Austin Film Critics Association’s 2016 Awards + Jon’s Top Films of 2016

The Austin Film Critics Association (AFCA) unveiled their end of year awards today. Four of the Cinapse team are proud members of the AFCA, myself included, and are delighted to have contributed to the process this year. Obviously on a personal note, some of the winners, deserving as they may be, weren’t my top picks, but awards are an amalgamation of tastes and overall the selections hint at a refined palette for the Austin critics indeed.

I’m thrilled to see love given to Kubo and the Two Strings, The Handmaiden, Isabelle Huppert (Elle) and recognition for the outstanding contributions of A24 in distributing some of the most magnificent films you’ll see on screen in this, or indeed any year. Read on for the official press release and my own personal top 10 which I submitted to the AFCA.

Austin Film Critics Association 2016 Award Winners + Top Ten Films

The Austin Film Critics Association (AFCA) announced its 2016 awards today, with Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight” winning Best Film and Best Director and leading the group’s Top Ten list. Local filmmaker Keith Maitland and his film Tower were honored with four awards, including Best Documentary, Best Austin Film, and the Robert R. “Bobby” McCurdy Memorial Breakthrough Artist Award.

AFCA also handed out an unprecedented number of Special Awards, honoring A24 for excellence in distribution, Anton Yelchin for his contributions to cinema in his tragically short career, and the ensemble cast of Moonlight.

Acting award winners included Casey Affleck as Best Actor for “Manchester by the Sea,” Isabelle Huppert as Best Actress for “Elle,” Mahershala Ali for Best Supporting Actor in “Moonlight,” and Viola Davis for Best Supporting Actress in “Fences.”

La La Land dominated technical awards, including Best Cinematography (Linus Sandgren) and Best Score (Justin Hurwitz).

Other major awards included Park Chan-wook’s “The Handmaiden” winning Best Foreign Language Film and Laika’s “Kubo and the Two Strings” winning Best Animated Feature.

The full list of winners, plus the AFCA Top Ten Films of 2016 list, is included below. You can also find details at the AFCA website,

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,, Hill Country News, Horror’s Not Dead, KOOP 91.7 FM Radio,, One Of Us, ScreenCrush, Slackerwood, Smells Like Screen Spirit, Twitch, We Live Film and YNN Austin.

Best Film: Moonlight (dir: Barry Jenkins)

Best Director: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Best Actor: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

Best Actress: Isabelle Huppert, Elle

Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis, Fences

Best Original Screenplay: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Best Adapted Screenplay: Eric Heisserer, Arrival

Best Cinematography: Linus Sandgren, La La Land

Best Score: Justin Hurwitz, La La Land

Best Foreign-Language Film: The Handmaiden (dir: Park Chan-wook)

Best Documentary: Tower (dir: Keith Maitland)

Best Animated Film: Kubo and the Two Strings (dir: Travis Knight)

Best First Film: The Witch (dir: Robert Eggers)

The Robert R. “Bobby” McCurdy Memorial Breakthrough Artist Award: Keith Maitland, Tower

Austin Film Award: Tower (dir: Keith Maitland)

Special Honorary Award: To the ensemble cast of Moonlight and casting director Yesi Ramirez for excellence as an ensemble.

Special Honorary Award: To honor Anton Yelchin for his contribution to the cinema of 2016, including performances in Green Room and Star Trek Beyond. His was a brilliant career cut profoundly short.

Special Honorary Award: To A24 Films for excellence in production in distribution. Their work gave us Moonlight, Green Room, Swiss Army Man, The Lobster, The Witch, and 20th Century Women, among others.

Special Honorary Award: To filmmaker Keith Maitland and his film Tower for revisiting a tragic event in Austin, Texas history in a sensitive and unique manner.

AFCA 2016 Top Ten Films:

1. Moonlight
2. La La Land
3. Arrival
4. The Handmaiden
5. Manchester by the Sea
6. Elle
7. Hell or High Water
8. The Lobster
9. Jackie
10. Sing Street

Jon’s 2016 Top 10:

Click on the titles for my review where applicable.

1. The Handmaiden
2. La La Land
3. Moonlight
4. The Lobster
5. Green Room
6. Elle
7. Kubo and the Two Strings
8. High-Rise
9. Arrival
10. The Nice Guys

Honorable Mentions: American Honey, 20th Century Women, Hail, Caesar!, The Hunt for the Wilderpeople, OJ:Made in America, Swiss Army Man, The Witch.

So long 2016, maybe you didn’t entirely suck after all.

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the author

Originally harkening from the British Isles, Jon was exiled to Texas back in 2007 to help conceal his identity as a love child of the Queen. Jon has both embraced and been embraced by the wonderful city of Austin, a place which has only further enhanced his interest in film. A regular at SXSW and Fantastic Fest, Jon is also a member of the Austin Film Critics Association and Online Film Critics Society. By day he is a researcher at UT Austin but he also has an involvement with (and deep appreciation for) the local brewing industry. In short, his passions are cinema, science, craft beer and writing about himself in the third person. Twitter: @Texas_Jon