‘Carol’ Tops Variety Film Critics Poll

Cate Blanchett Carol
Courtesy of Weinstein Co.

Todd Haynes’ “Carol” is the best film of 2015, followed by Hou Hsiao-hsien’s “The Assassin” and George Miller’s “Mad Max: Fury Road,” according to a survey of 14 Variety reviewers around the world.

Critical consensus, elusive under any circumstances, is especially hard to nail down at a publication with reviewers based in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Houston, Paris, London, Rome and Hong Kong. Indeed, one of the purposes of this inaugural year-end poll is to provide a sense of the richness and diversity of this year’s offerings beyond American multiplexes and arthouses. Our critics outside the U.S. were thus invited to include films released in their home cities and from the festival circuit.

For ranked lists, a critic’s first choice received 10 points, the second received nine points, the third received eight points, and so on. For unranked lists, each title received 5.5 points.


1. “Carol” (57 points, 7 lists)

2. “The Assassin” (49 points, 7 lists)

3. “Mad Max: Fury Road” (44 points, 6 lists)

4. “Spotlight” (43.5 points, 6 lists)

5. “Phoenix” (35 points, 4 lists)

6. “The Look of Silence” (32 points, 4 lists)

7. “Inside Out” (27 points, 5 lists)

8. “Brooklyn” (26 points, 5 lists)

9. “45 Years” (20 points, 2 lists)

10. “Son of Saul” (19 points, 3 lists)


Senior Features Writer (Los Angeles)

1. “Ex Machina”
2. “Creed”
3. “Brooklyn”
4. “Love & Mercy”
5. “Inside Out”
6. “Spotlight”
7. “Eden”
8. “The Tribe”
9. “Heaven Knows What”
10. “Amy”

Associate Editor, Features (Los Angeles)
1. “Inside Out”
2. “Mad Max: Fury Road”
3. “Carol”
4. “Anomalisa”
5. “Spotlight”
6. “It Follows”
7. “Room”
8. “White God”
9. “Steve Jobs”
10. “Chi-Raq”

Film Critic (London)
1. “Arabian Nights”
2. “Carol”
3. “Krisha”
4. “Aaaaaaaah!”
5. “The Look of Silence”
6. “Mad Max: Fury Road”
7. “Ex Machina”
8. “Force Majeure”
9. “A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence”
10. “The Martian”

Chief Film Critic (Los Angeles)
1. “The Assassin”
2. “Mad Max: Fury Road”
3. “Phoenix”
4. “The Look of Silence”
5. “Carol”
6. “The Tribe”
7. “Spotlight”
8. “Inside Out”
9. “Girlhood”
10. “Brooklyn”

Chief International Film Critic (Paris)

1. “Son of Saul”
2. “Spotlight”
3. “Steve Jobs”
4. “Inside Out”
5. “Tangerine”
6. “Above and Below”
7. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”
8. “The Martian”
9. “Mustang”
10. “Mon roi”

Film Critic (San Francisco)

1. “Phoenix”
2. “Buzzard”
3. “Carol”
4. “Heaven Knows What”
5. “Approaching the Elephant”
6. “In Jackson Heights”
7. “The Assassin”
8. “The Hateful Eight”
9. “We Come as Friends”
10. “Tangerine”

Chief Asia Film Critic (Hong Kong)
1. “The Assassin”
2. “0.5 Mm”
3. “Our Little Sister”
4. “4th Place”
5. “Happy Hour”
6. “The Throne”
7. “Mr. Zhang Believes”
8. “A Copy of My Mind”
9. “Young Patriot”
10. “A Simple Goodbye”

Film Critic (Houston)
“Best of Enemies”
“The Big Short”
“The Hateful Eight”
“I Believe in Unicorns”
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”
“Steve Jobs”

Film Critic (London)
1. “45 Years”
2. “Carol”
3. “Mad Max: Fury Road”
4. “Arabian Nights”
5. “Magic Mike XXL”
6. “The Demons”
7. “The Lobster”
8. “Victoria”
9. “The Endless River”
10. “Joy”

Film Critic (Stamford, Conn.)

1. “Mad Max: Fury Road”
2. “The Look of Silence”
3. “Phoenix”
4. “Brooklyn”
5. “The Assassin”
6. “Hard to Be a God”
7. “Spotlight”
8. “Slow West”
9. “James White”
10. “Bone Tomahawk”

Film Critic (Chicago)

1. “Spotlight”
2. “Slow West”
3. “Son of Saul”
4. “Timbuktu”
5. “The Diary of a Teenage Girl”
6. “Amy”
7. “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night”
8. “Taxi”
9. “A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence”
10. “Inside Out”

Film Critic (Los Angeles)

1. “Clouds of Sils Maria”
2. “Anomalisa”
3. “The Diary of a Teenage Girl”
4. “Boy and the World”
5. “The Assassin”
6. “Bridge of Spies”
7. “The Second Mother”
8. “Heart of a Dog”
9. “Brooklyn”
10. “Mustang”

Film Critic (Chicago)

1. “The Look of Silence”
2. “Phoenix”
3. “Carol”
4. “Brooklyn”
5. “The Assassin”
6. “Heaven Knows What”
7. “It Follows”
8. “Mad Max: Fury Road”
9. “The Hateful Eight”
10. “Western”

Film Critic (Rome)
1. “45 Years”
2. “Carol”
3. “Blood of My Blood”
4. “The Assassin”
5. “The Lobster”
6. “Youth”
7. “Francophonia”
8. “Thirst”
9. “Land and Shade”
10. “Son of Saul”

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  1. Meg Van Kuyk says:

    This is Carol’s time!!!!! Her open handbag won’t be big enough to catch all the Oscar. This movie will go into cinematic history as a “CLASSIC” !!!!!!

  2. Lauren says:

    Carol made me fall in love with cinema again.

  3. Lauren N. says:

    Yah, so let me know as to why ROOM was barely on the list(s).

  4. Think again says:

    I just saw Carol and it’s vastly overrated. It’s a soap opera and it moves at a soap opera’s pace. Yes, all the acting was good, but the script was lacking. It’s the kind of thing that makes a good novel, because so much of it is interior, but it didn’t translate well to the big screen and frankly, I’m really tired of critics buying this crap, hook, line and sinker.

    I really never thought all the people complaining about Harvey W. buying awards, etc. were on the right track, but I’m starting to change my mind. Because only if you had been the recipient of lavish meals, drink, and swag would you put Carol at the top of your list. It simply doesn’t have what it takes to be there. The first 30 minutes were deadly dull, not a single thing of import happened. And the conclusion? Straight out of 1960. Significant looks, fade to black. Really??? That’s what passes for best in 2015? I’m side-eyeing all y’all.

    • guylodge says:

      “Because only if you had been the recipient of lavish meals, drink, and swag would you put Carol at the top of your list.”

      Where can I claim my swag? Or do we get nothing for #2 placings?

      • JFA says:

        I think you received that for your Magic Mike placement. Altho Carol is over rated, quite frankly not in the same league as something like say Son of Saul. It wasn’t in the same league as Haynes prior Far from Heaven which in turn wasn’t in the same league as even the weakest Sirkean melodrama. (I’m not sure what that’d be as I think they’re all great.)

        In short, a decade from now there will be a handful of films from 2015 that stand out as special and Carol will def not be one of them.

    • Jack says:

      P.S. Go watch some soap operas in order to realize how ridiculous and antithetical that comparison is.
      Obviously, you have also never seen films like In the Mood for Love and Brief Encounter. Clearly your language, awareness, and understanding of what has been presented, can be presented, and works in film is sorely lacking.

    • Jack says:

      The dimwitted, age old “I hate it so everyone who likes it or admires it is wrong and dishonest”. Lol what an idiot. There are MANY films overrated this year, and Carol is not one of them. It’s not even in the top 3 most awarded or nominated and it’s a not a big box office film. The fact that this indie film has sustained its buzz since its debut at Cannes early this year speaks to how it has resonated with people. It’s among many films that have resonated with people. But clearly you single this one out in particular with heated and ridiculous criticism for a reason. The prejudice is transparent. Get a grip.

  5. Bill B. says:

    Surprised by the lack of support for Room. It floored me.

  6. Tom says:

    I honestly fail to see why so many think carol is so great

  7. Walter Sleeth says:

    Just inconceivable that The Revenant did not make ANY of those lists. Ridiculous. Maybe none of their critics even saw it.

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