Counting down to our Year in Review issue, we present our picks in a variety of genres, wrapping up on December 27 with the year’s worst movies.

This time tomorrow: the year’s best political documentary.

The Master

  • The Master

The Master In the rush to understand what Paul Thomas Anderson’s masterpiece was all about, few critics took the time to savor how funny it was. Most of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s dialogue is utter gibberish, yet he performs it as though he’s reading the Bible; the more times I see The Master the more his performance cracks me up. Then there’s the great dark joke at the movie’s core: that this phony guru’s only unfulfilled wish is to receive the unconditional friendship of a borderline-retarded sociopath whose only talent is making moonshine out of cleaning products. It’s a satire of the American success ethic that might have earned Mark Twain’s admiration. —Ben Sachs