Toni Erdmann
Toni Erdmann

The German-Austrian comedy Toni Erdmann, written, directed and co-produced by Maren Ade, who is one of three female directors in this year’s Top five,  tops the Sight & Sound – the BFI’s international film magazine poll for Best Film of 2016.

  Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight was voted second place, with Paul Verhoeven’s Elle, starring Isabelle Huppert, in third place. The annual poll saw over 150 UK and international film critics nominate their top five films from the year.

Director of Toni Erdmann, Maren Ade said “This makes us extremely proud, especially considering how many films you all watch in a year – and since we are all longstanding followers of the poll!”

Nick James, Editor, Sight & Sound said “I am delighted that our poll recognizes the talent of women directors at the top of the art form; this follows closely on from Sight & Sound’s Female Gaze issue which shone a light on overlooked female filmmakers, and it is encouraging to think that such neglect will soon be a thing of the past. I send my congratulations to Maren Ade, Kelly Reichardt and Andrea Arnold, but also to Barry Jenkins, for his deeply moving, trail-blazing second feature and to Paul Verhoeven, who has made a powerful and subversive woman-centric film.”

Three female directors made the top five, Maren Ade, Kelly Reichardt and Andrea Arnold.  Maren Ade’s Toni Erdmann was this year’s Laugh Gala in association with Sight & Sound at the BFI London Film Festival, Kelly Reichardt’s Certain Women, in fourth place, won Best Film in BFI London Film Festival’s Official Competition and British director Andrea Arnold’s BFI-backed American Honey is in fifth place following its success at this year’s Cannes Film Festival where it won the Jury Prize.

Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight received global critical acclaim at international film festivals this year, including the Toronto International Film Festival, BFI London Film Festival and Chicago International Film Festival, where it won Audience Choice Award.   Moonlight traces the life of a gay African-American man and has been receiving much-deserved Oscar® buzz.

In third place Paul Verhoeven’s thriller, Elle, starring the iconic French actress, Isabelle Huppert, was met by shocked laughter at the Cannes Film Festival this May, where it was nominated for the Palme d’Or as well as playing in ‘Official Competition’ at the BFI London Film Festival. Isabelle Huppert also stars in Things to Come (L’Avenir) in eighth place and was both written and directed by female filmmaker Mia Hansen-Løve. Both these films and nine others in the Top 20 feature strong women at their core, from Toni Erdmann in first place starring Sandra Hüller as a career-driven woman experiencing an awkward reunion with her father; to Hayley Squires as single mother struggling with the benefits system in I, Daniel Blake placing sixth; and the titular character played by Laia Costa in Sebastian Schipper’s one-take wonder Victoria rounding off the Top 20. I, Daniel Blake, which lifts the lid on the painful experience of navigating Britain’s benefit system, backed by the BFI Film Fund continues to cause waves across the UK. The film earned legendary British director Ken Loach his second Palme D’Or at Cannes Film Festival and his biggest UK opening to date.

Thirteen of the Top 20 films featured in this year’s BFI London Film Festival, including all the Top 5, as well as Victoria which screened in last year’s BFI London Film Festival.

1. Toni Erdmann – Maren Ade
2. Moonlight – Barry Jenkins
3. Elle – Paul Verhoeven
4. Certain Women – Kelly Reichardt
5. American Honey – Andrea Arnold
6. I, Daniel Blake – Ken Loach
7. Manchester by the Sea – Kenneth Lonergan
8. Things to Come (L’Avenir) – Mia Hansen-Løve
9. Paterson – Jim Jarmusch
10. The Death of Louis XIV – Albert Serra
11. Personal Shopper Olivier Assayas
11. Sieranevada – Cristi Puiu
13. Fire At Sea (Fuocoamare) – Gianfranco Rosi
13. Nocturama – Bertrand Bonello
13. Julieta – Pedro Almodóvar
16. La La Land – Damien Chazelle
16. Cameraperson – Kirsten Johnson
18. Love & Friendship – Whit Stillman
19. Aquarius – Kleber Mendonça Filho
19. Victoria – Sebastian Schipper

Last year’s winner was The Assassin, from Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-Hsien, followed by Todd Haynes’ Carol and Mad Max: Fury Road from director George Miller.

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