I might still catch a first-run 2010 movie or two, but I think I'm ready to make a ten-best list. This list is for films that played at least one week in Manhattan for the first time in 2010 - which, as I complain every year, is a pretty arbitrary grouping. But I'm in no position at all yet to make a list of 2010 international releases.
(I exclude films that were made too long ago to feel contemporary.)
1. The Father of My Children (Mia Hansen-Løve)
2. The Exploding Girl (Bradley Rust Gray)
3. Bluebeard (Catherine Breillat)
4. Mid-August Lunch (Gianni di Gregorio)
5. Between Two Worlds (Vimukthi Jayasundara)
6. Audrey the Trainwreck (Frank V. Ross)
7. Life During Wartime (Todd Solondz)
8. Anton Chekhov's The Duel (Dover Kosashvili)
9. Barking Water (Sterlin Harjo)
10. How Do You Know (James L. Brooks)
Honorable mention: Animal Kingdom (David Michôd). And I'll add two others that could go up or down after another viewing: Tiny Furniture (Lena Dunham) and Unstoppable (Tony Scott).
Special category for a uniquely confusing film: Black Swan (Darren Aronofsky). In the unstable transition period following this film's challenge to my aesthetic system, I can imagine putting it in any of the categories above or below.
Films with a lot going for them, in alphabetical order: Another Year (Mike Leigh), Around a Small Mountain (Jacques Rivette), The City of Your Final Destination (James Ivory), Dogtooth (Yorgos Lanthimos), Enter the Void (Gaspar Noé), The Ghost Writer (Roman Polanski), Hadewijch (Bruno Dumont), The Illusionist (Sylvain Chomet), Never Let Me Go (Mark Romanek), Open Five (Kentucker Audley), Soul Kitchen (Fatih Akin), The Strange Case of Angelica (Manoel de Oliveira), Sweetgrass (Ilisa Barbash & Lucien Castaing-Taylor), True Grit (Joel Coen & Ethan Coen).
Films with something going for them, in alphabetical order: Ajami (Scandar Copti & Yaron Shani), All Good Things (Andrew Jarecki), The Anchorage (C.W Winter & Anders Edstrom), Breaking Upwards (Daryl Wein), Delta (Kornel Mundruczó), Fish Tank (Andrea Arnold), George A. Romero's Survival of the Dead (George A. Romero), I Am Love (Luca Guadagnino), Inspector Bellamy (Claude Chabrol), The Kids Are All Right (Lisa Cholodenko), Lourdes (Jessica Hausner), Mesrine: Killer Instinct (Jean-Francois Richet), Mundane History (Anocha Suwichakornpong), Ne change rien (Pedro Costa), Tirador (Brillante Mendoza), Women Without Men (Shirin Neshat).
Films that mostly didn't work for me, in alphabetical order: Alamar (Pedro Gonzalez-Rubio), Daddy Longlegs (Josh Safdie & Benny Safdie), Due Date (Todd Phillips), Eccentricities of a Blond Hair Girl (Manoel de Oliveira), Everyone Else (Maren Ade), Exit Through the Gift Shop (Banksy), The Fighter (David O. Russell), Get Low (Aaron Schneider), Greenberg (Noah Baumbach), Henri-Georges Clouzot's Inferno (Serge Bromberg & Ruxandra Medrea), I Love You Phillip Morris (Glenn Ficarra & John Requa), The King's Speech (Tom Hooper), Leaving (Catherine Corsini), Lebanon (Samuel Maoz), Mesrine: Public Enemy No. 1 (Jean-Francois Richet), The Milk of Sorrow (Claudia Llosa), Mother (Bong Joon-ho), Our Beloved Month of August (Miguel Gomes), Outside the Law (Rachid Bouchareb), Red Riding: 1980 (James Marsh), Secret Sunshine (Lee Chang-dong), Shutter Island (Martin Scorsese), The Social Network (David Fincher), Somewhere (Sofia Coppola), Spring Fever (Lou Ye), Trash Humpers (Harmony Korine), Vincere (Marco Bellocchio), Welcome (Philippe Lioret), White Material (Claire Denis), Wild Grass (Alain Resnais), Winter's Bone (Debra Granik), You Wont Miss Me (Ry Russo-Young).
A lot of directors I admire placed films in the last category, which must mean that I'm an unusually fickle sort of auteurist.