See Part 1 of this series, on the runners-up for my top ten list, here. Tomorrow I’ll post Part 3, on my favorite undistributed/yet to be distributed films of the year, and then Part 4, on my films of the decade.

This is actually a top 12, for reasons to be explained within.

10. Inglourious Basterds

9.  The Hurt Locker

8. Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

7.  The Limits of Control

6. Cargo 200

5.  Beeswax

4.  Summer Hours

3. The Girlfriend Experience/The Informant!

As far as I’m concerned, this was the most impressive year of Steven Soderbergh’s career, and his two 2009 releases are inextricably linked. I just wrote a story about this, will insert a link here when it’s published.

2. Two Lovers

1. Silent Light & Frontier of Dawn

Because of confusion regarding what constitutes a theatrical release (5 days or 14 days? In a traditional movie theater, or as part of a festival put on by a museum?), I named two different films on the indieWIRE and Village Voice polls. I knew Silent Light was not eligible for the Voice poll, because its 5 days at MoMA made it eligible for their poll in 2008, so on that list I named Philippe Garrel’s Frontier of Dawn as my favorite film of the year. Because that film played only 5 days at BAM before IFC released it on VOD, I thought it wasn’t eligible for the indieWIRE poll, which stipulated in the rules that a film must screen theatrically for a full week, so I chose Silent Light, which did 2 weeks at Film Forum in January. Whatever. They’re both masterpieces.