It's not quite the Academy Awards, but it is time to reveal our humble little list of what CT's film critics deemed the best movies of 2009.

Last week we featured our 10 Most Redeeming Films of 2009. The "redeeming" list speaks for itself—films that included a redemptive element, sometimes blatant, sometimes more subtle, but always there.

Our Critics' Choice list consists of the 10 films that our panel believes were the most excellent films of 2009, whether they carried a redeeming message or not—though our top four choices are also on our Most Redeeming list. But all of the movies here are films of excellence, and many are up for various honors at the upcoming Academy Awards.

We also let each of our voters choose "One That Got Away"—a single film they wish had made the final list. Think of those extra films as sort of our "honorable mentions."

1. The Hurt Locker

directed by Kathryn Bigelow
The Hurt Locker is not so much a "war movie" as it is a movie about those who go to war. This character study looks at how the hell of war affects and even attracts those involved. Beautifully acted, written, shot and directed, this film goes beyond politics to show various aspects of the human condition.—Todd Hertz

2. Up

directed by Pete Docter
More than just another computer-generated cartoon, Up is a family-friendly fantasy that adults can love. Combining the whimsy of a Miyazaki feature with Pixar's acclaimed track record for storytelling, the film is brimming with humor and heart, resonating more deeply in a silent five-minute montage than most movies do in their entirety.—Russ Breimeier

3. The Road

directed by John Hillcoat Less is more in this moving and terrifying tale of a father and son on a post-apocalyptic ...

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