Juliette Binoche in Summer Hours ( Jeannick Gravelines / IFC Films)
Olivier Assayas' family drama Summer Hours has been named the best film of 2009 in indieWIRE's annual poll of 114 film critics and bloggers, Eugene Hernandez reports. Also, David Lynch's Mulholland Dr. was chosen the best film of the decade.
Starring Juliette Binoche, Charles Berling, and Jérémie Renier, Summer Hours tells the story of three siblings fighting for the possessions left behind by their deceased mother (Edith Scob) at the family's summer house. Earlier this month, Summer Hours was voted the best foreign language film of 2009 by the Los Angeles, New York, and Boston film critics.
Following in second place in indieWIRE's poll was Joel and Ethan Coen's A Serious Man, about the travails of a suburban Jewish man (Michael Stuhlbarg), and Kathryn Bigelow's widely acclaimed Iraq War drama The Hurt Locker, featuring a cast that includes Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Ralph Fiennes, Brian Geraghty, and Guy Pearce.
Jason Reitman's Up in the Air, which has been winning lots of awards from US-based critics groups, was #11 in the list. Michael Haneke's European Film Award winner The White Ribbon was #14 (perhaps because not enough indieWIRE interviewees have seen it, yet), Precious was #20, Avatar #26, Star Trek #46, and both Capitalism: A Love Story and The Lovely Bones #67.
Even Michael Jackson's This Is It and Sacha Baron Cohen's Bruno made the cut at, respectively, #57 and #63, while C.R.A.Z.Y., a 2005 production, was #61. Halloween II was #59, along with 2008 Cannes winner The Class. Was that a joke?
Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds (François Duhamel / The Weinstein Co.)
Top choices in the indieWIRE annual poll's other categories include Kathryn Bigelow as best director, the Coen brothers' A Serious Man screenplay, Tilda Swinton as best performer in a leading role for Erick Zonca's Julia and, unsurprisingly, Christoph Waltz as best performer in a supporting role for his evil Nazi in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds. Mo'Nique was a distant second for her mean mom in Precious.
Sacha Gervasi's rockumentary Anvil! The Story of Anvil, about a Canadian heavy metal band that doesn't quite make it to the top, was voted the best documentary of 2009. Agnès Varda's autobiographical The Beaches of Agnès was a close second.
Steve McQueen's Hunger, which recently shared the Toronto film critics' best picture award, was the best first feature, while Harmony Korine's Trash Humpers was the best undistributed film of the year.
In the best director category, Olivier Assayas was #3 for Summer Hours, while Joel and Ethan Coen tied with Michael Haneke (for The White Ribbon) in the #5 spot. Lucrecia Martel was a surprising #2 for the little-seen The Headless Woman.
In the best lead performance category, Charlotte Gainsbourg was #3 for Antichrist (above) and Jeremy Renner #3 for The Hurt Locker. Potential Oscar contenders were spread out: Colin Firth (for a Single Man) at #6, Jeff Bridges (for Crazy Heart) and Meryl Streep (for Julie & Julia) at #8, Carey Mulligan (for An Education) and Gabourey Sidibe (for Precious) at #9, Sandra Bullock (for The Blind Side) at #32, and Saoirse Ronan (for The Lovely Bones) at #33 (and that's where the list ends; lots of ties).
Both Mo'Nique and Christoph Waltz were also included in the lead performance list, and so were Agnès Varda for The Beaches of Agnès (#25); Adam Sandler for Funny People (#26); Sasha Grey for The Girlfriend Experience (#28), Michael Jackson for This Is It (#29), Paul Rudd for I Love You, Man (#31), Julia Roberts for Duplicity (#31), and Anna Karina for the 1960s film (recently released on DVD) Made in U.S.A. (#31).
Considering some of those that managed to sneak in, strangely missing from the list are Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart for The Twilight Saga: New Moon, Zac Efron for 17 Again and Me and Orson Welles, Megan Fox for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and/or Jennifer's Body, Amy Adams for Julie & Julia, Isla Fisher for Confessions of a Shopaholic, and the Anvil band players. Ah, and Morgan Freeman in Invictus.
Here's why we shouldn't believe in best-of lists all that much (though they're fun to read):
Among the critics' top films of the decade, this year's winner, Summer Hours, can be found way down at #43. Last year's winner, Flight of the Red Balloon (which also stars Juliette Binoche), is #32. Perhaps that means 2008 and 2009 were really bad years, or perhaps critics just change their minds when they go from one list to the other.
Also, the Hurt Locker-A Serious Man tie came unraveled in the best-of-the-decade list: The Hurt Locker is #46 and A Serious Man is #57.
And Steven Spielberg's A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, somehow, is listed as one of the top ten.
Photo: Antichrist (Courtesy of IFC Films)
indieWIRE poll's top-ten films of 2009
1 Summer Hours
2 A Serious Man and
The Hurt Locker
3 Inglourious Basterds
4 Fantastic Mr. Fox
5 35 Shots of Rum
6 The Headless Woman
7 Two Lovers
9 Police, Adjective
10 In the Loop
indieWIRE poll's top-ten films of the 2000s
1 Mulholland Dr.
2 In the Mood for Love
3 Yi Yi
4 There Will Be Blood
5 Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
6 The New World
7 Before Sunset
10 A.I.: Artificial Intelligence