Joel and Ethan Coen's "A Serious Man" was selected as the best film at the Toronto International Film Festival by an overwhelming majority of film critics and bloggers indieWIRE polled over the weekend.
With more than 25 writers were surveyed in five different categories, the Coens latest took top honors as Toronto's best narrative film, finding a place on nearly every single ballot. Erik Gandini's "Videocracy" was named best doc, Colin Firth's work in "A Single Man" was deemed best lead performance, "Precious"'s Mo'Nique and "Up In The Air"'s Anna Kendrick tied for best supporting performance (perhaps an inkling towards this year's best supporting actress race?), while Karyn Kusama's Diablo Cody-written "Jennifer's Body" was considered the fest's worst film.
"A Serious Man" - being released in theaters October 2nd - was also tops in a supplementary poll that indieWIRE ran through the week, asking critics and bloggers to give a letter grade to 34 of Toronto's most buzzy titles. Along with Jason Reitman's "Up In The Air," the Coens' film was among the only titles to receive an "A" level average.
Unlike last year's edition of this survey, which was topped by Hirokazu Kore-Eda's "Still Walking," films that premiered at festivals much earlier in the year - most notably Cannes ("A Prophet," "Fish Tank") and Sundance ("Precious") came into considerable play in the poll. However, this repetition of favorites didn't seem to frustrate any of those polled.
"Plenty of strong, new work," one of the polled folks stated. "Especially 'Lourdes,' 'Videocracy' and 'The Road.' Spirituality was a valid theme du fest, especially religion shot through a secular lens. Yet Toronto's fucked-up families (the extremes of domesticity?) stayed with me longer: 'Life During Wartime,' 'I Killed My Mother,' and the nightmarish 'Dogtooth.' I'm definitely attending the right festival."
Another championed the fest's a broad selection, calling it "very easy for a journalist to navigate." "It’s a miracle that everything is press-screened," they continued. "I also love the fact that programmers are geographically specialized, and that they right intelligent entries for each film in the catalog. The films are curated, not just booked, as is the case these days at many festivals—and justified."
And finally, one Toronto newbie left the fest hungry for more. "It was my first time at Toronto, and I want to go back," they said. "Well-organized festival, a great city, and a bewildering sense of everything happening at once. Maybe next time I can actually get a press credential."
Check out all of indieWIRE's coverage of the festival here.
TIFF '09 SURVEY RESULTS:
BEST NARRATIVE FILM:
1. A Serious Man, directed by Joel and Ethan Coen (63 points)
2. City of Life and Death, directed by Chuan Lu (20)
3. Up In The Air, directed by Jason Reitman (18)
3. A Prophet, directed by Jacques Audiard (18)
5. Dogtooth, directed by Giorgos Lanthimos (17)
6. Precious, directed by Lee Daniels (16)
7. I Am Love, directed by Luca Guadagnino (11)
7. Hadewijch, directed by Bruno Dumont (11)
7. A Single Man, directed by Tom Ford (11)
7. Lebanon, directed by Samuel Maoz (11)
1. Videocracy, directed by Erik Gandini (24)
2. Collapse, directed by Chris Smith (17)
3. The Art of the Steal, directed by Don Argott (16)
4. The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls, directed by Leanne Pooley (10)
5. How To Hold a Flag, directed by Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker (9)
BEST LEAD PERFORMANCE:
1. Colin Firth in "A Single Man" (13)
2. Tilda Swinton in "I Am Love (12)
2. Michael Stuhlbarg in "A Serious Man" (12)
4. Tahar Rahim in "A Prophet" (10)
5. Anne Dorval in "I Killed My Mother" (9)
5. Nicolas Cage in "The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans" (9)
5. Matt Damon in "The Informant!" (9)
5. Katie Jarvis in "Fish Tank" (9)
BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE
1. Mo'Nique in "Precious" (17)
1. Anna Kendrick in "Up In The Air" (17)
3. The supporting cast of "A Serious Man"** (11)
4. Vera Farmiga in "Up In The Air" (10)
5. Julianne Moore in "A Single Man" (6)
5. Michael Fassbender in "Fish Tank" (6)
** Richard Kind, Fred Melamed, Sari Lennick, Aaron Wolff and Benjy Portnoe received a combined total of 11, though individually no one got more than 3.
1. Jennifer's Body, directed by Karyn Kusama (8)
2. Dorian Gray, directed by Oliver Parker (7)
2. Trash Humpers, directed by Harmony Korine (7)
4. Creation, directed by Jon Amiel (6)
5. Survival of the Dead, directed by George A. Romero (5)
Sam Adams, Philadelphia City Paper, L.A. Times, A.V. Club | Yaseen Ali | Brian Brooks, indieWIRE | Gregory Ellwood, HitFix | David Fear, Time Out New York | Howard Feinstein | Eugene Hernandez, indieWIRE | Ben Kenigsberg, Time Out Chicago | Peter Knegt, indieWIRE | Eric Kohn, indieWIRE | Michael Koresky, Reverse Shot | Eric Lavallee, Ion Cinema | Joe Leydon, Variety | Karina Longworth, Spout | Sean Means, The Salt Lake Tribune | Noel Murray, A.V. Club | Mark Olsen, LA Times | David Poland, Movie City News | Steve Ramos | B. Ruby Rich, SF360 | Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York | Anne Thompson, Thompson on Hollywood | Scott Tobias, A.V. Club | Michael Tully, Hammer To Nail | Scott Weinberg, Cinematical | Susan Wloszczyna, USA Today