By Steve Greene | Indiewire September 17, 2012 at 11:00AM
Continuing its reign as the festival juggernaught of the second half of 2012, Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" headlined nearly every category in Indiewire's Criticwire Network poll of the best films and performances of this year's edition of the Toronto International Film Festival.
Over 40 Criticwire members submitted their top picks in five different categories: best narrative film, best documentary, best lead performance, best supporting performance and most disappointing film, a final category that we brought back from our Cannes poll.
Apart from the overwhelming response to "The Master," audience award winner "Silver Linings Playbook" and "The Place Beyond the Pines" also fared well for their performances and the films overall. In general, many of the films that made the top narrative list carried subsequent mentions for their casts.
The distinction between a lead performance and a supporting one is always a tricky one. Rather than clarify which performances qualified for each category, we left it to the individual voters to discern who belonged where. The resultant split spawned two significant double entries, with Philip Seymour Hoffman and Jennifer Lawrence both appearing on enough lists to vault them onto both top ten lists.
Hoffman was one of a handful of actors with multiple TIFF 2012 titles on their resumes. Christopher Walken managed to make the best supporting performance list for two separate films: Martin McDonagh's "Seven Psychopaths" and Yaron Zilberman's debut feature "A Late Quartet." While Bradley Cooper earned a majority of votes for his role in "Playbook," he also merited mention for "The Place Beyond the Pines," as did four other members of Derek Cianfrance's ensemble.
Sarah Polley's "Stories We Tell" proved to be the highlight of the documentary side, garnering more first-place votes than "The Master" did for narrative. However, the competition at the top was still close, with Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel's "Leviathan" and Joshua Oppenheimer's "The Act of Killing" also receiving a strong collection of endorsements.
Not all top vote-getters were for Toronto premieres. Nearly eight months and a title change later, John Hawkes' and Helen Hunt's turns in "The Sessions" were given high marks, as they were in our end-of-Sundance poll. Three documentaries, including Rodney Ascher's "The Shining" examination "Room 237," also returned after landing top honors at Sundance. Meanwhile, Marion Cotillard ("Rust and Bone"), Mads Mikkelsen ("The Hunt") and Jean-Louis Trintignant ("Amour") are all back after being singled out at Cannes.
While we wanted a place to celebrate film, we also wanted to provide the "most disappointing" category to provide our critics with an opportunity to articulate films that either didn't live up to their pedigree or the level of their fellow festival offerings. Much like another film by a celebrated director, "Cosmopolis," finished as a top disappointment at Cannes, but managed to make many best overall lists in the process, Terrence Malick's "To the Wonder" finished as the biggest disappointment, but received multiple votes in both categories, narrowly missing the top ten narratives.
Overall, 110 films out of the nearly 300 featured in the announced lineup merited mention on either of the top films lists. Even though certain films may have benefited from being must-see titles, there was still an impressive variety of titles singled out on these ballots, which are reproduced below.
Continue to the next page for the listed results of our poll. For more of our end-of-TIFF blowout, visit our festival guide and our roundup of all of Indiewire's coverage.