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Actually, The Best Film of 2013 Was...

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The 2013 results of the IRAs are in. Who are the IRAs? They're a mysterious but august film society that has voted on the best films of the year since 1976. More international and indie-focused than the Oscars, more mercurial than the LA Film Critics, more loyal to their favorites than the Golden Globes, the IRAs have just picked the winners for 2013 and major prizes were scored by Her and Fill The Void. But the big winner is Xavier Dolan's Laurence Anyways and I couldn't be happier.

I first heard about Dolan at the Cannes Film Festival (along with the rest of the cinematic world) when his debut I Killed My Mother scored remarkable attention and positive reviews. A child actor in a string of TV commercials, Dolan self-funded his autobiographical movie and reaped the rewards. A true talent, he followed with a second adventurous film (Heartbeats) and now the nearly three hour, wildly ambitious and wildly exciting Laurence Anyways. Dolan is clearly a major talent we'll be hearing from for years to come.

Don't take just the IRAs word for it. The film enjoys an 88% rating from top critics at Rotten Tomatoes. The New York Times said, "Laurence Anyways, a transgender melodrama spanning 10 years in the life of a love affair, is an astonishing achievement for a filmmaker, Xavier Dolan, who is only 24."

The late Roger Ebert wrote, "A gifted writer, Dolan likes to give his characters poignant mouthfuls, and you can tell the actors revel in his language. Recalling a similar instance in Dolan's first feature, I Killed My Mother, the scene where Fred snaps at a nosy waitress is the kind of explosive monologue actors yearn for. There are also loads of quippy moments, like during Laurence's coming out to her mother. 'So you still love me?' Laurence asks. 'Are you turning into a woman or an idiot?' she replies."

The Hollywood Reporter says the film is "stylish and original enough to merit an Almodovar-style commercial breakthrough."

So the IRAs are not alone in championing this director, though we've certainly moved on from "promising" -- as so many others still paint Dolan -- to satisfying. It's only in the previous year that his debut even played commercially in New York City. But now all three films are available on DVD and the like, so you can catch up quickly and look forward to his next work just as eagerly as us. Here's a trailer for his latest.

The IRAs began when passionate film students complained about the annual awards shows, declared "We could do better" and had an all-night, knock-down, drag-out fight to establish the very first winners of the IRAs back in the mid-1970s. (One of the members is named Ira but how his name became the name of the award is a story lost in the mist of time.) The rotating group of members have been profiled in the New Yorker and over the years have included Oscar-winning writers, major directors, top studio executives, best-selling and critically acclaimed biographers, critics and others. This month alone, one IRA member is publishing a major work on the indigenous peoples of the Americas and their broad influence on the world and another is executive producing the comeback album of Americana pioneer Jimmer Podrasky of The Rave-Ups. They have no more claim to pronounce the best films of the year than anyone else but they've been doing it for 39 years so hey, it's tradition.

Now here are this year's top winners, followed by the full list of votes, a run-down of the Best Picture Winners in IRA history and links to more info on the group and past year's tallies.

2013 IRA FILM AWARD WINNERS

Best Picture: Laurence Anyways
Best Director: Xavier Dolan for Laurence Anyways and I Killed My Mother
Best Actor: Joaquin Phoenix for Her
Best Actress: Hadas Yaron for Fill The Void
Best Supporting Actor: Daniel Bruhl for The Fifth Estate and Rush
Best Supporting Actress: Nathalie Baye for Laurence Anyways
Best Screenplay: Sarah Polley for Stories We Tell
Best Cinematography: Asaf Sudri for Fill The Void
Best Production Design: K.K. Barrett for Her
Best Score: (tie) Alex Ebert for All Is Lost and Arcade Fire for Her
Best Editing: Mike Munn for Stories We Tell
Best Costumes: Francois Barbeau, Xavier Dolan for Laurence Anyways
Sominex Award (The Movie That Put Us To Sleep): Faust
Dramamine Award (The Movie That Made Us Sick): The Great Gatsby
Mechanical Actress: Meryl Streep for August: Osage County
Mechanical Actor: Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club

Here's some video from my first interview with Dolan on the beaches of Cannes back in 2009.

Here are some earlier stories I've done on Dolan, including a review of Heartbeats, more video interviews and a profile tied to I Killed My Mother.

IRA BEST PICTURE WINNERS

Barry Lyndon (1975)
Lipstick and The Marquise Of O (tie) (1976)
Annie Hall (1977)
Days Of Heaven (1978)
Fedora (1979)
The Big Red One (1980)
Cutter's Way (1981)
Victor/Victoria (1982)
Berlin Alexanderplatz (1983)
L'Argent and Once Upon A Time In America (tie) (1984)
Prizzi's Honor (1985)
Eyes On The Prize (1986)
Housekeeping (1987)
Dead Ringers (1988)
Story Of Women (1989)
GoodFellas (1990)
The Man In The Moon (1991)
Raise The Red Lantern (1992)
Six Degrees Of Separation (1993)
Red (1994)
Exotica (1995)
La Ceremonie (1996)
Crash (the David Cronenberg film) and Grosse Pointe Blank (tie) (1997)
Gods And Monsters (1998)
Fight Club (1999)
L' Humanite (2000)
The Werckmeister Harmonies (2001)
Far From Heaven and The Son's Room (tie) (2002)
Decasia (2003)
Kinsey (2004)
Mysterious Skin (2005)
L'Enfant (2006)
The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford (2007)
The Edge Of Heaven (2008)
Hunger (2009)
A Prophet/Un Prophete (2010)
The Tree Of Life (2011)
Once Upon A Time In Anatolia (2012)
Laurence Anyways (2013)

THE 2013 BALLOTS

BEST PICTURE

1. Laurence Anyways - 25 pts.
2. Her - 20 pts.
3. (tie)
Fill The Void - 12 pts.
Stories We Tell - 12 pts.
5. The Hunt - 8 pts.

BEST DIRECTOR

1. Xavier Dolan for Laurence Anyways and I Killed My Mother - 27 pts.
2. Spike Jonze for Her - 15 pts.
3. Sarah Polley for Stories We Tell - 12 pts.
4. Rama Burshtein for Fill The Void - 10 pts.
5. Thomas Vinterberg for The Hunt - 9 pts.

BEST ACTOR

1. Joaquin Phoenix for Her - 32 pts.
2. Leonardo DiCaprio for The Wolf Of Wall Street - 19 pts.
3. Melvil Poupaud for Laurence Anyways - 18 pts.
4. Mads Mikkelsen for The Hunt - 14 pts.
5. Tony Servillo for The Great Beauty - 8 pts.

BEST ACTRESS

1. Hadas Yaron for Fill The Void - 20 pts.
2. Suzanne Clement for Laurence Anyways - 19 pts.
3. Brie Larson for Short Term 12 - 12 pts.
4. Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine - 8 pts.
5. Anne Dorval for I Killed My Mother - 7 pts.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

1. Daniel Bruhl for The Fifth Estate and Rush - 17 pts.
2. James Gandolfini for Enough Said - 15 pts.
3. Javier Bardem for To The Wonder - 12 pts.
4. Yiftach Klein for Fill The Void - 10 pts.
5. Jonah Hill for The Wolf Of Wall Street - 9 pts.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

1. Nathalie Baye for Laurence Anyways - 17 pts.
2. Anamaria Marinca for Europa Report - 15 pts.
3. Razia Israeli for Fill The Void - 12 pts.
4. Ahd for Wadjda - 11 pts.
5. (tie)
Amy Adams for Her - 7 pts.
and
Jennifer Lawrence for American Hustle - 7 pts.

BEST SCREENPLAY

Sarah Polley for Stories We Tell - 14 pts. (first two ballot winners rescinded)

1. Spike Jonze for Her - 17 pts. -- RESCINDED
2. Xavier Dolan for Laurence Anyways - 16 pts. RESCINDED
3. Sarah Polley for Stories We Tell - 14 pts.
4. Richard Linklater & Julie Delpy & Ethan Hawke for Before Midnight - 13 pts.
5. Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope for Philomena - 10 pts.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

1. Asaf Sudri for Fill The Void - 20 pts.
2. (tie)
Hoyte Van Hoytema for Her - 15 pts.
and
Yves Belanger for Laurence Anyways - 15 pts.
4. Emmanuel Lubezki for Gravity and To The Wonder - 14 pts.
5. Sergio Armstrong for No - 10 pts.

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

1. K.K. Barrett for Her - 22 pts.
2. Anne Pritchard for Laurence Anyways - 20 pts.
3. (tie)
Michael Bricker for Computer Chess - 14 pts.
Bob Shaw for The Wolf Of Wall Street - 14 pts.
5. (tie)
Stefania Cella for The Great Beauty - 8 pts.
and
Jess Gonchor for Inside LLewyn Davis - 8 pts.

BEST SCORE

1. (tie)
Alex Ebert for All Is Lost - 18 pts.
and
Arcade Fire for Her -- 18 pts.
3. Bear McCreary for Europa Report - 13 pts.
4. T. Bone Burnett for Inside Llewyn Davis - 10 pts.
5. Collie Ryan original songs for Computer Chess - 9 pts.

BEST EDITING

1. Mike Munn for Stories We Tell - 17 pts.
2. Alex Kopit, Craig McKay, Livio Sanchez, Aaron Yanes for Europa Report - 14 pts.
3. Thelma Schoonmaker for The Wolf Of Wall Street - 13 pts.
4. (tie)
Jeff Buchanan, Eric Zumbrunnen for Her -- 9 pts.
and
Alfonso Cuaron, Mark Sanger for Gravity - 9 pts.

BEST COSTUME

1. Francois Barbeau, Xavier Dolan for Laurence Anyways - 25 pts.
2. Casey Storm for Her - 17 pts.
3. Michael Wilkinson for American Hustle - 16 pts.
4. Sandy Powell for The Wolf Of Wall Street - 11 pts.
5. Mary Zophres for Inside Llewyn Davis - 10 pts.

Check out full ballots from past years and more detail on voting (such as rescinding a winner) here.