I’m genuinely thrilled to see the results of the Austin Film Critics Association’s Awards voting this year. Thrilled in part because of how right on so many of the awards are (and how well that represents the filmgoing community here in Austin), but also thrilled because I got to be a part of the vote myself this year.
Getting accepted into the AFCA for 2015 was among the highlights of my year. Being a film critic is a hardscrabble thing these days. I’ve been unsuccessful in generating enough income as a film critic to make it my full time or even part time job. I’m sure many fellow critics share a similar experience. This means that what I do write, I write in my own (scant) free time, out of the sheer desire I have to love films as fully as I can and to experience and discuss them in some meaningful way. Writing about films can feel thankless, but it’s simultaneously a true labor of love for myself and the entire Cinapse team. So to have that labor validated by a respected group of peers in the Austin community means a lot to me. I dove in with both feet, viewing far more 2015 film releases than I’ve ever attempted in previous years as far as contemporary releases go. It was highly rewarding and the results of the Awards voting this year make me even more proud to be counted among this group of smart critics.
As is always the case with awards given by a jury of peers, not every single winner is something I myself would have chosen. But that doesn’t really matter. What matters is being able to stand behind the smart thinking and general quality of opinion this group possesses, and the winners and Top 10 list below reflect that. I’m particularly pleased by Mad Max: Fury Road taking such top awards as Best Film and Best Director for George Miller, as my own personal list will attest. I’d have loved to have seen a little bit of love for Beasts Of No Nation in our AFCA list, as I find that to be one of the finest films of this year, but again, such is the nature of being a part of a team with varying tastes and opinions.
I’ll stop blubbering on and post the awards and the official press release below, and then I’ll go ahead and throw in my own Top 10 list (which is what I submitted to the AFCA, and is unchanged from that submission despite having seen some other potential contenders since then… and yes… that includes Star Wars).
Best Director: George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
Best Actor: Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
Best Actress: Brie Larson, Room
Best Supporting Actor: Sylvester Stallone, Creed
Best Supporting Actress: Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina
Best Original Screenplay: Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley, Inside Out
Best Adapted Screenplay: Emma Donoghue, Room
Best Cinematography: Edward Lachman, Carol
Best Score: Ennio Morricone, The Hateful Eight
Best Foreign-Language Film: Son of Saul (dir: László Nemes)
Best Documentary: The Look of Silence (dir: Joshua Oppenheimer)
Best Animated Film: Inside Out (dir: Pete Docter)
Best First Film: Ex Machina (dir: Alex Garland)
The Robert R. “Bobby” McCurdy Memorial Breakthrough Artist Award: Jacob Tremblay, Room
Austin Film Award: Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter (dir: David Zellner)
Special Honorary Award: Austin-based writer/animator Don Hertzfeldt in celebration of a career of remarkable short filmmaking and contributions to animation spanning two decades, with 2015’s award-winning “World of Tomorrow” being recognized as his best work to date
AFCA 2015 Top Ten Films:
1. Mad Max: Fury Road
6. TIE: Ex Machina and Inside Out
9. The Big Short
1. Mad Max: Fury Road
3. Beasts Of No Nation
7. The Big Short
9. Bridge Of Spies
10. It Follows
And here’s the text of the press release that went live today from the Austin Film Critics Association!
December 29, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Robert Sims, AFCA President, firstname.lastname@example.org
‘MAD MAX: FURY ROAD’ NAMED THE AUSTIN FILM CRITICS ASSOCIATION’S FAVORITE FILM OF 2015; ‘ROOM’ LEADS AWARD WINNERS
The Austin Film Critics Association (AFCA) announced its 2015 awards today, with George Miller’s “Mad Max: Fury Road” winning Best Film and Best Director and leading the group’s Top Ten list. “Room” received three awards, the most for a single film. “Ex Machina” and “Inside Out” also won multiple awards this year.
“Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter,” directed by David Zellner, received the Austin Film Award. This award is given to a film made by a director whose primary residence was Austin during the time of filming.
Michael Fassbender was named Best Actor for “Steve Jobs.”
Brie Larson received Best Actress for “Room.” Her costar, Jacob Tremblay, was named the Robert R. “Bobby” McCurdy Memorial Breakthrough Artist of 2015. Emma Donoghue, adapting her 2010 novel, won Best Adapted Screenplay. “Room” also was #5 on the AFCA Top Ten list.
Sylvester Stallone won Best Supporting Actor for “Creed,” which was #8 on the AFCA Top Ten list.
Alicia Vikander received Best Supporting Actress for “Ex Machina,” which was tied for #6 on the AFCA Top Ten list. Directed by Alex Garland, “Ex Machina” also was named Best First Film.
Directed by Pete Docter, “Inside Out” received Best Animated Film in addition to Best Original Screenplay for Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve and Josh Cooley. “Inside Out” also tied for #6 on the AFCA Top Ten list.
Director László Nemes’ “Son of Saul” won Best Foreign-Language Film and director Joshua Oppenheimer’s “The Look of Silence” won Best Documentary.
Edward Lachman won Best Cinematography for “Carol.”
Legendary composer Ennio Morricone won Best Score for “The Hateful Eight.”
Austin-based writer/animator Don Hertzfeldt was recognized with a special award in celebration of a career of remarkable short filmmaking and contributions to animation spanning two decades, with 2015’s award-winning “World of Tomorrow” being recognized as his best work to date.
The full list of winners, plus the AFCA Top Ten Films of 2015 list, is included below. You can also find details at the AFCA website, www.austinfilmcritics.org.
Founded in 2005 by Cole Dabney and Bobby McCurdy, the Austin Film Critics Association is a group dedicated to supporting the best in film, whether at the international, national, or local level. The AFCA has seen its numbers grow to more than 30 members with a diverse roster of professional film critics who regularly review movies for national television stations, daily newspapers, weekly alternatives, local radio, monthly magazines, and websites with international prominence. Each December, AFCA members vote on the year’s best in film, celebrating excellence on both sides of the camera. The outlets AFCA members represent include Ain’t It Cool News, the Austin American-Statesman, the Austin Chronicle, Birth.Movies.Death., Cinapse, DVDActive, Fandango, Film School Rejects, FirstShowing.net, GotchaMovies.com, Hill Country News, Horror’s Not Dead, KOOP 91.7 FM Radio, Movies.com, One Of Us, ScreenCrush, Slackerwood, Smells Like Screen Spirit, Twitch, We Live Film and YNN Austin.
And I’m Out.