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The Film Issue

Looking back on the year in movies, and what's coming in 2012.

MILDRED PIERCE

Todd Haynes, U.S.

The most academic yet mass-culture-minded of U.S. indie directors, Haynes made a characteristically sidelong move toward the mainstream by treating James M. Cain's novel as epic domestic drama with intimations of historical tragedy. Haynes's HBO miniseries saga of unrequited star worship, terminal class envy, failed self-empowerment and self-immolating smother love is less a narrative than a fastidiously designed, endlessly resonant world that, harking back to Hollywood's last golden age, might have appeared in the disillusioned days of The Godfather or Chinatown.

Take Shelter: tough to sit through, but worth it.
© 2011 - Sony Pictures Classics
Take Shelter: tough to sit through, but worth it.
Anna Paquin gives the performance of the year in Margaret.
© 2011 - Fox Searchlight
Anna Paquin gives the performance of the year in Margaret.

A dozen runners-up: Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame, Certified Copy, Film Socialisme, Le Havre, Martha Marcy May Marlene, Meek's Cutoff, Le Quattro Volte, Octubre, Super 8, Terri, Tuesday, After Christmas and Young Adult.

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