In a development that surprised precisely no one, Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" received the most votes for the best film from Venice Film Festival, as determined by an informal poll of Criticwire members covering the festival. After lengthy speculation that the film would be skipping Venezia 69, when it finally arrived, the critics responded with vigor.
The film's rising tide also resulted in a wealth of postivity towards the three central performances. In a move that awards season hindsight might prove amusing, all our respondents regarded Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman as lead performances, with the two appearing together on multiple ballots. Amy Adams' supporting turn was the only one to merit multiple inclusions as the best of the entire lineup.
In our previous end-of-festival poll at Tribeca, there was some overlap as critics looked to catch up with films that had bowed at Sundance or elsewhere. While this phenomenon may reoccur with our TIFF wrap-up later in the month, the majority of feedback we received was aimed at Venice premieres. The closest to a connection with previous festivals this year is Ulrich Seidl's "Paradise: Faith," the sequel of sorts to his "Paradise: Love," which opened at Cannes back in May.
Besides garnering the second-place overall narrative slot, Tobias Lindholm's "A Hijacking" received votes for four of its actors. The thriller, which follows a Danish freight ship as it's overrun by Somali pirates, featured vote-getting performances for men on both side of the resultant hostage situation. For a quick guide of who plays who amidst the seafaring tension, check out Oliver Lyttelton's review of the film at The Playlist.
Of those critics who did vote for non-narrative features, Sarah Polley's "Stories We Tell" was the clear standout, with four first-place mentions. Spike Lee's Michael Jackson album retrospective "Bad 25" also appeared on multiple entries.
Although the film had its detractors (and will likely continue to divide audiences as it makes its way through festivals over the coming weeks and months), Harmony Korine's "Spring Breakers" picked up a few nods as one of the festival's best. In the traditional performance that exists in the midpoint between "lead" and "supporting," James Franco's turn as Alien got first-place votes in both categories.
Continue to the next page for a complete list of results as well as individual ballots.