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Critics Rank the Best Films and Performances From the 2013 Berlin International Film Festival

Photo of Steve Greene By Steve Greene | Indiewire February 19, 2013 at 2:19PM

Paulina García and "Gloria" fared well in our poll of the best of Berlinale, but there was plenty of praise to spread around to new competition films and those that debuted elsewhere.
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"Gloria."

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.

READ MORE: Lessons From the 2013 Berlin Interational Film Festival

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 NARRATIVE FEATURE
1. Gloria
2. Upstream Color
3. Before Midnight
4. Camille Claudel 1915
5. Vic + Flo Saw a Bear
6. The Strange Little Cat
7. Closed Curtain
T8. Frances Ha
T8. Paradise: Hope

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
1. The Act of Killing

BEST DIRECTOR
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.

"Vic and Flo Saw a Bear"
In addition to the various standard categories, we also asked respondents to include some of their Biggest Surprises and any comments they might have had about the overall festival.

Anna Bielak, Smells Like Screen Spirit

BEST NARRATIVE FEATURE

1. Vic and Flo Saw a Bear

2. Before Midnight

3. Frances Ha

4. Uroki Garmonii

BEST DIRECTOR

1. Denis Côté, Vic and Flo Saw a Bear

2. Ulrich Seidl, Paradise: Hope

3. David Gordon Green, Prince Avalanche

4. Andrew Bujalski, Computer Chess

5. Noach Baumbach, Frances Ha

BEST LEAD PERFORMANCE

1. Greta Gerwig, Frances Ha

2. Amanda Seyfried, Lovelace

3. Sam Rockwell, A Single Shot

4. Andrzej Chyra, In the Name of...

5. Rooney Mara, Side Effects

BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE

1. Frances McDormand, Promised Land

2. Catherine Keener, Maladies

3. Peter Sarsgaard, Lovelace

BEST ENSEMBLE

1. Before Midnight

2. Hide Your Smilling Faces

3. Prince Avalanche

4. Vic and Flo Saw a Bear

5. The Broken Circle Breakdown

BEST FIRST FEATURE

1. Don Jon's Addition

2. Hide Your Smilling Faces

BIGGEST SURPRISE

1. Upstream Color

2. Frances Ha

3. Baby Blues

Adam Cook, MUBI

BEST NARRATIVE FEATURE

1. Stemple Pass

2. Before Midnight

3. Vic+Flo Saw a Bear

4. Closed Curtain

5. Nobody's Daughter Haewon

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

1. Yumen

BEST DIRECTOR

1. Richard Linklater, Before Midnight

2. Jafar Panahi, Closed Curtain

3. James Benning, Stemple Pass

4. Denis Côté, Vic + Flo Saw a Bear

5. Hong Sangsoo, Nobody’s Daughter Haewon

BEST LEAD PERFORMANCE

1. James Benning, Stemple Pass

2. Julie Delpy, Before Midnight

3. Ethan Hawke, Before Midnight

4. Sara Forestier, Love Battles

5. James Thiérrée, Love Battles

BEST ENSEMBLE

1. Before Midnight

BIGGEST SURPRISE

1. Computer Chess

David Hudson, Fandor

We don't yet have the hindsight to measure this year's lineup against last year's, which was pretty damn strong, but I saw a good handful of outstanding films and quite a few good ones. What's more, I've heard about many more I didn't get a chance to see that I hope to catch in the coming weeks and months. Another surprise to be added to the short list up there: Germany's relatively weak showing in the Competition. Thomas Arslan's Gold has its passages, but overall, it pales next to his In the Shadows. And the less said about Pia Marais's disappointing Layla Fourie, the better.

Overall, though, the chorus of complaints about the Berlinale's programming that crescendo'd a few years ago has subsided considerably, and even more encouraging, the festival has burst out beyond Potsdamer Platz and into neighborhoods all across the city. Screenings in more theaters than ever, with hundreds of seats each, were jam-packed. I can only concur with Dennis Lim's assessment in the NYT: with its 63rd edition, the Berlinale set off a "citywide outbreak of acute cinephilia."

BEST NARRATIVE FEATURE

1. Before Midnight

2. Closed Curtain

3. Vic + Flo Saw a Bear

4. The Strange Little Cat

5. Upstream Color

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

1. The Act of Killing

BEST DIRECTOR

1. Richard Linklater, Before Midnight

2. Denis Côté, Vic+Flo Saw a Bear

3. Jafar Panahi and Kamboziya Partovi, Closed Curtain

4. Ramon Zürcher, The Strange Little Cat

5. Hong Sang-soo, Nobody's Daughter Haewon

BEST LEAD PERFORMANCE

1. Luminita Gheorghiu, Child's Pose

2. Paulina García, Gloria

3. Juliette Binoche, Camille Claudel 1915

4. Jung Eunchae, Nobody's Daughter Haewon

5. Greta Gerwig, Frances Ha

BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE

1. Bogdan Dumitrache, Child's Pose

2. Jean-Luc Vincent, Camille Claudel 1915

3. Mickey Sumner, Frances Ha

BEST ENSEMBLE

1. Vic + Flo Saw a Bear

2. The Strange Little Cat

3. I Used to Be Darker

4. Viola

5. Harmony Lessons

BEST FIRST FEATURE

1. The Strange Little Cat

BIGGEST SURPRISE

1. The Strange Little Cat

2. Computer Chess

Leda Galanou, Flix.gr

It would be great if, as journalists, we could encourage the Berlinale to create more wi-fi spots around the screening theatres, so we can work more easily.

BEST NARRATIVE FEATURE

1. Gloria

2. Child’s Pose

3. Frances Ha

4. Prince Avalanche

5. The Eternal Return of Antonis Paraskevas

BEST DIRECTOR

1. Calin Peter Netzer, Child’s Pose

2. David Gordon Green, Prince Avalanche

3. Bruno Dumont, Camille Claudel 1915

4. Noah Baumbach, Frances Ha

5. Sebastian Lelio, Gloria

BEST LEAD PERFORMANCE

1. Paulina Garcia, Gloria

2. Luminita Gheorghiu, Child’s Pose

3. Juliette Binoche, Camille Claudel 1915

4. Paul Rudd, Prince Avalanche

5. Catherine Deneuve, Elle s’ en va

BEST ENSEMBLE

1. Before Midnight

BIGGEST SURPRISE

1. Camille Claude 1915 (Not as excruciating as I thought it would be!)

2. Harmony Lessons (Arrogant director, but will keep looking for his next film)

Clementine Gallot, M

BEST NARRATIVE FEATURE

1. Camille Claudel 1915

2. Top of the Lake

3. Frances Ha

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

1. La maison de la radio

BEST DIRECTOR

1. Bruno Dumont, Camille Claudel 1915

Patrick Gamble, CineVue

A remarkably underwhelming competition strand still boasted some solid films. Despite Gloria being the clear critical favorite across the festival, seeing Child’s Pose eventually win the Golden Bear remained a rather pleasing result. As always with any festival, it’s the interesting films you realize you’ve missed which leave the most lasting impression and as such I will endeavor to make sure I catch Ramon Zurcher’s ‘The Strange Little Cat’, Nicolas Wackerbarth’s ‘Everyday Objects’ and Joshua Oppenheimer’s ‘The Act of Killing.

BEST NARRATIVE FEATURE

1. Upstream Color

2. The Eternal Return of Antonis Paraskevas

3. Gloria

4. Paradise: Hope

5. Child’s Pose

BEST DIRECTOR

1. Shane Carruth, Upstream Color

2. Emire Baigazin, Harmony Lessons

3. Ulrich Seidl, Paradise: Hope

4. Reha Erdem. Jin

5. Harry Patramanis, Fynbos

BEST LEAD PERFORMANCE

1. Christos Stergioglou, The Eternal Return of Antonis Paraskevas

2. Paulina Garcia, Gloria

3. Luminita Gheorghiu, Child’s Pose

4. Juiliette Binoche, Camille Claudel 1915

5. Timur Aidarbekov, Harmony Lessons

BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE

1. Sergio Hernandez. Gloria

2. Lousie Borgoin. The Nun

3. Alsna Anarbayev. Harmony Lessons

4. Julianna Moore, Don Jon’s Addiction

5. The Dog, Closed Curtain

BEST ENSEMBLE

1. A Long and Happy Life

2. Paradise: Hope

3. A Fold in My Blanket

4. Computer Chess

5. Gold

BEST FIRST FEATURE

1. The Eternal Return of Antonis Paraskevas

2. Harmony Lessons

3. A Fold in My Blanket

4. Fynbos

5. Don Jon’s Addiction

BIGGEST SURPRISE

1. Shirley – Visions of Reality: Art Direction

2. Harmony Lessons: Cockroach Torture

3. Paradise: Hope: “If you’re happy and you know it clap your fat”

4. Don Jon’s Addiction – Tatum and Hathaway Cameo

5. Computer Chess – Cameo from film critic Gerald Peary

Andrew Grant, Freelance

BEST NARRATIVE FEATURE

1. The Strange Little Cat

2. Love Battles

3. A Stranger

4. Closed Curtain

5. Frances Ha

BEST DIRECTOR

1. Ramon Zürcher, The Strange Little Cat

2. Hong Sang-soo, Nobody's Daughter Haewon

3. Noah Baumbach, Frances Ha

4. Jafar Panahi, Closed Curtain

5. Matthew Porterfield, I Used to Be Darker

BEST LEAD PERFORMANCE

1. Juliette Binoche, Camille Claudel 1915

2. Timur Aidarbekov, Harmony Lessons 

3. Sara Forestier, Love Battles

4. Jeroen Willems, It’s All So Quiet

5. Christos Stergioglou, The Eternal Return of Antonis Paraskevas    

BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE

1. Mia Kasalo, The Strange Little Cat

2. Joseph Lorenz, Paradise: Hope

3. The dog, Closed Curtain

4. Patrick Riester, Computer Chess

5. Jeffrey Wright, A Single Shot

BEST ENSEMBLE

1. Paradise: Hope

2. Computer Chess

3. The Strange Little Cat

4. I Used to Be Darker

5. The Look of Love

BEST FIRST FEATURE

1. The Strange Little Cat

2. Concussion

3. The Eternal Return of Antonis Paraskevas 

BIGGEST SURPRISE

1. The Strange Little Cat -- This simple student project film was the most "alive" piece of cinema I've seen in years. 

2. A Stranger

3. The Eternal Return of Antonis Paraskevas

4. Concussion - Remarkable for a first film

Amy Seimetz in 'Upstream Color'
Jessica Kiang, The Playlist

The Act of Killing is one of the most remarkable films, documentary or otherwise, I've ever seen in my life. That is all.

BEST NARRATIVE FEATURE

1. Upstream Color

2. Gloria

3. Top of the Lake

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

1. The Act of Killing

2. Interior. Leather Bar.

3. The Spirit of '45

BEST DIRECTOR

1. Joshua Oppenheimer, The Act of Killing

2. Shane Carruth, Upstream Color

3. Sebastian Lelio. Gloria

BEST LEAD PERFORMANCE

1. Paulina Garcia. Gloria

2. Peter Mullan, Top of the Lake

3. Elisabeth Moss, Top of the Lake

4. Juliette Binoche, Camille Claudel 1915

5. Zhang Ziyi, The Grandmaster

BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE

1. Robyn Malcolm, Top of the Lake

2. Verena Lehbauer, Paradise: Hope

BEST ENSEMBLE

1. Top of the Lake

BIGGEST SURPRISE

1.The Act of Killing - Everything about it was a surprise. I will nominate it in every category I can.

2. Interior. Leather Bar. - Was surprised by how much this didn't suck.

3. The Best Offer - Surprised by just how much this did.

Peter Knegt, Indiewire

BEST NARRATIVE FEATURE

1. Camille Claudel 1915

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

1. Bambi

BEST DIRECTOR

1. Bruno Dumont - Camille Claudel

BEST LEAD PERFORMANCE

1. Juliette Binoche - Camille Claudel

BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE

1. Isabelle Huppert - The Nun

BEST ENSEMBLE

1. Vic and Flo Saw a Bear

BEST FIRST FEATURE

1. The Rocket

Eric Kohn, Indiewire

BEST NARRATIVE FEATURE

1. Gloria

2. Camille Claudel 1915

3. Closed Curtain

4. It's All So Quiet

5. Vic and Flo Saw a Bear

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

1. The Act of Killing

2. Leviathan

3. The Pirate Bay: Away From Keyboard

BEST DIRECTOR

1. Jafar Panahi, Closed Curtain

2. Bruno Dumont, Camille Claudel 1915

3. Denis Côté, Vic and Flo Saw a Bear

4. Nanouk Leopold, It's All So Quiet

5. David M. Rosenthal, A Single Shot

BEST LEAD PERFORMANCE

1. Paulina Garcia, Gloria

2. Pierrette Robitaille, Vic and Flo Saw a Bear

3. Juliette Binoche, Camille Claudel 1915

4. Jafar Panahi, Closed Curtain

5. Sam Rockwell, A Single Shot

Kevin Lee, Press Play/Fandor

BEST NARRATIVE FEATURE

1. The Strange Little Cat / Das merkwürdige Kätzchen

2. Viola

3. Before Midnight

4. Vic + Flo Saw a Bear

5. The Battle of Tabato

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

1. What Happened To This City?

2. Boundary

3. Fatal Assistance

4. No Man's Land

BEST DIRECTOR

1. Ramon Zurcher, The Strange Little Cat

2. Matias Pineiro, Viola

3. Richard Linklater, Before Midnight

4. Denis Côté, Vic + Flo Saw a Bear

5. Joao Viana, The Battle of Tabato

BEST LEAD PERFORMANCE

1. Julie Delpy, Before Midnight

2. Pierrette Robitaille, Vic + Flo Saw a Bear

3. Sam Rockwell, A Single Shot

4. María Villar, Viola

5. Bogdan Diklic, A Stranger

BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE

1. Jenny Schily, The Strange Little Cat

2. Marie Brassard, Vic + Flo Saw a Bear

3. Mia Kasalo, The Strange Little Cat

4. Uwe Bohm, Gold

5. Mavis Fan, Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow

BEST ENSEMBLE

1. The Strange Little Cat

2. Viola

3. Vic + Flo Saw a Bear

4. Gold

5. Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow

BEST FIRST FEATURE

1. The Strange Little Cat

2. The Battle of Tabato

3. In Bloom

4. The Plague

BIGGEST SURPRISE

1. The best of the 32 films I saw in Berlinale was directed by a 30 year old who hasn't finished film school.

"Paradise: Hope."
Guy Lodge, Hitfix

BEST NARRATIVE FEATURE

1. Gloria

2. Upstream Color

3. Paradise: Hope

4. The Strange Little Cat

5. Camille Claudel 1915

BEST DIRECTOR

1. Shane Carruth, Upstream Color

2. Sebastian Lelio, Gloria

3. Ulrich Seidl, Paradise: Hope

4. Ramon Zurcher, The Strange Little Cat

5. David Gordon Green, Prince Avalanche

BEST LEAD PERFORMANCE

1. Paulina Garcia, Gloria

2. Juliette Binoche, Camille Claudel 1915

3. Melanie Lenz, Paradise: Hope

4. Paul Rudd, Prince Avalanche

5. Nathan Varnson, Hide Your Smiling Faces

BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE

1. Joyce Payne, Prince Avalanche

2. Verena Lehbauer, Paradise: Hope

3. Ophelia Lovibond, A Single Shot

4. Terry Norton, Layla Fourie

5. Mavis Fan, Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?

BEST ENSEMBLE

1. Gloria

2. Paradise: Hope

3. Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?

4. The Strange Little Cat

5. Shopping

BEST FIRST FEATURE

1. The Strange Little Cat

2. Hide Your Smiling Faces

3. Shopping

4. A Fold in My Blanket

BIGGEST SURPRISE

1. The all-round excellence of Gloria

2. The delight of Judy Davis in Dark Blood

3. The strength of this year's Generation section

Tim Robey, The Telegraph

BEST NARRATIVE FEATURE

1. Upstream Color

2. Gloria

3. Before Midnight

4. Harmony Lessons

5. Child's Pose

BEST DIRECTOR

1. Shane Carruth, Upstream Color

2. Emir Baigazin, Harmony Lessons

3. Sebastián Lelio, Gloria

4. Richard Linklater, Before Midnight

5. David Gordon Green, Prince Avalanche

BEST LEAD PERFORMANCE

1. Paulina García, Gloria

2. Luminita Gheorgiu, Child's Pose

3. Melanie Lenz, Paradise: Hope

4. Juliette Binoche, Camille Claudel 1915

5. Paul Rudd, Prince Avalanche

BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE

1. Verena Lehbauer, Paradise: Hope

2. Sergio Hernández, Gloria

3. Joyce Payne, Prince Avalanche

4. That dog, Closed Curtain

5. Ilinca Goia, Child's Pose

BEST ENSEMBLE

1. Harmony Lessons

2. Paradise: Hope

3. Side Effects

4. Promised Land

5. In the Name Of...

BEST FIRST FEATURE

1. Harmony Lessons

Miranda Siegel, New York Magazine

BEST NARRATIVE FEATURE

1. Paradise: Hope

BEST FIRST FEATURE

1. Harmony Lessons

This article is related to: Berlin International Film Festival, Gloria, Upstream Color , Before Midnight, Camille Claudel 1915, Vic and Flo Saw a Bear, The Strange Little Cat, Closed Curtain, Frances Ha, Paradise: Hope





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