Most films have been released for 2010, but I thought I would take time to highlight 10 little-seen gems that you can get right now off Netflix. You'll save money and find some terrific films if you use my list to fill your queue.
10) Mysterious Skin- My favorite director (Gregg Araki) and his best movie ever. Mysterious Skin is about two boys linked together by a horrible childhood trauma. At turns graphic, disturbing, yet filled with beauty and hope it's one of the best films of the decade. Joseph Gordon Leavitt (no longer that kid from 3rd Rock from the Sun) is nothing short of amazing.
9) Dead Man's Shoes- Paddy Considine is excellent in this brutal revenge drama from director Shane Meadows. The film is about a brother's quest for revenge after his mentally challenged brother is brutalized by some Midlands thugs in the squalid UK countryside. Some critics mistakenly called this an art-house torture porn, but it's light years better and more compelling than anything the overrated Eli Roth could ever come up with.
8) Frailty-Frailty is a horror gem starring and directed by Bill Paxton. A grisly tale of a seemingly loving father who believes he and his sons are the hands of God. He searches out people he believes to be demons and cuts them to pieces. Fine period detail and acting, especially from the young boys, Frailty is about religious devotion run amok and turned into madness. A must see.
7) In Bruges - In Bruges has the best screenplay of last year and some of the best acting of Collin Farrell's career. Clever and brutal, funny yet extremely violent, it's the film Guy Ritchie keeps trying to make, and one that keeps eluding him. One of the best films of last year.
6) Smiley Face - Director Gregg Araki's last film is a very funny stoner comedy starring the awesome Anna Faris. Sublimely silly movie that went direct to DVD, even though it's much funnier than many comedies that get theatrical releases these days.
5) Rules of Attraction - A sharp and sharply funny look at some nasty spoiled college students courtesy of author Bret Easton Ellis and writer/director Roger Avary. This is probably the best of the Ellis film adaptions to date (American Psycho with a terrific Christian Bale is another must see) and despite its lothsome characters, I loved every shocking and entertainig moment of the film.
4) Sex Drive - The teen sex comedy gets updated with hilarious results. Amazingly this was a box office dud but it was easily the funniest film of last year. The leads are likable and amusing and James Marsden all but steals the entire movie as the homophobic older brother bully character. Seth Green lends strong support as a sarcastic and smarmy Amish know it all. RUMPSRINGA!
3) Mirror Mask- Alice in Wonderland meets The Wizard of Oz by way of Neil Gaiman. MirrorMask is a thrilling and well-acted fantasy film meant for teens and adults. The worlds created are wholly original and star Stephenie Leonidas is perfect as the punky Emo goth who wants to run away from her creepy circus existence and gets more than she ever bargained for.
2) Cashback - Original and visually stunning comedy/drama about a young man who breaks up with his pretty girlfriend and learns he has the ability to stop time. His insomnia produces a chance for him to paint random subjects with time frozen and the film could be creepy in the wrong hands, ends up being delightful and something worth seeking out. All props go to the director for making a low-budget feature look like something with a bigger budget.
1) This Is England - Writer/director Shane Meadows returns with an autobiographical look at his childhood and his alliance with a young gang of skinhead thugs. Well-acted, at times hard to watch, and thoroughly compelling, This Is England may be about the UK but its themes of racial intolerance and hatred could take place anywhere in any country at any time. It could have been called This is America. The movie is brilliant, blistering stuff.