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2019 Critics Poll: The Best Films and Performances According to Over 300 Critics From Around the World

With 304 critics participating from dozens of countries, this year's survey was the largest to date.

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It’s been a busy year for the movies, with many of them vying for prominent positions in year-end lists, but one cinematic highlight has continued to dominate the season: “Parasite,” Bong Joon Ho’s sophisticated riff on class warfare and family strife, topped IndieWire’s annual critics survey for best film, director, screenplay, and foreign film.

The fourteenth edition of the survey was its largest, with 304 critics and journalists from around the world voting in a range of categories.

Other winners included “Marriage Story” star Adam Driver for best actor, Lupita Nyong’o for best actress, “The Irishman” mobster Joe Pesci for best supporting actor, and “Marriage Story” lawyer Laura Dern for supporting actress. Roger Deakins scored best cinematography for his acrobatic long-takes in “1917,” Mati Diop’s immigration crisis ghost story “Atlantics” won best first feature, and moon-landing odyssey “Apollo 11” topped best documentary.

The “Parasite” victory marks the latest notch in one of the year’s biggest success stories. After Bong became the first Korean director to win the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in May, the movie broke box office records in its home country, eventually hitting U.S. theaters to become one of the surprise breakout commercial hits of the specialty market. As IndieWire’s survey came to a close this weekend, “Parasite” cracked $20.3 million at the domestic box office, putting it within spitting distance of the top 10 foreign-language earners of all time. Meanwhile, Bong has garnered a Golden Globe nomination and several major critics group wins, including those in New York and Los Angeles.

Nevertheless, “Parasite” was hardly the only movie to rank highly on IndieWire’s poll. Critics were asked to submit a top 10 list for the best film portion of the poll, and several other awards season favorites wound up in the upper echelon. “The Irishman” came in second place, followed by “Marriage Story” and “Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” all of which landed similarly high marks in the best director category, alongside the Safdie brothers for “Uncut Gems.” Top directorial debuts included “Booksmart” and “The Last Black Man in San Francisco,” while documentary favorites included “American Factory” and “Honeyland.”

In adherence to the requirements for the survey, all of these titles opened theatrically in 2019. However, critics traveling the festival circuit were exposed to a much wider array of options, some of which may not come to theaters until next year. To acknowledge that aspect of the marketplace, our survey also invited critics to vote on the best upcoming 2020 releases they’ve already seen. Votes were too diffuse for much consensus, but several festival favorites received multiple votes, including Kelly Reichardt’s 19th century Oregon buddy movie “First Cow,” the Brazilian Weird Western “Bacurau,” Pedro Costa’s Lisbon docudrama “Vitalena Verala,” and the Riz Ahmed musical drama “Sound of Metal,” which Amazon Studios acquired out of TIFF this fall.

The prompt to name the best movies of the decade yielded a similar lack of cohesion, with few movies garnering more than a handful of votes, attesting to the sheer range of opinions about the cinema of the last 10 years. Nevertheless, Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight” received the most mentions after topping IndieWire’s own best of the decade list this past summer, and it was followed by “The Master,” “Boyhood,” and “Mad Max: Fury Road,” Notably, all four movies won IndieWire’s critics poll in the year they were released.

As usual, the movies that received the most votes in every category only tell part of the story of the year’s cinematic highlights. We invite readers to peruse the following lists to explore the range of celebrated movies released this year, and seek out the ones they have yet to experience. Winners in each category are listed below, with a complete list of participants on the next page. Rankings were determined from percentages based on how highly critics ranked films and performances on their individual lists.

BEST FILM

“Parasite”

Neon

1. “Parasite”

2. “The Irishman”

3. “Marriage Story”

4. “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood”

5. “Portrait of a Lady on Fire”

6. “Pain & Glory”

7. “Uncut Gems”

8. “The Souvenir”

9. “Joker”

10. “Little Women”

11. “The Farewell”

12. “Knives Out”

13. “Transit”

14. “The Lighthouse”

15. “Us”

16. “A Hidden Life”

17. “Ad Astra”

18. “Long Day’s Journey Into Night”

19. “Atlantics”

20. “High Life”

21. “1917”

22. “The Last Black Man in San Francisco”

23. “Jojo Rabbit”

24. “An Elephant Sitting Still”

25. “Midsommar”

BEST DIRECTOR

Bong Joon-Ho'Parasite' premiere, 66th Sydney Film Festival, Australia - 15 Jun 2019

Bong Joon Ho

Richard Milnes/Shutterstock

1. Bong Joon Ho, “Parasite”

2. Martin Scorsese, “The Irishman”

3. Quentin Tarantino, “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood”

4. Celine Sciamma, “Portrait of a lady on Fire”

5. Josh and Benny Safdie, “Uncut Gems”

6. Noah Baumbach, “Marriage Story”

7. Pedro Almodovar, “Pain and Glory”

8. Greta Gerwig, “Little Women”

9. Joanna Hogg, “The Souvenir”

10. Todd Phillips, “Joker”

11. Sam Mandes, “1917”

12. Robert Eggers, “The Lighthouse”

13. Christian Petzold, “Transit”

14. Mati Diop, “Atlantics”

15. Terrence Malick, “A Hidden Life”

16. Jordan Peele, “Us”

17. Lulu Wang, “The Farewell”

18. Bi Gan, “Long Day’s Journey Into Night”

19. Marielle Heller, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”

20. Claire Denis, “High Life”

21. Rian Johnson, “Knives Out”

22. Ari Aster, “Midsommar”

23. Trey Shults, “Waves”

24. Taika Waititi, “Jojo Rabbit”

25. Nadav Lapid, “Synonyms”

BEST SCREENPLAY

Parasite

“Parasite”

1. “Parasite”

2. “Marriage Story”

3. “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood”

4. “The Irishman”

5. “Knives Out”

6. “Little Women”

7. “Pain & Glory”

8. “Uncut Gems”

9. “The Farewell”

10. “Portrait of a Lady on Fire”

11. “Us”

12. “The Souvenir”

13. “Transit”

14. “The Lighthouse”

15. “Jojo Rabbit”

16. “The Two Popes”

17. “Dolemite is My Name”

18. “Booksmart”

19. “Hustlers”

20. “Joker”

21. “The Last Black Man in San Francisco”

22. “Honey Boy”

23. “Synonyms”

24. “A Hidden Life”

25. “La Flor”

BEST ACTRESS

Editorial use only. No book cover usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by C Barius/Universal/ILM/Kobal/Shutterstock (10162635l)Lupita Nyong'o as Red'Us' Film - 2019A family's serenity turns to chaos when a group of doppelgängers begins to terrorize them.

Lupita Nyong’o as Red in “Us”

C Barius/Universal/ILM/Kobal/Shutterstock

1. Lupita Nyong’o, “Us”

2. Scarlet Johansson, “Marriage Story”

3. Elisabeth Moss, “Her Smell”

4. Rene Zellweger, “Judy”

5. Awkwafina, “The Farewell”

6. Florence Pugh, “Midsommar”

7. Mary Kay Place, “Diane”

8. Zhao Tao, “Ash Is Purest White”

9. Saoirse Ronan, “Little Women”

10. Adéle Haenel, “Portrait of a Lady on Fire”

11. Alfre Woodard, “Clemency”

12. Honor Swinton Byrne, “The Souvenir”

13. Noemi Merlant, “Portrait of a Lady on Fire”

14. Charlize Theron, “Bombshell”

15. Aisling Franciosi, “The Nightingale”

16. Jessie Buckley, “Wild Rose”

17. Cynthia Erivo, “Harriet”

18. Julianne Moore, “Gloria Bell”

19. Ana de Armas, “Knives Out”

20. Mama Sane, “Atlantics”

21. Beanie Feldstein, “Booksmart”

22. Gabriela Cartol, “The Chambermaid”

23. Cate Blanchett, “Where’d you Go Bernadette?”

24. Meryl Streep, “The Laundromat”

BEST ACTOR

Adam Driver

Adam Driver in “Marriage Story”

Netflix/screenshot

1. Adam Driver, “Marriage Story”

2. Antonio Banderas, “Pain & Glory”

3. Adam Sandler, “Uncut Gems”

4. Joaquin Phoenix, “Joker”

5. Robert De Niro, “The Irishman”

6. Leonardo Di Caprio, “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood”

7. Eddie Murphy, “Dolemite Is My Name”

8. Taron Egerton, “Rocketman”

9. Song Kang Ho, “Parasite”

10. Brad Pitt, “Ad Astra”

11. Brad Pitt, “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood”

12. Tom Mercier, “Synonyms”

13. Jonathan Pryce, “The Two Popes”

14. Robert Pattinson, “The Lighthouse”

15. Kelvin Harrison Jr, “Luce”

16. Willem Dafoe, “The Lighthouse”

17. Franz Rogowski, “Transit”

18. Christian Bale, “Ford v Ferrari”

19. Paul Walter Hauser, “Richard Jewell”

20. Robert Pattinson, “High Life”

21. Jimmie Fails, “The Last Black Man in San Francisco”

22. August Diehl, “A Hidden Life”

23. Andre Holland, “High Flying Bird”

24. Matthew McConaughey, “The Beach Bum”

25. Mark Ruffalo, “Dark Waters”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 12: Laura Dern speaks onstage during MoMA's Twelfth Annual Film Benefit Presented By CHANEL Honoring Laura Dern on November 12, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for MoMA)

Laura Dern at MoMA’s Twelfth Annual Film Benefit

Getty Images for MoMA

1. Laura Dern, “Marriage Story”

2. Jennifer Lopez, “Hustlers”

3. Florence Pugh, “Little Women”

4. Zhao Schuzhen, “The Farewell”

5. Margot Robbie, “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood”

6. Da’Vine Joy Randloph, “Dolemite Is My Name”

7. Julia Fox, “Uncut Gems”

8. Annette Bening, “The Report”

9. Scarlet Johansson, “Jojo Rabbit”

10. Park So-dam, “Parasite”

11. Taylor Russel, “Waves”

12. Margot Robbie, “Bombshell”

13. Adele Haenel, “Portrait of a Lady on Fire”

14. Anna Pacquin, “The Irishman”

15. Cho Yao Jeong, “Parasite”

16. Kathy Bates, “Richard Jewell”

17. Octavia Spencer, “Luce”

18. Penelope Cruz, “Pain and Glory”

19. Agyness Deyn, “Her Smell”

20. Juliette Binoche, “High Life”

21. Thomas McKenzie, “Jojo Rabbit”

22. Jeong-eun Lee, “Parasite”

23. Lauren ‘Lolo’ Spencer, “Give Me Liberty”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

At a bowling alley, Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) attempts a show of warmth to his daughter Peggy (Lucy Gallina) in front of Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci). © 2019 Netlfix US, LLC. All rights reserved.

Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci in “The Irishman”

Netflix

1. Joe Pesci, “The Irishman”

2. Brad Pitt, “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood”

3. Al Pacino, “The Irishman”

4. Wilem Dafoe, “The Lighthouse”

5. Song Kang Ho, “Parasite”

6. Tom Hanks, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”

7. Alan Alda, “Marriage Story”

8. Tom Burke, “Souvenir”

9. Shia LaBeouf, “Honey Boy”

10. Wesley Snipes, “Dolemite is My Name”

11. Jonathan Majors, “Last Black Man in San Francisco”

12. Sterling K. Brown, “Waves”

13. Ray Liotta, “Marriage Story”

14. Anthony Hopkins, “The Two Popes”

15. Timothee Chalamet, “Little Women”

16. Bill Camp, “Dark Waters”

17. Alessandro Nivola, “The Art of Self Defense”

18. Jamie Foxx, “Just Mercy”

19. Taika Waititi, “Jojo Rabbit”

20. Asier Etxeandia, “Pain and Glory”

21. Sam Rockwell, “Richard Jewell”

22. John Lithgow,  “Bombshell”

23. Robert De Niro, “Joker”

24 .Robert Pattinson, “The Lighthouse”

25. Aldis Hodge, “Clemency”

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

"1917"

“1917”

Universal

1. “1917”

2. “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood”

3. “Portrait of a Lady on Fire”

4. “The Lighthouse”

5. “Parasite”

6. “The Irishman”

7. “A Hidden Life”

10. “Uncut Gems”

11. “Long Day’s Journey Into Night”

12. “Ad Astra”

13. “Joker”

14. “Little Women”

15. “Atlantics”

16. “Midsommar”

17. “Pain & Glory”

18. “Last Black Man in San Francisco”

19. “Waves”

20. “Us”

21. “High Life”

22. “Monos”

23. “Marriage Story”

24. “Ford v. Ferrari”

25. “The Souvenir”

BEST DOCUMENTARY

"Apollo 11"

“Apollo 11”

1. “Apollo 11”

2. “American Factory”

3. “Honeyland”

4. “For Sama”

5. “One Child Nation”

6. “Varda by Agnes”

7. “Amazing Grace”

8. “Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story”

9. “Hail Satan?”

10. “Diego Maradona”

11. “Black Mother”

12. “Cold Case Hammarskjold”

13. “The Edge of Democracy”

14. “The Image Book”

15. “Midnight Family”

16. “The Cave”

17. “The Hottest August”

18. “The Kingmaker”

19. “Tell Me Who I Am”

20. “Fyre”

21. “Leaving Neverland”

22. “63 Up”

23. “Biggest Little Farm”

24. “Maiden”

25. “They Shall Not Grow Old”

BEST FIRST FEATURE

“Atlantics”

1. “Atlantics”

2. “Booksmart”

3. “The Last Black Man in San Francisco”

4. “An Elephant Sitting Still”

5. “Les Miserables”

6. “I Lost My Body”

7. “The Mustang”

8. “The Chambermaid”

9. “Burning Cane”

10. “End of the Century”

BEST FOREIGN FILM

Parasite

“Parasite”

Neon

1. “Parasite”

2. “Pain and Glory”

3. “Portrait of a Lady on Fire”

4. “Atlantics”

5. “Transit”

6. “Monos”

7. “Long Day’s Journey Into Night”

8. “An Elephant Sitting Still”

9. “Synonyms”

10. “Les Miserables”

11. “Ash Is Purest White”

12. “Honeyland”

13. “The Farewell”

14. “I Lost My Body”

15. “The Chambermaid”

16. “Asako I & II”

17. “La Flor”

18. “The Image Book”

19. “Birds of Passage”

20. “Beanpole”

21. “Aniara”

22. “3 Faces”

23. “Climax”

24. “Sunset”

25. “Shadow”

Results for this survey were organized and tabulated by Christian Blauvelt and Liz Bloomfield. Participating critics were selected by IndieWire staff. Head to the next page for the full list of participants.

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