4) The Namesake - The immigrant film is one of the least-discussed but most consistently successful genres in American film. Why? Because in viewing our struggles through the newcomers' eyes, we untangle who we are as a people. Mira Nair's story of an Indian family's decades-long odyssey is a moving example. Few films so exactly dissect the baffling contradictions and the unlikely, enduring promise of our country. Contains two of the year's most overlooked performances, from Irfan Kahn and Bollywood star Tabu.
3) No Country for Old Men - I once told a date that the best Westerns are Greek plays on horseback. (Now that's attractive!). Although short on saddle sores, this modern Western, revolving around the Classical topic of vanity in the face of death, truly gets what I'm saying (not that the Coen Brothers' job is to make me look good on a date). It also seems to be a re-working of The Seventh Seal, with Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) as the Grim Reaper, trading cloak-and-baldness and chess for a creepy, medieval haircut and a flip of a coin. No film this year has inspired as much debate. In fact, I grew to more greatly admire it as I vanished blissfully further into the conversations.
2) Zodiac - On my last viewing of Zodiac, I discovered another little gem about this David Fincher film. This serial-killer script, penned by James Vanderbilt, is secretly one of the wittiest of the year. (Really, Diablo Cody would do well to take notes.) I say "another little gem," because this story about the burden of obsession has inspired in its admirers an unhealthy fixation with the rewind button. This police procedural slowly turns into a reflection on the modern dislocation of masculinity, the nature of knowledge, and the subjective construction of reality. It's a little disconcerting, but I think I actually know what I mean when I say all that. Although you're free to disagree.
3) No Country for Old Men
4) The Namesake
6) I'm Not There
T-8) There Will Be Blood
T-8) Michael Clayton
10) 28 Weeks Later