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Amy Adans & Surprises Galore: Los Angeles Film Critics Awards

Los Angeles Film Critics Awards Emmanuelle Riva Amour
Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva in Amour

Los Angeles Film Critics Awards 2012: Amour is surprise winner

The Los Angeles Film Critics Association has become what the New York Film Critics Circle used to be from the late '60s to the early '80s. In other words, in recent years the Los Angeles Critics have often made “unusual" – i.e., non-U.S./Hollywood mainstream – choices in their various categories. This year, it's no different.

Amour, Michael Haneke's French-Austrian-German drama about love, aging, and death, was the the L.A. Critics' surprising Best Film. Surprising indeed: Amour was neither the winner nor the runner-up for the LAFCA's Best Director and Best Screenplay awards. Haneke's drama is also only the third non-English-language film to receive top honors from the Los Angeles Critics, following Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon in 2000 and Clint Eastwood's Japanese-language (but US-made) Letters from Iwo Jima in 2006.

Winner of the Palme d'Or earlier this year and the European Film Award about a week ago, Amour is the favorite to take home the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. Veterans Jean-Louis Trintignant, Best Actress co-winner Emmanuelle Riva (more on Riva below), and Isabelle Huppert star.

The L.A. Critics' Best Film runner-up was Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master, about the complex relationship between a charismatic cult leader and a disturbed World War II veteran.

Veteran Emmanuelle Riva shares Best Actress Award

The 85-year-old Emmanuelle Riva's Best Actress co-winner was 22-year-old Jennifer Lawrence for David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook. (No mention of Lawrence's other 2012 movie credits, Gary Ross' The Hunger Games and Mark Tonderai's House at the End of the Street.) Emmanuelle Riva, by the way, is the Los Angeles Critics' oldest Best Actress ever. Jennifer Lawrence is the second youngest, after Sandrine Bonnaire – the 19-year-old Best Actress winner for Vagabond in 1986. Which means that both the oldest and the youngest LAFCA winners to date are Frenchwomen.

Amour not 'foreign'

Curiously, the Best Foreign Language Film was Leos Carax's Holy Motors, followed by Joseph Cedar's Israeli drama Footnote. And that makes one wonder if the L.A. Critics watched an English-dubbed version of Amour. (Something along the same lines happened when in early 2007 the British Academy selected The Queen as Best Film, but The Last King of Scotland as Best British Film – when both were British productions in the running in both categories.)

Paul Thomas Anderson, Joaquin Phoenix among The Master winners

Kathryn Bigelow has received Best Director honors from the New York Film Critics Circle and the Boston Society of Film Critics, but the L.A. Critics selected instead Paul Thomas Anderson for The Master. This was Anderson's second Best Director win; five years ago he was given the award for There Will Be Blood. Bigelow, who had won in L.A. for The Hurt Locker in 2009, was this year's runner-up for the political thriller Zero Dark Thirty, about the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

The Best Screenplay winner was Chris Terrio for his work on Ben Affleck's Argo, about the intricate rescue of several hostages in Iran. The runner-up was David O. Russell for the comedy-drama Silver Linings Playbook, about an emotionally unstable man (Bradley Cooper) and his relationship issues.

New York Film Critics winner Daniel Day-Lewis is this awards-season favorite in the Best Actor category for Steven Spielberg's Universal-distributed Lincoln, a well-received box office hit. The Los Angeles Critics, however, have opted for Joaquin Phoenix as a troubled World War II veteran who becomes involved with a budding philosophical / religious cult in the Weinstein Company release The Master, a well-received box office disappointment. And the Best Actor runner-up wasn't Day-Lewis, either, but Denis Lavant in Leos Carax's acclaimed – but little-seen in the U.S. – “limo movie" Holy Motors.

Amy Adams The Master

Amy Adams is Best Supporting Actress: Los Angeles Film Critics Awards

Anne Hathaway may be getting all the Best Supporting Actress Oscar / Golden Globe / SAG Award buzz for Tom Hooper's Les Misérables (with the assistance of Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises), but the L.A. Critics' choice was Amy Adams for The Master (but no mention of Adams' performances in either Trouble with the Curve or On the Road). Hathaway was the runner up for both Les Misérables and TDKR. (Image: Amy Adams The Master.)

Another major surprise: the Best Supporting Actor was New Orleans baker-turned-indie actor Dwight Henry for Benh Zeitlin's Beasts of the Southern Wild. The runner-up was Christoph Waltz for Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained.

Beasts of the Southern Wild also earned Zeitlin and Dan Romer the Best Music Score citation. The runner-up in that category was Jonny Greenwood for The Master, which won Best Production Design for David Crank and veteran Jack Fisk (Badlands, Days of Heaven). The runner-up in that category was Adam Stockhausen for Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom.

The Best Documentary was Dror Moreh's The Gatekeepers, about the bloody history and tactics of Israel's security agency Shin Bet. The runner-up was Malik Bendjelloul's Searching for Sugar Man, about two South Africans trying to find '70s rocker Rodriguez.

Skyfall becomes first James Bond movie to win LAFCA Best Cinematography Award

Veteran Roger Deakins won for Best Cinematography for the James Bond blockbuster Skyfall, directed by Sam Mendes and starring Daniel Craig. Skyfall, I should add, is the first Bond movie to win in that category (possibly in any category), though Deakins has won twice before: Baton Fink and Homicide in 1991, and The Man Who Wasn't There in 2001. Here's wondering if Deakins will win again in either 2021 or 2022. This year's runner-up was Mihai Malaimare Jr. for The Master.

Tim Burton's Frankenweenie may have been a box office disappointment, but it has been a hit with critics groups. Following its NYFCC victory, the tale about a boy and his attempts to resurrect his dead dog won the LAFCA's Best Animation Award as well. The runner-up was Don Hertzfeldt's 23-minute short It's Such a Beautiful Day.

The winner of the Los Angeles Critics' first Best Editing Award were Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg for the thriller Zero Dark Thirty. Goldenberg beat himself: he was the runner-up for another thriller pitting the U.S. government against radical Muslims, Argo.

And finally, documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman (Titicut Follies) was named this year's Career Award recipient; the New Generation Award went to Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild; and the Douglas Edwards Experimental / Independent Film / Video Award was given to Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel's documentary Leviathan, about the commercial fishing industry in the North Atlantic, and described by distributor Cinema Guild as a “cosmic portrait of one of mankind's oldest endeavors, unlike anything you've seen.”

The Master Philip Seymour Hoffman
The Master Philip Seymour Hoffman

Los Angeles Film Critics Awards 2012: Best Film prediction

The Los Angeles Film Critics Association will announce its list of 2012 winners on Sunday morning. Below are my fearless predictions despite the fact that my previous attempt at soothsaying – the New York Film Critics Circle Award winners earlier this week – was nearly 100 percent off the mark. In my favor: Most of my top runners-up did take home NYFCC Awards in their respective categories. (Image: Philip Seymour Hoffman The Master.)

In the Best Film category, the Los Angeles Critics have usually been slightly edgier than their New York-based counterparts, which doesn't say much, really, but still … For instance, the L.A. Critics selected Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood instead of the Coen brothers' No Country for Old Men, Clint Eastwood's Letters from Iwo Jima instead of Paul Greengrass' United 93, and Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini's American Splendor instead of Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

But then again, how to explain Best Film wins for no less than three Alexander Payne movies in the last decade? Those were About Schmidt, Sideways, and The Descendants – but not Payne's best (and most subversive) by far, Election. So much for edgy filmmaking.

Alexander Payne isn't in the running this year, but 2009 winner Kathryn Bigelow (for The Hurt Locker) and her “timely” New York Film Critics winner Zero Dark Thirty is. Will the Los Angeles Critics follow the NY lead? Well, it's just as possible they'll picked another Paul Thomas Anderson movie.

I had bet that the New York Critics would go for Anderson's take on religion (and Scientology in particular). I lost. Now I'm betting that the L.A. Critics will try to salvage the awards-season chances of Anderson's acclaimed drama. In other words: The Master for Best Film.

Other (obvious) Best Film possibilities: Steven Spielberg's Lincoln, Ang Lee's Life of Pi, Ben Affleck's Argo, Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom, David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook.

Los Angeles Film Critics' Best Director

The top possibilities for the Los Angeles Critics' Best Director Award have all been listed above. Yet, the L.A. Critics' Best Director choices have often been quite “daring” in the recent past. For every Peter Jackson for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, they've picked a David Lynch for Mulholland Dr. and a Pedro Almodóvar for Talk to Her. For every Alexander Payne for Sideways (Payne's only Best Director win) there have been a Danny Boyle for Slumdog Millionaire and an Olivier Assayas for Carlos. Not to mention Terrence Malick for The Tree of Life.

Chances are that this year's Best Director will be one of three filmmakers: Kathryn Bigelow, Paul Thomas Anderson, or Steven Spielberg. So, who do I predict will win?

Once again, I'll go with my failed New York Critics choice: Michael Haneke for Amour. Now, I should add that in case Steven Spielberg wins for Lincoln, that'll mark his third L.A. victory. The previous two were for E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) and Saving Private Ryan (1998). In 1993, Schindler's List won Best Film, but Jane Campion was Best Director for The Piano.

And while I'm at it, how about:

  • Tim Burton's Frankenweenie for Best Animation;
  • Haneke's Amour for Best Foreign Language Film (with Leos Carax's Holy Motors as a possible upset);
  • Jafar Panahi's This Is Not a Film for Best Documentary/Non-Fiction Film (else David France's How to Survive a Plague);
  • Greig Fraser for Best Cinematography for Zero Dark Thirty and Snow White and the Huntsman (else, Claudio Miranda for Life of Pi, or Éric Gautier for On the Road, or Yves Cape and Caroline Champetier de Ribes for Holy Motors);
  • Tony Kushner's Lincoln adaptation for Best Screenplay (else, Michael Haneke for Amour, especially if he doesn't get the Best Director citation);
  • Dominic Watkins work on Snow White and the Huntsman for Best Production Design (else, Nathan Crowley and Kevin Kavanaugh for The Dark Knight Rises, or Hugh Bateup and Uli Hanisch for Cloud Atlas);
  • Mychael Danna's compositions for Life of Pi for Best Music Score (else, Gustavo Santaolalla for On the Road, or Dario Marianelli for Anna Karenina);
  • Benh Zeitlin and Quvenzhané Wallis for the New Generation Award for Beasts of the Southern Wild.
Emayatzy Corinealdi Middle of Nowhere

Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress: 2012 Los Angeles Film Critics Awards predictions

Unlike the (U.S.) mainstream-leaning New York Film Critics Circle, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association have made some unexpected – “daring” – international choices in the acting categories. (Image: Emayatzy Corinealdi Middle of Nowhere.)

In recent years, performers selected by the L.A. Critics' include Best Actor Michael Fassbender for Shame / Jane Eyre / A Dangerous Method / X-Men: First Class (okay, the last one was “Hollywood” – but it was surely not a key factor in Fassbender's win); Best Actress winners Yolande Moreau for Séraphine, Kim Hye-ja for Mother, Yoon Jeong-hee for Poetry, Sally Hawkins for Happy-Go-Lucky, Imelda Staunton for Vera Drake, Vera Farmiga for the little-seen Down to the Bone, and Marion Cotillard for La Vie en Rose (before Cotillard became an Oscar favorite); Best Supporting Actor winners Niels Arestrup for A Prophet and Vlad Ivanov for 4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days, among others; and Best Supporting Actress Luminita Gheorghiu for The Death of Mr. Lazarescu.

So, it's safer to predict international, non-Hollywood choices for the Los Angeles Critics than for their New York counterparts. Well, in at least one category per year. Here are my predictions:

Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis

Best Actor Daniel Day-Lewis for Steven Spielberg's Lincoln. Hollywood movies almost invariably have stronger roles for men than for women; that's how it's been for more than four decades. That probably explains why the L.A. Critics' Best Actor winners have for the most part been actors in American films. Also, since the L.A. Critics have never selected a Best Actor in a non-English-speaking role, I'm placing Denis Lavant for Holy Motors and Jean-Louis Trintignant for Amour as runners-up to Day-Lewis. Joaquin Phoenix for The Master is another strong possibility, and so is Thure Lindhardt for Keep the Lights On. And why not Nanni Moretti and/or Michel Piccoli for We Have a Pope?

Best Actress: Emayatzy Corinealdi

The indie and non-U.S. possibilities are, as usual, more likely in the Best Actress category. Potential winners range from New York Critics' pick Rachel Weisz for The Deep Blue Sea and Marion Cotillard for Rust and Bone to Emmanuelle Riva for Amour and Isabelle Huppert for the little-seen In Another Country (and possibly Amour as well). All of the above in addition to Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook and Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty, too. Among all the potential Best Actress candidates – and there could be about 20 or 30 possibilities – I'm betting on Emayatzy Corinealdi for Ava DuVernay's Middle of Nowhere.

Best Supporting Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman

For Best Supporting Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman for Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master. Here are a few runners-up: Paul Giamatti for Cosmopolis, Leonardo DiCaprio or Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained, Tommy Lee Jones for Lincoln, and, why not, Javier Bardem for Skyfall.

Best Supporting Actress: Amy Adams

For Best Supporting Actress: Amy Adams for The Master, On the Road, and Trouble with the Curve. Runners-up: Anne Hathaway for Les Misérables and The Dark Knight Rises, Sally Field for Lincoln, Isabelle Huppert for Amour, Helen Hunt for The Sessions, Rosemarie DeWitt for Your Sister's Sister. And why not add Selma Blair for Dark Horse and Nicole Kidman for peeing on Zac Efron in The Paperboy?


Emayatzy Corinealdi Middle of Nowhere photo: Participant Media.

Philip Seymour Hoffman The Master photo: The Weinstein Company.

Amy Adams The Master photo: The Weinstein Company.

Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva Amour photo: Sony Pictures Classics.

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1 Comment to Amy Adans & Surprises Galore: Los Angeles Film Critics Awards

  1. Wayne Beau

    This is the group that selected BRAZIL best film of 1985(not positive of the year), so credibility is an issue, at least with me. And, I'll be surprised if they select an actress I've ever heard of. (They usually pick an obscure Asian…or so it seems to me.)