The L Magazine's 2011 Film Poll 

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6. Nostalgia for the Light (Patricio Guzmán)
Guzmán's voyage to the driest place on earth yields a good hard look at the stars; at 10,000 feet, from Chile's Atacama Desert come some of the crispest images of galaxy boundaries ever witnessed. But the filmmaker refuses to disregard their relationship—taken from observatories built on the same soil used by Chile's military dictatorship for mass murder and burial of "disappeared" dissidents—to an altogether different "bigger equation." Guzmán's dogged investigation of memory as a conscious choice is open-handed and humanist, finely attuned to the compromises, paradoxes and hardship inherent in overcoming his national trauma. Steve Macfarlane

7. Meek's Cutoff (Kelly Reichardt)
The Western is a genre about America imposing itself on wide open empty spaces. Reichardt's revision is about the land imposing itself on the people: her would-be pioneers get turned around in endless flat vistas—not a trail, but the Great Plains as open plan, stretching out in all directions—as entrenched power dynamics invert. The open-ended last shot is a ravishing invitation into the unknown. Asch

8. A Dangerous Method (David Cronenberg)
Although you don't see his cock this time, Michael Fassbender's take on Carl Jung stands tallest above a year of fierce performances, as he alternately fumbles and bluffs his way through a love affair with Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley)—his first patient. Badly disguised as an experiment in psychoanalysis, it leaves both Jung and the viewer with more questions than answers; the opposite of the game plan. Lurking behind every stiff-shirt formality and stagey intonation is Cronenberg—recognizing that whatever demons he could be visualizing, the mind can always create more. Macfarlane

9. The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu (Andrei Ujica)
A three-hour assemblage of raw power: the official film and video record of the Romanian autocrat, along with anyway its outtakes, so that garish demonstrations of great manhood and Communist might keep running, without soundtrack embellishment, through interstitial spaces alternately bland (bakers at a Potemkin market, late in the Cold War, waiting around for their photo op) and comical (that volleyball game!). Eastern Bloc depravations are one "structuring absence," to borrow a frequent term, but there's another: as the footage spans grainy newsreel to oversaturated "home movies" back to grainy videography (and the unusually pure twinning of world history with current media fashion is its own treat), Ujica, with his every decision to cut, let it run, or attempt his own (largely unremarked-upon) montages, makes a choice about what to do with the unrefined ore of the historical record, and makes you remember some sad little man in a dim subbasement editing suite, forced to cut it all together differently. Asch

10. Cold Weather (Aaron Katz)
The deadly earnest self-mocking geekout fantasies of the Pegg-Wright-Frost school are one response of the ever-more self-aware nth generation to grow up with the movies; Katz's low-key, resourceful amateur detective story is another. It's a movie about gracefully finding a way to be like the person you once dreamed of becoming when you grew up: Sherlock Holmes fan Doug (Cris Lankenau) plays sleuth; sister Gail, who ran track in high school, sprints off glamorously with a key piece of evidence, and Katz gets to be a genre filmmaker. When I interviewed him, he reflected of one puzzle piece: "I'm proud of that clue." Asch

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