The American

The American is the second film from noted Danish photographer and music video auteur Anton Corbijn. As such, it’s a beautiful piece of work, full of great shots of the Italian countryside and evocative shots of George Clooney doing such mundane things as sit-ups and modifying sniper rifles. While it was mis-marketed as an action thriller, the film is slow and contemplative, evoking European art-films as much as the Hollywood action films it takes its basic story arc from. Here’s to hoping George Clooney keeps putting his bankable name behind artful and intriguing projects such as this. – AJ

Black Swan

Natalie Portman is intensely erotic (there, I said it) as a ballerina in an insane pursuit of perfection in Darren Aronofsky’s best film yet, a berserk fusion of melodrama and body horror, the type of over-the-top material that runs the risk of falling flat on its face at every moment but somehow doesn’t. The psychosexual tension, the over-the-top emotion, the literal onstage transformation in the conclusion…please don’t ask me why I found it all so moving. Sometimes trying to explain something can destroy its magic. – WS

Enter the Void

The most uncompromising film yet from Gasper Noe (and this is the man who made I Stand Alone and Irreversible), Enter the Void is a gorgeous, hideous, neon-drenched, first-person trip straight to hell (or, in this case, the memories of a low-level drug dealer and the slums of Tokyo) that feels like a fusion of film, installation art, and one of those rides at Disneyland with rumble chairs. But, y’know, with prostitution and abortions. – WS

Exit Through the Gift Shop

This street art documentary (mockumentary?) by the artist currently known as Banksy is more than just a street art documentary. It’s the entire history of an art form, from subversive beginnings to commercialism, made by an artist clearly worried about how long his outlaw reputation will be able to last with newfound mainstream exposure. And when you think about it, whether or not “Mr. Brainwash,” Banksy’s co-lead, is a fictional character is really beside the point. – WS

I Am Love

Visually vibrant and deeply erotic, Luca Guadagnino directs one of the most engrossing films of the year. Starring Tilda Swinton as a Russian émigré living in Milan and married into a traditional Italian family with a successful textile company, I Am Love weaves together a compelling tale of love, food, and family that can’t be missed. – TC

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

You don’t need to like video games, manga, kung fu, anime, summer blockbusters, comic books, TV sitcoms, teen comedies, or any other gen-Y cultural detritus to love Scott Pilgrim vs. the World – you just need to have grown up surrounded by it. It’s an endlessly entertaining and inventive film that captures the spirit of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s comic book series while bringing in Edgar Wright’s own Tarantino-meets-Monty-Python sensibility. – WS

Shutter Island

A veritable showroom of cinematic tricks and techniques, Shutter Island is among this year’s best psychological thrillers. Yet another product of the tried and true Scorsese-DiCaprio combo, this film is one of the few that genuinely keeps you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. – TC

The Social Network

David Fincher’s take on the founding of everyone’s favourite website, The Social Network manages to be as dark as it is manic, with superb performances from Jesse Eisenberg and Armie Hammer to boot. If you haven’t seen this yet, please do — then update your status so people can comment on it. Mark Z. won’t mind. – TC

Toy Story 3

If a live-action film about real people were as brutally honest about abandonment, rejection, aging, death, and the passage of time as Toy Story 3, it might be unwatchable. This is one of the very best Pixar movies, another one where the comic, tragic, and even action elements are perfectly modulated (no, seriously, Pixar consistently makes the best action sequences). And it will have special resonance for anyone who was Andy’s age when the first Toy Story was released. – WS


One of three movies directed by prolific Canadian filmmaker Bruce McDonald this year, and the last film starring Tracey Wright, Trigger follows two past-their-prime female ex-rockers through a Toronto night with some of the best dialogue of the year. Also, Trigger made the best use of Allan Gardens in a Canadian film this year (sorry Chloe, with your Liam Neeson handjob). – AJ