The Year in Film: Film Poll Voter Comments

Critics elaborate on their votes, their favorite movie moments of the year and OK OK WE GET IT YOU LIKE MARGARET

Another overlooked gem that barely gained any recognition during its measly release, and only now seems to have developed a slow-building cult following: Kenneth Lonergan's Margaret. I stand by the assertion that this not-quite-completed work is the director's Magnificent Ambersons, a masterful sophomore effort held down by studio pressure that has kept the director's cut from seeing the light of day (yet). It's a fragmented experience mainly anchored by Anna Paquin's impressive turn as a scowling, confused young woman, but remains one of the most unnerving evocations of teen angst since Thirteen. — Eric Kohn

The Tree of Life will probably win critics' "most audacious American film" award, though only because hardly anyone's seen Margaret. By doing for Upper West Side precociousness what Gena Rowlands did in A Woman Under the Influence—that is, make 19 different nervous breakdowns communicate distinctly—Paquin's performance reflects an impressive number of post-9/11 angst-modes: self-pity, righteous (if misguided) indignance, and even a touch of honest world-weariness. And unlike Malick, Lonergan actually sticks his ending, too. —Seth Colter Walls

Anyone notice yet that the whole #teammargaret campaign ends just like the movie itself: two people in a theater, hugging and crying? —Joshua Rothkopf




Critic's Poll Results

10 For 2012

J. Hoberman's Personal Best
His 10 favorite of the year, plus 2

Handicapping the Poll
Sure, The Tree of Life won, but did it really win?

The Old Men and 3-D
Transcending the gimmick in 2011

Team Margaret
The best movie of the year (that you haven't been able to see). And 9 more picks.

People of the Year
Or: The Netflix meltdown, the resurrection of Harvey Weinstein, and Kristen Wiig's box office coup all in one list

Film Poll Voter Comments
Critics elaborate on their votes, their favorite movie moments of the year and OK OK WE GET IT YOU LIKE MARGARET

Movie Moments

Viewing memories, 2011: Kirsten Dunst’s Justine watching with deathly calm as her sister makes a frantic attempt to escape planetary doom by car in Melancholia; Ellen Page’s psychotic Tasmanian devil getting an overdue reality check in Super; Jessica Chastain dancing on air in The Tree of Life and facing the tide in Take Shelter; every minute of the hypnotic tilt-shift cinematography of Bellflower; Vera Farmiga lighting up a jazz cigarette in Henry’s Crime; an ex-con confessing to the community activists of The Interrupters that he’d like to return to prison, where life is less boring; Ron Perlman head-butting a demon in Season of the Witch; Paul Bettany’s empty suit totting up his hooker expenses for the last fiscal year in Margin Call; The Arbor’s youngest daughter/abuse survivor recalling bad times in her musical Yorkshire brogue: “That were mad, that were.” —Ryan Stewart

A year of matching sets and mirror images: the phantom planets of Another Earth and Melancholia; repelled suburban invasions of Attack the Block and Super 8; fogey-ish auteurs trying to live on the technological cutting edge in Hugo and Tintin (to say nothing of Francis Ford Coppola's endearingly batshit, intermittently 3-D Twixt, which is the film of a free man). Still, there were singular sensations on offer, from the opium-tinged camera drifts of Bertrand Bonello's House of Pleasures (a much better film than Julia Leigh's similarly themed and more hyped bordello fantasy Sleeping Beauty) to the anxious widescreen vistas of Jeff Nichols' Take Shelter (a superior take on personal apocalypse to Lars von Trier's) to the slipstream rhythms and shimmering beauty of Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life (wounded plesiosaurs and all). Best of all were the verdant night-scapes and gently materializing apparitions of Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, a film without a twin in sight—although Attack the Block's neon-fanged gorilla-wolf motherfuckers looked, in the dark, like close cousins to Apichatpong's soulful glowing-eyed monkey men. —Adam Nayman

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