When: Sat., Aug. 18, 8:30 p.m. 2012
Critics and audiences were famously divided, but there's no denying that The Tree of Life was the Big Picture of 2011. Director Terrence Malick's ambitions were huge: The 139-minute film mostly centers around a family in Waco, Texas, in the 1950s, but it also backs up a few billion years to the early history of life on Earth and zooms out a few billion light-years to take in the grandeur of the cosmos—basically encompassing the entire known universe. It's hard to get bigger than that.
The special effects were created by Douglas Trumbull, the genius behind the still-unsurpassed visuals of 2001: A Space Odyssey. The Tree of Life is similarly metaphysical but also more rooted: Instead of spaceships and talking computers, Malick looks for the big questions in suburban backyards and kitchens. The screening starts at 8:30 p.m.; tickets are $4, or free for museum members. —Marc Maximov