'Amour' & 'Zero Dark Thirty' Awards Season Favorites + Batman Movie Among Top Ten

Amour Emmanuelle Riva: Hiroshima Mon Amour actress surprising awards season top nameAmour with Emmanuelle Riva. Michael Haneke's French-language drama Amour is easily the top Best Foreign Language Film pick this awards season. Strangely, the film's veteran leading man, Jean-Louis Trintignant, hasn't been winning any awards in the U.S.; on the other hand, co-star Emmanuelle Riva has been faring quite well. She has shared Best Actress honors in Los Angeles (with Silver Linings Playbook actress Jennifer Lawrence), and has had solo wins in San Francisco, Boston, and from the New York Film Critics Online – a rarity for a performer in a non-English-language production.

'Amour' & 'Zero Dark Thirty' are early awards season favorites

Michael Haneke's French-language old-age drama Amour topped the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards on Dec. 9. A few days before that, it had been voted 2012's Best Foreign Language Film by both the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Board of Review. Veterans Jean-Louis Trintignant (Z, The Conformist, Three Colors: Red), Emmanuelle Riva (Hiroshima Mon AmourThe Hours of Love), and Isabelle Huppert (Entre NousStory of Women) star.

In the last couple of days, Haneke's Palme d'Or- and European Film Award-winning tale about love, illness, and death has also been named the year's Best Foreign Language Film by the Boston Society of Film Critics, the New York Film Critics Online, and the Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association. (Their full list of winners can be found further below.)

In addition, Boston, New York Online, and Washington D.C. agreed on their Best Film: Kathryn Bigelow's political thriller Zero Dark Thirty, about the hunt for Osama bin Laden. Bigelow was the critical trio's Best Director as well.

And finally, all three groups also selected Daniel Day-Lewis as Best Actor for his performance as U.S. President Abraham Lincoln in Steven Spielberg's shoo-in Oscar contender Lincoln.

Emmanuelle Riva vs. Jessica Chastain + screenwriter Mark Boal wins two, loses many

Divergences begin in the Best Actress category: the New York Online and Boston film critics went for Amour's 85-year-old veteran – and Los Angeles Film Critics co-winner – Emmanuelle Riva, but the Washington D.C. Film Critics selected instead Zero Dark Thirty's CIA analyst Jessica Chastain, who has also received top honors from the National Board of Review.

Curiously, the New York Film Critics Online and the San Francisco Film Critics Circle (see further below) are the only two groups so far to have named Mark Boal's Zero Dark Thirty screenplay as the year's best. Boal suffered a similar fate back in late 2009, when the Iraq War drama The Hurt Locker and director Kathryn Bigelow were most critics groups' top choices, whereas his screenplay was almost invariably an also-ran.

Ultimately, however, Boal did take home the biggest consolation prize of all, the Best Original Screenplay Academy Award.

'Les Misérables' earns Anne Hathaway two citations

In the Best Supporting Actress category, Les Misérables' Anne Hathaway – who plays the suffering, sobbing, singing Fantine – was the New York Online and Washington D.C. film critics' selection. Neither group made any mention of Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises, in which Hathaway plays Selina Kyle a.k.a. Catwoman.

Boston followed the New York Film Critics' lead, opting for veteran Sally Field for her portrayal of Mary Todd Lincoln in Lincoln.

Directed by Oscar winner Tom Hooper (The King's Speech, 2010), Les Misérables was also the New York Online and Washington D.C. film critics' Best Ensemble winner, which means Anne Hathaway ended up being shortlisted twice by these two groups. Boston went for Martin McDonagh's Seven Psychopaths. Here are the two movies' key cast members:

Best Documentary picks

The Best Documentary winners were the following:

  • In Washington D.C.: Lee Hirsch's much talked about Bully.
  • In Boston: David France's How to Survive a Plague, about the fight of groups such as ACT UP during the early years of the AIDS epidemic. France was also Boston's Best First Filmmaker. A couple of days ago, How to Survive a Plague became the first documentary to win the New York Film Critics' Best First Feature award.
  • New York Film Critics Online: Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon's The Central Park Five – its second win in that city, as the New York Film Critics also selected this New York-set indictment of the U.S. justice system, and of elements within the police force and the media. See below.

'The Central Park Five': Racism & failed democratic institutions

In April 1989, a 28-year-old white woman was brutally assaulted and raped while jogging in New York City's Central Park; the attack left her in a coma for nearly two weeks. Five juveniles – four of them black, one Hispanic – who had been taking part in a rampage of assaults and rioting in the area, were arrested and charged with the crime.

As a result of police ineptitude/corruption, a mix of outrage and hysteria at the overall violence in 1980s New York City (about 2,000 annual murders), a highly controversial campaign led by real estate baron Donald Trump (“Bring back the death penalty, bring back our police!”), and ingrained racism within the U.S. justice system and media, the five teenagers were found guilty.

More than a decade later, in 2002 a serial rapist confessed to the jogger's assault and rape. By then, the five convicted men had spent between six and thirteen years in prison. In 2003 they filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the city of New York.

See below the full list of Boston, Washington D.C., and New York Online winners.

The Central Park Five 2012: New York police + justice system + media + Trump vs truthThe Central Park Five 2012. Described by the Los Angeles Times' Kenneth Turan as “a careful, thoughtful, and devastating new documentary” (see poster), Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon's New York Film Critics Online Best Documentary The Central Park Five chronicles one of the grossest and most widely publicized miscarriages of justice in the United States in the late 20th century. The Burns, Burns & McMahon film has also been chosen as the year's Best Documentary by the New York Film Critics Circle.

Boston Society of Film Critics winners

Best Picture: Zero Dark Thirty.

Best Foreign Language Film: Amour.

Best Actress: Emmanuelle Riva, Amour.

Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln.

Best Supporting Actress: Sally Field, Lincoln.

Best Supporting Actor: Ezra Miller, The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

Best Ensemble Cast: Seven Psychopaths.

Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty.

Best Screenplay: Tony Kushner, Lincoln.

Best Cinematography: Mihai Malaimare Jr., The Master.

Best Documentary: How to Survive a Plague.

Best Animated Film: Frankenweenie, dir.: Tim Burton.

Best Film Editing (awarded in memory of Karen Schmeer): William Goldenberg & Dylan Tichenor, Zero Dark Thirty.

Best New Filmmaker (awarded in memory of David Brudnoy): David France, How to Survive a Plague.

Best Use of Music in a Film: Moonrise Kingdom (score: Alexandre Desplat).

 

Washington D.C. Film Critics winners

Best Film: Zero Dark Thirty.

Best Foreign Language Film: Amour.

Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty.

Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln.

Best Actress: Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty.

Best Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables.

Best Supporting Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master.

Best Acting Ensemble: Les Misérables.

Best Original Screenplay: Rian Johnson, Looper.

Best Adapted Screenplay: David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook.

Best Documentary: Bully.

Best Animated Feature: ParaNorman, dir.: Chris Butler and Sam Fell.

Best Cinematography: Claudio Miranda, Life of Pi.

Best Score: Jonny Greenwood, The Master.

Best Art Direction: Production Designers Uli Hanisch & Hugh Bateup; Set Decorators Peter Walpole & Rebecca Alleway, Cloud Atlas.

The Joe Barber Award for Best Youth Performance: Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild.

 

New York Film Critics Online winners

Best Picture: Zero Dark Thirty.

Best Foreign Language Film: Amour.

Best Actress: Emmanuelle Riva, Amour.

Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln.

Best Supporting Actor: Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln.

Best Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables.

Best Ensemble Cast: Argo.

Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty.

Best Screenplay: Zero Dark Thirty, Mark Boal.

Best Cinematography: Life of Pi, Claudio Miranda.

Best Use of Music: Django Unchained, Mary Ramos.

Best Documentary: The Central Park Five.

Best Animated Feature: Chico & Rita, dir.: Tono Errando, Javier Mariscal, and Fernando Trueba.

Best Debut Director: Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild.

Breakthrough Performance: Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild.

The Master Joaquin Phoenix: L. Ron Hubbard + John Steinbeck mashup would-be awards season faveThe Master with Joaquin Phoenix. Screenwriter-director Paul Thomas Anderson's psychological drama The Master was supposed to have been one of 2012's top Oscar contenders. Despite mostly strong reviews, things haven't quite turned out that way, as The Master flopped in early fall – less than $16 million after about 10 weeks. This awards season, Anderson's drama has done relatively well only in the acting categories: Joaquin Phoenix was the Best Actor choice of the Los Angeles and San Francisco film critics and is a Golden Globe nominee along with fellow players Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams (the latter also an L.A. Film Critics winner).

Lonely-at-the-top, L. Ron Hubbard-inspired 'The Master': San Francisco Film Critics surprise

Inspired by the life and times of controversial Church of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard – with elements from John Steinbeck's life and other sources mixed in – The Master was the San Francisco Film Critics Circle's Best Picture of 2012. Directed and written by Paul Thomas Anderson, the psychological drama revolves around the complex relationship between a troubled World War II veteran (Joaquin Phoenix) and the charismatic leader of a philosophical/quasi-religious cult (Philip Seymour Hoffman).

Strangely, The Master was a Best Picture winner without accompanying wins in either the Best Director or Best Screenplay categories. Anderson's drama did, however, earn Joaquin Phoenix the Best Actor award, thus bucking the Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln) trend seen most elsewhere – though not in Los Angeles, where Phoenix also received top honors.

Touted as a likely Oscar contender at the time of its release, The Master lost much of its awards season luster after it flopped in early fall. True, back in 2009 The Hurt Locker fared just as poorly but still went on to become that year's most frequent awards season Best Picture choice and the eventual Oscar winner. Bear in mind, however, that Kathryn Bigelow's Iraq War drama is an exception to the rule.

More 'Zero Dark Thirty' wins & controversies

The San Francisco Film Critics' Best Director was Kathryn Bigelow for the political thriller Zero Dark Thirty, which also earned Mark Boal the Best Original Screenplay award.

Curiously, Zero Dark Thirty coeditor William Goldenberg was singled out for his work on another Hollywood political thriller taking place in a Muslim Asian country: Ben Affleck's Iran-set Argo. (For the record, Goldenberg's Zero Dark Thirty collaborator was Dylan Tichenor.)

Of note: following outraged claims that U.S. President Barack Obama's administration had provided the filmmakers with top-secret information, Zero Dark Thirty has led to another round of controversy as a result of its depiction of Made in U.S.A. torture of prisoners – and how that torture, despite real-life testimonies to the contrary, helped to lead investigators to Osama bin Laden's hiding place.

Radical Republican Tommy Lee Jones & 'sex surrogate' Helen Hunt: More San Francisco Film Critics winners

The Best Adapted Screenplay award went to North American critics' favorite Tony Kushner for Lincoln. The Steven Spielberg-directed historical/political drama about Abraham Lincoln's fight to end slavery on American soil also earned Tommy Lee Jones Best Supporting Actor honors for his portrayal of U.S. House of Representatives Radical Republican (i.e., not a radical right-winger, but a radical abolitionist) Thaddeus Stevens.

The other two acting winners were Best Actress Emmanuelle Riva and, surprisingly, Best Supporting Actress Helen Hunt (Best Actress Oscar winner for As Good as It Gets, 1997).

Riva, a critics' favorite absurdly (but unsurprisingly) bypassed by both the SAG Awards and the Golden Globes, won for Michael Haneke's drama – and San Francisco Film Critics Best Foreign Language Film winner – Amour, which deals with the issue of love in times of illness and death.

Helen Hunt, for years gone from the awards season radar, won for her performance as a “sex surrogate” in Ben Lewin's The Sessions, in which she plays a woman out to help disabled San Francisco poet John Hawkes lose his virginity.

'The Waiting Room' & 'Girl Walk All Day'

The Marlon Riggs Award, given to a Bay Area filmmaker, went to Peter Nicks for the documentary The Waiting Room, which was also chosen as the year's Best Non-Fiction Film. The Waiting Room chronicles the travails of patients and staff at Oakland's Highland Hospital, which offers care mostly to uninsured patients.

Jacob Krupnick's Girl Walk All Day received a special citation. In the San Francisco Film Critics' press release, it's described as a “joyous dance film scored to pop/hip hop mashups.”

San Francisco Film Critics winners

Best Picture: The Master.

Best Foreign Language Film: Amour.

Best Actress: Emmanuelle Riva, Amour.

Best Actor: Joaquin Phoenix, The Master.

Best Supporting Actor: Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln.

Best Supporting Actress: Helen Hunt, The Sessions.

Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty.

Best Adapted Screenplay: Tony Kushner, Lincoln.

Best Original Screenplay: Mark Boal, Zero Dark Thirty.

Best Cinematography: Claudio Miranda, Life of Pi.

Best Editing: William Goldenberg, Argo.

Best Production Design: Adam Stockhausen, Moonrise Kingdom.

Best Animated Feature: ParaNorman.

Marlon Riggs Award (for a Bay Area Filmmaker): The Waiting Room.

Special Citation: Girl Walk All Day.

The Dark Knight Rises Anne Hathaway as Catwoman Selina Kyle: Oscar fave elsewhereThe Dark Knight Rises with Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle a.k.a. Catwoman. Christopher Nolan's final film in his early 21st-century Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises hasn't been nearly as well received as its immediate predecessor, The Dark Knight (2008). But that hasn't prevented the American Film Institute's AFI Award voters from naming the blockbuster one of the year's Top Ten films, along with other big-studio productions such as Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Life of Pi, and Les Misérables – featuring Catwoman Anne Hathaway's more critically acclaimed 2012 performance.

'The Dark Knight Rises' included among AFI Awards' Top Ten films

Batman fans can rejoice, as Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises is one of the films on the AFI Awards' shortlist. On the other hand, independent/low-budget cinema fans should feel free to scream and wail in agony.

The AFI's Top Ten movies are the following:

  • Ben Affleck's Argo.
  • Benh Zeitlin's Beasts of the Southern Wild.
  • Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises.
  • Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained.
  • Tom Hooper's Les Misérables.
  • Ang Lee's Life of Pi.
  • Steven Spielberg's Lincoln.
  • Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom.
  • David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook.
  • Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty.

What? No The Avengers? Surprisingly not.

The AFI Award voters tend to love big-studio movies, but there are only ten slots each year. This time around, the super-blockbuster slot was taken up by The Dark Knight Rises.

As for this year's token tiny-budget indie, that's Beasts of the Southern Wild.

'The Master' not all that 'enhancing' or 'inspiring'

According to the American Film Institute's press release, AFI Awards “honorees are selected based on works which best advance the art of the moving image; enhance the rich cultural heritage of America's art form; inspire audiences and artists alike; and/or make a mark on American society.”

Paul Thomas Anderson's box office disappointment The Master, for one, apparently wasn't deemed all that “advancing,” “enhancing,” “inspiring,” or “mark-making.”

See also: “Awards Season Front-Runners: Jessica Chastain & Daniel Day-Lewis + Jennifer Lawrence” & “Top Awards Season Choices: Argo & Amour + Zero Dark Thirty & Anne Hathaway + Philip Seymour Hoffman.”

 

Boston Society of Film Critics website.

San Francisco Film Critics Circle website.

Emmanuelle Riva Amour image: Sony Pictures Classics.

The Central Park Five poster: Sundance Selects.

Joaquin Phoenix The Master image: The Weinstein Company.

Anne Hathaway The Dark Knight Rises image: Warner Bros.

Amour & Zero Dark Thirty Awards Season Favorites + Batman Movie Among Top Ten” last updated in August 2018.

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