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Film Critics Awards: Jessica Chastain & Korean Surprise + Michael Bay Bomb & Cosmic Consciousness

I Saw the Devil with Lee Byung-hun: Action thriller film critics surprise Best Foreign Language MovieI Saw the Devil with Lee Byung-hun. Released in August 2010 in South Korea, Kim Jee-woon's psychological action thriller I Saw the Devil stars Blue Dragon Award nominee Lee Byung-hun as a National Intelligence Service agent out to avenge the gory death of his fiancée. Written by Kim and Park Hoon-jung, and co-starring Choi Min-sik as a bus driver and serial killer, I Saw the Devil was a moderate hit in its native country. It was also the Austin Film Critics Association's surprise Best Foreign Language Film.

'I Saw the Devil' is Austin Film Critics' one major surprise pick

This awards season, the Austin Film Critics Association has gone for some unusual – though not exactly “surprising” – choices. Well, with one exception: their Best Foreign Language Film was Kim Jee-woon's revenge thriller I Saw the Devil. (See further below the full list of Austin Film Critics winners.)

To date, U.S.-based critics groups have mostly opted for Asghar Farhadi's A Separation, Pedro Almodóvar's The Skin I Live In, 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 the Asian Film Award for Best Editing.

Michael Shannon & Tilda Swinton

Among the Austin Film Critics' other winners were:

  • Best Film: Martin Scorsese's 3D ode to the magic of movies, Hugo, toplining Asa Butterfield, Chloë Grace Moretz, Sacha Baron Cohen, and Best Actor Academy Award winner Ben Kingsley (Gandhi, 1982). Elsewhere, U.S. critics groups have been leaning more heavily toward another ode to the magic of movies, Michel Hazanavicius' black-and-white, silent comedy-drama The Artist, which, curiously, failed to top any of the Austin Film Critics' categories.
  • Best Actor & Best Actress: Michael Shannon for Take Shelter and Tilda Swinton for We Need to Talk About Kevin. Elsewhere, both Shannon and Swinton have been generally either “nominees” or runners-up, though the former has – somewhat surprisingly – topped a handful of lists.
  • Best Supporting Actor & Best Supporting Actress: On a par with a number of other critics groups, Albert Brooks was named Best Supporting Actor for Drive, while Jessica Chastain was Best Supporting Actress for Take Shelter. Elsewhere, Chastain has generally been singled out for a group films; in fact, she was the Austin Film Critics' Breakthrough Performer for Take Shelter, The Tree of Life, The Help, The Debt, Coriolanus, and Texas Killing Fields.

Austin Film Critics winners

Best Film: Hugo.

Best Foreign Language Film: I Saw the Devil.

Best Director: Nicolas Winding Refn, Drive.

Best Actress: Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin.

Best Actor: Michael Shannon, Take Shelter.

Best Supporting Actress: Jessica Chastain, Take Shelter.

Best Supporting Actor: Albert Brooks, Drive.

Best Adapted Screenplay: Hossein Amini, Drive.

Best Original Screenplay: Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris.

Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki, The Tree of Life.

Best Original Score: Steven Price, Attach the Block.

Best First Film: Attack the Block, dir.: Joe Cornish.

Breakthrough Performer: Jessica Chastain, Take Shelter, The Tree of Life, The Help, The Debt, Coriolanus, and Texas Killing Fields.

Best Documentary: Senna, dir.: Asif Kapadia.

Best Animated Feature: Rango, dir.: Gore Verbinski.

Austin Film Award: Jeff Nichols, Take Shelter.

The Tree of Life with Jessica Chastain. Terrence Malick family drama + cosmic consciousness mix is film critics faveThe Tree of Life with Jessica Chastain. The Palme d'Or winner at this year's Cannes Film Festival, Terrence Malick's mix of family drama and cosmic consciousness stars Sean Penn as a middle-aged man remembering his childhood in 1950s Texas, with parents Jessica Chastain and Brad Pitt. Although The Tree of Life may sound like Life with Father or How Green Was My Valley with the addition of dinosaurs, crashing asteroids, and the Big Bang, it's anything but. In the cast: Hunter McCracken (as the young Sean Penn), Laramie Eppler, Tye Sheridan, Kari Matchett, Joanna Going, Michael Showers, and Fiona Shaw. Emmanuel Lubezki (Sleepy Hollow, Children of Men) was responsible for the film's widely acclaimed cinematography, which will quite possibly earn him his first Academy Award. As for Jessica Chastain, she's definitely 2011's major awards season discovery, popping up in just about every U.S.-based film critics' list as the year's Best Supporting Actress and/or Breakthrough Performer thanks to her work in The Tree of Life, Take Shelter, The Help, The Debt, Coriolanus, and/or Texas Killing Fields.

Terrence Malick existential drama sweeps Online Film Critics Awards

Terrence Malick's Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or winner The Tree of Life, a “cosmic” family drama starring Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain, and Sean Penn, was the Online Film Critics Society's top pick. (See further below the full list of the Online Film Critics' winners and nominees.)

The Tree of Life bagged five of its seven nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress (Chastain), Best Cinematography (Emmanuel Lubezki), and Best Editing (Hank Corwin, Jay Rabinowitz, Daniel Rezende, Billy Weber, Mark Yoshikawa).

No other release won more than one award, but Jessica Chastain won two: the only American to top any of the acting categories, besides Best Supporting Actress she was named the year's Breakout Performer.

Crime doesn't pay, so they say; but having a good agent, however, can sure work career-making miracles.

'The Tree of Life' losers

Terrence Malick lost in the Best Original Screenplay category to Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris, starring Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, and Marion Cotillard. The Annie Hall and Manhattan filmmaker's latest Eurocentered effort has been one of his most popular in years.

The Tree of Life's other loser, Brad Pitt, had been shortlisted in the Best Supporting Actor category. Veteran Christopher Plummer (Stage Struck, The Sound of Music) won for his performance as Ewan McGregor's gay father in Mike Mills' Beginners.

Michael Fassbender & Tilda Swinton

Despite its international membership, American/English-language productions have invariably dominated the Online Film Critics Society's lists of nominees and winners. Hence…

Michael Fassbender was their Best Actor for his portrayal of a man with some serious sex hang-ups in Steve McQueen's British psychological drama Shame.

Tilda Swinton was Best Actress for Lynne Ramsay's We Need to Talk About Kevin, in which she plays the mother of a mass murderer.

Gore Verbinski's animated Western Rango, featuring the voices of Johnny Depp and Isla Fisher, was the unsurprising Best Animated Feature, while Asghar Farhadi's Iranian drama A Separation was the equally unsurprising Best Foreign Language Film (or rather, Best Film Not in the English Language).

And finally, Martin Scorsese, the director of the well-received (but costly box office flop) Hugo, was voted a Special Award “in honor of his work and dedication to the pursuit of film preservation.”

Oscar faves bypassed + Lars von Trier nomination honor

Already Oscar favorites, Michel Hazanavicius' Hollywood-set The Artist and Alexander Payne's Honolulu-set The Descendants failed to top any of the Online Film Critics' categories.

In spite of its six nominations, Nicolas Winding Refn's thriller Drive, toplining Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, and Albert Brooks, also came out empty-handed.

One filmmaker who had basically no chance of winning – the nomination was his award… – was Mr. Cannes Controversy Lars von Trier, for his European Film Award-winning apocalyptic family drama Melancholia, starring Best Actress nominee Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Alexander Skarsgård.

Best Picture
The Artist.
The Descendants.
Drive.
Hugo.
* The Tree of Life.

Best Foreign Language Film
13 Assassins.
Certified Copy.
* A Separation.
The Skin I Live In.
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives.

Best Actor
George Clooney, The Descendants.
Jean Dujardin, The Artist.
* Michael Fassbender, Shame.
Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
Michael Shannon, Take Shelter.

Best  Actress
Kirsten Dunst, Melancholia.
Elizabeth Olsen, Martha Marcy May Marlene.
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady.
* Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin.
Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn.

Best Supporting Actor
Albert Brooks, Drive.
John Hawkes, Martha Marcy May Marlene.
Nick Nolte, Warrior.
Brad Pitt, The Tree of Life.
* Christopher Plummer, Beginners.

Best Supporting Actress
* Jessica Chastain, The Tree of Life.
Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids.
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs.
Carey Mulligan, Shame.
Shailene Woodley, The Descendants.

Best Director
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist.
* Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life.
Nicolas Winding Refn, Drive.
Martin Scorsese, Hugo.
Lars von Trier, Melancholia.

Best Original Screenplay
Martha Marcy May Marlene.
* Midnight in Paris.
A Separation.
The Tree of Life.
Win Win.

Best Adapted Screenplay
The Descendants.
Drive.
Moneyball.
* Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
We Need to Talk About Kevin.

Best Editing
Drive.
Martha Marcy May Marlene.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
* The Tree of Life.
We Need to Talk About Kevin.

Best Cinematography
The Artist.
Drive.
Hugo.
Melancholia.
* The Tree of Life.

Best Documentary
* Cave of Forgotten Dreams.
The Interrupters.
Into the Abyss.
Project Nim.
Tabloid.

Best Animated Feature
The Adventures of Tintin.
Arthur Christmas.
Kung Fu Panda 2.
* Rango.
Winnie the Pooh.

Special Awards
To Jessica Chastain (The Debt, The Help, The Tree of Life), the breakout performer of the year.
To Martin Scorsese in honor of his work and dedication to the pursuit of film preservation.

Bérénice Bejo in The Artist: Oscar favorite is homage to Hollywood's silent eraBérénice Bejo in The Artist. Michel Hazanavicius' homage to Hollywood's silent era, The Artist failed to win any awards from the Austin Film Critics Association and the Online Film Critics Society. Yet the mostly silent, black-and-white comedy-drama remains, alongside Alexander Payne's The Descendants, one of the two Oscar favorites – and the Oklahoma Film Critic Circle's favorite as well. (See below.) Besides Bérénice Bejo, the A Star Is Born- and Singin' in the Rain-inspired The Artist features Jean Dujardin as a Douglas Fairbanks-John Gilbert type, the dog Uggie, John Goodman, Penelope Ann Miller, Missi Pyle, veteran Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange, Time After Time), and James Cromwell (whose parents were Anna and the King of Siam director John Cromwell and Madam Satan actress Kay Johnson).

Oklahoma Film Critics winners: From 'The Artist' to Michael Bay

The Artist – a (mostly) French-made, (mostly) silent, black-and-white, Hollywood-set comedy-drama – has won fans far away from the two U.S. coasts.

The Oklahoma Film Critics Circle, based in the landlocked state of, where else, Oklahoma, has chosen Michel Hazanavicius' homage to silent movies as the year's Best Film. Hazanavicius, for his part, was singled out as Best Director and in the Best Original Screenplay category. (See further below the full list of Oklahoma Film Critics winners.)

The Artist stars Jean Dujardin as a sort of Douglas Fairbanks-John Gilbert mix whose career suffers a severe downturn at the dawn of the talkie era. Bérénice Bejo is the unknown who becomes a fast-rising star, a role similar to those brought to life by the likes of Janet Gaynor and Judy Garland in old versions of A Star Is Born.

Also in the cast: the dog Uggie, Penelope Ann Miller, John Goodman, Missi Pyle, and veteran Malcolm McDowell (If…., A Clockwork Orange).

Michelle Williams & Pedro Almodóvar

Michelle Williams was voted the year's Best Actress for her portrayal of Marilyn Monroe in Simon Curtis' My Week with Marilyn.

Set during the making of Laurence Olivier's 1957 romantic comedy-drama The Prince and the Showgirl, the film also features Eddie Redmayne as the titular “Me,” Kenneth Branagh as Olivier, and Julia Ormond as Olivier's then wife Vivien Leigh.

The Oklahoma Film Critics' Best Foreign Language Film was Pedro Almodóvar's mix of sexual identity issues and Mad Doctor B movies, The Skin I Live In, starring Antonio Banderas and Elena Anaya.

Worst movies

Michael Bay's blockbuster Transformers: Dark of the Moon, starring Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and Josh Duhamel, was also remembered by the Oklahoma Film Critics: as the Obviously Worst Film of the Year.

Another box office hit, Todd Phillips' The Hangover Part II, was the year's Not-So-Obviously Worst Film – an award of more-than-dubious merit given to films “that may have great talent behind them, but somehow add up to less than the sum of their parts.” Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha, and Ed Helms star in the juvenile comedy.

And finally, Craig Gillespie's box office bomb, Fright Night, became the first recipient of the Best Guilty Pleasure award. Colin Farrell and Anton Yelchin star in this remake of Tom Holland's somewhat humorous 1985 horror thriller.

Best Film: The Artist.

Top 10 Films
1. The Artist.
2. Drive, Nicolas Winding Refn.
3. The Descendants, Alexander Payne.
4. Hugo, Martin Scorsese.
5. Shame, Steve McQueen.
6. Moneyball, Bennett Miller.
7. Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen.
8. Melancholia, Lars von Trier.
9. The Tree of Life, Terrence Malick.
10.The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, David Fincher.

Best Foreign Language Film: The Skin I Live In.

Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist.

Best Actress: Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn.

Best Actor: George Clooney, The Descendants.

Best Supporting Actor: Albert Brooks, Drive.

Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer, The Help.

Best Adapted Screenplay: Moneyball, Steven Zaillian & Aaron Sorkin.

Best Original Screenplay: The Artist, Michel Hazanavicius.

Best Documentary: Page One: Inside the New York Times, dir.: Andrew Rossi.

Best Animated Film: The Adventures of Tintin, dir.: Steven Spielberg.

Best First Feature: Martha Marcy May Marlene, dir.: Sean Durkin.

Obviously Worst Film: Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

Not-So-Obviously Worst Film: The Hangover Part II.

Best Guilty Pleasure: Fright Night.

 

Austin Film Critics Association website.

Online Film Critics Society website.

Lee Byung-hun I Saw the Devil image: Showbox/Mediaplex.

Jessica Chastain The Tree of Life image: Merie Wallace / 20th Century Fox.

Bérénice Bejo The Artist image: The Weinstein Company.


         
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