6. “Winter's Bone” captures the full tragedy of the Ozark methamphetamine epidemic through the story of Ree (Jennifer Lawrence), a teen who must locate her meth-cooking father or risk losing her family's modest home. Working from Daniel Woodrell's novel, Director Debra Granik populates “Winter's Bone” with believable characters, including John Hawkes' unforgettable performance as Ree's uncle, Teardrop, a man whom even the hardest cases grow to fear.
7. Less a remake than a second adaptation of Charles Portis' novel, Joel and Ethan Coen's “True Grit” shakes off the memory of the comparatively cute John Wayne/Kim Darby version and aims for high, lonesome and captivatingly strange territory. In telling the story of Mattie Ross (excellent newcomer Hailee Steinfeld), a 14-year-old girl who hires U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) to avenge the murder of her father, the Coens capture the hard, dirty life of the frontier. Bridges delivers such a strong performance as Cogburn, even Wayne's most steadfast fans will tip their hats.
8. Few 2010 films made adults cry as much as “Toy Story 3,” in which Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the rest of Andy's toys must grapple with obsolescence as Andy leaves for college. It can be taken as a colorful and witty tribute to classic escape films, but “Toy Story 3” reflects the human condition — principally the fear of being used up and thrown away.
9. Director Danny Boyle's “127 Hours,” a dramatization of Aron Ralston's unthinkable 2003 escape after being trapped by a boulder in a canyon, makes the case that Ralston's survival instincts and lust for life are a universal thing. No one wants to find out how they would respond, but the most surprising thing about “127 Hours” is how reassuring it is that the fight impulse will take over when flight is not an option. James Franco's extraordinary streak as one of Hollywood's true acting daredevils continues.
10. One of the oldest stories in the movie playbook gets its freshest interpretation in years with David O. Russell's “The Fighter,” the true story about boxer Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg), who finally rose from palooka to champion once his half-brother and trainer, onetime boxer Dickey Eklund (Christian Bale), overcame his crack addiction. Bale is nothing short of phenomenal. And considering that all performers in “The Fighter,” including Amy Adams and Melissa Leo, are performing at the top of their games, that is one incredible upset victory.