The Tree of Life is a 2011 American experimental epic drama film written and directed by Terrence Malick and featuring a cast of Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Hunter McCracken, Laramie Eppler, Jessica Chastain, and Tye Sheridan in his debut feature film role. The film chronicles the origins and meaning of life by way of a middle-aged man's childhood memories of his family living in 1950s Texas, interspersed with imagery of the origins of the known universe and the inception of life on Earth.
After several years in development and missing its supposed 2009 and 2010 release dates, The Tree of Life premiered in competition at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, where it was awarded the Palme d'Or. It ranked no. 1 on review aggregator Metacritic's "Top Ten List of 2011", and in January 2012 was nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director and Best Cinematography.
The Tree of Life made more critics' year-end lists for 2011 than any other film. It has appeared in the 2012 Sight & Sound critics' poll of the world's top 250 films as well as BBC's poll of the greatest American films, one of the few 21st century works to be included in both.