Sight & Sound Picks ‘Tree of Life’ Best Film of 2011

Tim Grierson
The Projector
Image icon
Image icon

You're probably still recovering from Thanksgiving and obsessively checking out Cyber Monday deals, but the world of cinema never sleeps! More specifically, the season of critics' awards is moving ahead full steam. This week is when it all gets started, with the New York Film Critics Circle announcing their winners tomorrow, and the National Board of Review revealing their picks Thursday. In the meantime, Sight & Sound, the highly-regarded British film publication, has just unveiled the winner of their annual poll for the year's best films: It's "The Tree of Life." We don't think this is the last time you'll hear that movie associated with a critics' award.

Sight & Sound hasn't revealed the full results of their poll, which brings together a sizable collection of critics from the U.K. and elsewhere, but on Friday they announced on Twitter that Terrence Malick's film won "by a country mile." The poll issue will hit newsstands tomorrow, but S&S also revealed that "A Separation," director Asghar Farhadi's festival-favorite drama about an estranged married couple that is Iran's entry for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, was No. 2. (It hits the U.S. at the very end of the year.)

Although Sight & Sound and its annual poll are known for favoring world cinema, this is the second straight year that an American film has topped the poll: "The Social Network" beat out "Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives" in 2010. Of course, Malick's poetic film about family, God, existence and dinosaurs is hardly your typical American movie. As divisive as it's been since its premiere at Cannes, "The Tree of Life" has its very passionate supporters, which will probably translate into lots of notice when critics' Top 10 lists start showing up between now and late December. But don't be surprised if the film also makes some folks' 10 Worst lists: It's that type of movie.