Top Films of 2011

A Dangerous Method, Aurora, and more

Koji Wakamatsu, Japan

The veteran Japanese pulp artist makes a new sort of horror movie—a grueling, engrossing three-hour account of Japan's insanely ideological New Left that faces the void with the prolonged, increasingly violent, ever more self-critical group sessions, staged in near-darkness and shown in close-up, wherein the clandestine Red Army tore itself apart.


Christian Marclay, U.K.

Fox Searchlight
 A Dangerous Method
Sony Pictures Classics
A Dangerous Method

One of the most radical film-objects of the 21st century, Marclay's 24-hour found-footage assemblage—which screened in Boston, Los Angeles, and New York this year—was not only a surprise art-world blockbuster but also, by making an overt spectacle out of time passing, reiterated Andrei Tarkovsky's assertion that cinema is essentially a form of temporal sculpture.


Todd Haynes, U.S.

The most academic yet mass-culture-minded of U.S. indie directors, Haynes made a characteristically sidelong move toward the mainstream by treating James M. Cain's novel as epic domestic drama with intimations of historical tragedy. Haynes's HBO miniseries saga of unrequited star worship, terminal class envy, failed self-empowerment, and self-immolating smother love is less a narrative than a fastidiously designed, endlessly resonant world that, harking back to Hollywood's last golden age, might have appeared in the disillusioned days of The Godfather or Chinatown.

A dozen runners-up: Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame, Certified Copy, Film Socialisme, Le Havre, Martha Marcy May Marlene, Meek's Cutoff , Le Quattro Volte, Octubre, Super 8, Terri, Tuesday, After Christmas, and Young Adult.

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