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iW CRITICS POLL '08 | "Balloon" Tops iW Poll of 100+ Critics; "Man On Wire" & "Ballast" Showcased

Indiewire 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.
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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.

[Overview | Results | Comments | Undistributed | Critics]

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.


#Film TitlePointsMentions
1The Flight of the Red Balloon49543
2A Christmas Tale45438
3WALL-E36832
4Wendy and Lucy36636
5Happy-Go-Lucky34631
6Paranoid Park33531
7Still Life33031
8Silent Light31026
9Synecdoche, New York29025
10Waltz with Bashir28327
11Rachel Getting Married26724
12In the City of Sylvia25622
13My Winnipeg24827
14Let the Right One In23722
15Milk20520
16The Edge of Heaven20317
17Hunger19819
18The Wrestler19219
19Ballast17717
20Man on Wire16516
21The Duchess of Langeais16017
22The Dark Knight15614
23Che14613
24Reprise14115
25Gomorrah13213
26Woman On The Beach12213
27Before I Forget10510
28Slumdog Millionaire10410
29La France1039
30Encounters at the End of the World10110
Trouble the Water10110
32The Last Mistress9710
33The Class919
34The Curious Case of Benjamin Button879
35Frownland868
Standard Operating Procedure868
37The Exiles847
The Romance of Astrea and Celadon848
39Burn After Reading778
40The Order of Myths768
41Momma's Man738
42The Secret of the Grain707
434 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days686
Razzle Dazzle: The Lost World686
45Vicky Cristina Barcelona678
46Chop Shop648
47Ashes of Time Redux636
48Boarding Gate606
49Boy A586
Frozen River585
51Gran Torino556
52Mister Lonely545
53The Witnesses535
Up the Yangtze535
55Mary525
46Shotgun Stories516
57The Visitor505
58I Can No Longer Hear the Guitar484
59Alexandra475
60Be Kind Rewind465
61Tell No One455
62My Father My Lord445
63Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind415
64W.394
65Changeling373
The Silence Before Bach373
The Unforeseen374
68Summer Palace354
Taxi to the Dark Side353
70In Bruges344
The Pool343
72Fengming: A Chinese Memoir323
Love Songs324
State Legislature323
75Frost/Nixon313
Opera Jawa313
The Band's Visit313
The Other Half313
79Cadillac Records293
80Funny Games283
Stuck283
Tropic Thunder283
83JCVD273
Redbelt273
85My Blueberry Nights263
Savage Grace262
87Snow Angels243
88Married Life232
Pineapple Express233
90Of Time and the City222
91Battle for Haditha202
92Mad Detective202
Mukhsin202
94Revolutionary Road192
Speed Racer192
96Operation Filmmaker182
97Dear Zachary: A Letter To a Son About His Father172
I Served the King of England172
99Doubt152
Heartbeat Detector152

This article is related to: Critics' Poll