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by Eric Kohn
December 18, 2012 9:45 AM
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'Holy Motors' Tops Indiewire's Poll For the Best of 2012 Film; Other Winners Include Jafar Panahi and Amy Seimetz

"Holy Motors" Indomina
In the heat of a diverse Oscar season, critics have again singled out a movie that stands apart from that race: With 128 votes among 204 critics listed in Indiewire's Criticwire network, Leos Carax's surreal opus "Holy Motors" topped Indiewire's seventh annual poll for Best Film. "Holy Motors" star Denis Lavant garnered the most votes for Best Performance.

A substantial increase from last year's voting pool of 162 critics (when "The Tree of Life" won the same prize), this year's results mark the unveiling of Criticwire's new survey feature, which visualizes the voting results across hundreds of pages. Overall, 1,862 ballots were cast across 10 categories. View the results for all the categories here.

READ MORE: Indiewire 2012 Year-End Critics Poll

Despite the overwhelming support for "Holy Motors" in the two prominent categories of Best Film and Performance, the rest of the poll reflected the range of critical favorites released in theaters in 2012. Kathryn Bigelow landed Best Director for "Zero Dark Thirty," which opens in limited release on Wednesday. Other winners included Phillip Seymour Hoffman in the Best Supporting Actor category for "The Master," which also won Best Original Soundtrack or Score for Jonny Greenwood's compositions. Jafar Panahi's "This Is Not a Film," a first-person account of the Iranian director's experience under house arrest, led the Best Documentary category, holding onto its popularity among critics a full 10 months after its U.S. theatrical release.

"Beasts of the Southern Wild." Fox Searchlight
Meanwhile, Sundance and Cannes award-winner "Beasts of the Southern Wild" triumphed in the Best First Feature category and Oscar hopeful "Lincoln" won Best Screenplay. Rounding out the poll, Amy Seimetz's SXSW-premiering "Sun Don't Shine" won Best Undistributed Film and Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom" won Best Ensemble, an award for which it was previously nominated (but didn't win) last month at the Gotham Awards.

None of them, however, have followed quite the same winding path as "Holy Motors." Compared to 2011 poll champion "The Tree of Life," which started its public life on a high note by winning the Palme d'Or at Cannes, "Holy Motors" has endured a more complex route that has garnered it cult appeal. The film played in competition at Cannes to critical acclaim but failed to win any prizes at the festival. However, Carax's first feature-length effort in 12 years continued to sustain strong word of mouth and additional ahead of its theatrical release this fall, generating strong responses from audiences as far reaching as the New York Film Festival and Fantastic Fest. It also topped a poll conducted by Film Comment, which revealed its results last week.

Above: One of two musical sequences in "Holy Motors."

The continuing support for the movie may even surprise its director. "I thought it would be really difficult, that it would be too strange for people," he told Indiewire in an interview earlier this year. However, Carax expressed an enthusiasm similar to numerous critics with respect to the performance by the chamelonesque Lavant, who plays a peculiar man named Monsiuer Oscar as he embodies a wide variety of characters in vaguely defined situations over the course of a single day. "He became a greater actor while I wasn't making my films," Carax said, recalling his collaborations with Lavant over the course of 30 years. "I don't know what happened to him in real life or in his work or both that made him an actor who could play any part, but now he can."

Next page: More details from the poll results along with a sampling of this year's voters.

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  • Chris L. | December 19, 2012 1:25 AMReply

    Sorry, but I'd like the old software back please. Browsing the individual ballots of critics (at least, the ones you recognize and trust) is far more meaningful than just an aggregate list of 50. Requiring five or more clicks to get there, with no central list of voters as a guide, causes an exponential increase in wasted time and frustration for what used to be fun. I guess some kinks are being worked out, but this doesn't seem like an advance. At all.

  • Ratzkywatzky | December 20, 2012 9:38 PM

    I agree. The individual ballots were my favorite part, and I gave up looking after a couple of tries this year.

  • lampshade86 | December 18, 2012 11:23 PMReply

    Is there an easy way to access the individual ballots?
    As I recall, the polls from previous years would have a single page that listed all of the critics that participated, which linked to their individual ballots...Providing something similar to that would be great.

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  • rose | December 18, 2012 8:44 PMReply

    Not Marion Cotillard in best performance? WTF! She demonstrated her incredible talent!

  • Brain | December 18, 2012 4:40 PMReply

    I look forward to this poll every year. Any chance we can see more than the top 50 like in the past. I like seeing my favorite critics' ballots also.

    Thanks for all the hard work.

  • MDL | December 18, 2012 11:22 PM

    I was able to find the critic's ballots. Click on the movie title and then scroll down to the individual critic's name. Click on a name then when you get to the critic's page scroll down to the bottom and click 'see full survey response'. It's not real user-friendly and not every critic seems to have a list but there are ballots out there.

  • jessie | December 18, 2012 3:38 PMReply

    Even the director couldn't believe it...Holy Motors Best Picture? Ridiculous. Narcissistic claptrap. Should've been an animated film it might've made a point.

  • Roxy | December 18, 2012 1:34 PMReply

    Yes, a list of all the films that received votes would be nice. Also, can you provide a list of each individual critic's ballot[s]? It seems you have instead listed how they rated films throughout the year, which doesn't relate to the top 50. Thank you.

  • MDL | December 18, 2012 12:19 PMReply

    Any chance you just have a simple list with ALL the films that received votes like you did in the past? I prefer to see one long list rather than just the top 50. It is much more indicative of what people actually voted for. As well as what was released. No reason to hold out. Let's see it all. Plus now that we are completely in the age of the internet space is not an issue.