Of all the faces, new and returning, to grace the Berlinale screens this year, the one that members of Indiewire's Criticwire network will remember the most is Gloria's.
In addition to taking the top slot in our Best Narrative Feature category, "Gloria" star Paulina García, who plays the title character, and director Sebastián Lelio were both singled out for acclaim among the responses for the best films, performances and achievements of the 63rd edition of the Berlin International Film Festival. Although the film missed out on the coveted Golden Bear prize, "Gloria" now sits at an A- Criticwire average, one of the best-reviewed films in this year's competition.
Of the films that played in Berlin after debuting elsewhere, the two pillars of Sundance 2013 praise, "Upstream Color" and "Before Midnight," once again found favor on end-of-festival ballots, both placing high in the Best Narrative Feature and Best Director categories.
But while Amy Seimetz, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke -- the trio of lead actors from those two films -- managed to take top honors in our Sundance poll, they appeared on few critics' ballots from Berlin, leaving García and several others to take their place. Also drawing accolades for her performance was Juliette Binoche, whose turn in "Camille Claudel 1915" was included on the highest number of ballots. Luminita Gheorgiu, star of the Golden Bear winner "Child's Pose," rounded out the top three.
Feedback in the documentary category was somewhat limited, but Joshua Oppenheimer's "The Act of Killing" continues to mesmerize audiences as it did in Toronto and Telluride late last year. Critics' reactions to it can be found here.
Perhaps the biggest surprise from all of these ballots is the widespread appeal of "The Strange Little Cat," a debut feature from Ramon Zürcher that has been drawing praise for its finely calibrated look at a day in family life. As Andrew Grant described on his ballot, "This simple student project film was the most 'alive' piece of cinema I've seen in years." Add in the fact that the dog from Jafar Panahi's "Closed Curtain" managed to pop up on three different critics' Best Supporting Performance list, and you have quite an interesting Berlinale 2013 to look back on.
Here is an assortment of the top results from this year's poll:
Note: Ranking was determined by a simple reverse-points scale (5 points for a 1st place mention, 4 for a 2nd-place mention, etc.)
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
1. The Act of Killing
1. Shane Carruth, Upstream Color
2. Bruno Dumont, Camille Claudel 1915
3. Dennis Côté, VIc + Flo Saw a Bear
4. Richard Linklater, Before Midnight
5. Jafar Panahi, Closed Curtain
6. Ramon Zürcher, The Strange Little Cat
7. Sebastián Lelio, Gloria
8. Ulrich Seidl, Paradise: Hope
BEST LEAD PERFORMANCE
1. Paulina García, Gloria
2. Juliette Binoche, Camille Claudel 1915
3. Luminita Gheorgiu, Child's Pose
To see the full list of responses, we have reprinted each critic's individual ballot on the next page.