In this special edition of The Fabulous Picture Show, we look back at the year in cinema. It was a year in which 3D glasses became the must-have fashion accessory, a lady director took home the big Oscar, and some of the most entertaining films of the year were documentaries.

The year 2010 was indeed the year of the documentary. There were probably more great documentaries released in the past year than great non-documentaries – and the variety of subjects and styles was astounding.   

Amanda Palmer, Al Jazeera's head of entertainment, is joined by Xan Brooks, the film writer for the Guardian, and documentarian Beadie Finzi to discuss the state of the art 2010.

Engaged Cinema

It was not a particularly stellar year for narrative cinema that engaged us on a political, cultural or artistic level, but there were a handful of films that aspired to more than simple entertainment.

We look at films as disparate as The Social Network, Four Lions, Green Zone, The Book of Eli, The Road, and more, and try to sniff out the present state of engaged cinema.

Hidden Gems

Amanda Palmer looks back at cinematic winners, losers, and trends of the year 2010

We uncover some hidden gems, such as the grimy, offbeat little French comedy Mammuth – a Gerard Depardieu vehicle in more than one sense of the word; Blank City, a documentary about New York's mostly forgotten No Wave and Cinema of Transgression movements of the 1970s and '80s; and Another Year, a much-respected but not widely embraced new film by Britain's Mike Leigh.

This last film may have been far from obscure, but its not-particularly-grabby premise – a loved-up middle-aged couple and their loser friends – disguises a cinematic experience of great empathy and humour.

Year of the Documentary

It was a landmark year for the documentary, and we try and answer the key questions: 1) Why now? and 2) Can you please elaborate?

For one thing, the long-standing tradition of objectivity – or at least the illusion of objectivity – manifested in the cinema verite (truthful cinema) movement has given way to a more subjective approach to the documentary.

Exciting new films have questioned the form itself (Exit Through The Gift Shop), deviated from the purity of "real life" (The Arbour), injected dramatic tension and storylines (The Cove), brazenly signalled their activist intent (The Age of Stupid), allowed ambiguity to creep in around the margins (Catfish), and even indulged in outright fakery (I'm Still Here).

This episode of The Fabulous Picture Show can be seen from Thursday, 23 December 2010, at the following times GMT: Thursday: 0630; Saturday: 0830, 1630; Sunday: 0130, 1230, 2330; Tuesday: 1930; Wednesday: 0030, 0730.

Source: Al Jazeera