Star Trek

In a year of reboots, this one offers the biggest kick. Showing how the young crew of the USS Enterprise spaceship first comes together, director J.J. Abrams takes a four-decades-old sci-fi TV series (plus 10 movies) and makes it all seem fresh and exciting. Long may the new series live and prosper.

Up

As Fred, 10, my consultant on kids' films, so perfectly put it after seeing this magical tale about an old man's excellent adventure, "Pixar never disappoints!" Up has heart and laughs to spare and, in a silent montage chronicling a marriage over decades, the single most moving, eloquent sequence of this year.

The Hurt Locker

Of the half-dozen or more movies touching on the current U.S. wars, by far the standout is this achingly tense drama--you'll bite your nails to the quick--about an Army bomb defusing expert serving in Iraq.

Up In the Air

This captivating comedy from director-writer Jason Reitman scores a trifecta: it's smart, funny and grown-up. With its main character (deftly portrayed by George Clooney) a fellow who makes his living flying around the country firing people for companies, the movie couldn't feel more in tune with these wretched economic times.

District 9

To say this sci-fi action drama is an allegory about South Africa's old apartheid policy is to make it sound serious and dire, rather than the kick-butt, amusing whirlwind that it is. And the movie's giant, crustacean-like space aliens, with their fondness for gorging on canned cat food, rock.

A Serious Man

To tweak the old J. Geils Band hit, life stinks. That's pretty much the theme of this glorious downer comedy from the sibling directing duo of Ethan and Joel Coen. The story of a Jewish college professor in the Midwest whose life falls apart in the late 1960s, it's an endless tale of woe. As long as it's someone else's misery, why not laugh?

An Education

In this dazzling comic drama, it's 1962 and a brainy London teen (Carey Mulligan, in a breakout turn) becomes romantically involved with an older man. Told with style and bite, this coming-of-age tale's crowning achievement is offering, in the end, a clear-eyed but sympathetic view of each of its characters.

Inglourious Basterds

Get past the bizarro spelling. Director Quentin Tarantino's WWII thriller, a revenge fantasy version of the war, is his most accomplished film since 1994's Pulp Fiction. Sure it's violent, but also funny, clever and super suspenseful. Plus Brad Pitt had a swell time wallowing in his good ol' boy accent.

Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire

Movies can provide a window into lives many of us otherwise might never see up close, and Precious affectingly does exactly that. Its heroine—an illiterate, overweight, abused, pregnant teen—confronts and overcomes daunting challenges and has us cheering for her every step of the way.

Crazy Heart

Call this the anti-blockbuster. An intimate, perfectly observed character study, Heart movingly chronicles a washed-up country music singer (Jeff Bridges, never better) who surprises himself by falling in love.

>ZOMBIELAND

I just saw it and I loved it.

—DAVE ANNABLE

CAPITALISM: A LOVE STORY

I loved Michael Moore's film. I was really moved by it.

—RICKI LAKE

INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS

One of my favorites. I'm a huge Quentin Tarantino fan.

—JESSE METCALFE

THE GIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE

It's a weird little movie, kind of dirty, but [director] Steven Soderbergh is a really interesting guy.

—JERRY O'CONNELL

STAR TREK

It was incredible.

HAYDEN PANETTIERE

>Director Wes Anderson bucked the digital tide and instead opted for the retro, toy-box charm of stop-motion animation to make Fantastic Mr. Fox. The result: a children's film that stands head and whiskers above most of the year's animated pack.

>Age is just a number, as a trio of sensational actresses, all decidedly past the ingenue stage, proved this year to the delight of moviegoers. Betty White, 87 and going strong, whooped it up in The Proposal, nailing punch lines like the master comedy carpenter she is. Meryl Streep, 60, whipped up a soaring souffle of a performance as chef Julia Child in Julie & Julia, and is fluttery fun as a woman romanced by two men in It's Complicated. And Helen Mirren, 64, earns huge laughs as Russian writer Leo Tolstoy's devoted wife—she's devoted to getting him into her bed—in The Last Station, which goes wide in 2010.

>If there's a kind of movie I'm a sucker for, it's a romantic comedy. But great or even good ones were few and far between this past year. It's as if Hollywood has lost the knack for falling blissfully, and amusingly, in love. The noteworthy exceptions: the clever (500) Days of Summer and snappy The Proposal. As for the rest, shoot me now. Sitting through the moronic Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, squeal-happy Bride Wars and stupefying Confessions of a Shopaholic was enough to cause anyone to mainline lithium. Cupid needs to spend more time in rewrite.

>ZOMBIELAND

I just saw it and I loved it.

—DAVE ANNABLE

CAPITALISM: A LOVE STORY

I loved Michael Moore's film. I was really moved by it.

—RICKI LAKE

INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS

One of my favorites. I'm a huge Quentin Tarantino fan.

—JESSE METCALFE

THE GIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE

It's a weird little movie, kind of dirty, but [director] Steven Soderbergh is a really interesting guy.

—JERRY O'CONNELL

STAR TREK

It was incredible.

HAYDEN PANETTIERE

>Director Wes Anderson bucked the digital tide and instead opted for the retro, toy-box charm of stop-motion animation to make Fantastic Mr. Fox. The result: a children's film that stands head and whiskers above most of the year's animated pack.

>Age is just a number, as a trio of sensational actresses, all decidedly past the ingenue stage, proved this year to the delight of moviegoers. Betty White, 87 and going strong, whooped it up in The Proposal, nailing punch lines like the master comedy carpenter she is. Meryl Streep, 60, whipped up a soaring souffle of a performance as chef Julia Child in Julie & Julia, and is fluttery fun as a woman romanced by two men in It's Complicated. And Helen Mirren, 64, earns huge laughs as Russian writer Leo Tolstoy's devoted wife—she's devoted to getting him into her bed—in The Last Station, which goes wide in 2010.

>If there's a kind of movie I'm a sucker for, it's a romantic comedy. But great or even good ones were few and far between this past year. It's as if Hollywood has lost the knack for falling blissfully, and amusingly, in love. The noteworthy exceptions: the clever (500) Days of Summer and snappy The Proposal. As for the rest, shoot me now. Sitting through the moronic Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, squeal-happy Bride Wars and stupefying Confessions of a Shopaholic was enough to cause anyone to mainline lithium. Cupid needs to spend more time in rewrite.