I didn't see all the movies I wanted this year but the last two I watched were easily the best.
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days
This is a Romanian film set there under the communist rule of 1987. The story concerns a woman trying to help her friend get an abortion, something that was punishable by jail time. The gripping realism of this movie is not for everyone. It's attention to detail is emotional and disturbing. The entire film takes place in the hallways and rooms of Romanian block housing. The cinematography is phenomenal. Incredible acting. The exellent use of natural light and letting the screen fall dark at times as we follow people through apartment hallways lends a disturbing atmosphere to an already very heavy film. If you are willing to go there, this is film art that will hit you hard.
There Will be Blood
The poster says "where ambition meets faith, there will be blood," which is an exellent description of the story. Daniel Day-Lewis plays Daniel Plainview, a hardened oil prospector at the turn of the century. He finds an enemy in an evangelical preacher that has his church on oil land that Plainview wants. The film details the rise and fall of these men. Warren thought it was a major comment on the idiocy and greediness of religion and big business. I saw it as a more personal story, but upon second thought, he must be right. The production design, sets, lighting, and camera work are very well done. Johnny Greenwood of Radiohead turns in an amazingly far out, intense and trippy score that feels like another character in the film. It sounds almost Eraserhead-ish at times. I recommend seeing it on the big screen if you can.