7) Control - Relentless newcomer Sam Riley walks into stardom (at least of the critical kind) in Control, the first of two films that smashed the guitar of the conventional musical biopic. The story of suicidal Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis offers no easy solace, no easy relief, no confidence in the power of love and music to redeem. Martin Ruhe and director Anton Corbijn re-create 1970s Manchester in a delicious black-and-white that magnifies both the beauty and the despair.
6) I'm Not There - From Todd Haynes' overactive mind comes this at-times-unwatchable, at-times-unforgettable biopic of Bob Dylan. Six actors (including one actress) play the Minnesota folk singer, each at a different stage of his life and career. Cate Blanchett takes on some of the best young actors of this generation (Christian Bale, Heath Ledger) and beats their pants off while playing a man. A very loopy take on the complexity of identity and the nature of storytelling.
5) Once - There are few musicals that so thoroughly erupt with the communal spirit of music. The songs come from the mind of Frames singer Glen Hansard, playing a lovesick sidewalk singer and strummer. But they belong as easily to immigrant flower girl Marketa Irglova, too. And to those lucky, hip few who viewed this intimate, infectious masterpiece in the theater. (If you ever tell me critics don't recommend crowd-pleasing movies, I'm holding this film's meager box office receipts against you.) Hey, baby, they're playing our song.
6) I'm Not There
T-8) There Will Be Blood
T-8) Michael Clayton
10) 28 Weeks Later