The best (and worst) films of 2011: Keith Uhlich's picks

A heady romance by an Iranian auteur takes the gold.



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The best

1. Certified Copy
Iranian auteur Abbas Kiarostami has created his fair share of masterpieces, but this blithe romance about emotional gamesmanship tops them all. Clear space in the canon.

2. Margaret
Kenneth Lonergan's brilliantly raw feature about a grieving Manhattan teen took nearly six years to get released. His primal-scream character study was more than worth the wait.

3. The Tree of Life
Terrence Malick tackles life, the universe and everything with his semiautobiographical, eras-spanning, dinosaur-featuring opus. It may be the best thing he's ever done.

4. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
A classic spy novel gets a visually stunning adaptation with a stellar cast—especially Gary Oldman as meticulous MI6 operative George Smiley.

5. Psychohydrography
You've never seen images quite like the ones in Peter Bo Rappmund's exhilarating experimental feature about the Los Angeles aqueduct system. Talk about a natural high!

6. Take Shelter
Michael Shannon astounds as a family man plagued by apocalyptic visions in writer-director Jeff Nichols's mind-bending follow-up to 2007's Shotgun Stories.

7. To Die Like a Man
A pre-op transsexual takes a fanciful, often deliciously campy journey to death in this quiet heartbreaker from Portugal's Joo Pedro Rodrigues.

8. Poetry
Beloved Korean actor Yun Jeong-hie is sheer perfection as an elderly woman dealing with tragedy through art.

9. Agrarian Utopia
This mesmeric Thai docudrama contrasts one of the country's most verdant regions with the day-to-day toil of farmers trying to make ends meet. 

10. Sucker Punch
This excessive digi-satire spits in the face of fanboys-'n'-their-franchises. Its tag line was correct: We were unprepared...for a good Zack Snyder movie.

The next ten...

The worst

The Son of No One
How do you fuck up a policier filmed in authentically seedy NYC locales and featuring high talents like Al Pacino and Juliette Binoche? Here's Exhibit A.

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