Lists, Awards, and More on That Poll

Cate Blanchett in Todd Field’s Tár (2022)

There was definitely some noteworthy best-of-2022 listing and awarding over the weekend, and we’ll get to that in a moment. First, though, headlines and conversations have naturally been dominated by last Thursday’s reveal of the results of the Sight and Sound polls of critics and directors, which give us two freshly ranked lists of the greatest films of all time. Focusing primarily on the critics’ top tens from 1952 to 2022—the poll is conducted once every ten years—the New York Times has put together an interactive feature demonstrating that while “the same ‘serious movies’ got taken seriously decade after decade” in the previous seven polls, the new one “marks several radical shifts from the accepted wisdom—and maybe, just maybe, from the idea of a ‘canon’ altogether.”

At the Film Stage, Jordan Raup lists the new additions and their rankings as well as the films that have dropped out of the top hundred and the rankings they held in 2012. Kevin B. Lee has taken measure of the highest rises and deepest falls. Among the “biggest winners” are Chantal Akerman, Agnès Varda, and Wong Kar Wai, while the “biggest losers” include Orson Welles, Ingmar Bergman, and Jean-Luc Godard. Lee “senses the loosening grip of mid-century High Modernist Eurocentric Auteur cinema.”

Sight and Sound managing editor Isabel Stevens offers further analysis of this year’s poll in a brisk six-and-a-half-minute video. According to the magazine’s editor, Mike Williams, all the individual ballots will go live on the magazine’s site in early January, and the critics’ list will expand from one hundred to 250. As for the directors’ poll, Sight and Sound has been giving us sneak previews, tweeting or retweeting ballots from Bong Joon Ho,Mark Cousins,Julie Dash,Terence Davies,S. S. Rajamouli,Sophy Romvari,Alice Rohrwacher,Isabel Sandoval,Paul Schrader, and Martin Scorsese.


On Friday, the New York Film Critics Circle convened, voted, and announced their award winners. Todd Field’s Tár won Best Film and Cate Blanchett, who plays the renowned conductor Lydia Tár, won Best Actress. “Plenty of actors could have studied piano, conducting, and German to the level of technical fluency Blanchett achieves here,” writes Justin Chang in his list of the year’s best performances in the Los Angeles Times. “Few could have invested Lydia Tár with the same otherworldly magnetism.”

Introducing “TÁR WARS,” the latest episode of the Film Comment Podcast, hosts Devika Girish and Clinton Krute note that the film “has been fairly divisive among critics.” So they invited “two well-matched gladiators—the valiant Jessica Kiang on the pro-side and the courageous Nathan Lee on the con—to debate the relative merits and demerits of the movie.”

Tár is “masterfully made, aggressively sleek, confident and clever,” writes Tavi Gevinson in the New Yorker. “I delighted at its niche cultural references, thought I saw Cate Blanchett commune with the divine, and even, somehow, cried. But through all it reveals about the cost of artistic greatness and the ruse of prestige, Tár casts even its own achievements as untrustworthy.” The film is “less interested in explaining the relationship between genius and cruelty than in showing how both collaborate with power—as derived from the brands, the institutions, and all their virtuous pretense—to create a shield against accountability.”

The NYFCC named S. S. Rajamouli Best Director for RRR and Colin Farrell Best Actor for his performances in Kogonada’s After Yang and in The Banshees of Inisherin, for which director Martin McDonagh won Best Screenplay. Laura Poitras’s All the Beauty and the Bloodshed won Best Nonfiction Film, Jerzy Skolimowski’s EO won Best International Film, and Charlotte Wells’s Aftersun—which swept the British Independent Film Awards on Sunday evening, taking seven, including Best Film, Director, Screenplay, Cinematography (Gregory Oke), and Editing (Blair McClendon)—won Best First Film.

The NYFCC also presented special awards to curator, distributor, and publisher Jake Perlin; dGenerate Films, the distributor of independent films from China; and Jafar Panahi, “for his dogged bravery as an artist, and for the humanity and beauty of a body of work created under the most oppressive circumstances.”


Panahi’s son, Panah Panahi, has won the inaugural André Bazin award, presented by Cahiers du cinéma to a director for his or her first feature. The younger Panahi’s Hit the Road tops the ranked and annotated list of the best twenty-two films of 2022 from Rolling Stone’s David Fear. “Iranian cinema has long used car trips and children as go-to narrative devices,” writes Fear, “yet few films from any country have used both so sublimely in an effort to crack you up and break your heart.”

Richard Brody’s list for the New Yorker stretches to thirty films. “This year,” he writes, “it’s all the more important to offer a widely inclusive list, because a wide range of American filmmakers have caught up with the inescapable phenomenon of the recent past: the resurgence of openly anti-democratic forces and brazenly hate-driven ideologies, the crisis of illegitimate rule, the menace of authoritarianism, the potential end of even our current debilitated American democracy. The phenomenon is certainly not limited to the United States, and filmmakers from around the world have long been confronting it in their own countries bravely, insightfully, and ingeniously.”

Both Hit the Road and Jafar Panahi’s No Bears are among Brody’s thirty, but Tár is not. Topping the list is Terence Davies’s Benediction, the story of English poet and soldier Siegfried Sassoon, who was decorated for bravery during the First World War, but then, in 1917, wrote an open letter to his commanding officer that was published in the London Times: “Finished with the War: A Soldier’s Declaration.” Brody calls Benediction “a tautly controlled, scathing, yet often exuberant vision of creative fury, lost love, the cruel repression of queer lives, and the devastation of war.”

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