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by Bryce J. Renninger
December 16, 2011 4:31 PM
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"Tree of Life" Tops Film Comment's End-of-Year Poll

Film Comment has announced its critics' list of the year's best films.  From a list of critics including Roger Ebert, David Edelstein, Todd McCarthy, and Amy Taubin, Film Comment has compiled a list of the year's best films.  Terrence Malick's "Tree of Life" topped the list of best films released in 2011, while "This is Not a Film" by Iranian filmmakers Jafar Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb were named best unreleased film of 2011.  

The complete list of fifty films released in 2011 and fifty unreleased films from 2011 are below.

Indiewire will release our own list of the year's best films with our Criticwire end-of-year poll next week.

RELEASED 2011

1. TREE OF LIFE, Director: Terrence Malick
2. UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES, Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul
3. MELANCHOLIA, Director: Lars von Trier
4. A SEPARATION, Director: Asghar Farhadi
5. A DANGEROUS METHOD, Director: David Cronenberg
6. MYSTERIES OF LISBON, Director: Raúl Ruiz
7. CERTIFIED COPY, Director: Abbas Kiarostami
8. MEEK’S CUTOFF, Director: Kelly Reichardt
9. HUGO, Director: Martin Scorsese
10. POETRY, Director: Lee Chang-dong
11. FILM SOCIALISME, Director: Jean-Luc Godard
12. LE HAVRE, Director: Aki Kaurismäki
13. THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF NICOLAE CEAUSESCU, Director: Andrei Ujica
14. LE QUATTRO VOLTE, Director: Michelangelo Frammartino
15. THE DESCENDANTS, Director: Alexander Payne
16. NOSTALGIA FOR THE LIGHT, Director: Patricio Guzmán
17. A BRIGHTER SUMMER DAY, Director:
Edward Yang
18. MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, Director: Woody Allen
19. TAKE SHELTER, Director: Jeff Nichols
20. MARGARET, Director: Kenneth Lonergan
21. SHAME, Director: Steve McQueen
22. DRIVE, Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
23. CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS, Director: Werner Herzog
24. TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY, Director: Tomas Alfredson
25. TO DIE LIKE A MAN, Director: João Pedro Rodrigues
26. THE INTERRUPTERS, Director: Steve James
27. THE ARTIST, Director: Michel Hazanavicius
28. TUESDAY, AFTER CHRISTMAS, Director: Radu Muntean
29. AURORA, Director: Cristi Puiu
30. WEEKEND, Director: Andrew Haigh
31. THE SKIN I LIVE IN, Director: Pedro Almodóvar
32. CITY OF LIFE AND DEATH, Director: Lu Chuan
33. CONTAGION, Director: Steven Soderbergh
34. OF GODS AND MEN, Director: Xavier Beauvois
35. MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE, Director: Sean Durkin
36. BRIDESMAIDS, Director: Paul Feig
37. THE TRIP, Director: Michael Winterbottom
38. MONEYBALL, Director: Bennett Miller
39. THE ARBOR, Director: Clio Barnard
40. THE FUTURE, Director: Miranda July
41. INCENDIES, Director: Denis Villeneuve
42. SUPER 8, Director: J.J. Abrams
43. UNITED RED ARMY, Director: Koji Wakamatsu
44. ROAD TO NOWHERE, Director: Monte Hellman
45. TABLOID, Director: Errol Morris
46. RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, Director: Rupert Wyatt
47. TERRI, Director: Azazel Jacobs
48. J. EDGAR, Director: Clint Eastwood
49. JANE EYRE, Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga
50. PINA, Director: Wim Wenders


UNRELEASED 2011


1. THIS IS NOT A FILM, Director: Jafar Panahi, Mojtaba Mirtahmasb
2. THE TURIN HORSE, Director: Béla Tarr
3. ONCE UPON A TIME IN ANATOLIA, Director: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
4. THE KID WITH A BIKE, Director: Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne
5. THE LONELIEST PLANET, Director: Julia Loktev
6. MISS BALA, Director: Gerardo Naranjo
7. FOOTNOTE, Director: Joseph Cedar
8. KILL LIST, Director: Ben Wheatley
9. SLEEPING SICKNESS, Director: Ulrich Koehler
10. PLAY, Director: Rüben Ostlund
11.POLICEMAN, Director: Nadav Lapid
12. THE COLOR WHEEL, Director: Alex Ross Perry
13. TWO YEARS AT SEA, Director: Ben Rivers
14. ALPS, Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
15. GOODBYE FIRST LOVE, Director: Mia Hansen-Løve
16. 4:44 LAST DAY ON EARTH, Director: Abel Ferrara
17. DREILEBAN, Director: Christoph Hochhäusler, Christian Petzold & Dominik Graf
18. THE RETURN, Director: Nathaniel Dorsky
19. THE DEEP BLUE SEA, Director: Terence Davies
20. WUTHERING HEIGHTS, Director: Andrea Arnold
21. CORPO CELESTE, Director: Alice Rohrwacher
22. OSLO, AUGUST 31ST, Director: Joachim Trier
23. THE STUDENT, Director: Santiago Mitre
24. ATTENBERG, Director: Athena Rachel Tsangari
25. ELENA, Director: Andrei Zvyagintsev
26. YOU ARE NOT I, Director: Sara Driver
27. WORDS OF MERCURY, Director: Jerome Hiler
28. CRAZY HORSE, Director: Frederick Wiseman
29. FAUST, Director: Alexander Sokurov
30. SEEKING THE MONKEY KING, Director: Ken Jacobs
31. DISORDER, Director: Huang Weikei
32. PSYCHOHYDROGRAPHY, Director: Peter Bo Rappmund
33. PATIENCE (AFTER SEBALD), Director: Grant Gee
34. GREEN, Director: Sophia Takal
35. WE CAN’T GO HOME AGAIN, Director: Nicholas Ray
36. KILLER JOE, Director: William Friedkin
37. DAMSELS IN DISTRESS, Director: Whit Stillman
38. SLOW ACTION, Director: Ben Rivers
39. BONSAI, Director: Cristian Jimenez
40. MICHAEL, Director: Markus Schleinzer
41. A SIMPLE LIFE, Director: Ann Hui
42. TAKE THIS WALTZ, Director: Sarah Polley
43. HORS SATAN, Director: Bruno Dumont
44. DARK HORSE, Director: Todd Solondz
45. CURLING, Director: Denis Côté
46. ALMAYER’S FOLLY, Director: Chantal Akerman
47. 20 CIGARETTES, Director: James Benning
48. POLISSE, Director: Maïwenn
49. WITHOUT, Director: Mark Jackson
50. THE INNKEEPERS, Director: Ti West

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13 Comments

  • vamin | January 25, 2012 5:20 AMReply

    Shame was great movie one of the best i have watched in 2011 you can Download shame movie on:http://www.access-movies.com/shame/283/

  • kane | January 25, 2012 5:17 AMReply

    recently i watch shame online it was the best movie released in 2011 because the movie is based on a diffenrent kind of Theme

  • Chris | December 18, 2011 12:25 AMReply

    Glad to see The Artist put in its rightful place. Disappointed with the Oscars in these past few years, where BP's consistently gone to the "very good but clearly not the best though it made everyone feel fuzzy inside" film (King's Speech, Hurt Locker, etc.)

    I've gotten over Another Earth being vastly underappreciated by now, but I'm glad to see Melancholia's up there. Tree of Life is always going to be polarized with the common masses, but for those knowledgeable there's hardly any doubt.

  • James S. | December 19, 2011 9:28 PM

    A movie put in its "rightful place," as if it were a living, breathing entity capable of making decisions? The "common masses?" "Those in the know?" Wow, Chris. I have to say, I thought up until this moment that I was an insufferable film snob, but you've proven how very wrong I've been. People like you do nothing but perpetuate the stereotype of the pretentious serious filmgoer.

  • MattL | December 18, 2011 12:16 AMReply

    Great list of films.
    But I have to note that The Artist shows up at #27. How again did it win the NY film critics' award - where many of these Film Comment critics reside?

  • klf | December 17, 2011 4:02 PMReply

    I still have mixed feelings about "The Tree of Life," but in general, an excellent selection of films. I'm surprised "A Brighter Summer Day" didn't officially 'open' in the U.S. until this year. I won't argue against its inclusion - it was arguably the best film of the '90s (having opened overseas in 1991), and it's terribly unfortunate that the complete version remains unavailable on home video, even with the recent restoration making the rounds.

  • Mark Esposito | December 16, 2011 10:39 PMReply

    These are film critics? An idiot could tell you that The Tree of Life is pretentious bilge, garbage really. Maybe some of these so-called critics should go back to school to learn some simple basics that a film should have - like a story and coherency.

  • James S. | December 19, 2011 9:32 PM

    Mark, please see my comment to Chris above. Is this the kind of audience Indiewire attracts? Jesus. How sorry am I that I clicked the link to this page.

  • MattL | December 18, 2011 12:12 AM

    You mean business school that fronts for a film school? There is absolutely no reason a film needs to have a traditional plot structure and story. That said, Tree of Life actually does have a story. It certainly is coherent and pretty easy to follow. So I am not sure what you are getting at.

  • bob hawk | December 17, 2011 2:13 AM

    I don't think an idiot would have either "pretentious" or "bilge" in its vocabulary. As to "some simple basics that a film should have" -- well, tell that to Maya Deren or Stan Brakhage (may they rest in peace) or some folk still living and breathing like Ken Jacobs, Barbara Hammer, Su Friedrich, James Benning or Nick Dorsky (all storytellers in their their singular way).

    As for coherence -- yes, Malick pushes the envelope of narrative by using certain tropes that might be called "avant garde" or "experimental." My own experience in the viewing was an emotional and visceral coherence. It propelled me right back to my childhood and pre-pubesence in the Forties/early Fifties. I found it extremely evocative -- to the point where I could SMELL it.

    To call this elegantly and painstakingly crafted film "garbage" is to connote some degree of film illiteracy (if not outright idiocy) in and of itself.

    But where IS "We Need to Talk About Kevin"??? (as well as "Margin Call" and "Warrior") And talk about incoherency -- how could "J. Edgar" have made this list, with its hopelessly muddled first hour?

  • sandun perera | December 16, 2011 9:42 PMReply

    waw....."The Color Wheel" so amazing. I am very interesting on this article. Thank you for the posting of this article. :)

  • Baxter Stockman | December 16, 2011 5:47 PMReply

    "The Color Wheel" was awful. It shouldn't even be talked about anymore (whoops) but ahead of Alps and Attenberg and FAUST? Lets all quit.

  • jess | December 16, 2011 5:40 PMReply

    where is We need to talk about Kevin??? where the hell is it? just saw it in LA and it's way better than a lot of those on the list.