LAFCA surprise winners include James Franco tattoos & gold teeth + trio of ties
The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA) announced earlier today, Dec. 8, their list of 2013 winners and runners-up. As usual, there were a number of surprises, chiefly among them James Franco (see below) and Shane Carruth's little-seen sci-fi indie drama Upstream Color, selected as the runner-up for Best Editing. (Check out the full list of Los Angeles Film Critics winners further below.)
A Best Actor Academy Award nominee for Danny Boyle's 2010 drama 127 Hours and one of the co-hosts (with Anne Hathaway) of one of the most widely lambasted Oscar ceremonies ever, Franco tied with Jared Leto (see further below) in the Best Supporting Actor category.
Sporting gold-plated teeth and countless tattoos, James Franco plays Alien, a St. Petersburg, Florida, rapper, gangster, and drugs & arms dealer who becomes enmeshed with bikini-clad girls gone wild Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, and Ashley Benson in Harmony Korine's (sort of) cautionary tale Spring Breakers.
With nearly $32 million worldwide, as per Boxofficemojo.com, the film has turned out to be a modest commercial success in relation to its (reported) $5 million budget (not including marketing and distribution expenses).
James Franco's fellow winner was Jared Leto, who plays an HIV-positive trans woman in Jean-Marc Vallée's real-life-inspired AIDS comedy-drama Dallas Buyers Club – which recently (may have) caused a furor at a Frozen screening in Florida.
LAFCA's favorites: 'Gravity' & 'Her'
But really, the biggest surprise of all was that the Los Angeles Film Critics came up with no less than three ties. Besides two Best Supporting Actor winners, there were also two Best Actresses (more details further below) and, most notably, two Best Pictures: Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity and Spike Jonze's Her.
In all, Gravity was the Los Angeles Film Critics' favorite, topping three other categories: Best Director, Best Cinematography (Emmanuel Lubezki), and Best Editing (Alfonso Cuarón & Mark Sanger).
Sandra Bullock, touted as a potential Best Actress Oscar nominee, and George Clooney star in this handsome but conventional Warner Bros.-distributed Hollywood flick that has become a worldwide commercial and critical hit – however absurdly, Gravity has even been compared to Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. The screenplay was penned by Cuarón and his son, Jonás Cuarón.
Another Warners domestic release, Her also earned K.K. Barrett the Best Production Design award, in addition to being the runner-up in the Best Director, Best Screenplay (Jonze), and Best Music Score (Arcade Fire and Owen Pallett) categories.
In the film, Joaquin Phoenix plays a lonely, introverted man who begins a relationship of sorts with a computer operating system voiced by Scarlett Johansson. Amy Adams, Kristen Wiig, Chris Pratt, and Olivia Wilde are some of Her's other players.
Curiously, Her was the second Joaquin Phoenix star vehicle in a row to perform quite well with LAFCA voters. Last year, Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master topped four categories: Best Director, Best Actor (Phoenix), Best Supporting Actress (Amy Adams), and Best Production Design (Jack Fisk & David Crank), in addition to being the runner-up in the Best Picture, Best Cinematography, and Best Music Score categories.
LAFCA Best Picture tie & the Academy Awards
For those who see this LAFCA Best Picture tie as some sort of Oscar Omen:
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest became the first movie since Frank Capra's It Happened One Night in early 1935 to win Academy Awards for Best Picture (Saul Zaentz & Michael Douglas), Best Actor (Jack Nicholson), Best Actress (Louise Fletcher), Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay (Lawrence Hauben & Bo Goldman).
- In the key Oscar categories, Dog Day Afternoon had to content itself with nominations for Best Picture (Martin Bregman & Martin Elfland), Best Actor (Al Pacino), Best Supporting Actor (Chris Sarandon), and Best Director, in addition to winning for Best Original Screenplay (Frank Pierson).
Just bear in mind that neither Gravity nor Her has any chance whatsoever of repeating One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest's Oscar feat.
Another eye-popping LAFCA surprise
Nearly as eye-popping as the James Franco tattoos, was the Los Angeles Film Critics' choice of Best Animated Feature: Stéphane Aubier, Benjamin Renner, and Vincent Patar's French-Belgian co-production Ernest & Celestine, about the unlikely friendship between a mouse and a bear, and the rejection they must endure from species-conscious mice and bears.
The LAFCA's runner-up was Hayao Miyazaki's The Wind Rises, the National Board of Review and the New York Film Critics' winner.
So far this awards season, animated Hollywood movies – e.g., Frozen, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, The Croods – no matter how successful at the North American box office, have been summarily bypassed.
Adèle Exarchopoulos & Cate Blanchett: 'Blue' is the luckiest color as Los Angeles Film Critics come up with second consecutive Best Actress tie
Another non-Hollywood Los Angeles Film Critics Association selection was Best Actress co-winner Adèle Exarchopoulos, cited for her performance as a blossoming adolescent who develops a complex emotional and sexual bond with butch, blue-haired aspiring painter Léa Seydoux in Abdellatif Kechiche's controversial Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or winner Blue Is the Warmest Color.
In addition, the lesbian romantic drama based on Julie Maroh's graphic novel took home the LAFCA's Best Foreign Language Film award.
As it happens, Blue Is the Warmest Color, which was also named the New York Film Critics Circle's Best Foreign Language Film, can't be shortlisted in that Academy Award category due to eligibility issues. France's Oscar submission this year was Gilles Bourdo's Renoir.
At the LAFCA, blue was also the luckiest color, at least in the Best Actress category: Cate Blanchett was Exarchopoulos' co-winner, for her performance in Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine, in which she plays a character somewhat similar to A Streetcar Named Desire's Blanche Dubois – a role that earned Vivien Leigh the Best Actress Academy Award back in early 1952.
The Cate Blanchett and Adèle Exarchopoulos tie was the Los Angeles Film Critics' second in a row in the Best Actress category. Last year, they couldn't decide between veteran Emmanuelle Riva for Michael Haneke's Amour or (relative) newcomer Jennifer Lawrence for David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook.
Best Actress Oscar chances?
Emmanuelle Riva, in movies since the late 1950s (e.g., Alain Resnais' Hiroshima Mon Amour), went on to receive her first Best Actress Oscar nomination. But Jennifer Lawrence – young, a former model, and the star of Gary Ross' blockbuster The Hunger Games – turned out to be the eventual winner.
Adèle Exarchopoulos may be young and pretty, but she has two major disadvantages when it comes to winning – or even being nominated for – an Oscar:
a) Unlike Cate Blanchett and other likely nominees (e.g., Sandra Bullock, Judi Dench) she's not Hollywood (or even marginally Hollywood).
b) Academy members generally have an aversion to films dealing with sex (e.g., Lust, Caution; Shame).
Of course, the non-Hollywood Emmanuelle Riva did at least land a nomination. So, despite all the lesbian sex, Exarchopoulos does have a chance.
As for Cate Blanchett, she's not only a shoo-in nominee but also the likely winner. If so, that'll be her second Oscar statuette, following her win in the Best Supporting Actress category for Martin Scorsese's The Aviator (2004), in which she plays multiple Oscar winner Katharine Hepburn.
LAFCA's Best Actress ties & Oscar-unlucky
Here are the other LAFCA ties in the Best Actress category:
- Holly Hunter (Broadcast News) and Sally Kirkland (Anna) in 1987.
- Michelle Pfeiffer (The Fabulous Baker Boys) and Andie MacDowell (Sex, Lies, and Videotape) in 1989.
- Fernanda Montenegro (Central Station) and Ally Sheedy (High Art) in 1998.
Of these, only Andie MacDowell and Ally Sheedy failed to be shortlisted for the Academy Awards.
Since 1990, only six LAFCA Best Actress winners have failed to receive an Academy Award nomination; four of these were performers in non-American films, three of which in a language other than English. Here are the six actresses:
- Ally Sheedy for Lisa Cholodenko's High Art (1998)
- Vera Farmiga for Debra Granik's Down to the Bone (2005)
- Sally Hawkins for Mike Leigh's Happy-Go-Lucky (2008).
- Yolande Moreau for Martin Provost's Séraphine (2009).
- Kim Hye-ja for Bong Joon-ho's Mother (2010).
- Yoon Jeong-hee for Lee Chang-dong's Poetry (2011).
Oscar eligibility may have been an issue with some of these titles.
Also, the LAFCA's 1991 Best Actress winner Mercedes Ruehl – for Terry Gilliam's The Fisher King – took home that year's Best Supporting Actress Oscar.
Veteran Bruce Dern is Los Angeles Film Critics' Best Actor
There was no tie in the Los Angeles Film Critics' Best Actor category. The solo winner was Hollywood veteran Bruce Dern (Family Plot, Coming Home), playing a Montana man traveling to collect a cash prize in Nebraska in Alexander Payne's road movie Nebraska. This marked the 77-year-old Dern's first LAFCA win.
Something similar happened at the New York Film Critics awards, as 77-year-old Robert Redford was their Best Actor for J.C. Chandor's All Is Lost – the veteran Redford's first-ever NYFCC win.
A Best Supporting Actor Academy Award nominee for Hal Ashby's Coming Home (1978), Bruce Dern is a shoo-in 2014 Best Actor nominee. Nebraska has already earned him the Best Actor prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
Will Forte and LAFCA Best Supporting Actress runner-up June Squibb are Dern's Nebraska co-stars.
See follow-up post: “Los Angeles vs. New York Film Critics: Who's More Daring?”
James Franco Spring Breakers image: A24.
Sandra Bullock Gravity image: Warner Bros.
Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos Blue Is the Warmest Color image: IFC Films.
Bruce Dern Nebraska image: Paramount Vantage.
“James Franco Tattoos & Teeth + Surprising Best Film & Best Actress Ties: LAFCA Winners” last updated in July 2018.