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Film Critics Awards: Mormon Missionary Sex Slave Documentary Unexpected Win

Tabloid Joyce McKinney. Film critics pick Case of Manacled Mormon sex slaveTabloid with Joyce McKinney. The Detroit Film Critics Society's surprising Best Documentary pick, Errol Morris' Tabloid, offers a glimpse into “The Case of the Manacled Mormon” a.k.a. “The Mormon Sex in Chains Case.” Long before the Internet, the British yellow press and their voracious readers enjoyed collective orgasms that lasted for months, thanks to the alleged abduction and rape of visiting U.S. Mormon missionary Kirk Anderson. Like most culturally significant folk tales, the Mormon missionary sex slave story was later turned into song: Radio Stars' “(I Got Dem Old) Sex in Chains Blues,” included on their 1979 Holiday Album.

Expected 'The Artist' & unexpected 'Tabloid' top Detroit Film Critics Awards

The Detroit Film Critics Society has chosen Michel Hazanavicius' Old Hollywood homage The Artist as their top film of 2011. (See further below the full list of Detroit Film Critics winners.)

No matter how well-deserved The Artist's win (more on that further below), the Detroit Film Critics' most interesting pick was an unexpected one: Errol Morris' documentary Tabloid, which to date has won only one other award from a U.S.-based critics' group, courtesy of the San Francisco Film Critics Circle.

'The Mormon Sex in Chains Case'

In Tabloid, the director of The Thin Blue Line, A Brief History of Time, and the Oscar-winning The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara tackles the alleged incident that became known in certain circles as “The Case of the Manacled Mormon” a.k.a. “The Mormon Sex in Chains Case.”

Much to the delight of the British yellow press and their readers, 1973 Miss Wyoming World Joyce McKinney was accused of abducting 21-year-old American Mormon missionary Kirk Anderson from the steps of a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints meetinghouse in East Ewell, Surrey, in September 1977, and driving him to a cottage in Devon, where for several days Anderson was left chained to a bed and turned into McKinney's own private sex slave.

McKinney, who denied the charges, and reported co-conspirator Keith May were arrested, but jumped bail and fled to the United States. No extradition proceedings took place; the former Miss Wyoming was eventually sentenced to one year in prison in absentia.

Curiously, the Mormon missionary sex slave drama has continued into the early 21st century. Last month, McKinney filed a lawsuit with the Los Angeles Superior Court, claiming that she had been tricked into appearing in Tabloid, and that Errol Morris and producer Mark Lipson had defamed her in the documentary, portraying her as “crazy, a sex offender, an S&M prostitute, and/or a rapist.”

'A Star Is Born' meets 'Singin' in the Rain'

For better or for worse, there's no S&M sex in The Artist, an old-fashioned tale set in Hollywood at the dawn of the sound era, and featuring elements from, among others, A Star Is Born and Singin' in the Rain. In the black-and-white, mostly silent French-Belgian co-production, Cannes Film Festival Best Actor winner Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo play movie stars following different upward/downward paths – he's moving down; she's moving up.

In addition to its Best Film win, The Artist earned Michel Hazanavicius the Detroit Film Critics' Best Director citation. The Best Screenplay award, however, went to Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian for Moneyball, a baseball drama directed by Bennett Miller and starring Brad Pitt.

But in all, The Artist remains the current favorite for the 2012 Best Picture Oscar – despite the fierce competition from reliable Hollywood names. Likely Best Picture nominees include Alexander Payne's The Descendants, Martin Scorsese's Hugo, and Steven Spielberg's War Horse.

Besides Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo, The Artist also features Uggie the dog, Penelope Ann Miller, John Goodman, Missi Pyle, veteran Malcolm McDowell (If…., A Clockwork Orange), and Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominee James Cromwell (Babe, 1995), whose parents were filmmaker John Cromwell (Of Human Bondage, The Prisoner of Zenda) and actress Kay Johnson (Dynamite, Madam Satan).

Michael Fassbender & Carey Mulligan + Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe

In the acting categories, Michael Fassbender was the Detroit Film Critics' Best Actor for his performance as a troubled man who enjoys lots of sex in Steve McQueen's New York City-set Shame, while Carey Mulligan, Fassbender's equally troubled sister in the British-made psychological drama, was the Best Supporting Actress.

U.S. critics' faves Michelle Williams and Christopher Plummer were named, respectively, Best Actress for Simon Curtis' My Week with Marilyn and Best Supporting Actor for Mike Mills' Beginners.

In the former, Williams plays Marilyn Monroe during the making of Laurence Olivier's The Prince and the Showgirl. In the latter, the veteran Plummer (The Sound of Music, The Last Station) plays Ewan McGregor's gay father.

Roman Polanski's Carnage, starring Kate Winslet, Jodie Foster, Christoph Waltz, and John C. Reilly was the Best Ensemble winner. Based on Yasmine Reza's play God of Carnage, the French-Polish-Spanish-German co-production revolves around two couples battling it out after their kids get into a fight.

And finally, critics' fave Jessica Chastain was the Detroit Film Critics' Breakthrough Performance winner for three of the 2,383 movies in which she was featured during the course of 2011: Tate Taylor's The Help, Jeff Nichols' Take Shelter, and Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life.

Shame trailer. Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan topped the Detroit Film Critics Society's Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress categories for their portrayal of troubled siblings in Steve McQueen's New York City-set psychological drama Shame.

Detroit Film Critics winners & nominations

Best Picture
* The Artist.
The Descendants.
Hugo.
Take Shelter.
The Tree of Life.

Best Director
* Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist.
Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life.
Jeff Nichols, Take Shelter.
Martin Scorsese, Hugo.
Nicholas Winding Refn, Drive.

Best Actress
Viola Davis, The Help.
Felicity Jones, Like Crazy.
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady.
Charlize Theron, Young Adult.
* Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn.

Best Actor
George Clooney, The Descendants.
Jean Dujardin, The Artist.
* Michael Fassbender, Shame.
Brad Pitt, Moneyball.
Michael Shannon, Take Shelter.

Best Supporting Actress
Bérénice Bejo, The Artist.
Jessica Chastain, Take Shelter.
* Carey Mulligan, Shame.
Vanessa Redgrave, Coriolanus.
Octavia Spencer, The Help.

Best Supporting Actor
Kenneth Branagh, My Week with Marilyn.
Albert Brooks, Drive.
Ryan Gosling, Crazy Stupid Love.
Patton Oswalt, Young Adult.
* Christopher Plummer, Beginners.

Best Ensemble
* Carnage.
Cedar Rapids.
Crazy Stupid Love.
The Help.
Margin Call.
Win Win.

Best Screenplay
50/50, Will Reiser.
The Artist, Michel Hazanavicius.
Beginners, Mike Mills.
* Moneyball, Aaron Sorkin & Steven Zaillian.
Take Shelter, Jeff Nichols.

Best Documentary
Into Eternity.
Into the Abyss.
Marwencol.
* Tabloid.
We Were Here.

Breakthrough Performance
* Jessica Chastain, The Help & Take Shelter & The Tree of Life.
Felicity Jones, Like Crazy.
Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids.
Elizabeth Olsen, Martha Marcy May Marlene.
Shailene Woodley, The Descendants.

The Artist Jean Dujardin as Douglas Fairbanks + John Gilbert mix: Film critics faveThe Artist with Jean Dujardin as a cross between the dashing Douglas Fairbanks, one of the biggest stars of the silent era, and the tragic John Gilbert, whose superstardom collapsed at the dawn of the sound era. Michel Hazanavicius' homage to Old Hollywood – mixing elements from, among other classics, A Star Is Born (and its predecessor, What Price Hollywood?) and Singin' in the Rain – has become the clear favorite among U.S. critics this awards season. Besides being the Best Film and Best Director choice of the Detroit Film Critics Society, The Artist swept the Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards, topping eight categories.

'The Artist' sweeps Phoenix Film Critics Awards

Michel Hazanavicius' The Artist has won another award from a U.S.-based film critics group. The Phoenix Film Critics Society has selected the French-Belgian, black-and-white, and nearly all silent comedy-drama as the Best Film of 2011.

Besides, Hazanavicius was chosen Best Director, the writer of the Best Original Screenplay, and (the best) Breakthrough Performance Behind the Camera, while The Artist leading man Jean Dujardin was named Best Actor and the film's leading lady, Bérénice Bejo, was the Best Supporting Actress. (Every so often there's a fine line between what amounts to a lead or a supporting role.)

If that weren't all, The Artist was also singled out in the Best Score, Best Film Editing, and Best Costume Design categories.

Elizabeth Olsen & Albert Brooks

Despite The Artist's sweep, several other movies managed to come out victorious in Phoenix as well.

For starters, Martha Marcy May Marlene leading lady Elizabeth Olsen was a relatively unusual Best Actress pick – Michelle Williams has been dominating that field for her performance as Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn. Yet Olsen hasn't been fully ignored this awards season, as she has been not infrequently shortlisted either among the year's “breakthrough performers” or as a Best Actress nominee/runner-up.

Curiously, Elizabeth Olsen lost the Breakthrough Performance on Camera award to Thomas Horn, the young actor in Stephen Daldry's Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. Horn was also the winner in the Best Performance by a Youth in a Lead or Supporting Role, Male category.

U.S. critics' fave Albert Brooks was the Best Supporting Actor for his uncharacteristic turn as a tough gangster in Nicolas Winding Refn's thriller Drive, starring Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan. The Oscar this year will likely go to either Brooks or fellow veteran Christopher Plummer for Beginners.

Gender-bending Pedro Almodóvar & 'Super 8' surprise

Pedro Almodóvar's gender-bending The Skin I Live In, featuring Antonio Banderas and Elena Anaya as, respectively, a mad doctor-cum-kidnapper and his victim, was the Best Foreign Language Film.

J.J. Abrams' sci-fi thriller Super 8, featuring Elle Fanning, Kyle Chandler, and Bruce Greenwood, was the surprising Best Ensemble winner – beating out Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris, Steven Soderbergh's Contagion, Paul Feig's Bridesmaids, and J.C. Chandor's Margin Call.

The Best Adapted Screenplay mention went to Tate Taylor for the sleeper box office hit The Help, starring Emma Stone, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Viola Davis. Andrew Rossi's Page One: Inside the New York Times, set in the Times' newsroom, was the Best Documentary.

Best Film for Adults Only?

Among the Phoenix Film Critics' other winners were:

  • Gore Verbinski's Rango, featuring the voices of Johnny Depp and Isla Fisher, as Best Animated Film.
  • Martin Scorsese's 3D adventure fantasy and early cinema homage Hugo for Best Production Design and Best Visual Effects.
  • James Bobin's kiddie flick The Muppets, starring Amy Adams and Jason Segel, as the Best Live Action Family Film.

Unfortunately, the Phoenix Film Critics have no Best Film for Adults Only category; else, Steve McQueen's NC-17-rated Shame, starring Michael Fassbender as a troubled man with a very high sex drive, might have taken home an award, too.

Also worth noting – considering that we're talking about an Arizona-based film critics' group – the Phoenix Film Critics' Overlooked Film of the Year was Chris Weitz's A Better Life, which stars SAG Award nominee Demián Bichir as an undocumented Mexican immigrant struggling to eke out a living in Los Angeles.

See also: “Film Critics Awards: Cosmic Family Drama & British Spies + Iranian Actress Surprise.”

Phoenix Film Critics winners & nominations

Best Film
* The Artist.
The Descendants.
Drive.
The Help.
Hugo.
Midnight in Paris.
Moneyball.
My Week with Marilyn.
Super 8.
The Tree of Life.

Best Foreign Language Film
Incendies.
Point Blank.
* The Skin I Live In.

Best Director
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris.
* Michael Hazanavicius, The Artist.
Alexander Payne, The Descendants.
Martin Scorsese, Hugo.
Tate Taylor, The Help.

Best Actress
Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs.
Viola Davis, The Help.
* Elizabeth Olsen, Martha Marcy May Marlene.
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady.
Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn.

Best Actor
George Clooney, The Descendants.
* Jean Dujardin, The Artist.
Michael Fassbender, Shame.
Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
Brad Pitt, Moneyball.

Best Supporting Actress
* Bérénice Bejo, The Artist.
Bryce Dallas Howard, The Help.
Jessica Chastain, The Help.
Octavia Spencer, The Help.
Shailene Woodley, The Descendants.

Best Supporting Actor
Kenneth Branagh, My Week with Marilyn.
* Albert Brooks, Drive.
John Hawkes, Martha Marcy May Marlene.
Jonah Hill, Moneyball.
Christopher Plummer, Beginners.

Best Ensemble Acting
Bridesmaids.
Contagion.
Margin Call.
Midnight in Paris.
* Super 8.

Best Original Screenplay
* The Artist.
Beginners.
Midnight in Paris.

Best Adapted Screenplay
The Descendants.
* The Help.
Hugo.

Best Documentary
African Cats.
The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.
* Page One: Inside the New York Times.
Project Nim.

Best Original Song
“I Believe in You,” Johnny English Reborn.
* “Life's a Happy Song,” The Muppets.
“The Living Proof,” The Help.
“Star Spangled Man,” Captain America: The First Avenger.

Best Original Score
* The Artist.
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.
Moneyball.
Super 8.

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

Best Film Editing
* The Artist.
Super 8.
The Tree of Life.

Best Production Design
The Artist.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.
* Hugo.

Best Costume Design
* The Artist.
Hugo.
Jane Eyre.

Best Animated Film
The Adventures of Tintin.
* Rango.
Winnie the Pooh.

Best Visual Effects
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.
* Hugo.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

Best Stunts
* Drive.
Fast Five.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.

Breakthrough Performance on Camera
Elle Fanning, Super 8.
* Thomas Horn, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.
Elizabeth Olsen, Martha Marcy May Marlene.
Shailene Woodley, The Descendants.

Breakthrough Performance Behind the Camera
Sean Durkin, Martha Marcy May Marlene.
* Michael Hazanavicius, The Artist.
Tate Taylor, The Help.

Best Performance by a Youth in a Lead or Supporting Role, Male
Asa Butterfield, Hugo.
Joel Courtney, Super 8.
* Thomas Horn, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.

Best Performance by a Youth in a Lead or Supporting Role, Female
Elle Fanning, Super 8.
Amara Miller, The Descendants.
Chloë Grace Moretz, Hugo.
* Saoirse Ronan, Hanna.

Best Live Action Family Film
Dolphin Tale.
Hugo.
* The Muppets.
We Bought a Zoo.

Best Overlooked Film
* A Better Life.
The Conspirator.
Texas Killing Fields.

 

Joyce McKinney Tabloid image: Sundance Selects.

Jean Dujardin The Artist image: The Weinstein Company.

“Film Critics Awards: Mormon Missionary Sex Slave Documentary Unexpected Win” last updated in June 2018.

Film Critics Awards: Mormon Missionary Sex Slave Documentary Unexpected Win © 2004–2018 Alt Film Guide and/or author(s).
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2 Comments to Film Critics Awards: Mormon Missionary Sex Slave Documentary Unexpected Win

  1. sm

    Katie,

    The word “troubled” - which I used in another article while describing Fassbender's character in “Shame” — was missing from this post. I've added it just now. As for the word “enjoy,” I used it in the sense of “to experience.” And that he does.

  2. Katie

    Uhm,

    “In the acting categories, Michael Fassbender was the Best Actor for his performance as a man who enjoys a lot of sex in Steve McQueen's Shame”

    Really? Please go and watch the movie and you will discover that the sex Fassbender's character is “enjoying” in Shame is not pleasurable or even sexy. He is a sex addict, but there is no joy in sex in Shame. Shame is to sex what Requiem for a Dream is to drugs. Really guys, go and watch Shame.