‘The Tree of Life’ Named Best Picture of 2011

December 14, 2011

Two dramas that explored the lives of American families from a cosmic perspective emerged as the biggest winners of the Toronto Film Critics Association’s 2011 awards.

A transcendental epic about boyhood and the end of innocence in 1950s Texas, Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life” won Best Picture, while Malick was named Best Director. Also honoured with two TFCA awards was “Take Shelter”: Michael Shannon won Best Actor for his portrayal of a father plagued by apocalyptic visions, and Jessica Chastain was named Best Supporting Actress for her role as his conflicted spouse. (Chastain was also a runner-up in the Supporting Actress category for “The Tree of Life”.)

The awards were voted by the TFCA at a Dec. 11 meeting. “With both ‘Tree of Life’ and ‘Take Shelter’, our members chose to honour ambitious films that took bold risks,” said TFCA President Brian D. Johnson, film critic for Maclean’s. “These are both intimate dramas that play out on an apocalyptic canvas, and impart a sense of wonder and mystery.”

More details of the 15th annual TFCA awards, which were announced today:

Michelle Williams was named Best Actress for her enchanting portrayal of Marilyn Monroe in “My Week With Marilyn”.

Canada’s Christopher Plummer won Best Supporting Actor for his role in “Beginners” as an elderly man who comes out of the closet after learning he has terminal cancer.

Best Screenplay went to “Moneyball”, the story of Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane, written by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, story by Stan Chervin, based on the non-fiction book by Michael Lewis.

The TFCA honoured two movies by Chilean directors: “Mysteries of Lisbon” was named Best Foreign-Language Film. Adapted from the classic Portuguese novel, this epic four-country odyssey is one of the final works of master filmmaker Raul Ruiz, who died last August at the age of 70. Winning Best Documentary Feature was “Nostalgia for the Light”, Patricio Guzmán’s meditation on Chile’s Atacama Desert, which draws links between the stars viewed by the desert’s astronomers and the search for buried remains of General Pinochet’s victims.

British writer-director Joe Cornish’s “Attack the Block”, a thriller in which a South London gang battles an alien invasion, won Best First Feature. Cornish and executive producer Edgar Wright co-wrote this year’s Best Animated Feature, “The Adventures of Tintin”, directed by Steven Spielberg and produced by DreamWorks Animation.

(Under the TFCA’s guidelines, contenders eligible for the awards include films released in Canada in 2011 plus films that qualify for the 2011 Oscars and have Canadian distribution scheduled by the end of February 2012.)

The 2011 TFCA Awards will be presented at a gala dinner in the Round Room of Toronto’s historic Carlu on January 10, 2012, hosted by Cameron Bailey, co-director of the Toronto International Film Festival. There the TFCA will also reveal the winner of the Rogers Best Canadian Film Award, which carries a $15,000 cash prize. David Cronenberg will also be on hand to present a special award.

In addition, the TFCA will announce the winner of the third annual Jay Scott Prize for an emerging artist, which carries a $5,000 cheque. It will also present the Deluxe Student Film Award, which gives $5,000 in post-production services to a student filmmaker. TFCA members will select the winner from shorts submitted by film departments at Humber College, Ryerson University, Sheridan College and York University. The result will be announced at the awards dinner.

The TFCA is especially grateful to founding sponsor, Rogers Communications Inc, and welcomes MasterCard as a new sponsor this year. The TFCA also thanks RBC for its ongoing generosity and is grateful to its additional sponsors: Maclean’s magazine, the Globe and Mail, Moet & Chandon, Four Seasons Hotel, Ontario Media Development Corporation, Cineplex Entertainment, Maclaren McGill, Fabrica, The Carlu and Citytv.

Established in 1997 the Toronto Film Critics Association is comprised of Toronto based journalists and broadcasters who specialize in film criticism and commentary. All major dailies, weeklies and a variety of other print and electronic outlets are represented.

Members of the TFCA also participate in the International Federation of International Film Critics (FIPRESCI). As such, they have sat on juries at festivals in Cannes, Berlin, Venice, Toronto, Montreal, Miami, Palm Springs, Chicago, Pusan, Moscow, Amsterdam, London and Vienna, among others.

The full list of Toronto Film Critics Association Awards winners and runners-up:


“The Tree of Life” (eOne Films)


“The Artist” (Alliance Films)

“The Descendants” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)


Michael Shannon, “Take Shelter”


George Clooney, “The Descendants”

Michael Fassbender, “Shame”


Michelle Williams, “My Week With Marilyn”


Elizabeth Olsen, “Martha Marcy May Marlene”

Meryl Streep, “The Iron Lady”


Christopher Plummer, “Beginners”


Albert Brooks, “Drive”

Patton Oswalt, “Young Adult”


Jessica Chastain, “Take Shelter”


Jessica Chastain, “The Tree of Life”

Shailene Woodley, “The Descendants”


Terrence Malick, “The Tree of Life”


Michel Hazanavicius, “The Artist”

Nicolas Winding Refn, “Drive”


“Moneyball”, written by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin,

story by Stan Chervin, based on the book by Michael Lewis


“The Descendants”, written by Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon

& Jim Rash, based on the novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings

“The Tree of Life”, written by Terrence Malick


“Attack the Block”, directed by Joe Cornish


“Margin Call”, directed by J.C. Chandor

“Martha Marcy May Marlene”, directed by Sean Durkin


“The Adventures of Tintin” (DreamWorks Animation)


“Puss in Boots” (DreamWorks Animation)

“Rango” (Paramount Pictures)


“Mysteries of Lisbon” (Alfama Films)


“Attenberg” (filmswelike)

“Le Havre” (filmswelike)

“A Separation” (Mongrel Media)


“Nostalgia for the Light” (Icarus Films)


“Into the Abyss” (Mongrel Media)

“Project Nim” (Mongrel Media)


“Café de Flore,” directed by Jean-Marc Vallée

“A Dangerous Method”, directed by David Cronenberg

“Monsieur Lazhar”, directed by Philippe Falardeau