* - 'final' only in the sense that this is unlikely to change for many weeks/months to come. The only movies that I still need to see that are likely to have any effect on this list are Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! and the oscar foreign language nominees (including Waltz With Bashir and The Class). There have been some changes from the 'almost final list' posted earlier.
First, some special mentions. Most of these are pretty good, definitely watchable movies for one reason or another. e.g. Doubt is easily watchable purely for the performances, Benjamin Button is technically awesome in every way and most of the female performers make it worth your while even though things don't quite come together as well as they could've.
20) The Wrestler
18-19) A Wednesday; Jaane Tu... Ya Jaane Na
16-17) Doubt; Mumbai Meri Jaan
15) The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
12-14) Dasvidaniya; In Bruges; Slumdog Millionaire
11) Vicky Cristina Barcelona
And now, the top 10...
8-10) Milk; The Reader; The Visitor
I have already written about Milk and The Visitor. The Reader is thoroughly elevated by the two leading role performers - David Kross and Kate Winslet (a performance that probably deserved the oscar that it fetched for Kate.. probably, because I rate her higher in Revolutionary Road which wasn't even nominated!). It's also a great story which is really not as much of a holocaust movie as it is being made out to be. The central dilemma of the story is only set up with holocaust being the background, but it is still just Kate's character's extraordinary story. So, if you don't particularly like watching holocaust movies (even the one's that you think might be good), don't decide on passing on this movie for that reason. However, if you have a problem with excess nudity, be warned - there is more of it in this movie than perhaps all the Best Picture nominees of last 30 years combined! :)
6-7) Mithya; Frost/Nixon
Both of these were part of the original list, so I've written about them there.
3-5) Gran Torino; Let The Right One In; Revolutionary Road
I've already written about Let The Right One In. Gran Torino is so good that I still find it hard to believe that the academy didn't acknowledge it with even a nomination, let alone an award! And I'm not even talking about the Best Picture nomination. After all, none of my top 5 got a best picture nod, but at least one could see the reason (however unjustified) for some of them (Comic book movie, animated movie, foreign language 'vampire' movie). Gran Torino, however, is exactly the sort of movie that should've been an academy favorite. AND it did much better at the box office than most of the other nominees. I still can't believe it was snubbed so thoroughly. It is one of Clint Eastwood's best movies as a director, and that IS saying something.
Revolutionary Road was such a gut-wrenching experience for me that later I wasn't surprised to read in a lot of reviews that the movie is a bit "too sad". What DID surprise me, was that the reviewers seemed to think that being too sad is a valid reason to bring the movie's rating down! If a movie can make you sad, it really is doing something right. Kate Winslet is astounding in this movie - I think this might be her best performance ever. Or at least the best I have seen her perform. Leonardo DiCaprio is as good as he usually is, but is comfortably overshadowed by Kate here. I think I might be turning some of this movie's potential audience away by saying that it is 'too sad', but then it really did affect me very deeply at some level. That might be a very subjective thing, as things like this are probably highly dependent on one's own mental make-up, one's experiences in life etc. All I can say is, don't go by Rottentomatoes ratings in this case, specially if once in a while you don't mind a sad movie. A sad movie, but a great one.
already written about this
1) The Dark Knight
this too... :)