The 2016 Village Voice Film Poll Winners


This year, the contentious question wasn’t “What is the best film?” It was “What is a film?” Barry Jenkins’s delicate, luminous Moonlight easily swept our annual film poll, appearing on 87 of the 124 ballots cast by critics ranking the year’s best — that’s 36 more than the runner-up, Kenneth Lonergan’s piercing Manchester by the Sea. Moonlight also won best director and best supporting actor; Manchester‘s Casey Affleck took best actor by a comfortable margin, with Paterson‘s Adam Driver in second, and Michelle Williams represented Manchester with a second-place showing in the supporting actress category, ranking just below Certain Women‘s Lily Gladstone.

So no controversy there, except maybe that the only category La La Land placed first in is “Movie Everyone Is Wrong About.” (It won with just 14 votes.) Moonlight, Manchester, Certain Women — these are excellent films. But look at #5 on the best film list, and at the winner for best documentary: O.J.: Made in America is an excellent eight-hour ESPN miniseries. Thirty-five critics voted it one of the year’s best movies, and since it received a theatrical release, it qualifies. (After its initial run, it’s enjoyed a return engagement at Metrograph, and the Voice‘s Melissa Anderson includes it on her top ten list in this issue.)

The film just below O.J. in our final tally, Paul Verhoeven’s Elle, is well represented here with Isabelle Huppert’s commanding win in the best actress category, but it’s worth reflecting on whether some lesser-known entries a couple notches down the list — Kirsten Johnson’s Cameraperson (#9) or Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Cemetery of Splendour (#11) — might have placed better if they also constantly showed on the TVs at the gym. The producers of all our winners should be thankful Beyoncé didn’t rent a screen for a week to show Lemonade. (It got three votes anyway.)

Check out all of this year’s film poll ballots here.

Best Film:

Moonlight (613 points, 87 ballots)

Manchester by the Sea (380 points, 51 ballots)

Toni Erdmann (376 points, 53 ballots)

Paterson (280 points, 43 ballots)

O.J.: Made in America (249 points, 35 ballots)

Best Actress:

Isabelle Huppert, Elle (148 points, 60 ballots)

Sandra Hüller, Toni Erdmann (57 points, 28 ballots)

Rebecca Hall, Christine (46 points, 25 ballots)

Best Actor:

Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea (151 points, 62 ballots)

Adam Driver, Paterson (83 points, 40 ballots)

Colin Farrell, The Lobster (49 points, 27 ballots)

Best Supporting Actress:

Lily Gladstone, Certain Women (125 points, 51 ballots)

Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea (93 points, 46 ballots)

Viola Davis, Fences (65 points, 26 ballots)

Best Supporting Actor:

Mahershala Ali, Moonlight (147 points, 61 ballots)

Tom Bennett, Love & Friendship (57 points, 26 ballots)

Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water (44 points, 25 ballots)

Best Undistributed Film:

Nocturama (8 votes)

Best Documentary:

O.J.: Made in America (29 votes)

Best First Feature:

The Witch (18 votes)

Best Animated Feature:

Kubo and the Two Strings (22 votes)

Best Director:

Barry Jenkins, Moonlight (29 votes)

Best Screenplay:

Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea (31 votes)

Worst Film:

Suicide Squad (7 votes)

Movie Everyone Is Wrong About:

La La Land (14 votes)