Los Angeles & New York Winners: 1st Animated Film & Slain Gay Politician Drama Tops

WALL-E Best Film: Pixar animation makes Los Angeles Film Critics historyWALL-E. The Best Film winner at the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards, Disney/Pixar's Andrew Stanton-directed WALL-E became the first animated film to top that particular category. Curiously, the L.A. Film Critics selected Ari Folman's Israeli-made Waltz with Bashir as the year's Best Animated Feature. WALL-E depicts the passionate love a lonely robot feels for the probe visiting his deserted planet. Waltz with Bashir chronicles the personal experiences of filmmaker Folman as a soldier during the Israel-Lebanon War in the early 1980s.

Los Angeles Film Critics Awards: 1st animated feature to win Best Picture

For the first time in its 34-year history, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association has bestowed its Best Picture award on an animated film, Disney/Pixar's Andrew Stanton-directed WALL-E.

Somewhat incongruously spreading the wealth, Ari Folman's animated Israeli documentary Waltz with Bashir was selected as the year's Best Animated Film. Folman's anti-war effort was also the runner-up in the Best Documentary category.

In case you're wondering, there's at least one Los Angeles Film Critics precedent for this sort of split: in 2000, Ang Lee's Mandarin-language Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon was voted Best Film while Edward Yang's Taipei-set Yi Yi / A One and a Two was chosen Best Foreign Language Film.

Sally Hawkins for the Oscars?

Other surprises among the Los Angeles Film Critics choices included:

  • Berlin Film Festival winner Sally Hawkins as Best Actress for Mike Leigh's Happy-Go-Lucky – which means that Hawkins is now a potential Oscar contender. Additionally, Leigh was the surprise winner in the Best Screenplay category.
  • Jia Zhangke's 2006 Venice Film Festival-winning Chinese drama Still Life as Best Foreign Language Film. Besides, Lik Wai Yu was the equally surprising winner in the Best Cinematography category.

Heath Ledger among L.A. Film Critics' non-surprises

Among the Los Angeles Film Critics' non-surprises were the following:

'Slumdog Millionaire' wins two + Manoel de Oliveira homage

Critics' fave Slumdog Millionaire won two awards: Best Director for Danny Boyle and Best Score for A.R. Rahman.

The 2008 Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards were dedicated to still-active centenarian Portuguese filmmaker Manoel de Oliveira, whose credits include The Convent, Magic Mirror, and Belle toujours.

Further below are listed the 2008 New York Film Critics Circle and the Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association winners.

See also: “Academy Award Predictions: Meryl Streep & Clint Eastwood + Posthumous Best Supporting Actor Nomination” & “Predictions Part II: Cinderella Tale + Slain Gay Politician & Veteran Jan Troell Returns.”

Los Angeles Film Critics winners: Eclectic, international list

2008 Los Angeles Film Critics Association winners: Dec. 9.

Best Film: WALL-E.

Runner-up: The Dark Knight.

Best Foreign Language Film: Still Life.

Runner-up: The Class / Entre les murs, dir.: Laurent Cantet.

Best Animated Film: Waltz with Bashir.

Best Actress: Sally Hawkins, Happy-Go-Lucky.

Runner-up: Melissa LeoFrozen River.

Best Actor: Sean PennMilk.

Runner-up: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler.

Best Supporting Actress: Penélope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Elegy.

Runner-up: Viola Davis, Doubt.

Best supporting Actor: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight.

Runner-up: Eddie MarsanHappy-Go-Lucky.

Best Director: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire.

Runner-up: David FincherThe Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

Best Screenplay: Mike Leigh, Happy-Go-Lucky.

Runner-up: Charlie Kaufman, Synecdoche, New York.

Best Documentary: Man on Wire.

Runner-up: Waltz with Bashir.

Best Cinematography: Lik Wai Yu, Still Life.

Runner-up: Anthony Dod Mantle, Slumdog Millionaire.

Best Production Design: Mark Friedberg, Synecdoche, New York.

Runner-up: Nathan Crowley, The Dark Knight.

Best Score: A.R. Rahman, Slumdog Millionaire.

Runner-up: Alexandre Desplat, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

Career Achievement: John Calley.

New Generation Award: Steve McQueenHunger.

Douglas E. Edwards Award (for experimental films): James Benning, RR & Casting a Glance.

Milk Sean Penn. New York Critics choose murdered gay politician Harvey MilkMilk with Sean Penn. The Best Film winner at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards, Gus Van Sant's biopic of San Francisco Board of Supervisors member Harvey Milk – who was openly gay and was eventually murdered by a psychopath – stars Best Actor winner Sean Penn in the title role. Best Supporting Actor winner Josh Brolin plays the murderer. Brolin, by the way, was seen earlier this year as another controversial real-life figure, (soon-to-be-former) U.S. President George W. Bush in Oliver Stone's W.

New York Film Critics winners: No major surprises

Dec. 10: There were no major surprises among the New York Film Critics Circle's 2008 winners – unless you count last year's Romanian abortion drama 4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days, directed by Cristian Mungiu and starring Anamaria Marinca, being chosen this year's Best Foreign Language Film.

In fact, that shouldn't be a surprise at all. Last year, the New York Film Critics picked Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's Stasi drama The Lives of Others – an Oscar winner several months earlier – as their Best Foreign Language Film. The previous year, their choice was Jean-Pierre Melville's French underground drama Army of Shadows, a 1969 release in its country of origin.

Gay politician biopic voted Best Film

Admittedly, the New York Film Critics also honored more recent releases. Gus Van Sant's Milk was voted Best Film while its star, Sean Penn, was the Best Actor for his portrayal of slain San Francisco-based gay leader Harvey Milk, and Josh Brolin was Best Supporting Actor for playing the psychopath who murdered Milk.

Heath Ledger – The Joker in The Dark Knight – would have been a more likely choice in that particular category, but Brolin has been getting lots of praise as well.

Middling & minor surprises

A middling surprise was Mike Leigh being named Best Director for the British-made indie Happy-Go-Lucky, which also earned him the Los Angeles Film Critics Association's Best Screenplay award. This is Leigh's second Best Director win in New York, following his 1999 Best Director/Best Film combo for Topsy-Turvy.

In addition, Jenny Lumet's Best Screenplay win for the Jonathan Demme-directed Rachel Getting Married, the New York Film Critics' Best Picture runner-up, could be considered a minor surprise. The same might have been said about Sally Hawkins being voted Best Actress – if it weren't for the fact that only yesterday she received Best Actress honors from the Los Angeles critics.

Oscar connection

Following the announcement of the Los Angeles and New York Film Critics' winners, it's become crystal clear that:

  • WALL-E will win the Best Animated Feature Oscar.
  • Penélope Cruz is the most likely winner in the Best Supporting Actress category for Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
  • Happy-Go-Lucky should be taken seriously as a potential nominee in the Best Director and Best Original Screenplay categories, while Sally Hawkins is now a strong Best Actress contender.
Happy-Go-Lucky Sally Hawkins: Los Angeles + New York Best Actress made historyHappy-Go-Lucky with Sally Hawkins. The Los Angeles Film Critics' surprise Best Actress choice was the – by then – less surprising New York Film Critics Best Actress choice: Sally Hawkins, who plays a cheerful primary-school teacher in Mike Leigh's British-made indie Happy-Go-Lucky. Hawkins is now a top Best Actress Academy Award contender. (Update: Somehow or other, that wasn't meant to be. Sally Hawkins thus made history by becoming the first Best Actress winner in both Los Angeles and New York without landing a matching Academy Award nomination.)

New York Film Critics winners: Gay-themed drama tops while Sally Hawkins a 'minor' surprise

The 2008 New York Film Critics Circle winners were announced on Dec. 10.

Best Picture: Milk.

Runners-up: Rachel Getting Married. Happy-Go-Lucky & Slumdog Millionaire (tie).

Best Foreign Language Film: 4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days.

Runners-up: A Christmas Tale. The Class.

Best Director: Mike Leigh, Happy-Go-Lucky.

Runners-up: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire. David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

Best Actor: Sean Penn, Milk.

Runners-up: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler. Clint Eastwood, Gran Torino.

Best Actress: Sally Hawkins, Happy-Go-Lucky.

Runners-up: Melissa Leo, Frozen River. Kate Winslet, Revolutionary Road, & Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married (tie).

Best Supporting Actor: Josh Brolin, Milk.

Runners-up: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight. Robert Downey Jr., Tropic Thunder. Eddie Marsan, Happy-Go-Lucky.

Best Supporting Actress: Penélope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

Runners-up: Viola Davis, Doubt. Rosemarie DeWitt & Debra Winger for Rachel Getting Married (tie).

Best Screenwriter: Jenny Lumet, Rachel Getting Married.

Runners-up: Mike Leigh, Happy-Go-Lucky. Robert D. Siegel, The Wrestler.

Best First Film: Courtney Hunt, Frozen River.

Runners-up: Ballast. Reprise.

Best Documentary: Man on Wire.

Runners-up: Waltz with Bashir. Trouble the Water.

Best Animated Film: WALL-E.

Runner-up: Waltz with Bashir.

Best Cinematography: Anthony Dod Mantle, Slumdog Millionaire.

Runners-up: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The Dark Knight.


Washington Film Critics winners

2008 Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association winners: Dec. 7.

Slumdog Millionaire was the clear favorite, winning three of the top awards: Best Film, Best Director (Danny Boyle), and Best Adapted Screenplay (Simon Beaufoy), in addition to Best Breakthrough Performance winner Dev Patel.

Best Film: Slumdog Millionaire.

Best Foreign Language Film: Let the Right One In.

Best Actress: Meryl Streep, Doubt.

Best Actor: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler.

Best Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight.

Best Supporting Actress: Rosemarie DeWitt, Rachel Getting Married.

Best Ensemble: Doubt.

Best Director: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire.

Best Adapted Screenplay: Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire.

Best Original Screenplay: Jenny Lumet, Rachel Getting Married.

Best Documentary: Man on Wire.

Best Animated Feature: WALL-E.

Best Breakthrough Performance: Dev Patel, Slumdog Millionaire.

Best Art Direction: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.


Los Angeles Film Critics Association website.

New York Film Critics Circle website.

Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association website.

WALL-E image: Walt Disney Studios / Pixar Animation.

Sally Hawkins Happy-Go-Lucky image: Miramax.

Sean Penn Milk image: Focus Features.

“Los Angeles & New York Winners: 1st Animated Film & Slain Gay Politician Drama Tops” last updated in March 2018.

Los Angeles & New York Winners: 1st Animated Film & Slain Gay Politician Drama Tops © 2004–2018 Alt Film Guide and/or author(s).
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