Israeli filmmaker Yael Hersonski devastatingly analyzes the found-footage of a Nazi propaganda film about the Warsaw Ghetto to depict the inner machinations of an enormously comprehensive deception. Uncompromisingly, Hersonski reveals the Nazi apparatus at work, manifested in glaring inconsistencies, small enlightening moments and the harrowing images of living corpses strewn, near death, across the Ghetto’s streets.
9. Wild Target
Unfairly maligned by critics, Jonathan Lynn’s hitman-satire starring Bill Nighy, Emily Blunt and Rupert Grint is a perfectly-pitched, mannered black comedy with an appealing blend of broad, visual humor and oddball interplay between its leads. It’s not illuminating or intellectually stimulating, just great old-fashioned comic fun.
8. Off and Running
A documentary about the adopted African-American daughter of Jewish lesbians might not sound like the most exciting of movies, but Nicole Opper’s Off and Running is a terrifically compelling work that embraces the realities and challenges of life in a post-racial family and the universal desire to understand our pasts.
7. Last Train Home
If you’ve ever wondered why China has passed the U.S. in many of the key areas that determine a nation’s continuing viability as a super power, this documentary will clear things up fast. In following a family of migrant workers forced to make major sacrifices over the course of several years, filmmaker Lixin Fan depicts a society that values education, hard work and perseverance in the face of dehumanizing obstacles.
6. Fish Tank
With a keen eye for the rhythms of life on the Essex estate, writer-director Andrea Arnold crafts an affecting coming of age story centered on 15-year-old Mia (Kate Jarvis) and imbued with a hormonal teenage girl’s throbbing, full-throttled passion. Newcomer Jarvis has a star’s screen presence, driving home her character’s yearning to grow up and break free.
Click through to the next page to see the final five, or click ‘View All’ to see the entire list.