Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest was one of the most anticipated titles to world premiere at the 2014 New York Film Festival and according to our Criticwire pool of critics, it delivered on the hype.
“Inherent Vice,” the tale of private investigator Doc Sportello adapted from Thomas Pynchon’s 2009 novel, led the way in four different areas of our NYFF critics poll, including Best Narrative Feature, Best Director and two different acting categories. As we often do at the end of major film festivals, we asked critics within our network to single out their favorites. This time, 28 of them selected their favorite films, performances, directors and screenplays.
Despite the acclaim for the respected auteur’s latest, the biggest takeaway from the poll might be the film that “Inherent Vice” edged out for tops in the Best Narrative Feature tally: Abderrahmane Sissako’s “Timbuktu,” among other things a condemnation of radical jihadism, finished ahead of over a dozen other films tat also made their debuts at Cannes back in May. “Timbuktu” also had top-ten finishes in the Best Director and Best Screenplay categories.
Third overall was Olivier Assayas’ “Clouds of Sils Maria,” featuring Juliette Binoche in a story about an actress forced to face the consequences of her advancing career. As her assistant, Cannes standout Kristen Stewart claimed top Supporting Performance honors once again, narrowly outpacing Edward Norton’s turn in “Birdman” and multiple-fest-favorite J.K. Simmons.
“CITIZENFOUR,” Laura Poitras’ thrilling, meticulous look at the unfolding Edward Snowden saga, took the top spot among documentaries. (Poitras was also the highest-finishing director among doc filmmakers.) “The Look of Silence,” the spiritual sequel to Joshua Oppenheimer’s “The Act of Killing,” finished second in Best Documentary, followed by “Tales of the Grim Sleeper,” Nick Broomfield’s investigation into a decades-long case against a southern California serial killer, Russian hockey doc “Red Army” and Debra Granik’s “Stray Dog,” a simple-yet-powerful look at the life of a Vietnam veteran.
Aside from the Anderson/Phoenix combo, multiple notable directors and stars each landed high in their respective categories, including David Fincher and Rosamund Pike for “Gone Girl,” Mike Leigh and Timothy Spall for “Mr. Turner,” Alejandro González Iñárritu and Michael Keaton for “Birdman,” and the brothers Dardenne and Marion Cotillard for “Two Days, One Night.” In addition to Best Lead Performance, “Vice” also claimed the Best Ensemble prize, the largest distance between first and second place of any category.
Most of the top picks from this year’s NYFF are films already picked up for distribution. A few of them are even in theaters now. One film poised to join the theatrical swing in the very near future is “Listen Up Philip,” the high Best Screenplay finisher. A novel in original script form, Alex Ross Perry’s tale of a writer, his girlfriend and his mentor was also a Sundance favorite and will open in select cities beginning this Friday.
For a complete list of critics poll results, including links to every critic’s individual ballot, visit our survey homepage.