100 film critics polled… and “Slumdog Millionaire” isn’t in the top 10.

indieWIRE’s annual poll of 100 American film critics has resulted in a very exciting list, one that’s jam-packed with films I admired this year. I’m not among the many fans of Slumdog Millionaire, so I’m pleased to see that so many other critics found other films more impressive than that flashy, stylish, but relatively shallow and manipulative pop-song of a movie. (I’ll get around to posting what bothers me so much about Slumdog soon…)

Hou Hsiao-hsien’s “The Flight of the Red Balloon” topped indieWIRE’s annual survey of more than 100 North American film critics. It was named best film of the year and Hou was singled out as best director in a survey of 105 critics conducted this month by indieWIRE. Written by Hsiao-hsien Hou and Francois Margolin, the film was inspired by Albert Lamorisse’s classic, “The Red Balloon.” Released theatrically back in April and simultaneously on demand via cable TV, the IFC Films title debuted at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival. James Marsh’s “Man on Wire” was voted the best documentary of the year in the survey.

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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet has two passions: writing fiction, and celebrating art — music, cinema, photography, literature — through writing and teaching. He is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” — Through a Screen Darkly. And his four-novel fantasy series, The Auralia Thread, which begins with Auralia's Colors, was published by Random House. He speaks at universities and conferences around the world about understanding art through eyes of faith. He is earning his MFA in Creative Writing at Seattle Pacific University, where he has worked for 11 years as an editor, writer, and communications project manager. His work has been recognized in The New Yorker, TIME, The Seattle Times, IMAGE, Ravi Zacharias International — and Christianity Today, where he served as a film journalist for more than a decade. He recently began a weekly column called "Listening Closer" for Christ and Pop Culture.

  • Lisa Wilson

    I read your posts often and I loved Slumdog Millionaire. It’s a fairytale, pure and simple. The implausibilities are exactly why it works as fairytale and are also an important part of the Bollywood tradition. From reading other of your posts I think you lean towards fable and legend which curve in the opposite direction of fairytale. What I really don’t like about this post is that you seriously discredit the film calling it a ” shallow and manipulative pop-song” without giving any detail on why you didn’t like it. And yes, I see you are going to get around to it sometime, but I think this film deserves more than this hit and run review.

  • http://www.tomandalissa.com Tom W

    Chop Shop made #46 and Shotgun Stories made #56 too!

  • http://www.tomandalissa.com Tom W

    I couldn’t stand The Flight of the Red Balloon, but I’m so proud of them for putting Christmas Tale as #2. That’s been #1 on my list for a few months now. Paranoid Park and My Winnipeg were overlooked gems. Incorporating some of the best parts of experimental film into a narrative; I hope more films like them get made. Still Life and Let the Right One In were great too. Good list!

  • http://www.lookingcloser.org closerlooker

    Well, Danny Boyle *also* made The Beach and A Life Less Ordinary and Sunshine, and I didn’t like any of those. So he’s a hit-and-miss director for me. This one is impressive in many ways, but the implausibilities, the silliness, and the lack of any interesting characters were a problem for me.

  • http://rufflyspeaking.wordpress.com Doug

    Jeffrey, you’re killing me here. Come on! Danny Boyle *isn’t* the man? I thought you loved Millions! He’s off his game here, I am guessing? I have wanted to see Slumdog for some time now, so your comments are very saddening to me. Oh, well, I need you to be honest, certainly. Merry Christmas to the Overstreets!

  • http://moviezeal.com Phillip Johnston

    I thought Slumdog was spectacular for what it was … and it wasn’t trying to be anything more, IMO. Fun, uplifting, inspiring; it’s got it all going on.

    I have Flight of the Red Balloon queued up on my computer and might watch it tonight now that I see this. I’ve put it off for too long.