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TIFF 2018 Report Card: Critics Rank the Best Films and Performances

Over 300 critics and journalists participated in this year's survey.

As the biggest lineup of the fall festival circuit, the Toronto International Film Festival gave critics and journalists a lot of new movies pick through. With close to 300 features from around the world, the small crop of titles that tend to dominate the buzz at this time of the year are just one small piece of a very large cinematic equation. Nevertheless, consensus has formed around a handful of highlights, as the results of IndieWire’s annual TIFF critics survey demonstrate. Over 300 critics and journalists covering the festival participated this year, and while many of them singled out lower-profile films, some of the most anticipated movies of the year dominated the categories for best film, best documentary, and best performance.

Barely a week after it scored the Golden Lion in Venice, Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma” continued its winning streak by topping the TIFF survey for best film. Cuaron’s black-and-white ode to his childhood in Mexico City has been generating acclaim ever since its Venice premiere, and won IndieWire’s Telluride critics survey last week. Breakout star Yalitza Aparicio, a schoolteacher-turned-actress who portrays the domestic worker at the center of the movie, also topped the best actress category in the TIFF survey.

“Roma” received 19% of the vote for best film, while Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight” follow-up “If Beale Street Could Talk” came in second place, followed by “A Star Is Born,” “Widows,” and a tie between “Green Book” and “High Life.” The results are a notable contrast to the outcome of the TIFF People’s Choice Award, which went to “Green Book” on Sunday (“Beale Street” came in second place).

While Aparicio won her category, the other performances that received close to the same number of votes reflect the sheer volume of well-received female performances this fall. These include two pop star roles — second-place winner Elisabeth Moss, who plays a rocker inspired by Kurt Cobain and Marilyn Monroe in Alex Ross Perry’s grimy “Her Smell,” and Lady Gaga as the centerpiece of “A Star Is Born,” third place — as well as Nicole Kidman as a fierce detective in “Destroyer” and Viola Davis in “Widows.”

The best documentary category departed from the fall season buzz that started in Telluride. While the big documentary breakout there was the tense climbing documentary “Free Solo,” it came in second place in the TIFF poll. Michael Moore’s incendiary “Fahrenheit 11/9” topped the category with 19% of the vote, while “Free Solo” came in second place with 10%. Breakout “The Biggest Little Farm,” a Neon acquisition at TIFF about a couple that purchase a farm outside of Los Angeles and deal with a series of setbacks, came in second place with 7%. Other popular non-fiction titles included Errol Morris’ unsettling Steve Bannon portrait “American Dharma” (6%), and the Netflix-produced Quincy Jones profile “Quincy,” which tied with Frederick Wiseman’s “Monrovia, Indiana” in fifth place.

The full list of top finalists is below.

Best Film

1. “Roma” (19%)

2. “If Beale Street Could Talk” (12%)

3. “A Star is Born” (7%)

4. “Widows” (6%)

5. “Green Book” and “High Life” (5%)

Best Documentary

1. “Fahrenheit 11/9” (19%)

2. “Free Solo” (10%)

3. “The Biggest Little Farm” (7%)

4. “American Dharma” (6%)

5. “Quincy” and “Monrovia, Indiana” (5%)

Best Performance

1. Yalitza Aparicio, “Roma” (9%)

2. Elisabeth Moss, “Her Smell” (7%)

3. Lady Gaga, “A Star is Born” (6%)

4. Nicole Kidman, “Destroyer” (4%)

5. Viola Davis, “Widows” (3%)

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