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Criticwire at Cannes: The Top Films and Performances Poll

Photo of Steve Greene By Steve Greene | Criticwire May 29, 2012 at 12:58PM

"Amour" and "Holy Motors" close out Cannes as the Criticwire favorites, but what gangsters and singers also made the best of the festival lists? And which films drew both applause and disappointment?
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As the votes came in for the best film at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Michael Haneke’s "Amour (Love)" and Leos Carax’s "Holy Motors" flipped back and forth between the top two slots. It’s only fitting that the pair of films ended up in a virtual deadlock for first place, with Haneke's Palme d'Or winner edging out the competition by the slimmest of margins.

"Holy Motors."
"Holy Motors."

We also asked our Criticwire members at Cannes to rank their top lead and supporting performances. In both categories, actors and actresses from the top two films were prominently featured. The runaway winner for Best Lead Performance was "Holy Motors" star Denis Lavant, who garnered a first-place mention on over half the respondents' ballots and three-quarters of the ones in which he was listed. As the elderly couple whose relationship forms the emotional core and a majority of the runtime of "Amour (Love)," Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva also received top acting honors. Riva even received enough mentions in both categories to top the Best Supporting list while finishing right behind Lavant and Trintignant as the third-highest Lead Performance.

In addition to listing their favorites, Criticwire members were also given the opportunity to name their most disappointing films of the festival. As a result, Cannes’ most polarizing offerings quickly bubbled to the top, with David Cronenberg’s "Cosmopolis" leading the way.

Michael Haneke's "Amour (Love)."
Michael Haneke's "Amour (Love)."

But even some of the derided films found their champions. Out of the top ten "Most Disappointing" films, four of them also made the top ten Best Films list, with three receiving first-place votes in both categories.

Only two of the top ten Best Film finishers were from outside competition. "Beasts of the Southern Wild" continued its magical 2012 run, finishing fifth overall despite already receiving wide exposure at Sundance, where six of the critics who responded for Cannes also submitted ballots. Pablo Larraín’s "No" was the other non-competition film to place high, even though star Gael Garcia Bernal couldn’t quite crack the list of performers.

James Gandolfini in "Killing Them Softly."
Melinda Sue Gordon James Gandolfini in "Killing Them Softly."

A few films that may not have fared well as overall products did get attention for their impressive ensembles. Five different actors received votes for their performances in "Killing Them Softly," with James Gandolfini and Ben Mendelsohn only being edged out by Riva. "On the Road" also had received mentions for five of its castmembers, with Kristen Stewart earning a first-place vote for her turn as Marylou.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that the Best Supporting performance category featured not one but two performances from actresses probably best known for their singing careers: Kylie Minogue in "Holy Motors" eked out a top ten finish, while Macy Gray's performance in "The Paperboy" received multiple votes, but finished just outside the list. 

[Note: Scores for individual categories were tabulated on a simple weighted scale, with a first-place vote earning five points, second place earning 4 points, and so on. Critics could list fewer than five for a particular category or abstain from one altogether.]

(LEGEND: Film or Performance: Number of Mentions - (First-Place Votes) - Aggregate Score - Average Criticwire Grade)

BEST FILM

1. Amour (Love) – 20 – (10) – 82 - A-

2. Holy Motors – 21 – (8) – 81 - A-

3. Moonrise Kingdom – 12 – (0) - 30 - B+

4. Rust and Bone – 8 – (1) – 24 - B

5. Beasts of the Southern Wild – 6 – (2) – 22 - B+

6. No – 6 – (1) – 20 - A-

7. Mud – 4 – (1) – 14 - B-

8. Cosmopolis – 4 – (1) – 13 - B-

9. Beyond the Hills – 5 – (1) – 12 - B-

T10. Killing Them Softly – 4 – (0) – 10 - B

T10. Like Someone in Love – 3 – (0) – 10 - B-

Also Receiving First Place Votes: "Post Tenebras Lux," "Sightseers"

MOST DISAPPOINTING FILM

1. Cosmopolis – 10 – (4) – 35 - B-

2. On the Road – 11 – (3) – 34 - C+

3. Like Someone in Love – 7 – (3) – 30 - B-

4. The Paperboy – 9 – (4) – 29 - C-

5. Killing Them Softly – 7 – (1) – 20 - B

6. Beyond the Hills – 7 – (2) – 19 - B-

7. Mekong Hotel – 4 – (1) – 17 - B-

8. Reality – 4 – (1) – 17 - B-

9. Lawless – 6 – (1) – 16 - C+

10. After the Battle – 4 – (1) – 13 - C-

Also Receiving First Place Votes: "Post Tenebras Lux," "11.25: The Day He Chose His Own Fate," "Dracula 3D," "Paradise: Love," "The Legend of Love & Sincerity"

BEST LEAD PERFORMANCE

1. Denis Lavant, "Holy Motors" – 20 – (15) – 92

2. Jean-Louis Trintignant, “Amour (Love)” – 18 – (4) – 68

3. Emmanuelle Riva, “Amour (Love)” – 12 – (3) – 46

4. Marion Cotillard, “Rust and Bone” – 10 – (2) – 32

5. Mads Mikkelsen, “The Hunt (Jagten)” – 9 – (0) – 22

T6. Matthias Schoenaerts, “Rust and Bone” – 8 – (0) – 16

T6. Aniello Arena, “Reality” – 6 – (0) – 16

8. Émilie Dequenne, “Loving Without Reason” – 4 – (2) – 15 

9. Tye Sheridan, “Mud” – 5 – (1) – 14 

10. Quvenzhané Wallis, “Beasts of the Southern Wild” – 6 – (0) – 12 

Also Receiving First Place Votes: Alice Lowe/Steve Oram, "Sightseers"

BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE

1. Emmanuelle Riva, “Amour (Love)” – 6 – (5) – 29

2. James Gandolfini, "Killing Them Softly" – 9 – (1) – 23

3. Ben Mendelsohn, “Killing Them Softly” – 6 – (1) – 18

4. Bruce Willis, “Moonrise Kingdom” – 5 – (1) – 15

T5. Nicole Kidman, “The Paperboy” – 4 – (1) – 14

T5. Guy Pearce, “Lawless” – 4 – (0) – 14

T7. Kristen Stewart, “On the Road” – 4 – (1) – 11

T7. Scoot McNairy, "Killing Them Softly" – 4 – (0) – 11

T7. Kylie Minogue, “Holy Motors” – 4 – (0) – 11 

10. Jun-Sang Yu, “In Another Country” – 2 – (2) – 10 
 
Also Receiving First Place Votes: Edward Norton, "Moonrise Kingdom"; Marion Cotillard, "Rust and Bone"; Niels Arestrup, "Loving Without Reason"; Alfredo Castro, "No"; Sarah Gadon, "Cosmopolis"; Adila Bendimerad, "El Taaib"; Bill Murray, "Moonrise Kingdom"; Edith Scob, "Holy Motors"; Cristina Flutur, "Beyond the Hills" 
 
Individual ballots from this year's participants can be found on the following pages.

This article is related to: Cannes Film Festival, Amour, Holy Motors , James Gandolfini, Ben Mendelsohn, Denis Lavant, Macy Gray, Cosmopolis, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Kristen Stewart


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