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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" may have appealed to a majority of voting critics, but it faced substantial competition in the Best Film category from similarly dark, tense dramas about passionate individuals. Paul Thomas Anderson's Scientology character study "The Master" took second place with 100 mentions for Best Film, just ahead of the 93 mentions of "Zero Dark Thirty."

For each ballot in which critics were asked to create lists -- Best Film, Best Performance, Best Supporting Performance and Best Undistributed Film -- films were ranked using a simple point system visible in the numerical breakdown of the top 50 winners available here. In the other categories, critics submitted single votes.

This year's participants included a broad sampling of print and online critics, including The New Yorker's Richard Brody, former Village Voice critic and current Blouin Artinfo contributor J. Hoberman, former L.A. Weekly critic Karina Longworth, Yahoo! Movies' Thelma Adams, Indiewire co-founder and Film Society of Lincoln Center director of digital strategy Eugene Hernandez, MSN Movies' Glenn Kenny, Israeli critic Yair Raveh, retired Chicago Reader critic Jonathan Rosenbaum, Rolling Stone's Peter Travers, and New York Daily News' Elizabeth Weitzman. A full list of Criticwire network members can be found here.

Participating Indiewire staffers included myself, senior editor Peter Knegt, assistant editor Nigel Smith, television editor Alison Willmore, contributor Bryce Renninger, and Thompson on Hollywood's Anne Thompson. Criticwire editor and blogger Matt Singer and Criticwire assistant editor Steve Greene also cast votes in the survey, which closed Sunday night.

Reflecting the range of sensibilities among this year's voting pool, the top 11 finalists (including one tie) that received the most mentions for Best Film hailed from seven different countries and several of them won in other categories. These included both a first feature (Benh Zeitlin's "Beasts of the Southern Wild," one of two films tied for sixth place) and a purported last one (Bela Tarr's "The Turin Horse," in eigth place). Panahi's "This Is Not a Film," the aforementioned winner for Best Documentary, tied in fifth place for Best Film with Wes Anderson's Best Ensemble winner "Moonrise Kingdom." Best Screenplay winner "Lincoln" ranked ninth place in the Best Film category.

With so many critics participating in the poll this year, readers may consider looking beyond the films that received the majority votes in order to peruse the results for the stray films that received single votes in various categories. In this regard, the Best Undistributed Films results holds particular interest. The narrowly-defined category asked voters to single out new films screened for the first time in 2012 that have yet to be acquired for U.S. distribution. Even with such restrictions, however, critics singled out an diverse list of finalists. While Seimetz's Florida noir "Sun Don't Shine" topped the category by a significant margin -- it was also nominated for the Gotham's Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You award -- it was closely followed by Belgium director Joaquim Lafosse's immigration drama "Our Children" and the Romanian dark comedy "Everybody in Our Family."

And that's only the top of the pile. Since no concise summary could possibly convey the volume of films represented by these results, we urge readers to explore the various survey pages now available on Criticwire. The current design for the Criticwire Network, which we teased in the announcement of last year's poll results, has been designed so that movie lovers of all stripes may browse through individual critical opinions and discover countless movies rather than merely focusing on a handful of favorites. While only a limited number of films can claim the winning slots, there's plenty of room for exploration in the list of titles beneath them.

Stay tuned for more breakdowns of Indiewire's critics poll as well as reactions from various winners throughout the week -- as well as further coverage on the Criticwire blog.

Lists of the top finalists in each category of the critics poll can be found here.


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    Appreciate the aggregate. Helps to game some comparative info.

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    Appreciate the aggregate. Helps to game some comparative info.

  • Lori | December 20, 2012 12:09 AMReply

    Appreciate the aggregate. Helps to game some comparative info.

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    Appreciate the aggregate. Helps to game some comparative info.

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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.