- Kawasaki’s Rose (directed by Jan Hrebejk) A renowned psychiatrist is chosen to receive a significant Czech medal for his exemplary life. However, his son-in-law discovers that he once collaborated with state security agencies, informing on a former friend of his wife and bearing responsibility for the latter's forced emigration.
- Of God and Men (directed by Xavier Beauvois,) a group of French Trappist monks, assigned to a station in Algeria, must decide whether to stay or go when they are threatened by terrorists.
- Poetry (directed by Chang Long Lee) Jeong-Lu Yun stars as a woman who discovers she has Alzheimers at the same moment she discovers her grandson has committed a heinous crime. Her enrollment in a poetry class brings her a momentary peace.
- Incendies (directed by Denis Villeneuve) a brother and sister, now living in Montreal, follow the wishes of their deceased mother, and travel to the Middle East to discover what secrets her past held.
- Blue Valentine (directed by Derek Cianfrance) Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams star in the saddest love story of the last decade. This film is helped immensely by the caliber of acting and the director’s unwillingness to tack on a happy ending.
- Take Shelter (directed by Jeff Nichols) Michael Shannon plays a man wrestling with an apocalyptic vision that is either precognizant or the onset of mental illness. An amazing performance and Nichols nails the small town and its residents.
- The Artist (directed by Michael Hazanavicius )Jean Dijardin stars as a silent movie star who can’t make the transition to talkies despite the love of a good woman. Silent, black and white, and haunting with a mesmerizing performance.
- Drive (directed by Nicholas Refri) Ryan Gosling stars as the unnamed wheelman, whose hole becomes deeper after a heist gone wrong.
- Even the Rain (directed by Icíar Bollaín)A film crew, making a movie about Columbus, becomes embroiled in local politics and inadvertently commit the same atrocities the movie purports to critique.
- The Guard (directed by John Michael McDonough) One of the few good comedies I saw this year (although second place would go to THE TRIP). Brendan Gleeson, a small-town cop and Don Cheedle, an FBI agent, knock heads as they try to make sense of some goings-on in a small Irish town.
- Moneyball (directed by Bennett Hill) Brad Pitt does an outstanding job of playing Billy Beane, a baseball general manager who comes up with a new way of looking at baseball stats.
- Margin Call (directed by J.C. Chandor) a team of good actors actually make sense and art of the factors leading to the collapse of 2008.
- Source Code (directed by Duncan Jones) Jake Gyllenhal is our hero in a story of a man on a train who gets to repeat the last eight minutes before a crash until he gets it right.
Best Actor: Brad Pitt for both Moneyball and Tree of Life.
Best Actress, Jeong-Lu Yun for Poetry
Most movies on this list have a crime in it despite its best intentions. Perhaps all good movies do.