Indiewire’s Annual Survey Honors ‘Tree of Life,’ ‘Melancholia’ and… ‘Uncle Boonmee?’

In a stunning move sure to affect the climate of this year’s Oscar Race in no way whatsoever, Indiewire released its sixth annual survey of “critics, bloggers and other tastemakers from around the world,” polling them on the very best cinema had to offer moviegoers this year. The poll resulted in a Top Ten list that included two Palme d’Or Winners, four non-English language films, and almost no legitimate Oscar contenders to speak of.

By far the most popular film among participants was Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, which was included on 63 critics’ lists and racked up a total of 439 points (the runner-up, Melancholia, got mentioned on 52 lists and garnered 373 points). Some of the biggest Oscar contenders – namely The Artist, The Descendants and Midnight in Paris – notably failed to crack the top ten.

Participating critics collectively praised the performances of Michael Fassbender (Shame), Michael Shannon (Take Shelter) and Anna Paquin (Margaret), who together reserved the top two spots in the “Lead Performance” category of the poll (the Michaels tied for first place). Christopher Plummer (Beginners) and Albert Brooks (Drive) continued to compete as top contenders for their lauded supporting roles this year.

Other popular films among Indiewire voters were Asghar Farhadi’s A Separation, Steve James’ The Interrupters, the criminally underseen Palme d’Or winner Uncle Boonmee and the late Raul Ruiz’s swan song Mysteries of Lisbon.

As I facetiously suggested, this Critics’ List has no influence to speak of as an Oscar precursor, but it’s nonetheless a rather refreshing change of pace, considering how the same five to ten films seem to be monopolizing so many Critics’ Circle awards at the moment (a minor spoiler…my #1 film of the year is in this poll’s top ten list).

I’ve listed the big winners of the Indiewire poll below. Click here to see the full results of each poll, the number of points each film earned, as well as each participant’s respective “Best of 2011” lists.

Best Film:

  1. The Tree of Life
  2. Melancholia
  3. A Separation
  4. Drive
  5. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
Best Lead Performance:
  1. Michael Fassbender, Shame & Michael Shannon, Take Shelter (tie)
  2. Anna Paquin, Margaret
  3. Juliette Binoche, Certified Copy
  4. Yun Jung-hee, Poetry
  5. Kirsten Dunst, Melancholia
Best Supporting Performance:
  1. Christopher Plummer, Beginners
  2. Albert Brooks, Drive
  3. Jeannie Berlin, Margaret
  4. Jessica Chastain, Take Shelter
  5. Viggo Mortenson, A Dangerous Method
Best Director:
  1. Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life
  2. Lars von Trier, Melancholia & Martin Scorsese, Hugo (tie)
  3. Nicolas Winding Refn, Drive
  4. Raul Ruiz, Mysteries of Lisbon
  5. Kelly Reichart, Meek’s Cutoff
Best Documentary:
  1. The Interrupters
  2. Nostalgia for the Light
  3. The Arbor
  4. The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceaucescu
  5. Project Nim
Best Screenplay:
  1. A Separation
  2. Margaret
  3. Moneyball
  4. Young Adult
  5. A Dangerous Method & Certified Copy & Mysteries of Lisbon (tie)

Best First Feature: 

  1. Martha Marcy May Marlene
  2. Margin Call
  3. Attack the Block
  4. Bellflower
  5. Pariah
Best Ensemble:
  1. Margaret
  2. Bridesmaids
  3. A Separation & Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (tie)
  4. Margin Call
  5. House of Pleasures, Melancholia, Midnight in Paris, The Descendants 
Best Cinematography:
  1. The Tree of Life
  2. Hugo
  3. Drive & Melancholia (tie)
  4. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
  5. Meek’s Cutoff
Best Undistributed Film:
  1. The Color Wheel
  2. Green
  3. Oslo, August 31st & Sleeping Sickness
  4. Policeman & Without (tie)
  5. Two Years at Sea

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  • What a world would this be if the Oscars looked like this? A world where the Oscars had fewer than 100 viewers, but a world in which I would be happy and I’m all that matters…

    • In my mind, this list is pure, unmitigated awesomesauce.

      I’ve seen all five of the best films and, though I’m not sure how many of them would ultimately rank in my own top ten list, it is a far more interesting list of movies than almost any other critics’ list I’ve seen so far this year.

      What’s more, it is far more representative of the kind of truly amazing cinema we’ve been offered this year – not middlebrow croud-pleasers like ‘The Descendants’ and ‘Midnight in Paris,’ but truly interesting and challenging and ambitious stuff that really challenges the perceived limitations of the medium.

  • These picks by critics makes me happy :)

    i would love to see A Separation nominated for screenplay award at the Oscars and now i want to see Margaret too which i thought wouldn’t be good enough.

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