Publisher Theme
I’m a gamer, always have been.

Paul Schrader’s First Reformed Tops AwardsDaily’s First Half of the Year Critics Poll

by Jordan Ruimy

Paul Schrader’s “First Reformed” is the best movie of the year so far, followed closely by Ari Aster’s Hereditary, according to a group of film critics, journalists, bloggers and entertainment reporters.

Unlike last year’s poll when “Get Out” made 100 of 117 top ten lists submitted, this year, the frontrunner wasn’t so clear. Rather, the consensus so far this year seems to be split between a few movies. The top vote getter was Paul Schrader’s late-career comeback, maybe even the pinnacle of his long, distinguished career. “First Reformed” was mentioned in more than 60% of the lists submitted by film critics, a group that includes Stephen Witty, Katie Walsh, Peter Travers, Claudia Puig, Ray Pride, Steve Pond, Amy Nicholson, Joana Langfield, Tomris Laffly, Pete Howell, David Edelstein, David Ansen, and Matt Zoller Seitz.

Votes were spread out among 114 submitted lists, with more than 70 movies mentioned. Most are English language, but 6 of the top 30 were foreign language films. The 2nd and 6th place films were separated by a mere 7 vote difference.

Critics were asked to submit a list of 10 films, unranked, released between January 1st and June 29th, of what they thought were the cinematic highlights of the year thus far. Barely making the cutoff date was Debra Granik’s “Leave No Trace” which was seen by critics at Sundance in January and has clearly had the staying power to be included on 12 lists despite its release date still 9 days away.

As expected, festival-going critics couldn’t help but mention, in side notes, films that screened at venues like Cannes and Sundance that they predict easily make their year-end list. The most frequently mentioned of these were Lee Chang-Dong’s “Burning” (7 votes), Pawel Pawlikowski’s Cold War (6 votes), Bo Burnham’s “Eighth Grade” (5 votes) and Bjorn Runge’s “The Wife (3 votes).

One film that surprised the most when the final tally was made, and it wasn’t even released theatrically: Jennifer Fox’s meta-drama “The Tale,” based on her own experiences with sexual abuse, garnered more than 16 votes from critics and yet only aired on HBO. A similar result to last year when many critics were adamant about including “Twin Peaks: The Return” as part of their list.

Consensus Top 10

  1. “First Reformed’ (Paul Schrader, U.S.) (71 lists)
  2. “Hereditary” (Ari Aster, U.S.) (65)
  3. “You Were Never Really Here” (Lynne Ramsay, U.S.) (64)
  4. “Annihilation” (Alex Garland, U.S.) (61)
  5.  “Black Panther” (Ryan Coogler, U.S.)( 61)
  6. “The Rider” (Chloe Zhao, U.S.) (54)
  7. “A Quiet Place” (John Krasinski, U.S.)(49)
  8. “Paddington” (Paul King, U.K.) (49)
  9. “Isle of Dogs” (Wes Anderson, U.S.) (40)
  10. “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” (Morgan Neville, U.S.) (34)
  11. “Death of Stalin” (Armando Iannucci, U.K.) (33)
  12. “Tully” (Jason Reitman, U.S.) (28)
  13. “Lean on Pete” (Andrew Haigh, U.K.) (27)
  14. “Zama” (Lucrecia Martel, Argentina) (27)
  15. “Let the Sunshine In” (Claire Denis, France) (21)
  16.  “Incredibles 2” (Brad Bird, U.S.) (18)
  17. “The Tale” (Jennifer Fox, U.S.) (16)
  18. ‘American Animals” (Bart Layton, U.K.) (16)
  19. “24 Frames” (Abbas Kiarostami, Iran) (16)
  20. “Game Night” (John Francis Daley/Jonathan Goldstein, U.S.) (15)
  21. “Thoroughbreds” (Cory Finley, U.S.) (15)
  22. “RBG” (Betsy West/Julie Cohen. U.S.) (14)
  23. “Disobedience” (Sebastian Lelio, U.K.) (13)
  24. “Foxtrot” (Samuel Maoz, Israel) (13)
  25. “Love, Simon” (Greg Berlanti, U.S.) (13)
  26. “Leave No Trace” (Debra Granik, U.S.) (12)
  27. “Avengers: Infinity War” (Joe and Anthony Russo, U.S.) (12)
  28. “Deadpool 2” (David Leitch, U.S.) (11)
  29. “Unsane” (Steven Soderbergh, U.S.) (10)
  30. Western” (Valeska Grisebach, Germany) (9)
  31. “Loveless” (Andrey Zvyagintsev, Russia) (9)

A few of these lists to follow, but you can find everyone’s full lists over at worldofreel.com.

Matt Zoller Seitz, RogerEbert.com
Heeditary
Annihilation
Itzhak
Won’t You Be My Neighbor
You Were Never Really Here
The Endless
Death of Stalin
24 Frames
Lean on Pete
Black Panther

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
Black Panther
The Death of Stalin
Disobedience
First Reformed
Hereditary
Isle of Dogs
Incredibles 2
The Rider
A Quiet Place
You Were Never Really Here

Susan Wloszczyna, RogerEbert.com
A Quiet Place
Black Panther
Hereditary
In Between
Incredibles 2
Leave No Trace
Paddington 2
RBG
The Rider
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

David Edelstein, Vulture
First Reformed
Death of Stalin
Black Panther
Blockers
Foxtrot
Isle of Dogs
Love After Love
Loveless
The Final Year
The Rider

Robert Koehler, Film Comment
Zama
Western
Lean on Pete
The Nothing Factory
El Mar La Mar
First Reformed
Jeanette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc
Did you Wonder Who Fired the Gun?
Have a Nice Day
The Day After

Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
The Other Side of the Wind
Let the Sunshine In
Foxtrot
First Reformed
Zama
Ready Player One
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Annihilation
Fantastic Woman
The Death of Stalin

David Ansen, Newsweek
Lean On Pete
The Rider
Zama
Black Panther
Disobedience
Isle of Dogs
First Reformed
Paddington 2
Duck Butter
The Death of Stalin
Wont You Be My Neighbor

Stephen Whitty, The Star-Ledger
Black Panther
Annihilation
Unsane
A Quiet Place
First Reformed
Tully
Deadpool 2
Hearts Beat Loud
Hereditary
Won’t You Be My Neighbor

Katie Walsh, Los Angeles Times
Hereditary
Black Panther
Duck Butter
Revenge
You Were Never Really Here
Won’t You Be My Neighbor
Paddington 2
A Fantastic Woman
Loveless
Tully

Sara Stewart, NY Post
Tully
The Rider
You Were Never Really Here
Black Panther
Three Identical Strangers
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
Hereditary
Damsel
Sorry to Bother You
Deadpool 2

Marlow Stern, Newsweek
The Rider
You Were Never Really Here
Paddington 2
Sorry to Bother You
Annihilation
Black Panther
The Death of Stalin
Hereditary
Eighth Grade
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

David Sims, The Atlantic
First Reformed
The Rider
You Were Never Really Here
Let The Sunshine In
Black Panther
The Death of Stalin
Annihilation
Zama
Golden Exits
Hereditary

Nick Schager, Esquire
You Were Never Really Here
Annihilation
You
Love After Love
The Rider
First Reformed
24 Frames
Filmworker The Endless
Paddington 2
Sweet Country

Claudia Puig, USA Today
Black Panther
The Rider
A Quiet Place
Three Identical Strangers
RBG
Tully
Paddington 2
The Tale
Thoroughbreds
Summer 1993

Amy Nicholson, Variety
Sorry to Bother You
First Reformed
Tully
Isle of Dogs
The Tale
Upgrade
Thoroughbreds
The Rider
Blockers
American Animals
You Were Never Really Here

Steve Pond, The Wrap
Won’t You Be My Neighbor
The King
Black Panther
Incredibles 2
The Death of Stalin
You Were Never Really Here
Loveless
First Reformed
24 Frames
Hearts Beat Loud.

Tomris Laffly, Film School Rejects
Let the Sunshine In
Itzhak
Isle of Dogs
Outside In
You Were Never Really Here
Lean on Pete
The Tale
Claire’s Camera
Tully
On Chesil Beach
Hereditary
Where is Kyra?

Garth Franklin, Dark Horizons
American Animals
Annihilation
The Endless
Hereditary
Leave No Trace
A Quiet Place
The Rider
Sweet Country
You Were Never Really Here

Pete Howell, Toronto Star
Annihilation
Black Panther
The Death of Stalin
First Reformed
Hereditary
Paddington 2
A Quiet Place
The Rider
You Were Never Really Here
Zama

Aaron Hillis, programmer, former Village Voice critic
Annihilation
Damsel
The Endless
Game Night
Let the Sunshine In
The Rider
Three Identical Strangers
24 Frames
You Were Never Really Here
Zama

Patrick Heidman, BLZ
Black Panther
The Death of Stalin
Disobedience
Lean on Pete
Leave No Trace
Love, Simon
Paddington 2
The Rider
Tully
You Were Never Really Here

Full list of participants:

Simon Abrams, RogerEbert.com
Carlos Aguilar, Movie Maker
Nick Allen, RogerEbert.com
Ethan Alter, Yahoo
Erik Anderson, Awards Watch
David Ansen, Newsweek
Edwin Arnaudin, The Citizen-Times
Daniel Barnes, Sacramento News Review
Juan Barquin, Miami New Times
John Beasdale, CineVue
Nicholas Bell, Ion Cinema
Eliza Berman, Time
Alex Biese, Asbury Park Press
William Bibbiani
Charles Bramesco, The Guardian
Chuck Bowen, Slant Magazine
Liz Braun, Toronto Sun
Joshua Brunsting, CriterionCast
Christopher Bumbray, Joblo
Ollie Charles, Freelance
Erik Childress, WGN Radio
Daryl Chin, Documents on Art & Cinema
Nick Clement, Variety
Laura Clifford, Reeling Reviews
Adam Cook, Hot Docs
Max Covill, Freelance
Corey A. Craft, artsBHAM
Jason Cronk,
Mike Dangelo, The Man Who Viewed Too Much
Cary Darling, Houston Chronicle
Tony Dayoub, Cinema Viewfinder
Matt Donato, We Got This Covered
Edward Douglas/The Weekend Warrior @EDouglasWW
Peter Debruge, Variety
David Edelstein, Vulture
Gregory Ellwood, The Playlist @TheGregoryE
Alex Enguist, Freelance
Steven Erickson, Gay City News
Chris Evangelista, Slash Film
Sarah Foulkes, The Film School Rejects
Garth Franklin, Dark Horizons
Jon Frosch, The Hollywood Reporter
Kenji Fujishima, Freelance
Jason Guerrasio, Business Insider
Bill Goodykoontz, AZ Central
Patrick Heidman, BLZ
Eric Henderson, Slant Magazine
Aaron Hillis, programmer, former Village Voice critic
Travis Hopson, Punch Drunk Critics
Pete Howell, Toronto Star
Andrew Hunt, Freelance
Wendy Ide, Screen International
Dan Jackson, Thrillist
Jake Jacobson, Westwood One Radio/ HeatSt.com
MaryAnn Johanson, Flick Filosopher
Mark Johnson, Awards Circuit
Don Kaye, Den of Geek
John Keefer, Freelance
Adam Kempenaar, Filmspotting
Katie Kilkenny, The Hollywood Reporter
Harry Knowles, Aint It Cool News
Robert Koehler, Film Comment
Gary Kramer, Freelancer
Peter Labuza, Village Voice
Tomris Laffly, Film School Rejects
Kevin Laforest, Extra Beuure
Joanna Langfield, The Movie Minute
Andrew Lapin, NPR
Eric Lavallee, IONCINEMA.com
Will Leitch, Paste Magazine
Joey Magidson, Awards Circuit
Wade Major, KPCC’s weekly FilmWeek
Patrick McGavin, PZM Auteur
Ryan McNeil, The Matinee
Sean Means, The Salt Lake Tribune
Scott Mendelson, Forbes
Scott Menzel, We Live Entertainment
Micah Mertes, Omaha World-Herald
Alec Kubas Meyer, The Daily Beast
Jared Mobarek, The Film Stage
Roger Moore, Movie Nation
Kenneth Morefield, Christianity Today
Hans Morgenstern, Indie Ethos
Pat Mullen, POV Magazine
Noel Murray, The AV Club
Kimber Myers, The Playlist
Matt Neglia, Next Best Picture
Joe Neumaier, 710AM-WOR
Amy Nicholson, Variety
Michael Nordine, IndieWire
Bradford Oman, Slash Film
Pat Padua, The Washington Post/Freelance
Steve Pond, The Wrap
Ray Pride, Newcity
Matt Prigge, Freelancer
Claudia Puig, USA Today
Jordan Raup, The Film Stage
Mara Reinstein, US Weekly
Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
Nick Rudow, Montana Kaimin
Jordan Ruimy, The Playlist/World of Reel
Nick Schager, Esquire
Dan Schindel, Hyperallergic
Jason Shawhan, Nashville Scene
Allison Shoemaker, Consequence of Sound
David Sims, The Atlantic
Dan Stalitt
Herb Startford, KVOA
Marlow Stern, Newsweek
Sara Stewart, NY Post
Cédric Succivalli, ICS President
Robert Sweeney, Freelance
Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert
Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
Daniel Tucker, Next Projection
Kent Turner, Film Forward
Katie Walsh, Los Angeles Times
Jeffrey Wells, Hollywood Elsewhere
Stephen Whitty, The Star-Ledger
Matthew Wilder, Screenwriter (“The Case Regarding Joan of Arc”)
Alissa Wilkinson, VOX
Amber Wilkinson, Eye For Film
Chuck Wilson, L.A. Weekly
Susan Wloszczyna, RogerEbert.com
Robin Write, Write Out Of L.A.
Matt Zoller Seitz, RogerEbert.com

For all of the lists, head on over to World of Reel.