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Vanessa Redgrave & Tilda Swinton: British Actors Rule San Francisco

Vanessa Redgrave Coriolanus: Volumnia unlikely to earn film critics winner 7th Oscar nod
Vanessa Redgrave in Coriolanus, with Harry Fenn as the young Caius Martius, later known as Coriolanus. In actor-turned-director Ralph Fiennes’ modern-day film version of William Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, veteran Vanessa Redgrave plays Volumnia, the mother of the title character (played by Fiennes), a Roman general who, thanks to the encouragement of his mother and the people’s blind worship of his many military victories, earns a seat in the Senate. Things then get somewhat complicated, as some fear that the brilliant warrior may be on his way to becoming a ruthless dictator.

San Francisco Film Critics favor British actors: Vanessa Redgrave & Gary Oldman among surprises

Ramon Novarro biography Beyond Paradise

Among U.S.-based film critics groups, the San Diego Film Critics Society is generally the one that comes up with a series of truly unusual choices. This year, they’ve been joined by (at least some of) the members of the San Francisco Film Critics Circle. (See further below the full list of San Francisco Film Critics winners.)

For starters, although not exactly a shocker, Terrence Malick’s mix of family drama and inquiries into the cosmos, the Palme d’Or-winning The Tree of Life, was chosen the Best Picture of 2011.

Elsewhere, most U.S. critics groups have gone for either Michel Hazanavicius’ Old Hollywood homage The Artist or Alexander Payne’s family comedy-drama The Descendants.

In addition to its Best Picture win, The Tree of Life also earned mentions for director Malick and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, who, admittedly, has been this awards season’s fave.

Vanessa Redgrave & Gary Oldman: Surprises in the acting categories

Although Albert Brooks’ Best Supporting Actor win for his Drive mobster and Tilda Swinton’s Best Actress win for her mother of a mass murderer in We Need to Talk About Kevin were not exactly unexpected, Vanessa Redgrave getting singled out as the year’s Best Supporting Actress for her Volumnia in Ralph Fiennes’ Coriolanus came out of (almost) nowhere – especially considering that The Tree of Life actress Jessica Chastain has been topping that particular category (almost) everywhere.

A six-time Academy Award nominee – including a Best Supporting Actress win for her performance as the titular character in Fred Zinnemann’s Julia (1977) – Vanessa Redgrave would be a likely Oscar contender had Coriolanus been receiving more recognition from U.S.-based critics groups, which have for the most part bypassed the film.

As it stands, Redgrave’s chances of receiving her seventh Oscar nod are, despite The Weinstein Company’s brand, slim.

The other surprise in the British-dominated acting categories was Best Actor Gary Oldman for his performance as John le Carré’s spy George Smiley in Tomas Alfredson’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, which also earned Bridget O’Connor and Peter Straughan the Best Adapted Screenplay award.

‘Certified Copy’ & ‘Tabloid’

And if Gore Verbinski’s Rango was the odds-on Best Animated Feature winner, Abbas Kiarostami’s Certified Copy being named Best Foreign Language Film was a major surprise, as the favorite in this particular category has been Asghar Farhadi’s A Separation.

That is, except for the detail that movies featuring Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner Juliette Binoche (The English Patient, 1996) – e.g., Michael Haneke’s Caché / Hidden, Olivier Assayas’ Summer Hours – seem to fare unusually well during awards season in North America.

Perhaps even more unexpected was the selection of Errol Morris’ Tabloid – about the Case of the Manacled Mormon a.k.a. “The Mormon Sex in Chains Case” – as Best Documentary.

And finally, the San Francisco Film Critics gave a Special Citation “for under-appreciated independent cinema” to Lech Majewski’s The Mill and the Cross, described in their press release as a “distinctly original exploration of the inspiration for and creation of a Bruegel painting.”

San Francisco Film Critics winners

Best Picture: The Tree of Life.

Best Foreign Language Film: Certified Copy.

Best Director: Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life.

Best Actress: Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin.

Best Actor: Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

Best Supporting Actress: Vanessa Redgrave, Coriolanus.

Best Supporting Actor: Albert Brooks, Drive.

Best Original Screenplay: J.C. Chandor, Margin Call.

Best Adapted Screenplay: Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughan, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

Best Documentary: Tabloid.

Best Animated Feature: Rango.

Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki, The Tree of Life.

Marlon Riggs Award for courage & vision in the Bay Area film community: National Film Preservation Foundation, in recognition of its work in the preservation and dissemination of endangered, culturally significant films.

Special Citation for under-appreciated independent cinema: The Mill and the Cross.

Drive Ryan Gosling: Better film critics awards chances if movie a hit?Drive with Ryan Gosling. Nicolas Winding Refn’s thriller has been both a critical hit and a domestic box office disappointment. The latter may have diminished the film’s awards season appeal, for although Drive has not infrequently been listed as one of the year’s Top Ten movies, only rarely has it actually topped U.S.-based critics’ Best Picture category. Of course, it could also be that even if it had become a box office hit, Drive would still have remained a “contender” as opposed to a “winner.” After all, despite its poor box office performance, Kathryn Bigelow’s Iraq War drama The Hurt Locker was the clear awards season favorite just two years ago.

Utah Film Critics winners: Faves & surprises

This awards season, the Utah Film Critics Association has gone for both the unusual and the expected. As a result, U.S. critics’ favorites Michelle Williams, Rango, and A Separation found themselves listed alongside Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Amy Ryan.

Michelle Williams was the Utah Film Critics’ Best Actress for her widely acclaimed portrayal of Marilyn Monroe (during the making of Laurence Olivier’s The Prince and the Showgirl) in Simon Curtis’ My Week with Marilyn.

A shoo-in for the 2012 Academy Awards, Gore Verbinski’s Johnny Depp-voiced Rango was the Utah Film Critics’ Best Animated Feature winner. Another shoo-in for the 2012 Oscars, Asghar Farhadi’s Berlin Film Festival Golden Bear winner A Separation, was their Best Foreign Language Film.

‘Drive’ & Amy Ryan

Although well-liked by critics, the box office disappointment Drive has been usually listed as one of the year’s Top Ten movies – not as the top movie. The Utah Film Critics have now taken care of that matter.

The year’s Best Director, however, was Michel Hazanavicius for the silent, black-and-white The Artist, starring Jean Dujardin as a cross between silent film icons Douglas Fairbanks and John Gilbert.

Like Drive, Joseph Gordon-Levitt hasn’t been a critics’ favorite this awards season – except in Utah. He was chosen Best Actor of 2011 for his work in Jonathan Levine’s 50/50, a cancer-themed comedy-drama that also earned Will Reiser the Best Original Screenplay award.

Amy Ryan, for her part, won Best Supporting Actress for Tom McCarthy’s Win Win, in which she plays the wife of down-on-his-luck attorney Paul Giamatti. This is a first for Ryan this year, a critical favorite back in 2007 for Ben Affleck’s mystery drama Gone Baby Gone.

Albert Brooks & ‘The Descendants’

Other Utah Film Critics winners include:

  • San Francisco Film Critics winner Albert Brooks as Best Supporting Actor for Drive.
  • Best Adapted Screenplay for the Alexander Payne-directed, Honolulu-set family-in-crisis tale The Descendants, starring George Clooney and Shailene Woodley. Screenplay by Payne, Nat Faxon, and Jim Rash, from Kaui Hart Hemmings’ novel.
  • Best Documentary for Asif Kapadia’s Senna – a generally praised effort about Brazilian car racer Ayrton Senna (1960–1994) that failed to be included among this year’s Academy Award semifinalists.

Among the Utah Film Critics’ previous Best Film winners are Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours & David Fincher’s The Social Network (tie), Jason Reitman’s Up in the Air, and Joel and Ethan Coen’s No Country for Old Men.

Sydney Film Critics’ Top Ten movies

Like the Utah Film Critics, on the other side of the world the Sydney Film Critics also selected Drive as the year’s Best Picture. Their Top Ten movies are listed further below.

A 2010 release in the U.S., Darren Aronofsky’s psychological drama Black Swan was the Sydney Film Critics’ no. 2 movie. Natalie Portman stars as a disturbed ballerina who slowly loses her grip on reality.

Also worth noting, North American critics’ have been considerably less impressed by Sleeping Beauty – the Sydney Film Critics’ no. 10 film (tied with Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris). Julia Leigh’s psychological sex drama starring Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events and Sucker Punch actress Emily Browning as a university student & (more or less) sex worker has a mediocre 41 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes‘ top critics.

Utah Film Critics winners

Best Picture: Drive.

Runner-up: The Artist.

Best Foreign Language Film: A Separation.

Runner-up: 13 Assassins, dir.: Takashi Miike.

Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist.

Runner-up: Nicolas Winding Refn, Drive.

Best Actress: Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn.

Runner-up: Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Best Actor: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, 50/50.

Runner-up: Jean Dujardin, The Artist.

Best Supporting Actress: Amy Ryan, Win Win.

Runner-up: Vanessa Redgrave, Coriolanus.

Best Supporting Actor: Albert Brooks, Drive.

Runner-up: Christopher Plummer, Beginners.

Best Original Screenplay: Will Reiser, 50/50.

Runner-up: Mike Mills, Beginners.

Best Adapted Screenplay: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon & Jim Rash, The Descendants.

Runner-up: Jason Segel & Nicholas Stoller, The Muppets.

Best Cinematography: Newton Thomas Sigel, Drive.

Runner-up: Emmanuel Lubezki, The Tree of Life.

Best Documentary: Senna.

Runner-up: Project Nim, dir.: James Marsh.

Best Animated Film: Rango.

Runners-up: The Adventures of Tintin, dir.: Steven Spielberg & Kung Fu Panda 2, dir.: Jennifer Yuh.


Sydney Film Critics winners

  1. Drive.
    Director: Nicolas Winding Refn.
    Cast: Ryan Gosling. Carey Mulligan. Albert Brooks.
  2. Black Swan.
    Director: Darren Aronofsky.
    Cast: Natalie Portman. Mila Kunis. Barbara Hershey. Winona Ryder. Vincent Cassel.
  3. Melancholia.
    Director: Lars von Trier.
    Cast: Kirsten Dunst. Charlotte Gainsbourg. Alexander Skarsgård.
  4. The Tree of Life.
    Director: Terrence Malick.
    Cast: Sean Penn. Brad Pitt. Jessica Chastain.
  5. Incendies.
    Director: Denis Villeneuve.
    Cast: Lubna Azabal. Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin. Maxim Gaudette.
  6. Senna (documentary).
    Director: Asif Kapadia.
  7. We Need to Talk About Kevin.
    Director: Lynne Ramsay.
    Cast: Tilda Swinton. John C. Reilly. Ezra Miller.
  8. True Grit.
    Director: Joel & Ethan Coen.
    Cast: Jeff Bridges. Matt Damon. Hailee Steinfeld. Josh Brolin.
  9. Certified Copy.
    Director: Abbas Kiarostami.
    Cast: Juliette Binoche. William Shimell.
  10. Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris & Julia Leigh’s Sleeping Beauty (tie).
    Midnight in Paris Cast: Owen Wilson. Rachel McAdams. Marion Cotillard.
    Sleeping Beauty Cast: Emily Browne. Rachael Blake.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Rooney Mara: David Fincher remake gets MTV pushThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo with Rooney Mara. David Fincher’s 2011 thriller is a remake of Niels Arden Oplev’s Swedish blockbuster based on Stieg Larsson’s novel, and starring Noomi Rapace as the titular computer hacker and Michael Nyqvist as a journalist investigating the decades-long disappearance of a woman from a wealthy family. In Fincher’s $90 million U.S. version, the Swedish setting has been kept, but Daniel Craig has replaced Nyqvist while Rooney Mara, somewhat surprisingly, succeeded in landing the title role. Box office prospects are unclear, though MTV has been doing its part to plug the year-end release.

MTV’s Top Ten: David Fincher thriller ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ is Best Film

MTV has come up with its own Top Ten Movies of 2011 list, handpicking David Fincher’s thriller The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, starring Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig, as the very best film of the year – while conveniently giving a potential box office boost to the only movie on their list that has yet to open in North America.

And you thought that the latest Manoel de Oliveira effort would land on the top spot, huh? Silly you. (See below MTV’s Top Ten list.)

Needless to say, Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist isn’t on the list. Or Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life. Or Bennett Miller’s Moneyball. Or even Tate Taylor’s crowd-pleasing sleeper hit The Help.

On the other hand, X-Men: First Class, The Muppets, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 are all in.

1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
2. Drive.
3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.
4. Bridesmaids.
5. Hugo.
6. X-Men: First Class.
7. The Muppets.
8. 50/50.
9. The Descendants.
10. Attack the Block.

Not-so-great blockbusters

“Movies that you’ve seen on our list reflect blockbusters, but the blockbusters that are really great,” MTV’s Josh Horowitz is quoted as saying in The Hollywood Reporter.

So, as per MTV’s movie selecting committee (or whoever), among 2011’s blockbusters that ain’t all that great are:

Woody Allen & Janet McTeer: Southeastern Film Critics’ surprises

Even though the Southeastern Film Critics Association opted for the usual suspects this awards season – e.g., Best Film The Descendants, Best Actress Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady, Best Foreign Language Film A Separation, etc. – there were a couple of surprises among the winners. (See further below the full list of Southeastern Film Critics winners.)

One such was screenwriter/director Woody Allen, whose Midnight in Paris was selected as the Best Original Screenplay of 2011. The other one was Best Supporting Actress Janet McTeer, whose performance as a butch woman passing for a man in Rodrigo García’s Albert Nobbs has generally been included in nominee shortlists, but not at the very top.

Something else worth mentioning is that in addition to winning for Best Ensemble, Tate Taylor’s sleeper hit The Help, about simmering racial relations in 1960s Mississippi, also won the Gene Wyatt Award for “a film that best embodies the spirit of the South.”

The runner-up in that category was Daniel Lindsay and T.J. Martin’s documentary Undefeated, about a Virginia football team. This title is not to be confused with Stephen K. Bannon’s critical and box office disaster The Undefeated, a paean to far-right politician and former U.S. vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

Southeastern Film Critics winners

Best Film: The Descendants.

Top Ten Films (nine runners-up):
The Artist.
The Tree of Life.
Midnight in Paris.
Win Win.
War Horse.
The Help.

Best Foreign Language Film: A Separation.

Runner-up: The Skin I Live In, dir.: Pedro Almodóvar.

Best Actress: Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady.

Runner-up: Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin.

Best Actor: George Clooney, The Descendants.

Runner-up: Michael Fassbender, Shame.

Best Supporting Actress: Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs.

Runner-up: Shailene Woodley, The Descendants.

Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer, Beginners.

Runner-up: Albert Brooks, Drive.

Best Ensemble: The Help.

Runner-up: The Descendants.

Best Director: Martin Scorsese, Hugo.

Runner-up: Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist.

Best Original Screenplay: Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris.

Runner-up: Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist.

Best Adapted Screenplay: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon & Jim Rash, The Descendants.

Runner-up: Steven Zaillian & Aaron Sorkin, Moneyball.

Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki, The Tree of Life.

Runner-up: Robert Richardson, Hugo.

Best Documentary: Project Nim.

Runner-up: Tabloid.

Best Animated Film: Rango.

Runner-up: The Adventures of Tintin.

Gene Wyatt Award (“in Recognition of a Film That Best Embodies the Spirit of the South”): The Help.

Runner-up: Undefeated.


San Francisco Film Critics Circle website.

Sydney Film Critics’ Top Ten list via Matt Riviera.

Ryan Gosling Drive image: Richard Foreman / FilmDistrict.

Harry Fenn and Vanessa Redgrave Coriolanus image: The Weinstein Company.

Rooney Mara The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo image: Baldur Bragason / Columbia TriStar.

“Vanessa Redgrave & Tilda Swinton: British Actors Rule SF + Ryan Gosling Thriller Tops 2 Disparate Groups” last updated in June 2018.

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John M -

Two danish directors in top 3. That’s a rare, but interesting observation.

Sverige -

romey mara is amazing..thescenery & music are outstanding…the story has many twists and turns that keep you guessing,,,no movie this year is even close to what unfolds on the screen…should win many awards…Simply fantastic!! A must see especially if you have read the books!! Rooney Mara is sensational and definitely Oscar worthy!!

Jessica -

I’m sure MTV knows what they are talking about and I’ll admit that I’ve not yet seen the movie but I find it interesting that ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” is at the top of this list and not even included at all (in the top ~40) by over 350 people over at Ranker’s list of the Best Movies of 2011. Is there really that big of a disconnect between critics, MTV and people who actually go to the movies? I don’t get it.


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