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YEAR IN FILM: Guardian movie critics unveil their favorite flicks from the year that was

Michel Hazanavicius' The Artist made Dennis Harvey's 2011 short list.

Who wants their heart broken? A man confronts the death of his father and realizes his romantic choices might be leading him to no man's land. Gulp. (3)

9. Heartbeats (Xavier Dolan, Canada)

This 22-year-old writer-director-star's mash-up of My Own Private Idaho (1991) and In the Mood for Love (1999) captures our era's hipster insecurities so flawlessly that it'll take a decade for people to recognize how important this film actually is. (3)

10. The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius, France/Belgium)
This accessible masterpiece proves silent movies are futuristic! Perfect for the whole family and part of the second Golden Age for cinema from the 1920s.

11. The Beaver (Jodie Foster, U.S./United Arab Emirates)
I don't care what he does offscreen, Mel Gibson is a damn fine actor! And Jodie Foster's dark and deeply personal directing deserves the mensch of the year award!

12. (tie) Take Shelter (Jeff Nichols, U.S.)

Michael Shannon's performance (as a father who will stop at nothing to "protect" his family) is creepy. Nichols' ending is even creepier.

12. (tie) Melancholia (Lars von Trier, Denmark/Sweden/France/Germany)

Von Trier's "nicest" film is genuine therapy for a neurotic soul.

13. One Day (Lone Scherfig, U.S./U.K.)

Stop telling me the book was so much better! With a Same Time, Next Year (1978) structure, this film's deep emotions (courtesy of Anne Hathaway) shook me to the core.

14. Certified Copy (Abbas Kiarostami, France/Italy/Belgium)

This unofficial remake of Roberto Rossellini's Journey to Italy (1954) still kept me guessing; it also features another jaw-dropping performance by Juliette Binoche.

15. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, U.S.)

This audacious exploration of a 1950s family is absolutely universal and profound. (2)

16. Tyrannosaur (Paddy Considine, U.K.)

Who wants their stomach punched, ripped open, torn out, and then presented to you? Then check out this love story.

17. (tie) Hugo (Martin Scorsese, U.S.)

Who says 3D isn't art? Did studios really allow Scorsese to show multiple Georges Méliès' films in 3D? Plus, Sacha Baron Cohen gives a truly Oscar-worthy supporting performance.

17. (tie) Drive Angry (Patrick Lussier, U.S.)

Lussier, director of 2009's absolutely brilliant My Bloody Valentine remake, facilitated a priceless Nicolas Cage performance — he drinks from a freakin' human skull, in 3D — but keeps things so frenetic, I had to sit in the theater for a second viewing as soon as it was over! (2)

17. (tie) Final Destination 5 (Steven Quale, U.S.)

In which the entire franchise of entitled 20-somethings dying gruesome deaths comes full circle by concluding with every single grisly death from all five films in glorious 3D.

18. The Mill and the Cross (Lech Majewski, Sweden/Poland)

Rutger Hauer + 143 Digital layers = monumental experimental art for the ages!

19. Rakhta Charitra and Rakhta Charitra 2 (Ram Gopal Varma, India)

Ram Gopal Varma's films should compete at Cannes. (2)

20. Bill Cunningham New York (Richard Press, U.S./France)

This doc's inspiring message: do what you love every day of your life, and don't ever slow down.


Actor of the Year: Andy Serkis (Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The Adventures of Tintin)

Actress of the Year: Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids)

Best Future Midnite Movie: The Catechism Cataclysm (Todd Rohal, U.S.)

Shot in less than a week, this abstract, train of thought buddy road trip has the immediacy of sheer brilliance!

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