"Although listed by barely half of the 95 participating voters, Terrence Malick's polarizing Tree of Life sits comfortably atop the 2011 Voice Film Critics' Poll," announces J Hoberman. "Part Brakhage, part Tarkovsky, part Captain Billy's Whiz Bang, Malick's cosmic family drama handily outpointed its expected challenger, Lars von Trier's Melancholia (#3), as well as the surprise runner-up, Asghar Farhadi's Iranian courtroom drama A Separation (#2), while Malick himself crushed bad boy von Trier as best director." All well and good, but here's the fun part:
The Passiondex™ is derived by multiplying a movie's average score by a percentage of those voters who marked it first or second or, because passion cuts two ways, declared it the year's worst movie. If the Passiondex™ is applied to the top 10 movies, Tree of Life drops to a temperate sixth place and A Separation to a reasonable 10th, with Melancholia (which garnered far more first- and second-place votes, as well as a nod for worst) the easy winner, followed by Mysteries of Lisbon, Certified Copy, Margaret, and Uncle Boonmee; if we open up the top 10 to the 20 highest vote-getters, Melancholia is displaced by The Artist (which boasts three worst votes), and Tree of Life falls to 10th as Hugo, Steve McQueen's sex-addiction drama Shame (#18), and Jean-Luc Godard's impenetrable Film Socialisme (#20) elbow their way into the top 10.
What happens when we open things up to the entire poll? The two Cannes laureates, Uncle Boonmee and Tree of Life, vanish — the latter actually outpointed by the Portuguese fado-drag opera To Die Like a Man (#27). Applying the Pash across the board yields a surprising result: Moving into first with every single one of its seven voters ranking it first or second to achieve an unprecedented perfect Passiondex™ ratio, the late Edward Yang's 1991 epic youth drama A Brighter Summer Day (#23), which had its first local theatrical run at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center in November, wins!
All in all, there are 13 lists to scroll in the Voice's poll: Film, Actor (#1: Michael Shannon in Take Shelter), Actress (Anna Paquin in Margaret), Supporting Actor (Albert Brooks in Drive), Supporting Actress (Jeannie Berlin in Margaret), Director (Malick), Screenplay (Margaret), Undistributed Film (Alex Ross Perry's The Color Wheel), First Feature (Sean Durkin's Martha Marcy May Marlene), Documentary (The Interrupters), Animated Feature (Rango), Worst Film (Mark Pellington's I Melt with You) and the list of participating critics, meaning, yes, you can study the individual ballots.
The Voice's "Year in Film" package includes Hoberman's own top ten, of course, bookended by two "extra-theatrical projections," Christian Marclay's The Clock and Todd Haynes's Mildred Pierce, with David Cronenberg's A Dangerous Method in the #1 spot. Also: Eric Hynes on "The Old Men and 3D" (Scorsese's Hugo, Spielberg's The Adventures of Tintin, Wenders's Pina and Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams), Karina Longworth on #teammargaret (Kenneth Lonergan's "mess" is "unequivocally my choice for the film of the year, but after that, it gets complicated"), Ernest Hardy, Karina Longworth and Mark Olsen on the "People of the Year" (Kristen Wiig, Jafar Panahi, Reed Hastings, the 'cast' of The Interrupters, Harvey Weinstein, Scott Rudin, Lars von Trier, Woody Allen, Andrew Haigh and Michael Fassbender), a big, colorful infochart from Matt Singer breaking down the box office numbers by theme ("End of the World" and so on) and genre; and Karina's list of "10 for 2012" to look forward to.