Nothing like a good battle royal of cinephile cults to whip voting into a frenzy. In our poll’s lucky 13th edition, Leos Carax’s starry-eyed supporters delivered Holy Motors the top spot, out-mobbing not one but two Andersons, Paul Thomas and Wes. Richard Linklater made his triumphant return with Bernie, an under-the-radar success, while the year yielded some provocative odd-couple neighbors in the rankings: dueling historical procedurals (Lincoln/Zero Dark Thirty), psychiatric outcasts (Oslo, August 31st/Silver Linings Playbook), and death trips (Amour/The Turin Horse). Over on the unreleased list, please note the new law of the land (see below), all part of our attempt to spotlight films in need of a pick(-me-)up. A note on the poll’s workings: over 100 North American colleagues ranked their favorites in two categories: 1) those that received theatrical runs and 2) those viewed this year but not receiving U.S. theatrical distribution in 2012 or 2013. For each ballot, a first-place choice was allotted 20 points, 19 for second, and so on.

Readers’ Poll: Readers are invited to stand up and be counted too! All entries will be automatically entered in our contest for free DVDs from the Criterion Collection. We will print the poll results in our March/April issue and publish your comments on the website. Send your ranked list of the year’s 20 best films (plus any rants, raves, and insights) with your name, address, and phone number, to fcpoll [at] Deadline: February 8, 2013. First Prize: your choice of Criterion Collection DVDs, up to $200 in value. Second Prize: up to $120. Third & Fourth Prizes: up to $80. The winners, who will be picked by random draw, can select prizes, subject to availability, from the Criterion Collection catalogue (

1. Holy Motors 
Leos Carax, France/Germany

2. The Master 
Paul Thomas Anderson, U.S.

3. Moonrise Kingdom 
Wes Anderson, U.S.

4. This Is Not a Film 
Jafar Panahi & Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, Iran

5. Amour 
Michael Haneke, France/Germany/Austria

6.  The Turin Horse 
Béla Tarr, Hungary/France/Switzerland/Germany

7. The Kid With a Bike 
Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne, France/Belgium

8. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia 
Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkey

9. Lincoln 
Steven Spielberg, U.S.

10.  Zero Dark Thirty 
Kathryn Bigelow, U.S.


11. Tabu 
Miguel Gomes, Portugal

The Deep Blue Sea

12. The Deep Blue Sea 
Terence Davies, U.K.


13. Bernie 
Richard Linklater, U.S.

Beasts of the Southern Wild

14. Beasts of the Southern Wild 
Benh Zeitlin, U.S.


15. Cosmopolis 
David Cronenberg, Canada/France


16. Barbara 
Christian Petzold, Germany

The Loneliest Planet

17. The Loneliest Planet 
Julia Loktev, U.S./Germany

Silver Linings Playbook

18. Silver Linings Playbook 
David O. Russell, U.S.

Oslo, August 31st

19. Oslo, August 31st 
Joachim Trier, Norway

Neighboring Sounds

20. Neighboring Sounds 
Kleber Mendonça Filho, Brazil

Django Unchained

21. Django Unchained 
Quentin Tarantino, U.S.


Almayer's Folly

22. Almayer’s Folly 
Chantal Akerman, France/Belgium

Magic Mike

23. Magic Mike 
Steven Soderbergh, U.S.


24. Argo 
Ben Affleck, U.S.


25. Attenberg 
Athina Rachel Tsangari, Greece

The Color Wheel

26. The Color Wheel 
Alex Ross Perry, U.S.

Rust and Bone

27. Rust & Bone 
Jacques Audiard, France/Belgium

Killer Joe

28. Killer Joe 
William Friedkin, U.S.


29. Looper 
Rian Johnson, U.S.

Life of Pi

30. Life of Pi 
Ang Lee, U.S.

A Man Vanishes

31. A Man Vanishes 
Shohei Imamura, Japan


32. Skyfall 
Sam Mendes, U.S.

The Gatekeepers

33. The Gatekeepers 
Dror Moreh, Israel


34. Elena 
Andrei Zvyagintsev, Russia


35. Haywire 
Steven Soderbergh, U.S.

Damsels in Distress

36. Damsels in Distress 
Whit Stillman, U.S.


37.  Abendland 
Nikolaus Geyrhalter, Austria

Two Years at Sea

38. Two Years at Sea 
Ben Rivers, U.K.

How to Survive a Plague

39. How to Survive a Plague 
David France, U.S.

Keep the Lights On

40. Keep the Lights On 
Ira Sachs, U.S.

A Burning Hot Summer Phillipe Garrel

41. A Burning Hot

Philippe Garrel, France

Miss Bala

42. Miss Bala
Gerardo Naranjo,


43. Footnote 
Joseph Cedar,


44. Compliance
Craig Zobel,

Alps Yorgos Lanthimos

45. Alps 
Yorgos Lanthimos, Greece

Kill List Ben Wheatley

46. Kill List
Ben Wheatley, U.K.

Farewell My Queen

47.  Farewell, My Queen 
Benoît Jacquot, France/Spain

In Another Country Hong Sang-soo

48. In Another Country 
Hong Sang-soo, South Korea

Dark Knight Rises

49. The Dark
Knight Rises

Christopher Nolan, U.S.

The Day He Arrives

50. The Day He Arrives 
Hong Sang-soo, South Korea

Don’t see your favorite here? Proceed to the year’s best undistributed list.