By the Toronto Film Critics Association's count, 312 feature films have been released here since January. As always, most were mediocre and some were disappointing. Others starred Ashton Kutcher. But easily 20 of them were outstanding. Here's half.
1 A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE (David Cronenberg) Cronenberg made bold, rigorous choices in crafting a movie that works as genre piece, psychosexual art film and political allegory all at once. Flawless.
2 NOBODY KNOWS (Hirokazu Kore-eda) Kore-eda's follow-up to After Life is a sweet, brutal shocker about four children abandoned by their mother in a Tokyo apartment.
3 THE SQUID AND THE WHALE (Noah Baumbach) Another prickly portrait of a super-literate white guy bristling against Dad. But Baumbach wrote the best screenplay of the year, and directed Jeff Daniels to a career high.
4 HEAD-ON (Fatih Akin) The ferocious first act in this story of immigrants in Hamburg makes it feel like My Fucked-Up Turkish Wedding. But Akin takes Head-On deeper and darker, pushing way past romantic comedy. Best love story of the year.
5 PARADISE NOW (Hany Abu-Assad) Abu-Assad begins with a docudrama about Palestinian suicide bombers, upshifts to thriller, then hits pure philosophy by the end. Compulsory viewing.
6 JARHEAD (Sam Mendes) Mendes's closely observed Gulf War farce will improve with age once people stop expecting it to illuminate the current carnage. Performs a tonal high-wire act, honouring grunt work as it underlines its absurdity.
7 LOS ANGELES PLAYS ITSELF (Thom Andersen) One of the year's best documentaries got trampled by those penguins. Director Andersen tells the epic story of L.A. through the movies that invented it. It's meta-Chinatown.
8 HUSTLE & FLOW (Craig Brewer) Brewer chose to tell a pimp's story from the pimp's point of view, so the gender game comes fixed. But when Terrence Howard's DJay finds his voice on the mic, it's pure movie euphoria.
9 MR. & MRS. SMITH (Doug Liman) There was no greater crotch-moistener this year than the spectacle of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie sparring with guns. Not the first screwball action movie, but the best.
10 ME AND YOU AND EVERYONE WE KNOW (Miranda July) Earns kudos for its sharp writing and detailed performances, but mostly for introducing us to the notion of "pooping back and forth, forever."
Liberia: An Uncivil War , War Of The Worlds , Oldboy , Mysterious Skin , Mondovino , Bad Education