The Tree of Life

Ellie Kemper, Oscar hopeful Melissa McCarthy, and Wendi McLendon-Covey in BRIDESMAIDS

The Academy Awards are commonly referred to as the gay Super Bowl, and for good reason: they each represent the culmination of months of grueling, bone-crunching competition, tend to feature misguided musical numbers, and are ultimately about impossibly wealthy people fighting over trophies while the rest of us cheer from the breadlines. In short: it’s the best thing that happens all year. My post-Oscar depression is far more devastating than even the worst case of post-Christmas blues. Such emptiness. The nominations for this year’s 84th Academy Awards will be announced in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, January 24. After the jump, check out my picks for what should be nominated and what we’re likely to read about on Tuesday.

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Welcome to our list of the best films of 2011! I’m Jason LeRoy, the film editor of this fine website, and I’ll be your guide to the most excellent cinema this year had to offer. I have to say, this is a pretty exciting moment for me. While I’ve been writing about film in one form or another since 1995, 2011 is the first year I’ve managed to see just about everything. It is with no small amount of consideration (or afternoons and evenings spent slumped over in theaters around town) that I’ve compiled this list. So look after the jump for my top 10 films of the year, some honorable mentions, and a handful of staff-pick rebuttals for Best Film of 2011. And especially since this year was uncommonly lacking in unifying critical favorites, please leave your own picks in the comments below.

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starring: Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain, Sean Penn, Hunter McCracken, Laramie Eppler, Tye Sheridan, Fiona Shaw

written and directed by: Terrence Malick

MPAA: Rated PG-13 for some thematic material.

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