1. The Very Stealthy Swedish Invasion
As Stieg Larsson bestsellers continue becoming international movie sensations and remakes thereof, like David Fincher's take on The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo, Swedish filmmakers calmly excel at disclosing other countries' more obscure political machinations. Göran Hugo Olsson's The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 is a knowingly incomplete outsider's portrait of African-American cultural history. Tomas Alfredson's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is the definitively English Cold War espionage thriller -- formerly a 1974 John le Carre novel, then a 1979 BBC miniseries, now a showpiece for a masterfully recessive performance by Gary Oldman. Both films derive their power from reticence bordering on evasiveness: It's about not just what's said and shown, but also what isn't.
2. The Little Indie Film As De Facto Canon Camera Commercial
It seems worth noting that Andrew Haigh's Weekend and Drake Doremus' Like Crazy both were photographed using the same (relatively) inexpensive Canon digital camera, the EOS 5D Mark II. Both are movies about young people in tentative relationships (Weekend features Tom Cullen and Chris New; Like Crazy has Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones). Both are narratively slight but intimately striking -- as befits the mesmerizing shallow focus that apparently is this camera's specialty.
3. The Totally Teutonic 3-D
For Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Werner Herzog went spelunking among 30,000-year-old cave paintings in southern France, the earliest known human artifacts. For Pina, Wim Wenders' camera went dancing with the legendary late choreographer Pina Bausch and her Tanztheater Wuppertal ensemble. Both made use of contemporary 3-D technology to achieve spatial and philosophical depth.
4. The Ineffectual Parent Played by John C. Reilly
In We Need to Talk About Kevin, Lynne Ramsay's adaptation of Lionel Shriver's novel about the perpetrator of a high-school massacre and his guilt racked mother, Reilly plays the malefactor's too-credulous father. In Carnage, Roman Polanski's adaptation of Yasmina Reza's play about two pairs of parents processing a playground fight between their boys, Reilly plays the victim's too-credulous father.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
5. The San Francisco Disaster (Movie)
Contagion dared to do without the historically obligatory havoc-on-the-Golden-Gate-Bridge scene. Rise of the Planet of the Apes dared to revitalize the historically obligatory havoc-on-the-Golden-Gate-Bridge scene.