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I SAW THE DEVIL: Austin Film Critics’ Biggest Surprise Winner

Lee Byung-hun, I Saw the Devil
Lee Byung-hun, I Saw the Devil

This year, the Austin Film Critics went for some unusual — though not exactly "surprising" — choices. Well, with one exception: Jee-woon Kim’s revenge thriller I Saw the Devil, their Best Foreign Language Film. To date, US-based critics have gone instead for Pedro Almodóvar’s The Skin I Live In, Asghar Farhadi’s A Separation, or Takashi Miike’s 13 Assassins. Earlier this year, I Saw the Devil, about a young man (Lee Byung-hun) out to avenge the murder of his pregnant wife, won an Asian Film Award for Best Editing.

Martin Scorsese’s 3D ode to the magic of movies, Hugo, was selected as the Best Film of 2011. Elsewhere, US critics have been leaning more heavily toward another ode to the magic movies, Michel Hazanavicius’ black-and-white silent comedy-drama The Artist, which, curiously, failed to top any of the Austin Critics’ categories.

Take Shelter’s Michael Shannon and We Need to Talk About Kevin’s Tilda Swinton have usually been either "nominees" or runners-up, as Best Actor and Best Actress citations have mostly gone to The DescendantsGeorge Clooney and My Week with Marilyn’s Michelle Williams. Not so in Austin, where Shannon and Swinton topped their respective categories.

The supporting winners were more on a par with the other critics’ groups: Albert Brooks for Drive, which also earned citations for director Nicolas Winding Refn and screenwriter/adapter Hossein Amini, and Jessica Chastain for Take Shelter. Chastain was also singled out as the year’s Breakthrough Performer after appearing in one out of every other movie released in the last twelve months (Take Shelter/The Tree of Life/The Help/The Debt/Coriolanus/Texas Killing Fields).

Woody Allen’s box office hit Midnight in Paris was the Best Original Screenplay winner, Joe Cornish’s sci-fier Attack the Block was voted Best First Film and earned Steven Price the Best Original Score citation, and Asif Kapadia’s Senna was the Best Documentary. Gore Verbinski’s Rango, featuring the voice of Johnny Depp, was the Best Animated Feature.

Additionally, Take Shelter won the "local" Austin Film Award for Arkansas-born Austinite Jeff Nichols. The Austin-made The Tree of Life, for its part, earned Emmanuel Lubezki one more Best Cinematography Award.

Lee Byung-hun/I Saw the Devil picture via the film’s official English-language website.

Continue Reading: Lars von Trier, Kirsten Dunst, A SEPARATION, John Hawkes: Online Film Critics Surprise Nominees

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