|CRITICS SURVEY21ST CENTURY|
This year’s Sundance buzz was difficult to parse, with a range of movies pleasing various contingencies at the festival, but one breakout pleased critics and jurors alike. Director Lee Isaac Chung’s “Minari,” the 1980s-set tale of a Korean-American family struggling with their new life in rural Arkansas, topped IndieWire’s annual critics poll just days after the movie won Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize.
A record 187 accredited critics and journalists participated in the survey, with results showcasing many of the most acclaimed titles at the festival. Kirsten Johnson’s “Dick Johnson Is Dead” won Best Documentary with 25.8% of all participants casting a vote for it, while “Minari” dominated Best Film with 31.2%. The runner-up in the Best Film category, the Carey Mulligan drama “Promising Young Woman,” topped the Best First Feature category with 17% of the vote.
“Minari” was the consensus choice at this year’s Sundance for many audiences. Chung’s fifth feature scored raves from critics for its understated storytelling and performances, including Steven Yeun as the conflicted man of the house. In addition to Best Film, the movie topped categories for Best Director and Best Screenplay. A24 releases “Minari” later this year, and the wins mark a second year in a row that the distributor topped the survey, following its 2019 pickup “The Farewell,” which didn’t win any awards at the festival.
Meanwhile, the results for Best Documentary diverged from the Sundance documentary jury’s big winner. Kirsten Johnson’s “Dick Johnson Is Dead,” an intimate and comical look at the filmmaker’s anxieties surrounding her father’s imminent demise, won raves from critics at the festival and topped the category. The formally inventive Netflix summer release marked Johnson’s second time at the festival following her 2016 debut “Cameraperson,” and her first time in documentary competition.
The movie was awarded a special jury prize for “Innovation in Nonfiction Storytelling” at this year’s festival, though both grand jury prize winners for documentary — Garrett Bradley’s U.S. winner “Time,” and world cinema winner “Epicentro” — were shut out of this year’s top vote-getters. Instead, the runner-up in this category was another Netflix production, “Crip Camp,” directors Jim LeBrecht and Nicole Nenham’s look at the impact of a disabilities camp in the Catskills that screened on the festival’s opening night.
Participants were also asked to vote on Best First Feature. As a part of the Premieres section of the festival, “Promising Young Woman” wasn’t eligible for any jury awards, but critics still...
Pixar and Studio Ghibli tend to spring to mind first when discussing great animation, but there's a world beyond those two giants. Animated films have grown ever more artful and affecting as more and more folks realize that it's never just been a medium for kids, with studios and indies alike creating stop-motion marvels, hand-drawn standouts, and CGI spectacles.
The genre has grown so much since we entered the current century, in fact, that it can be easy to forget the Academy Awards didn't even recognize animation until 2001. As few as three movies were nominated per year until 2010, but since then animation's increased prominence has been reflected in the race's competitiveness. Not every worthy movie could make the cut on either the awards circuit or this list, sadly, but rest assured that “How to Train Your Dragon,” “The Secret of Kells,” “The Breadwinner,” and “Loving Vincent,” to name just a few, are very honorable mentions.
IndieWire first launched a shorter version of this list in November 2017. Given the extraordinary number of great animated films released since then and ongoing reappraisal of films previously released, now is the time for an update.30. “ParaNorman” 2012
The stop-motion animation geniuses at Laika got their start with 2009's “Coraline,” a critically acclaimed adaptation of Neil Gaiman's novel from “The Nightmare Before Christmas” filmmaker Henry Selick. It was an outstanding debut film from the studio see the “Coraline” entry on this list, but it was with follow-up project ParaNorman that Laika proved it was not only one of the most vital animation studios in operation but that it could also rival Pixar in terms of narrative and emotional originality.Sam Fell and Chris Butler's stop-motion fantasy horror film centers around a young boy who can communicate with ghosts as he tries to save his Massachusetts town from being destroyed by a 300 year old witch. For all the wacky supernatural hijinks that unfold over the film's runtime, “ParaNorman” is most concerned with a reconciliation between the past and present. That an animated family movie even attempts to make sense of America's lingering guilt for the murder of those charged with witchcraft makes “ParaNorman” a rare gift. “ParaNorman” rightfully earned an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature and set Laika on its way to becoming a stop-motion powerhouse.—ZS29. “Sita Sings the Blues” 2008
Nina Paley's “Sita Sings the Blues” is a visual feast and an extremely personal attempt to make sense of and contextualize one of the most important works of Indian literature. The film is simultaneously an adaptation of and a commentary on the Ramayana, the epic Indian poem...