Without once stooping to sentimentality, director Mike Leigh manages to make goodness - embodied in a happily married couple surrounded by emotional cripples - both ethically convincing and dramatically compelling. Even Milton couldn't pull that off.
In this sprawling yet deft portrait of the notorious terrorist, director Olivier Assayas plunges us deep into the pathology of our times.
It's a deliciously animated, 3-D kids' flick that sticks a Latinate polysyllable in the title, spins a subversive plot where every adult character is a villain, and, for once, puts all 3 of those Ds to imaginative use.
As brainy as it is brave, Charles Ferguson's investigative doc places those Wall Street kleptocrats under a bright spotlight, and makes them squirm.
The King's Speech
In the many isolated scenes between Colin Firth's stammering George VI and Geoffrey Rush's imperious speech therapist, what might have been just another British period piece soars into the actors' dazzling clinic.
As a brain-damaged man recreates his tragic story with miniature figures, therapy evolves into art, and Jelf Malmberg's documentary grows into its own dolls' nest of strange yet inspiring surprises.
The subject is sad - the effect of their child's death on a married couple - but the treatment is so unflinchingly honest that the effect feels liberating, even joyful in its raw truths.
The Social Network
About the young life and litigious times of the Facebook founder, David Fincher's film has the staccato wit of a drawing-room comedy, the fatal flaw of a tragic romance, and the buzzy immediacy of a front-page headline.
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
Set amid the dreamscape of the Thai forest, Apichatpong Weerasethakul brings Buddhist reincarnation to wondrous life in a tone poem both graceful and comic.
Despite the trappings of flinty realism - the swamps and meth labs of the Missouri Ozarks - Debra Granik's primal film unfolds like an elemental myth from the stormy past, a Greek tragedy driven by dark fates and struggling toward a catharsis.