For those of you who love to follow the Oscar race, today is a big day. Several groups announced their picks for the best of 2011 today. The most important of these groups would be the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. Though the LAFCA has a pretty iffy record when it comes to predicting the actual Oscar winners, their picks still tend to influence the nominations.
Here are the LAFCA winners, along with a little commentary from yours truly.
Best Musical Score: Hanna (runner-up: Drive)
There was a lot I liked about the LAFCA awards but this is the one that truly made me go: “Yay!” Hanna was a great film that deserves a lot more attention than its been given.
Best Cinematography: The Tree of Life (Runner-up: The City of Life and Death)
Best Production Design: Hugo (runner-up: Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy)
Best Supporting Actress: Jessica Chastain for Coriolanus, The Debt, The Help, Take Shelter, Texas Killing Fields, and The Tree of Life (runner-up: Janet McTeer for Albert Nobbs)
Considering that she has next to no range as an actress, Jessica Chastain is having a pretty good year. I have a feeling she’ll win an Oscar in February and then eventually end up joining the cast of Law & Order: SVU.
Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer in Beginners (runner-up: Patton Oswalt in Young Adult)
As good as Plummer was in Beginners, think about how much more exciting it would have been if Oswalt had won.
Best Screenplay: A Seperation. (runner-up: The Descendants)
Best Documentary: The Cave of Forgotten Dreams (runner-up: The Arbor)
Again, let us consider that Werner Herzog’s masterpiece wasn’t even a semi-finalist as far as the Academy is concerned.
Best Independent/Experimental Film: Spark of Being
Best Actress: Yun Jung-hee in Poetry (runner-up: Kirsten Dunst in Melancholia)
Yay! I am so bored with Meryl Streep.
Best Actor: Michael Fassbender for Shame, A Dangerous Method, X-Men: First Class, and Jane Eyre. (runner-up: Michael Shannon in Take Shelter)
Yay! For both the winner and the runner-up.
Best Director: Terrence Malick for The Tree of Life (runner-up: Martin Scorsese for Hugo)
I was on twitter when this result was announced and Oh. My. God. My timeline like totally exploded with people getting all excited and hopeful. And then, quite a few minutes later, all that excitement turned to rage as the next award was announced–
Best Picture: The Descendants (runner-up: The Tree of Life)
That’s right. After going out on a limb with best actress and (debatably) best director and going out of their way to honor the unfairly neglected, the LAFCA gave best picture to one of the most overrated films of 2011 — The Descendants. This despite the fact that The Descendants hadn’t won a single other award and was a runner-up in only one category. That must have really loved that 2nd place screenplay. This choice reeks of compromise, as if a group of critics decided to all unite and vote for their 2nd or 3rd choice in order to keep a more controversial films like The Tree of Life from winning.
That said, my pick for the best of 2011 remains Hanna.
Best Foreign Language Film: The City of Life and Death (runner-up: A Separation)
So, A Separation has a better screenplay than the best film of 2011, yet it’s not as good a film as The City of Life and Death.
New Generation award: Martha Marcy May Marlene
To recap, the three major critics groups have now spoken and each one has named a different film for best picture. The National Board of Review went for Hugo, the New Yorkers went for The Artist, and the LAFCA went for The Descendants.
In fact, the Artist was totally ignored by Los Angeles and I’ve noticed that there seems to be a backlash developing against this film. The Artist won’t be opening here until Dec. 21st so I can’t judge it but I would say that if you’re upset about about a French film like The Artist getting so much attention, don’t worry. Maybe David Fincher will remake it with American actors next year.