An excellent story in The Reeler, which covers “New York City cinema, from the art house to the red carpet,” details how the reorganization of the Village Voice has affected the paper’s film criticism. To quote writer S.T. VanAirsdale, “The interim replacement for fired section editor Dennis Lim . . . lasted only two days before giving his notice, the budget [amounts] to just a third of its size prior to last winter’s merger with the New Times chain, the popular year-end critics’ poll [has] been cancelled, a number of respected freelance critics and feature writers . . . have disappeared from [the Voice‘s] pages and its de-emphasis on local independent and repertory releases may end up alienating some of its advertisers.”
Losing the Voice’s year-end poll was particularly tough for film lovers across the country because it focuses on alternative newspapers, which are more inclined to cover independent and foreign films. By organizing these disparate voices into a single chorus, the Voice poll provided a valuable counterweight to the ten-best lists of the nation’s dailies, which tend to favor big-studio releases. It’s hard to believe that David Cronenberg’s harsh A History of Violence would have picked up any Oscar nominations this year if it hadn’t topped the Voice poll in 2005. In addition, the contributors’ comments, collected and edited by Lim, could always be counted on for some of the liveliest and most provocative film writing of the year.
Now word arrives that Lim and critic Anthony Kaufman will be continuing the poll on the Web site IndieWire, with the same rules, categories, and opportunity for critics to sound off. Ballots are due by December 15, and Lim hopes to post the results before the holidays.