A year in culture: Film

Critics' Choice: The Best of 2011

Brain and heart were given a workout in my film of the year, A Separation, from the Iranian director Asghar Farhadi. What begins as a drama about marital strife spirals into a thriller. Le quattro volte was magically deceptive - this quiet, philosophical rumination, with goats and trees as its unlikely protagonists, was blessed with flourishes that would have tickled Jacques Tati. The minimalist western Meek's Cutoff got under my skin; The Portuguese Nun, about a French actress shooting a 17th-century romance in Lisbon, cast a seductive spell; and Bridesmaids, brainchild of its star Kristen Wiig, proved that sparky writing and volatile comic invention can flourish in Hollywood.

Ryan Gilbey is the New Statesman's film critic. He is also the author of It Don't Worry Me (Faber), about 1970s US cinema, and a study of Groundhog Day in the "Modern Classics" series (BFI Publishing). He was named reviewer of the year in the 2007 Press Gazette awards.

This article first appeared in the 12 December 2011 issue of the New Statesman, Unholy war