My second favorite film site (after Cinematical) is Slant Magazine, for their intelligent, discerning criticism. Their praise is not very easily won, so when they do bestow that rare three, three-and-a-half, or that most elusive of clovers, the four-star rating, you know you can trust them. Launched in 2001, the site also has a crackerjack webmaster (or a slave-driving editor) who gets reviews up faster than just about anywhere else in the world. They were brave enough to pan United 93 and braver still to praise Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette. And now their two main film writers, Ed Gonzales and Nick Schager, have weighed in on the year's best -- well before anyone else. (Well, Cinematical's year-end lists are sporadic -- check out Ryan's top ten here.)

Last year, both writers agreed on Terrence Malick's The New World as the year's best film. This year, they mixed it up. Gonzales chose David Lynch's Inland Empire -- which, much to my chagrin, has only screened for critics in L.A. and New York -- while Schager chose Hou Hsiao-hsien's Three Times. The two critics agreed on several of the year's best. They both chose Inland Empire, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne's L'Enfant, the restoration and revival of Jean-Pierre Melville's Army of Shadows, and (oddly) Michael Mann's Miami Vice.

Conspiculously absent from both lists are all the award-mongering year-end movies that are currently littering cineplexes (Little Children, Babel, The Queen, etc.)

And if you want esoteric, Gonzales included the aforementioned Marie Antoinette on his list, while Schager chose Darren Aronofky's The Fountain. Let the rebuttals begin.
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