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Critics' picks: The best and worst films of 2011

The Globe's film critics, Liam Lacey and Rick Groen, pick their favourite films and the ones that disappointed them the most

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LIAM LACEY'S FAVOURITE: HUGO The perfect is the enemy of the great, and no doubt, Martin Scorsese's film Hugo is not perfect. However, no film this year transported me quite as much as this tribute from a modern master filmmaker and innovator to one of the pioneers of cinema, the former magician turned film fantasist, Georges Méliès (A Trip to the Moon). Yes, the children's story is a little drawn out, the comic chase scenes a bit repetitive and the Sacha Baron Cohen performance too broad, but what could be better than Scorsese's recreation, in 3-D, of the astonishing moment when the Lumière brothers showed the Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat, and the cinema audience leaped in fear at the filmed image of the train hurtling toward them.


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RICK GROEN'S FAVOURITE: THE ARTIST I love the sheer effervescence of Michel Hazanavicius’s film – his buoyant direction, the ingenious sight gags, the always gleeful and occasionally delicate performances, and the clever conceit (a silent movie about the demise of silent movies) that not only gets maintained but comes, in its own small way, to seem profound. Slender but not thin, it’s a delightful homage to the past that doubles as a tiny warning to the present.


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LIAM LACEY'S BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: YOUR HIGHNESS Like many film fans, I watched with a kind of hopeful awe at the first four coming-of-age films of Southern Gothic filmmaker David Gordon Green – George Washington (2000), All the Real Girls (2003), Undertow (2004) and Snow Angels (2007) with their strange poetic moments and attention to landscape and nature. How good was this guy going to get? Then came his flat, 2008 stoner comedy Pineapple Express with Seth Rogen and James Franco – okay a guy has to make a buck, but where did the talent go? This year he followed up with one of the most inane and unsuccessful comedies of the year, the medieval-set journey film with Danny McBride, James Franco and Natalie Portman. He followed it with the foul-mouthed and dismal Jonah Hill comedy, The Sitter. What exactly is the point of selling out if you can't do it right?


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RICK GROEN'S BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: J. EDGAR It was far from the worst flick of the year, but, with a subject as rich as J. Edgar Hoover and a director as taut as Clint Eastwood, I expected so much more. Although Hoover (admirably embodied by Leonardo DiCaprio) is a tough subject to tame, the picture gives the little bulldog much too long a leash, leaving him to bark across the decades relatively unscathed. The man built a Kremlin in Washington while branding himself a patriot; the film raises a red flag only to hide under it – such a befuddling, fascinating, frustrating mess of a movie.


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