There were few great films in 2001, but enough good ones by new (Todd Field), developing (Peter Jackson,Baz Luhrmann), and veteran (Lynch, Altman) directors, to make the year moreagreeable. With most studio releases slipshod and slapdash, the interestingfilms were easily evident on first viewing. Hence, choosing the best was notdifficult, though for the first time in years, most of my personal choices areA- or B+ pictures.

The guiding criteria inconstructing the lists below (which are ranked in order of preference) were mostly artistic: theevidence of a singular directorial vision, thematic and/or visual (preferablyboth), coherent and unified narrative (most Hollywood movies are deficient dueto their excessively episodic and shapelessly disjointed structure), overallartistic and emotional impact, command over film grammar, and deft use of themedium's unique properties (framing, editing), not for their own sake, but incongruence and service of their story.

As a point of information, bothgrades and points are included for the best film lists for the purposes of those aroundthe world that use different criteria of evaluation. The films were chosenamong those that were released theatrically in the US - or at leastplayed at a major film festival - during this calendar year.

For a full analysis of the year in film, artistically speaking, read the full story in this week's edition of Screen International.

(US/Int'l distributor inparenthesis)
Grade Points
1. In the Bedroom(Miramax/Good Machine) A 10
2. Shrek (DreamWorks/UIP) A 10
3. Mulholland Drive (UniversalFocus/StudioCanal) A- 9
4. The Lord Of The Rings (NewLine/New Line Int'l) A- 9
5. Moulin Rouge (Fox) A- 9
6. Gosford Park (USAFilms/Capitol Films) A- 9
7. Ali (Columbia/IEG) B+ 8
8. The Others(Dimension/StudioCanal) B+ 8
9. Black Hawk Down(Columbia/Revolution) B+ 8
10. A.I.: Artificial Intelligence(Warner) B+ 8

1. The Believer(Showtime/Fireworks)
2. Last Orders (SonyClassics/Winchester)
3. The Royal Tenenbaums (BuenaVista)
4. The Deep End (Fox Searchlight)
5. Hedwig And The Angry Inch(Fine Line/New Line Int'l)
6. The Man Who Wasn't There (USAFilms/Good Machine)
7. Lantana (Lions Gate/BeyondFilms)
8. Intimacy (Empire Pictures/StudioCanal)
9. Training Day (Warner/Roadshow)
10. The Shipping News (Miramax/MiramaxInt'l)