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Top Ten of 2001

The year's screen gems.

The Man Who Wasn¹t There. Ethan and Joel Coen's new excursion into film noir is lightened by the brothers' irrepressible urge to wise off and their underlying postmodern view. The requisite 1940s anti-hero, a placid, small-town barber played by a perfectly deadpan Billy Bob Thornton, gets entangled with blackmail, murder and a wonderfully sleazy lawyer (Tony Shalhoub), but the Coens' surreal comic tilt keeps us on the verge of a laugh. Roger Deakins's gorgeously textured black-and-white cinematography gives the most beautiful look of the year to a pulp-fiction fantasy that's great, dark fun.

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