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Our film critics are not on Pixar's payroll. Nor are they getting any under-the-table perks from the animation studio. There's a much less sinister reason that a Pixar movie—in this case, Toy Story 3—tops our Most Redeeming Films list for the third consecutive year: We think their movies rock.

It's not just the astonishingly good animation. It's the phenomenal storytelling, the depth of character development, the keen insight into the human condition—even from the perspective of plastic playthings. One of our critics confesses that he cried at the end of TS3 all three times he watched it—and will likely do so the next three times. That's what Pixar films do to us.

As for what makes Woody and Buzz's final adventure so redeeming, there's plenty: The usual themes of love and loyalty run loud and clear. Toys though they may be, the friends are willing to risk their lives for one another. And their owner, Andy, now college-bound, isn't about to relegate his old playtime buddies to a box in the attic, never to be played with again—or at least for decades. Instead, he takes a selfless step in the end, giving Woody and Buzz and the rest a new lease on life—a rebirth, so to speak. It's no surprise that many of the creative types at Pixar are Christians, as they churn out soul-stirring stories year after year. (For the record, Up topped our Most Redeeming list in 2009, as did Wall-E in 2008.)

Our Most Redeeming Films of 2010 list below is precisely that—the year's best movies that include stories of redemption. Several of the films feature characters who are redeemers themselves; all have characters who experience redemption to some degree. Some are feel-good flicks; others, a little less so. Several of the films are rated R and PG-13 and are not intended for young viewers, so please use discretion. But in all of these films, redemption is certainly one of the main characters.

The Most Redeeming Films of 2010


1. Toy Story 3

Directed by Lee Unkrich
(Disney / Pixar) | Rated G


2. The King's Speech

Directed by Tom Hooper
(Weinstein) | Rated R


3. Get Low

Directed by Aaron Schneider
(Sony Pictures Classics) | Rated PG-13


4. True Grit

Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen
(Paramount) | Rated PG-13


5. Winter's Bone

Directed by Debra Granik
(Roadside Attractions) | Rated R


6. Despicable Me

Directed by Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud
(Universal) | Rated PG


7. Tangled

Directed by Nathan Greno and Byron Howard
(Disney) | Rated PG


8. The Fighter

Directed by David O. Russell
(Paramount) | Rated R


9. Letters to Father Jacob

Directed by Klaus Härö
(Olive Films) | Not Rated


10. Like Dandelion Dust

Directed by Jon Gunn
(Blue Collar Releasing) | Rated PG-13


Honorable mention:

Babies, Biutiful, The Book of Eli, How to Train Your Dragon, Please Give, Rabbit Hole, The Secret of Kells, Waiting for Superman

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The Most Redeeming Films of 2010