What makes a best film? Simple, everything. There are so many things to get wrong in making a film, it’s truly a magical experience when the sound design, editing, score, cinematography, acting, writing and directing all wrap up into one to make the perfect film.

Every year people say “there were no good movies this year,”and every year I respond with “you weren’t looking.” There were some truly great films this year, so many that I had to expand my top 10 to a top 15 and then add several honorable mentions. As for what makes a film worthy of the list below there are two big things I look for. 1. The ability to not only entertain but make an audience feel something 2. Bravery on the part of the filmmaker to make not just make a “successful film” but a film that pushes the boundaries of film-making and changes cinema as we know it…

(Note: I’ve seen 183 films this year, but I have not seen EVERYTHING. I have listed the films I have not seen below.)

15. Cyrus

This is quite possibly the best Rom-Com of the decade. Though this genre been dragged through the mud with cliches and dull plot-lines, the Duplas brothers breathed new life into it and reminded us that just because a film is romantic and funny, doesn’t mean that it can’t still be edgy and original.

14. Nowhere Boy

This one seemed to pass everyone by without even catching a glance. The story was surprisingly deep, it had a few wonderfully shocking moments and was quite humorous at times. And you have to appreciate a film about The Beatles that never mentions The Beatles… brave decision that might have been one of the reasons no one saw the film.

13. 8: The Mormon Proposition

I sobbed in this film, sobbed! It’s poignant, relevant, quite possibly one-sided but that’s because when it comes to the blatant attack on gay marriage there is no middle ground. The way people are being treated is wrong and it’s time someone took a strong stand against it — thankfully we have this film.

12. Black Swan

This is a beautiful, artistic, and creatively bold film from start to finish. At times it’s over the top and possibly over-dramatic, but it owns it’s intensity in such a way that it emboldens to film to greatness. It’s probably one of the best films on this list to see more than once because there’s almost no way to understand it all on the first go (unlike Inception — yeah that’s right I said it, bring on the hate e-mail)

11. The Kid’s Are All Right

This was almost the best Rom-Com of the year, but the reason it beats out Cyrus is because it has a bit more substance. The performances are some of the best of the year and the story is simple and yet extraordinarily meaningful. Sometimes simple is best!

10. Waiting for Superman

Want to see something that is fun, well-made, and actually makes a difference to the world around you? This is your film.

9. Kick-Ass

This was the only action film you needed to see this summer. It was the most fun, interesting, risky action film of this year (on par with Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World but hey, I could only pick one) and it was miles above the other actions films released this summer and painfully dismissed by audiences. It will be the film that people imitate in the future and people will say “it started with Kick-Ass.”

8. The Social Network

Fun. Interesting. Well made. Though there marketing plan was questionable, their dialogue was more than impressive and they managed to successfully make a film about people sitting and typing at a computer fun, dramatic, and interesting.

7. Buried

For some reason people thought this film was gimmicky and decided not to see it. They were wrong. Never before have a seen one location used so well. They literally took one spot and used it to its greatest potential. This was quite possibly the most suspenseful film of the year, with a great story, great acting, and some of the best and most creative cinematography ever shot.

And now we get into films that are more than just films, they’re experiences, they are the best of the best….

6. Toy Story 3

Surprisingly as good as the first but in an entirely new way. Not only was this film funny and well made, but it dealt with concepts that serious dramas are afraid to touch. Yes it had a few cheesy kids lines, but on the whole it was dark, dramatic, interesting, funny… it was more than just a film, it was an experience.

5. True Grit

Another directing duo on the list. The Cohen Brothers never disappoint and often times their films seep under your skin and you only realize their true meaning after a few days later or multiple viewings of the film. There are some extremely interesting and risky choices made in the process of the film, their writing at their worst is ten times better than almost any other writers out there, and this film has some of my favorite performances of the year across the board.

4. Blue Valentine

By far the most real film of the year with some of the bravest choices made, and by far and away two of the best lead performances of the year. Both Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling give themselves fully to this characters no matter what that means, and though this film is not the happiest film of the year but it is by far the most substantial and well made.

3. Animal Kingdom

This is the film The Town wanted to be. So effectual and yet not manipulative. Brilliant acting, well shot, well directed — it’s just brilliant. It doesn’t care about stars or appealing to an audience but being true to the story in every way. This is possibly the riskiest film, and yet one of the most successful.

2. The Fighter

Who would have thought? Not only does this film have a number of the great qualities of the serious dramas above, but it’s also was made for huge audiences to cheer along with it. It leaves you feeling good, yet has depth. It is extremely well shot and overall it’s an amazing piece of film-making that won’t soon be forgotten.

1. The King’s Speech

Brilliant acting, brilliant writing, brilliant score, brilliant cinematography, brilliant production design, brilliant costumes, brilliant make-up… and overall the best choices made by a director all around. The King gives a speech leading his country into one of the worst wars in history and yet you’re cheering for him to say it clearly. This film took all the things that normally make for a boring drama and made it exciting, interesting and by far the best film of the year.

So there you have it! Your top 15 of the year! And now some of the other greats that just didn’t quite make it…

Runners Up:

127 Hours, Let Me In, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, Flipped, Paper Man, Fair Game, The Ghost Writer, Another Year and Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

Films I Missed:

I would hate for people to think that the following films aren’t worth seeing. Sadly I heard great things about all of the following but simply ran out of time to sit on my ass.

Remember Me, Easy A, Howl, Inhale, How to Train Your Dragon and Rabbit Hole