By Eugene Hernandez | Indiewire January 3, 2009 at 5:8AM
EDITOR'S NOTE: Due to the indieWIRE's transition to a new format earlier this month, this poll was unfortunately lost in cyberspace. But it is now fully restored for your reading pleasure. Our apologies for the delay.
Hou Hsiao-hsien's "The Flight of the Red Balloon" topped indieWIRE's annual survey of more than 100 North American film critics, which was originally published last week. It was named best film of the year and Hou was singled out as best director in a survey of 105 critics conducted last month by indieWIRE. Written by Hsiao-hsien Hou and Francois Margolin, the film was inspired by Albert Lamorisse's classic, "The Red Balloon." Released theatrically back in April and simultaneously on demand via cable TV, the IFC Films title debuted at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival. James Marsh's "Man on Wire," from Magnolia Pictures, was voted the best documentary of the year in the survey.
Lance Hammer's "Ballast" was hailed as the best first feature this year, while Charlie Kaufman's screenplay for "Synecdoche, New York" was picked as the best of the year and the critics singled out Mickey Rourke's role in "The Wrestler" as the best performance, with Heath Ledger in "The Dark Knight" as best supporting performance.
Meanwhile, the runner-up for best film, Arnaud Desplechin's "A Christmas Tale," from this year's Cannes fest, also came in second in the best screenplay category. Mike Leigh's "Happy-Go-Lucky" placed strongly in a number of categories, coming in fifth for best film.
The complete results in the 2008 indieWIRE Critics' Poll are available now online, including the full ballots from all 105 critics, as well comments from the voters. An article about the best undistributed category was also published today.
Developed to celebrate film culture and criticism, this third annual poll by indieWIRE, conducted in recent weeks with critics casting their ballots online, focuses primarly on film critics who write for alternative outlets and online publications, including blogs. Inspired by a similar poll previously launched by the Village Voice in 1999, iW continued the survey two years ago after the Voice abandoned its popular poll, hoping to give North American cinephiles a direct opportunity to highlight the best in international cinema. The Village Voice is again working with sister publication the L.A. Weekly on a film poll this year.
"When we did our first poll in '99, it was before the explosion of film blogs and websites," noted former Village Voice film editor Dennis Lim last year. "There was no real counterpoint to the groupthink of critics' circle awards and there were many critics and writers whose tastes and opinions weren't represented in the year-end accounting." Continuing in comments to indieWIRE last year, Lim added, "Obviously it's a different landscape today and at this time of year especially, it can seem like there are too many lists, too many blogs, too much white noise. But even more so, you could argue, the poll serves a valuable aggregating function, by trying to tease out a consensus from a loosely defined community of serious, cinephilic writers."
Posted below is the list of 100 films that received more than one ballot mention in the indieWIRE Critics Poll this year.
|1||The Flight of the Red Balloon||495||43|
|2||A Christmas Tale||454||38|
|4||Wendy and Lucy||366||36|
|9||Synecdoche, New York||290||25|
|10||Waltz with Bashir||283||27|
|11||Rachel Getting Married||267||24|
|12||In the City of Sylvia||256||22|
|14||Let the Right One In||237||22|
|16||The Edge of Heaven||203||17|
|20||Man on Wire||165||16|
|21||The Duchess of Langeais||160||17|
|22||The Dark Knight||156||14|
|26||Woman On The Beach||122||13|
|27||Before I Forget||105||10|
|30||Encounters at the End of the World||101||10|
|Trouble the Water||101||10|
|32||The Last Mistress||97||10|
|34||The Curious Case of Benjamin Button||87||9|
|Standard Operating Procedure||86||8|
|The Romance of Astrea and Celadon||84||8|
|39||Burn After Reading||77||8|
|40||The Order of Myths||76||8|
|42||The Secret of the Grain||70||7|
|43||4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days||68||6|
|Razzle Dazzle: The Lost World||68||6|
|45||Vicky Cristina Barcelona||67||8|
|47||Ashes of Time Redux||63||6|
|Up the Yangtze||53||5|
|58||I Can No Longer Hear the Guitar||48||4|
|60||Be Kind Rewind||46||5|
|61||Tell No One||45||5|
|62||My Father My Lord||44||5|
|63||Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind||41||5|
|The Silence Before Bach||37||3|
|Taxi to the Dark Side||35||3|
|72||Fengming: A Chinese Memoir||32||3|
|The Band's Visit||31||3|
|The Other Half||31||3|
|85||My Blueberry Nights||26||3|
|90||Of Time and the City||22||2|
|91||Battle for Haditha||20||2|
|97||Dear Zachary: A Letter To a Son About His Father||17||2|
|I Served the King of England||17||2|