1. "Gone Baby Gone" (Ben Affleck)
Last year saw superb efforts from my three favorite junior filmmakers - Quentin Tarantino, David Fincher and Paul Thomas Anderson - but, quite inexplicably, the debut feature of A-list has-been Ben Affleck was the film that left the most profound impression on me. There's so much to praise in this Boston-based kidnapping drama that I'm not sure where to begin: Affleck's astonishingly assured direction; the uniformly exceptional cast; a screenplay that challenges viewers' worldviews just as readily as it envelops them in an old-fashioned crime yarn. This was not only the finest film of the year, but the greatest movie-going experience I've had since 2000's "Requiem for a Dream." Three months and three viewings later, I'm still haunted by it.
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