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LOS ANGELES, Dec 7, (Agencies): The high-octane “Mad Max: Fury Road” might have driven off with the most awards on Sunday, but the Los Angeles Film Critics Association had another in mind for its top film of the year: “Spotlight,” the comparatively subdued drama about the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation into sex abuses in the Catholic Church.
LAFCA is one of the highest-profile regional critics groups, but often strays from the mainstream in its annual awards choices. Only once in the past 20 years has the LAFCA Best Film winner gone on to win the Best Picture Oscar.
There was no clear favorite this year, and LAFCA honored a vast variety of some of the year’s best films further reinforcing the narrative that the Oscar race is still fairly undefined.
“Mad Max: Fury Road,” picked up three honors — the most for any film — including best director for George Miller, best cinematography, and best production design. But the dystopian rager, which the National Board of Review chose as their best film earlier this week, got second place to Tom McCarthy’s “Spotlight,” which also won for its screenplay.
Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson’s dark animated film “Anomalisa” also got multiple awards, including best animated film and best music/score for composer Carter Burwell, who was also recognized for “Carol.”
Acting awards were given similarly out of the box choices. Michael Fassbender won best actor for portraying the tech titan in “Steve Jobs,” while Charlotte Rampling picked up the award for best actress for her role in the marital drama “45 Years.”
Michael Shannon won best supporting actor for playing the predatory real estate broker in the housing bubble film “99 Homes,” and Alicia Vikander won best supporting actress for her performance as the beguiling Artificial Intelligence creation in “Ex Machina.”
“Amy,” about the life of late pop star Amy Winehouse, won best documentary, and “Son of Saul” picked up best foreign film.
Director Ryan Coogler also won the LAFCA new generation award for “Creed,” a continuation of the Rocky Balboa saga.
“Carol,” Todd Haynes’ 1950s-set romance, which dominated the New York Film Critics Circle Awards this past week was practically shut out, aside from Burwell’s co-win for score and a host of runner-up awards, including director and production design.
The awards-friendly “Joy,” “The Revenant,” “The Danish Girl” and “Room” were nowhere to be found in LAFCA’s choices. Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight” was recognized only for Ennio Morricone’s score as the runner-up to Burwell’s compositions.
Ultimately, the awards race continues to be wide open in nearly every category. The competition will heat up this week though, when nominees are announced for both the Screen Actors Guild Awards and the Golden Globes.
Full list of LAFCA winners below.
* Career Achievement: Anne V. CoatesA titan of the industry, editor extraordinaire, visionary, you name it. A wonderful choice, from “Lawrence of Arabia” to “Out of Sight” and still going strong with “Grey” this year. She makes everything she touches better.
* Best Cinematography: John Seale (“Mad Max: Fury Road”); Runner-up: Edward Lachman (“Carol”)I have to wonder if that’s indicative of where the best picture vote will end up going. There is a strong “Mad Max” faction, though of course, “Spotlight” and “Carol” (the runner-up here) have their champions as well. Bottom line, the look of this film is amazing and Seale, at 70 years old, was up there on those war rigs operating camera. He was dragged out of (semi)retirement for this, and lucky us that he was.
* Best Music Score: Carter Burwell (“Anomalisa” and “Carol”); Runner-up: Ennio Morricone (“The Hateful Eight”)Inspired choice, really. And you could have included “Mr Holmes” and “Legend” in that easily, by the way. Burwell still doesn’t have an Oscar nomination to his credit. Sort of ridiculous. Also, great call on the runner-up spot. Morricone’s ominous compositions work brilliantly in Quentin Tarantino’s chamber piece.
* Best Supporting Actor: Michael Shannon (“99 Homes”); Runner-up: Mark Rylance (“Bridge of Spies”)Inspired once again. And a great feather in Shannon’s cap. Broad Green has been doing what they can to get him in the mix this year but this raises his profile considerably. Check out my interview with Shannon here.
* Best Production Design: Colin Gibson (“Mad Max: Fury Road”); Runner-up: Judy Becker (“Carol”)I’ll just say it again: INSPIRED. The production design of George Miller’s opus is outstanding, and extends to each of those vehicles decked out and gnarly tearing through the desert landscape. Here’s hoping the Academy chalks it up for a nomination because it would be a real shame if it missed out.
* Best Editing: Hank Corwin (“The Big Short”); Runner-up: Margaret Sixel (“Mad Max: Fury Road”)…interesting choice. “Mad Max” was apparently very close.
* Best Supporting Actress: Alicia Vikander (“Ex Machina”); Runner-up: Kristen Stewart (“Clouds of Sils Maria”)Clearly Stewart, who won the Boston Society of Film Critics’ award in this category earlier Sunday and the New York Film Critics Circle prize as well, has found new life on the circuit. But a win for Vikander, with a thumbed nose to her supporting campaign for “The Danish Girl,” is intriguing. This category is anyone’s guess at the Oscars.
* Best Documentary: “Amy”; Runner-up: “The Look of Silence”The best documentary of the year wins the best documentary prize. Sounds right to me. Truly, though, “Amy” is one of the best films of the year full stop, not just in the realm of docs. It’s an intimate, inviting portrait of a ruined talent’s downfall. Extraordinary.
* Best Screenplay: “Spotlight”; Runner-up: “Anomalisa”Great pair of picks. The script for “Spotlight” was a work of journalism itself, really, as Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer tracked down the story behind the story themselves. But that runner-up choice might have carried more weight had it won.
* Best Actor: Michael Fassbender (“Steve Jobs”); Runner-up: Geza Rohrig (“Son of Saul”)That’s a shot in the arm this film needed. Fassbender has waved off a lot of the usual campaigning this season, largely due to shooting “Assassin’s Creed” in Malta. The box office dive the film took on release was a huge hit, too. But this is a possessed performance that groups simply have to remember down the stretch. But a win for Rohrig would have meant more. It would have thrust him, legitimately, into the race.
* Best Animation: “Anomalisa”; Runner-up: “Inside Out”Inevitable duel, really, and frankly a tough call. Both so wonderfully human in their own idiosyncratic ways. The two best films of the year period? Quite possibly…
* Best Director: George Miller (“Mad Max: Fury Road”); Runner-up: Todd Haynes (“Carol”)Back on track with more “Mad Max” love. Clearly the L.A. crowd is going to the mat for Miller’s movie. Best film next?
* Best Actress: Charlotte Rampling (“45 Years”); Runner-up: Saoirse Ronan (“Brooklyn”)A major feather in her cap. It seems to be between her and Blythe Danner for a final spot in the hugely competitive best actress Oscar race (though that could be pundit bubble talk). Rampling is getting more critical notices as of late, however; she also won the Boston Society of Film Critics’ prize Sunday morning.
* Best Foreign Language Film: “Son of Saul”; Runner-up: “The Tribe””Son of Saul” remains the strongest contender for the Oscar and a difficult one to pass up. The NYFCC went with “Timbuktu” but they had the option after handing “Saul” director Laszlo Nemes the debut director prize.
* New Generation Award: Ryan CooglerGreat choice…if we’re giving this out two years ago. Coogler is an immense talent. Perhaps it shouldn’t take a transition to studio filmmaking to put him on a radar like this. Just a note.
* Best Picture: “Spotlight”; Runner-up: “Mad Max: Fury Road”Twist! It looked like Miller’s film would take this one walking away, but in the end, the L.A. crowd went with perhaps the film with seemingly the most across-the-board approval this season. Is an Academy Award for best picture on the horizon?
“Spotlight” has taken home yet another big critics prize, with the New York Film Critics Online (NYFCO) naming it the best film of 2015 when it announced the winners of its awards on Sunday.
Tom McCarthy’s drama following journalists investigating pedophile priests had a good day on Sunday, winning best film at both the Los Angeles Film Critics Awards and the Boston Society of Film Critics. The movie won three other big prizes from NYFCO as well: best director for McCarthy, best screenplay for Josh Singer’s script and best ensemble, feting the all-star cast of Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo and more.
The organization also listed its top ten films of the year in alphabetical order: “45 years,” “The Big Short,” “Bridge of Spies,” “Brooklyn,” “Carol,” “Max Max: Fury Road,” “Sicario,” “Spotlight,” “Steve Jobs” and “Trumbo.”
Other big winners include best actress for Brie Larson’s performance in “Room” and best actor for Paul Dano in “Love & Mercy.”
Check out the full winners list below.
* Picture: Spotlight
* Director: Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
* Screenplay: Tom McCarthy, Josh Singer, Spotlight
* Actress: Brie Larson, Room
* Actor: Paul Dano, Love & Mercy
* Supporting Actress: Rooney Mara, Carol
* Supporting Actor: Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
* Cinematography: John Seale, Mad Max: Fury Road
* Foreign Language Picture: Son of Saul
* Documentary: Amy
* Animated Feature: Inside Out
* Ensemble Cast: Spotlight
* Debut as Director: Alex Garland, Ex Machina
* Use of Music: Love & Mercy; Atticus Ross, Composer; Featuring the Music of Brian Wilson
* Breakthrough Performance: Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina, The Danish Girl
Unsurprisingly, given the hometown connections and particularly the role the Boston Globe played in the narrative (to say nothing of the fact that the film is brilliant and critically acclaimed), Tom McCarthy’s “Spotlight” has been named the best film of the year by the Boston Society of Film Critics. “Mad Max: Fury Road” was the runner-up, and a “distant second” according to Boston Globe film critic Ty Burr.
“Love & Mercy” star Paul Danon and “The Revenant’s” Leonardo DiCaprio shared the best actor prize, while Charlotte Rampling won best actress for “45 Years.”
Another Boston group, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, named “Mad Max: Fury Road” the year’s best last week, mirroring the National Board of Review’s decision.
Full list of BSFC winners below.
* Best Picture: “Spotlight”; Runner-up: “Mad Max: Fury Road”
* Best Director: Todd Haynes (“Carol”); Runner-up: Tom McCarthy (“Spotlight”)
* Best Actor: (TIE) Paul Dano (“Love & Mercy”) and Leonardo DiCaprio (“The Revenant”)
* Best Actress: Charlotte Rampling (“45 Years”); Runner-up: Saoirse Ronan (“Brooklyn”)
* Best Supporting Actor: Mark Rylance (“Bridge of Spies”); Runner-up: Sylvester Stallon (“Creed”)
* Best Supporting Actress: Kristen Stewart (“Clouds of Sils Maria”); Runner-up: Alicia Vikander (unspecified)
* Best Screenplay: “Spotlight”; Runner-up: “Carol”
* Best Cinematography: “Carol”; Runner-up: “The Revenant”
* Best Editing: “Mad Max: Fury Road”; Runner-up: “Spotlight”
* Best Original Score: “Love & Mercy”; Runner-up: “Creed”
* Best Ensemble Cast: “Spotlight”; Runner-up: “The Big Short”
* Best Animated Film: (TIE) “Anomalisa” and “Inside Out”; Runner-up: “Shaun the Sheep Movie”
* Best Foreign Film: “The Look of Silence”; Runner-up: “White God”
* Best Documentary: “Amy”; Runner-up: “The Look of Silence”
* Best New Filmmaker: Marielle Heller (“The Diary of a Teenage Girl”); Runner-up: Alex Garland, “Ex Machina”