As the year comes to an end, anybody and everybody are posting their best of the year lists. Most of these lists contain variations of the same 15 or 20 films. To break the mold, some are even posting lists of the best films of the year that you probably haven’t seen. I find that even these lists are filled with the same movies. And if you’re a film geek reading a site like /Film, chances are you know about most of the movies on these lists.

I wanted to do something different and compile a list of the best films of the year that you’ve never heard of. The selections should be movies that (for the most part) none of your family or friends have heard of, and you might even have to do some extra legwork to get your hands on.

It is not an easy task. Even though we see tons of small indie films on our journeys to film festivals like Sundance, Cannes, Toronto, Telluride and Fantastic Fest, we still miss quite a few movies. The concept alone means that a lot of the movies on this list should be films that even vigilant movie geeks and film critics probably have missed during their limited theatrical, video or film fest stints.

So I decided to crowd-source this list. I’ve compiled a list of the highest rated films released in 2010 on the largest sources of user submitted ratings and reviews on the internet — the Internet Movie Database and Flixter. I’ve created an algorithm which narrows the list to films with less votes than a normal wide theatrical release, but enough votes to weed out a lot of the super duper independent productions that probably have their family and friends fixing the numbers).

We’ve also taken Rotten Tomatoes ratings into account as well (but not metacritic due to the extremely low sample numbers). The only rule is that the film was released in 2010 theatrical, television, video, film festivals, internationally or domestically. This means that some of these movies might even be available on VOD or DVD right now, while other films have yet to be released theatrically or be available on video in the US. Also, because of the nature of this experiment, this list is heavy on foreign language films, documentary movies and mad-for-television features.

It should be noted that with any type of poll, results get better with larger samples of participants. We’re including films which sometimes have low sample rates, so the results may vary from movie to movie (and more specifically, the ones with lower voter samples).

Senna
Notes: This sports documentary claims to tell “the legend of the greatest driver who ever lived.”
IMDB User Rating: 9.1 (176 votes)
Rotten Tomatoes: no reviews yet
Release: Premiered in Suzuka, Mie Japan in October 2010, will play at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival in January. The film is being distributed by Universal Pictures, and has an announced UK release in June 2011, with no word yet on a US theatrical or dvd release.
Official Synopsis:

The story of the monumental life and tragic death of legendary Brazilian motor-racing Champion, Ayrton Senna. Spanning the decade from his arrival in Formula One in the mid 80′s, the film follows Senna’s struggles both on track against his nemesis, French World Champion Alain Prost, and off it, against the politics which infest the sport. Sublime, spiritual yet, on occasion, ruthless – Senna conquers and transcends Formula One to become a global superstar. Privately, he is humble, almost shy, and fiercely patriotic, donating millions to his native Brasil and contemplating a life beyond motor-racing. Yet he is struck down in his prime on the blackest weekend in the history of the sport, watched live on television by 300 million people. Years on he is revered in Formula One as the greatest motor racing driver of all time – and in Brasil as a Saint.

Trailer:

Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy
Notes: A documentary about the legacy of the Nightmare on Elm Street horror film franchise.
IMDB User Rating: 9.0 (479 votes)
Rotten Tomatoes: no score yet (3 out of 3 positive reviews)
Release: Available on DVD
Official Synopsis:

Child murderer. Dream demon. The bastard son of a hundred maniacs. Any way you slice it, there can only be one man, one monster, who epitomizes those words: Freddy Krueger. For decades, Freddy has slashed his way through the dreams of countless youngsters, scaring up over half a billion dollars at the box office across eight terrifying, spectacular films. What’s more, it has become evident that Freddy may never rest in peace. In this thrilling retrospective, fans will enter the world of Freddy Krueger and A Nightmare On Elm Street like never before: exploring what spurred mastermind Wes Craven to craft the first groundbreaking film; delving deep behind the scenes of the original and all of its sequels; learning how the cast and crew brought their worst nightmares to life; and finally, understanding the impact the series and its mythos have had on modern pop culture and the horror genre. Narrated by and starring Heather Langenkamp, featuring interviews with the cast and crew spanning every film, and loaded with clips, photographs, storyboards, conceptual art, publicity materials, archival documents and behind-the-scenes footage, Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy is the definitive account of what many have called the best, most frightening and imaginative horror franchise in motion picture history.

Trailer:

Elite Squad 2
Genre: This violent action crime thriller is a sequel to the acclaimed 2007 movie Elite Squad (available on DVD).
IMDB User Rating: 8.9 (2,046 votes)
Rotten Tomatoes: no reviews yet
Flixster User Rating: 100% (48 user ratings)
Release: Released in Brazil on October 8th, the movie now holds the record for the all-time highest-grossing movie in Brazil, ahead of Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands and Avatar. No word on when the film will see US Release.
Official Synopsis:

Directed and produced by José Padilha, starring Wagner Moura. It is a sequel to the 2007 film The Elite Squad. The film is a continuation of the semi-fictional account of the BOPE (Portuguese: Batalhão de Operações Policiais Especiais), the Special Police Operations Battalion of the Rio de Janeiro Military Police. The Elite Squad 2 plot resolves around the maturing Lt Col. Nascimento, who, after a disastrous BOPE operation on a prison riot, gets caught in a bloody political dispute that involves not only the Public Safety Departament, the State governor and State Military Police, but also paramilitary groups known as milícias. The movie also shows the family issues of Nascimento, with his now adolescent son gradually moving away from him due to his job and the influence of his stepfather. The story is set 13 years after the first movie. Elite Squad 2 focuses more on Nascimento’s family relations than Squad 1. In Wagner Moura’s words: “Nascimento matures in this movie, which has to do with his concept of conscience and his age.

Trailer:

El infierno
Notes: This organized crime black comedy has been described as “the most intense, realistic and utterly depressing portrait” of Mexico’s current social situation.
IMDB User Rating: 8.7 (567 votes)
Rotten Tomatoes: no reviews yet
Release: Released in Mexico on September 3rd, no word yet on US release.
Official Synopsis:

Benjamin Garcia, Benny, is deported from the United States. Back home and against a bleak picture, Benny gets involved in the narco business, in which has for the first time in his life, an spectacular rise surrounded by money, women, violence and fun. But very soon he’ll discovers that criminal life does not always keeps his promises. Epic black comedy about the world of Mafia and organized crime, HELL helps us to understand what everybody is asking: What is happening in Mexico today?

Trailer:

Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage
Notes:
An in-depth look at the Canadian rock band Rush, “chronicling the band’s musical evolution from their progressive rock sound of the ’70s to their current heavy rock style.” The film is produced and directed by the team behind ‘Iron Maiden: Flight 666′, and won the audience award at the Tribeca Film Festival. The doc features appearances from Matt Stone, Jack Black, Gene Simmons, Trent Reznor, Billy Corgan, Kirk Hammett, and many more.
IMDB User Rating: 8.5 (778 votes)
Rotten Tomatoes: 100% (7 reviews)
Flixster User Rating: 94% (856 user ratings)
Release: The film was released in limited theaters on June 10th 2010, and is now available on Blu-Ray and DVD.
Official Synopsis:

Rush is one of rock’s most influential bands, ranking third for most gold and platinum albums behind The Beatles and Rolling Stones. But despite having legions of devoted fans and being revered by generations of musicians, they have been ignored by critics and continually overlooked by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Featuring never-before-seen archival footage and interviews with some of today’s most respected rock artists, ‘Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage’ explores the forty year career and phenomenon behind what could be the world’s biggest cult band.

Trailer:

Incendies
Notes:
This Canadian produced French-language multidimensional Lebanese drama has been called both wonderful and devastating.
IMDB User Rating: 8.5 (386 votes)
Rotten Tomatoes: no score yet (4 out of 4 positive reviews)
Release: Premiered at the 2010 Telluride/Toronto Film Festivals, set to screen at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. Will be released in limited theaters on April 1 2011.
Official Synopsis:

A mother’s last wishes send twins Jeanne and Simon on a journey to Middle East in search of their tangled roots. Adapted from Wajdi Mouawad’s acclaimed play, Incendies tells the powerful and moving tale of two young adults’ voyage to the core of deep-rooted hatred, never-ending wars and enduring love.

Trailer:

Vedham
Notes:
This Indian Telugu-language drama is directed by Radhakrishna Jagarlamudi,whose debut film Gamyam (2008) won several awards, including the Best Picture and Best Director prizes at the 2009 South Filmfare Awards. Vedam was the first-multistarrer movie in Telugu films after more than a decade, and featured a cast which includes Allu Arjun, Manoj Kumar Manchu, Anushka Shetty, Manoj Bajpai,Lekha Washington, Siya Gautham, Diksha Seth, Saranya Ponvannan, Brahmanandam, Posani Krishna Murali, Raghu Babu, Ravi Prakash, Satyam Rajesh and others.
IMDB User Rating: 8.5 (352 votes)
Rotten Tomatoes: no reviews yet
Flixster User Rating: 100% (3 user ratings)
Release: Released in June 2010 in India.
Official Synopsis:

Cable Raju is a slum dweller who works as a cable operator; Saroja is a prostitute; Ramulu is a debt-ridden weaver from Sircilla; Vivek Chakravarthy is an upcoming rock star; Raheemuddin Qureshi is a Muslim from Old Basti in Hyderabad. The stories of these five characters are interwoven into one.

 

Louis C.K.: Hilarious
Notes: The first stand-up documentary to ever be accepted into the Sundance Film Festival.
IMDB User Rating: 8.5 (290 votes)
Rotten Tomatoes: no reviews yet
Release: Premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, and was released in limited theaters on September 8th 2010. Available on DVD or Epix HD is now streaming Hilarious online for FREE.
Official Synopsis:

Sharp-tongued comedian Louis C.K. pulls no punches in this visceral concert experience.

Clip:

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