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Home Movie Awards NBR’s First Woman Director + L.A.’s Non-English-Language Best Picture

NBR’s First Woman Director + L.A.’s Non-English-Language Best Picture

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Zero Dark Thirty Kathryn Bigelow. National Board of Review 1st Woman Best Director
Zero Dark Thirty director Kathryn Bigelow. The “war on terror” thriller Zero Dark Thirty has yet to open in the U.S., but it can already be labeled as one of the year’s most controversial movies, as it deals with the hunt for and assassination of Osama bin Laden. Besides, there have been questions about how much – if any – top-secret information was provided to Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal, the same team responsible for the 2009 awards season favorite The Hurt Locker. Less controversial is the fact that Bigelow has become the first woman to be named the National Board of Review’s Best Director.
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National Board of Review Awards: ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ is Best Film while Kathryn Bigelow becomes first female Best Director winner

Ramon Novarro Beyond Paradise

Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty, about the hunt for the elusive Most Wanted Man Osama bin Laden, was the Best Film of 2012 according to the National Board of Review voters. This is the second early December win for Zero Dark Thirty, which has also topped the New York Film Critics Circle Awards.

According to its website, the New York-based National Board of Review (NBR) is composed of a group of “knowledgeable film enthusiasts, filmmakers, academics, and students.” This year, these knowledgeable film enthusiasts also sided with the New York Film Critics in their selection of 2012’s Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow.

Three years ago, Bigelow’s previous “war on terror” movie, The Hurt Locker, dominated awards season. The NBR, however, opted instead for Jason Reitman’s socially conscious comedy-drama Up in the Air, starring George Clooney as a corporate-downsizing expert, while Clint Eastwood was their Best Director pick for the South Africa-set sports/political drama Invictus.

Whether or not the NBR is now trying to compensate for its “oversight” in late 2009, Kathryn Bigelow has become that organization’s first female Best Director winner.

In addition, Zero Dark Thirty won a third National Board of Review Award, for Best Actress Jessica Chastain. In this case, there was no New York Film Critics match. Although Chastain was one of the top contenders in New York, the ultimate – and surprising – choice was Rachel Weisz for her portrayal of a married woman involved in a passionate affair in Terence Davies’ little-seen drama The Deep Blue Sea.

‘Director’s Movie’

Something else worth noting is that The Hurt Locker was clearly perceived – at least by U.S.-based critics groups – as a “Director’s Movie.”

Whereas Bigelow and the Iraq War drama easily dominated critics’ awards, screenwriter Mark Boal, if mentioned at all, was almost invariably a runner-up.

It’s a little early this awards season, but Zero Dark Thirty – also written by Boal – could well end up following a similar “Director’s Movie” trajectory. Thus far, he has been bypassed by both the New York Film Critics and the National Board of Review.

But all is not lost: Mark Boal’s consolation prize in early 2010 was a Best Original Screenplay Oscar.

See further below the full list of this year’s National Board of Review winners.

Leonardo DiCaprio is latest ‘name actor’ in National Board of Review’s Best Supporting Actor category

Bradley Cooper was the National Board of Review’s Best Actor for his unstable former teacher attempting to rebuild his life in David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook. An even bigger star than Bradley Cooper, Leonardo DiCaprio was named Best Supporting Actor for his villainous plantation/slave owner in Quentin Tarantino’s part-Western Django Unchained.

With DiCaprio’s choice, the National Board of Review continues its tradition of selecting stars – or at least well-known names – in the Best Supporting Actor category. Previous such winners in recent years include:

Ann Dowd is latest surprising Best Supporting Actress

Also as it has often done in the past, the National Board of Review went for a “surprise” Best Supporting Actress: Ann Dowd for her performance as a compliant fast-food restaurant manager in Craig Zobel’s little-seen Compliance – domestic box office: $319,285 according to

In the last couple of decades, other “surprise” NBR Best Supporting Actress winners – of varying degrees of movie fame – include:

Another surprising National Board of Review pick was Best Original Screenplay winner Rian Johnson for the action sci-fier Looper, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as/and Bruce Willis.

The Best Adapted Screenplay winner was the more predictable David O. Russell, for the generally well-received character piece Silver Linings Playbook.

More National Board of Review winners: French-set ‘Amour’ & ‘Les Misérables’

Michael Haneke’s 2012 Palme d’Or and European Film Award winner Amour, a French-German-Austrian co-production, was the National Board of Review’s Best Foreign Language Film.

Starring veterans Jean-Louis Trintignant (Z, The Conformist) and Emmanuelle Riva (Hiroshima Mon Amour, Léon Morin Priest) as an elderly couple dealing with illness and death, and Isabelle Huppert as their daughter, Amour is a top contender for the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award and quite possibly will be shortlisted in other categories as well.

This year’s Best Ensemble was the cast of Tom Hooper’s period musical Les Misérables, starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, shoo-in Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen, Samantha Barks, and Aaron Tveit.

Promised Land Matt Damon: National Board of Review Freedom of Expression Award winnerPromised Land with Matt Damon. The National Board of Review’s Freedom of Expression Award is a category that, if its name actually means anything, is supposed to honor movies that dare to broach difficult, controversial topics. The selected films this year were Gus Van Sant’s socially conscious drama Promised Land, about salesmanship and corporate greed targeting a disenfranchised American community; and Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon’s documentary The Central Park Five, about racism, abuse of power, and a gross miscarriage of justice in New York City in the early 1990s.

Freedom of Expression Award to ‘Promised Land’ & ‘The Central Park Five’

Gus Van Sant’s Promised Land, about two corporate salespeople attempting to buy drilling rights from the local residents of a Pennsylvania farming town, was one of two titles honored with the NBR Freedom of Expression Award. Matt Damon, John Krasinski, Frances McDormand, Hal Holbrook, and Rosemarie DeWitt star. Damon (who had been initially mentioned as the film’s director) and Krasinski wrote the screenplay, from a story by Dave Eggers.

This year’s other NBR Freedom of Expression Award recipient was Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon’s The Central Park Five, a documentary focusing on a gross miscarriage of justice and abuse of power in New York City in the early 1990s. The film also topped the New York Film Critics’ Best Documentary category.

Previous Freedom of Expression Award winners include Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s Kandahar, Majid Majidi’s Baran, Deepa Mehta’s Water, Paul GreengrassBloody Sunday, Andrew Jarecki’s Capturing the Friedmans, Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11, Luis Mandoki’s Innocent Voices, and Marjane Satrapi and Vincente Paronnaud’s Persepolis. Bizarre choices include Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ and Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center.

And finally, the National Board of Review’s Best Documentary was Malik Bendjelloul’s Searching for Sugar Man, in which two South Africans try to uncover the fate of 1970s rock ‘n’ roller Rodriguez, while the peripatetic John Goodman received the Spotlight Award for his work in four 2012 releases: Argo, Flight, ParaNorman, and Trouble with the Curve.

See below the full list of this year’s National Board of Review winners.

National Board of Review winners & Top Ten films

Best Film: Zero Dark Thirty.

Top Ten Films (runners-up)
Ben Affleck’s Argo.
Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild.
Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained.
Tom Hooper’s Les Misérables.
Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln.
Rian Johnson’s Looper.
Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
Gus Van Sant’s Promised Land.
David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook.

Best Foreign Language Film: Amour.

Top Foreign Films (runners-up)
Christian Petzold’s Barbara.
Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano’s The Intouchables.
Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne’s The Kid with a Bike.
Pablo Larraín’s No.
Kim Nguyen’s War Witch.

Best Actor: Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook.

Best Actress: Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty.

Best Supporting Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio, Django Unchained.

Best Supporting Actress: Ann Dowd, Compliance.

Best Ensemble: Les Misérables.

Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty.

Best Original Screenplay: Rian Johnson, Looper.

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

Best Documentary: Searching for Sugar Man.

Top Documentaries (runners-up)
Alison Klayman’s Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry.
Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady’s Detropia.
Dror Moreh’s The Gatekeepers.
Kirby Dick’s The Invisible War.
Elizabeth Mims and Jason Tippet’s Only the Young.

Best Animated Feature: Wreck-It Ralph, dir.: Rich Moore.

Special Achievement in Filmmaking: Ben Affleck, Argo.

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

Breakthrough Actor: Tom Holland, The Impossible.

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

Top Independent Films
Nicholas Jarecki’s Arbitrage.
Richard Linklater’s Bernie.
Craig Zobel’s Compliance.
David Ayer’s End of Watch.
Todd Louiso’s Hello, I Must Be Going.
Elgin James’ Little Birds.
Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom.
Walter SallesOn the Road.
Dustin Hoffman’s Quartet.
Mike Birbiglia & (co-director) Seth Barrish’s Sleepwalk with Me.

Spotlight Award: John Goodman for Argo, Flight, ParaNorman, Trouble with the Curve.

NBR Freedom of Expression: The Central Park Five & Promised Land.

William K. Everson Film History Award: 50 Years of Bond Films.

‘Missing in Action’ titles

Missing in action from the National Board of Review’s Best Film runners-up were:

Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom and Walter Salles’ On the Road were at least listed among the Top Ten Independent Films.

Missing in action from the list of Best Foreign Language Film runners-up: Leos Carax’s limo movie Holy Motors.

Missing in action from the list of Best Documentary Feature runners-up: David France’s New York Film Critics’ Best First Film winner How to Survive a Plague and Lee Hirsch’s Bully.

Emmanuelle Riva Amour: L.A. Film Critics surprising Best Film winnerEmmanuelle Riva in Amour. Written and directed by Michael Haneke, the French-German-Austrian old-age drama Amour was the Los Angeles Film Critics Association’s surprise Best Film winner. Less surprising was 85-year-old veteran Emmanuelle Riva (Hiroshima Mon Amour, Léon Morin Priest) being selected as the year’s Best Actress (along with, ahem, Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook). In recent years, the L.A. Film Critics have been inclined to honor top-notch actresses, no matter their country of origin or the U.S. box office returns of their movies.

L.A. Film Critics Awards: ‘Amour’ is major surprise winner

The Los Angeles Film Critics Association has become what the New York Film Critics Circle used to be. Whereas the New Yorkers have gone mostly mainstream, in recent years the L.A. Film Critics have been making a number of “daring” and “unusual” – i.e., non-U.S./Hollywood – choices. Luckily for those interested in discovering little-heralded gems and/or to see quality films rewarded despite a lack of awards season marketing push, this year is no different.

While the New York Film Critics opted for a big studio release as their Best Picture – Kathryn Bigelow’s political thriller Zero Dark Thirty – the Los Angeles Film Critics’ Best Film category was topped by screenwriter-director Michael Haneke’s Amour, a Paris-set French-Austrian-German drama about love, aging, and death.

L.A. Film Critics’ third non-English-language Best Film winner

Even though Amour has been enjoying some strong buzz since its Palme d’Or win in the spring, few – if any – were expecting this particular victory.

In fact, Amour is only the third non-English-language film to receive top honors from the Los Angeles Film Critics, following Ang Lee’s Mandarin-language Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon in 2000 and Clint Eastwood’s mostly Japanese-language (but U.S.-made) Letters from Iwo Jima in 2006.

The winner of four European Film Awards – including Best European Film – Amour is the odds-on favorite to take home the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. Veterans Jean-Louis Trintignant (Les Biches, My Night at Maud’s), Emmanuelle Riva (Hiroshima Mon Amour, Thérèse Desqueyroux), and Isabelle Huppert (The Lacemaker, Entre Nous) star.

Youngest & oldest Frenchwomen

The 85-year-old Emmanuelle Riva, in movies since the late 1950s, was the L.A. Film Critics’ Best Actress co-winner, sharing the award with 22-year-old Jennifer Lawrence for her work in David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook. (There was 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.)

Riva has thus become the L.A. Film Critics’ oldest Best Actress ever. Jennifer Lawrence is the second youngest, after Sandrine Bonnaire – the 19-year-old winner for Agnès Varda’s Vagabond in 1986.

And that means that both the oldest and the youngest L.A. Film Critics Best Actress winners to date are Frenchwomen.

Riva was also the L.A. Film Critics’ ninth Best Actress winner for a performance in a non-English-language film since the awards’ inception in 1975 – and the fourth consecutive one since 2009. Her predecessors were:

  • Florinda Bolkan, A Brief Vacation / Una breve vacanza (1975).
  • Liv Ullmann, Face to Face / Ansikte mot ansikte (1976).
  • Sandrine Bonnaire, Vagabond / Sans toit ni loi (1986).
  • Fernanda Montenegro, Central Station / Central do Brasil (1998; shared with Ally Sheedy for High Art).
  • Marion Cotillard, La Vie en Rose / La môme (2007).
  • Yolande Moreau, Séraphine (2009).
  • Kim Hye-ja, Mother / Madeo (2010).
  • Yoon Jeong-hee, Poetry / Shi (2011).

Of note, the L.A. Film Critics’ most recent Best Actress winner for a performance in a U.S. film was Vera Farmiga for Debra Granik’s Down to the Bone in 2005.

The 2006 winner was Helen Mirren for Stephen Frears’ British-made The Queen; in 2008, Sally Hawkins won for another British effort, Mike Leigh’s Happy-Go-Lucky.

Emmanuelle Riva has been in show business – stage, film, TV – for about six decades. Among her notable cinema credits are Alain Resnais’ epoch-making Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959); Gillo Pontecorvo’s Kapò (1960); Jean-Pierre Melville’s Léon Morin Priest (1961); Georges Franju’s Thérèse Desqueyroux (1962); and, more recently, Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Three Colors: Blue (1993), in which she has a supporting role as Juliette Binoche’s mother.

‘Amour’ not stuck in foreign-language ghetto

Curiously, the Best Foreign Language Film was Leos Carax’s “limo movie” Holy Motors, followed by Joseph Cedar’s Israeli drama Footnote. And that makes one wonder whether the L.A. Film Critics watched an English-dubbed version of Amour.

But then again, the same thing happened when Andrew Stanton’s WALL-E was named their Best Film, while Ari Folman’s Waltz with Bashir was the Best Animated Feature. That’s called spreading the love, and why not?

Let’s not forget the year when the British Academy selected Stephen Frears’ The Queen as Best Film and Kevin Macdonald’s The Last King of Scotland as Best British Film – when both were British productions in the running in both categories.

In the Holy Motors eclectic cast: Denis Lavant, Eva Mendes, Kylie Minogue, Élise L’Homeau, Jeanne Disson, and veterans Edith Scob (Eyes Without a Face, The Lovers on the Bridge) and Michel Piccoli (French Can Can, We Have a Pope).

‘The Master’ earns Paul Thomas Anderson second Best Director award

Now, truly curiously (in case we’re allowed to express our surprise via two consecutive adverbs), Amour was neither the winner nor the runner-up for the L.A. Film Critics’ Best Director and Best Screenplay awards.

This awards season, Kathryn Bigelow has received Best Director honors from the New York Film Critics Circle, the National Board of Review, and the Boston Society of Film Critics. Yet the L.A. Film Critics selected instead Paul Thomas Anderson for The Master – their Best Film runner-up.

In the box office disappointment, screenwriter-director Anderson delves into the complex relationship between a charismatic cult leader à la Scientology’s L. Ron Hubbard (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and a disturbed World War II veteran (Joaquin Phoenix).

This marked Anderson’s second Best Director win in Los Angeles; five years ago he was given the award for another period drama, There Will Be Blood.

Bigelow, who had won in L.A. for The Hurt Locker in 2009, was this year’s runner-up for Zero Dark Thirty, about the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

The Best Screenplay winner was Chris Terrio for his work on another political thriller at least partly set in a Muslim country: Ben Affleck’s Argo, featuring an intricate (and more than a bit movie-movieish) U.S. rescue of several would-be hostages in Iran.

The runner-up was David O. Russell for the comedy-drama Silver Linings Playbook, centering on an emotionally unstable man (Bradley Cooper) and his relationship issues.

The Master Amy Adams: L.A. Film Critics Best Supporting Actress in box office flopThe Master with Amy Adams. Although Michael Haneke’s Amour was the L.A. Film Critics’ surprising Best Film selection, Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master was the movie with the most wins and overall mentions (i.e., the runner-up slot). A psychological study of the relationship between a disturbed World War II veteran and the architect of a new philosophy/religion/cult (inspired by Church of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard), The Master topped four L.A. Film Critics Award categories: Best Director, Best Actor for Joaquin Phoenix (as the soldier), Best Supporting Actress for Amy Adams, and Best Production Design for Jack Fisk and David Crank.

More ‘The Master’ wins: Joaquin Phoenix & Amy Adams

New York Film Critics winner Daniel Day-Lewis is this awards season’s favorite in the Best Actor category for his portrayal of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln in Steven Spielberg’s Universal-distributed Lincoln, a well-received box office hit.

The L.A. Film Critics, however, opted instead for Joaquin Phoenix in the box office disappointment The Master. Even more interesting was the Best Actor runner-up: not Daniel Day-Lewis, but Denis Lavant for the little-seen (in the U.S.) Holy Motors.

Anne Hathaway may be getting all the Best Supporting Actress Oscar/Golden Globe/SAG Award buzz for her performance as Fantine in Tom Hooper’s Les Misérables (perhaps with the indirect assistance of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises). Yet the L.A. Film Critics’ unexpected choice was Amy Adams for The Master (without any mention of Adams’ performances in either Robert Lorenz’s Trouble with the Curve or Walter Salles’ On the Road).

Hathaway was the runner-up for both Les Misérables and The Dark Knight Rises.

Best Supporting Actor surprise

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 another movie set in the American South, 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 also earned David Crank and veteran Jack Fisk (Badlands, Days of Heaven) the Best Production Design award. The runner-up in that category was Adam Stockhausen for Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom.

In all, The Master won a total of four 2012 Los Angeles Film Critics Awards and was the runner-up in three other categories. Beasts of the Southern Wild was the only other movie to top more than one “competitive” category – in addition to a New Generation Award win for Zeitlin.

‘Skyfall’ becomes first James Bond movie to win L.A. Film Critics’ Best Cinematography award

The L.A. Film Critics’ Best Cinematography mention went to veteran Roger Deakins for the James Bond flick Skyfall, directed by Sam Mendes and starring Daniel Craig.

A worldwide blockbuster, Skyfall has become the first Agent 007 movie to win in that category (possibly in any L.A. category), though Deakins has won twice before: for Barton Fink and Homicide in 1991, and for The Man Who Wasn’t There in 2001.

Here’s wondering whether Deakins’ next L.A. Film Critics win will take place in 2021 or 2022.

This year’s runner-up was Mihai Malaimare Jr. for The Master.

Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie may have been a major box office misfire, but it has been a major hit with critics groups. Following its New York Film Critics victory, the tale about a boy and his attempts to resurrect his dead dog won the Best Animation award in L.A. as well.

The runner-up was Don Hertzfeldt’s 23-minute short It’s Such a Beautiful Day.

‘The Gatekeepers’ + Frederick Wiseman gets Career Award

The Los Angeles Film Critics’ 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 1970s U.S. singer Rodriguez.

The winner of the L.A. Film Critics’ first Best Editing award were Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg for Zero Dark Thirty. Goldenberg beat himself: he was the runner-up for that other Hollywood 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.
  • 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. Distributor Cinema Guild describes the film as a “cosmic portrait of one of mankind’s oldest endeavors, unlike anything you’ve seen.”

See below the full list of L.A. Film Critics winners & runners-up. Notably missing in action are Lincoln, Ang Lee’s Life of Pi, Joe Wright’s Anna Karenina, Robert ZemeckisFlight, and, in the technical categories, Ridley Scott’s Prometheus.

Holy Motors Denis Lavant: Leos Carax surprise L.A. Film Critics Foreign FilmHoly Motors with Denis Lavant. The Los Angeles Film Critics’ Best Foreign Language Film winner, screenwriter-director Leos Carax’s Holy Motors is a stream of consciousness tale about a man (frequent Carax collaborator and L.A. Film Critics Best Actor runner-up Denis Lavant) carrying out various unorthodox errands while taking on various guises. Carax himself, whose credits include The Lovers on the Bridge and the sexually explicit Pola X, plays Holy Motors’ Sleeper, in whose mind it may all be taking place.

L.A. Film Critics winners

Best Film: Amour.

Runner-up: The Master.

Best Foreign Language Film: Holy Motors.

Runner-up: Footnote.

Best Actress (tie): Emmanuelle Riva, Amour; Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook.

Best Actor: Joaquin Phoenix, The Master.

Runner-up: Denis Lavant, Holy Motors.

Best Supporting Actress: Amy Adams, The Master.

Runner-up: Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables & The Dark Knight Rises.

Best Supporting Actor: Dwight Henry, Beasts of the Southern Wild.

Runner-up: Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained.

Best Director: Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master.

Runner-up: Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty.

Best Screenplay: Chris Terrio, Argo.

Runner-up: David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook.

Best Cinematography: Roger Deakins, Skyfall.

Runner-up: Mihai Malaimare Jr., The Master.

Best Film Editing: William Goldenberg & Dylan Tichenor, Zero Dark Thirty.

Runner-up: William Goldenberg, Argo.

Best Music: Dan Romer & Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild.

Runner-up: Jonny Greenwood, The Master.

Best Production Design: Jack Fisk & David Crank, The Master.

Runner-up: Adam Stockhausen, Moonrise Kingdom.

Best Documentary: The Gatekeepers.

Runner-up: Searching for Sugar Man.

Best Animated Feature: Frankenweenie.

Runner-up: It’s Such a Beautiful Day.

Career Award: Frederick Wiseman.

New Generation Award: Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild.

The Douglas Edwards Award (for Experimental & Independent Film/Video): Leviathan.

The Master Philip Seymour Hoffman: L. Ron Hubbard + Church of Scientology similaritiesThe Master with Philip Seymour Hoffman. Our Best Supporting Actor prediction for the L.A. Film Critics Awards, The Master‘s L. Ron Hubbard-like portrayer Philip Seymour Hoffman was ultimately bypassed. His co-stars, Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams, fared better, topping the Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress categories, respectively. Written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, There Will Be Blood), the reportedly $30 million-budget The Master had its awards season chances suffer a major setback after it flopped in the fall. The L.A. Film Critics, however, may have helped to lift the film’s Oscar chances – at least somewhat.

Los Angeles Film Critics Awards predictions: Best Film

The Los Angeles Film Critics Association will announce its list of 2012 winners on Dec. 9. Below are our fearless predictions despite the fact that our previous attempt at soothsaying – the New York Film Critics Circle winners earlier this week – was nearly 100 percent off the mark. In our favor: Most of our runners-up did take home NYFCC Awards in their respective categories.

For their top award, the L.A. Film Critics have usually been slightly edgier than their New York-based counterparts. That’s not saying much, really, but still…

For instance, in the past decade the L.A. Film Critics selected Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood instead of Joel and Ethan Coen’s No Country for Old Men; Clint Eastwood’s (mostly) Japanese-language 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? These were About Schmidt, Sideways, and The Descendants – but not Payne’s best (and most subversive) by far, Election. So much for edgy filmmaking.

‘The Master’

Alexander Payne isn’t in the running this year, but 2009 winner Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker) – with her “timely” New York Film Critics winner Zero Dark Thirty – is.

Will Los Angeles follow the New York lead? Well, it’s just as possible they’ll go for another Paul Thomas Anderson movie.

We believed that the New York Film Critics would go for Anderson’s take on religion in general and Scientology in particular. We were wrong. Now we’re betting that the L.A. Film Critics will try to salvage the awards season chances of Anderson’s acclaimed but commercially disappointing drama. In other words: The Master for Best Film.

Other Best Film possibilities of the obvious kind:

  • 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.

L.A. Film Critics Best Director: Michael Haneke

The top possibilities for the Los Angeles Film Critics’ Best Director have all been listed above. Yet the L.A. Film Critics’ choices in this particular category 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 (early on, a “daring” choice) and an Olivier Assayas for Carlos. Not to mention Terrence Malick for The Tree of Life.

This year’s top Best Director contenders are these three filmmakers: Kathryn Bigelow, Paul Thomas Anderson, and Steven Spielberg. So, who do we predict will win?

Once again, we’ll go with our failed New York Film Critics choice: Michael Haneke for Amour.

Now, we should add that in case Steven Spielberg wins for Lincoln, that’ll mark his third L.A. Film Critics 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.

Emayatzy Corinealdi Middle of Nowhere: L.A. Film Critics Best Actress in minor indie?Emayatzy Corinealdi in Middle of Nowhere. Made for a reported $200,000, Ava DuVernay’s indie drama Middle of Nowhere features little-known performer Emayatzy Corinealdi (of the shorts The Silent Treatment & The Chase, TV’s The Young and the Restless) as a nurse whose husband receives an eight-year prison sentence. Middle of Nowhere was no box office hit, taking in a little more than its budget, but the L.A. Film Critics have been willing to choose winners in certain categories, including Best Actress, that are neither Hollywood nor box office-friendly releases – e.g., Vera Farmiga for Down to the Bone, Kim Hye-ja for Mother, Yoon Jeong-hee for Poetry.

L.A. Film Critics Awards predictions in acting categories

Unlike the (U.S.) mainstream-leaning New York Film Critics, the L.A. Film Critics have made some unexpected – i.e., “daring” – international choices in the acting categories.

In recent years, performers selected by the L.A. Film Critics’ include:

  • Best Actor Michael Fassbender for four movies: Shame, Jane Eyre, A Dangerous Method, and X-Men: First Class. (Okay, the last one was all “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, 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.
  • Best Supporting Actress winner Luminita Gheorghiu for The Death of Mr. Lazarescu.

And let’s not forget Vera Farmiga’s truly unexpected Best Actress win for the little-seen U.S.-made indie Down to the Bone.

As a result, in the L.A. Film Critics’ acting categories it’s safer to predict international – or at the very least non-Hollywood – choices.

Emayatzy Corinealdi & Daniel Day-Lewis

The indie and non-U.S. possibilities are, as usual, more likely in the Best Actress category. We’re betting on Emayatzy Corinealdi for Ava DuVernay’s Middle of Nowhere.

Other possibilities range from New York Film Critics’ surprise 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).

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 has been for more than four decades. That probably explains why the vast majority of L.A. Film Critics Best Actor winners have been performers in American films.

Now, even though the L.A. Film Critics have never selected a Best Actor in a non-English-speaking role, we’re 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.

Best Supporting Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman

Philip Seymour Hoffman is our Best Supporting Actor prediction for his portrayal of an L. Ron Hubbard type in The Master.

Here are a few runners-up:

  • Leonardo DiCaprio & Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained.
  • Tommy Lee Jones for Lincoln.
  • Paul Giamatti for Cosmopolis.

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.

Here are the top runners-up:

  • Anne Hathaway for Les Misérables & 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?

More L.A. Film Critics Awards predictions

And while we’re at it, how about:

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

National Board of Review website.

Los Angeles Film Critics Association website.

Kathryn Bigelow Zero Dark Thirty set image: Columbia Pictures.

Matt Damon Promised Land image: Focus Features.

Emmanuelle Riva Amour image: Sony Pictures Classics.

Amy Adams The Master images: The Weinstein Company.

Denis Lavant Holy Motors image: Les Films du Losange.

Philip Seymour Hoffman The Master image: The Weinstein Company.

Emayatzy Corinealdi Middle of Nowhere image: African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement/Participant Media.

“Kathryn Bigelow First Female Best Director Winner: National Board of Review Awards” last updated in March 2019.

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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.)

Catherine -

Wow. These are some sort of crazy, random. I’m fine with the love for ZD30 – its edgy, political….
But Cooper over DDL. Cooper gave a fine performance in a quirky film. But DDL, or for that matter, Jaoquin Phoenix, gave visceral performances in what could be argued as the greatest performances of their careers, with DDL creating something epic.
Cooper better enjoy it because it seems more like an appreciative/devil’s advocate vote.


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