Throughout December, Ben Sachs and I will take turns writing about our ten favorite films that had their Chicago premieres this year.

One of the more interesting developments of the last couple years has been watching the latest batch of indie filmmakers reach—well, not exactly the mainstream, but maybe the shores of the mainstream. Jay and Mark Duplass (The Puffy Chair, Baghead) have ventured farthest into the water, hooking up with Fox Searchlight to distribute the wonderful Cyrus (2010) and Paramount Vantage to distribute the less-than-wonderful Jeff, Who Lives at Home (which screened at this year’s Chicago International Film Festival and opens for a commercial run in March). Lynn Shelton graduated from the no-name cast of Humpday to Emily Blunt and Rosemarie DeWitt for the still-unreleased Your Sister’s Sister. And Azazel Jacobs, writer and director of such funky low-budget fare as The GoodTimesKid (2005) and Momma’s Man (2008), managed to land John C. Reilly for the role of the offbeat assistant principal in Terri.