The best (and worst) films of 2011: David Fear's picks

Michael Fassbender lets it all hang out (and then some).



The best

1. Shame
Steve McQueen burrows into the battered psyche of an NYC sex addict (a peerless Michael Fassbender) and emerges with a masterpiece. Unsparing, brutal, essential.

2. A Separation
It starts with a marriage unraveling; by the time this flawless drama ends, every aspect of modern Iranian society has been dissected with the deftest of touches.

3. Tuesday, After Christmas
Think Romania's New Wave has crested? Check out Radu Muntean's tale of high infidelity, with a single-shot centerpiece that's a virtual screen-acting clinic.

4. Moneyball
The world's biggest movie star (they call him Mr. Pitt!) turns an unfilmable book about baseball stats into an insta-classic about human potential and the American Dream.

5. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
Thai cinema's Apichatpong Weerasethakul dives headfirst into the mystic with this surreal meditation on life, death and sexually active catfish.

6. Cold Weather
Siblings bond while tracking down a missing friend, and Aaron Katz's beautifully skewed riff on detective stories proves he's the mumblecore alum to keep an eye on.

7. Incendies
Vaulting himself to the top tier of Canadian filmmakers not named Cronenberg, Denis Villeneuve delivers one hell of an emotional wallop with this devastating family drama.

8. Senna
The fast-lane life and sudden death of racing champ Ayrton Senna blurs the lines between his professional career and personal philosophy with astounding poise.

9. The Trip
Comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon go on an improvised restaurant tour, leaving male sourness and Michael Caine impersonations in their wake. 

10. My Joy
Former documentarian Sergei Loznitsa's scorched-earth Candide welcomes you to a Russia that's rotten to the core.

The next ten...

The worst

Dream House
Et tu, Jim Sheridan? The Irish director's muddled, cobbled-together attempt at a horror film wastes the talents of Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz—and our time.

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