The Lobster named best film by Florida Film Critics Circle

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It was nice to see one of my favorite movies of the year was not forgotten by the Florida Film Critics Circle, a statewide film critics organization where I hold the vice-chair position. The group announced its prizes for the best of cinema in 2016, earlier Friday afternoon, first via Twitter. They did not forget an oldie — by awards seasons standards — for their top prize. Besides naming The Lobster (read our coverage on the movie here) the year’s Best Picture, the FFCC also bestowed director and co-screenwriter Yorgos Lanthimos the award for Best Original Screenplay. But that was where the love ended for this strange movie about love, commitment and animal transformation. The awards were scattered across a variety of interesting movies released this year.

Another early 2016 movie too often forgotten this award’s season was Whit Stillman’s Love & Friendship (Love & Friendship exposes the limits of manners in civility with unrelenting humor — a film review). The FFCC, however, did not forget it. They gave Stillman the well-deserved Best Adapted Screenplay prize. I’m also glad the group recognized the acting of both Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams in Manchester by the Sea (Manchester by the Sea ruminates on death by focusing on irony of life — a film review). Though that film certainly isn’t being forgotten, the acting is what makes it so lovable, even if it is about death and mourning.

I do have some quibbles about the FFCC’s prizes. La La Land (La La Land is entertaining and beautiful sans substance — a film review), which won the most awards at four, does not have a good musical score. Jackie (Jackie uses strong performance, meticulous staging to transmit urge for life beyond death– a film review), the runner-up for the prize, has a good score. Even Arrival (Arrival offers power in perspective via sci-fi narrative — a film review) has a good score. And let’s not forget one movie that was not even nominated, The Childhood of a Leader (The Childhood of a Leader presents obscure yet potent portrait of future fascist — a film review). But just because it’s a musical and the songs move the story along — a bit — doesn’t mean it deserves the score prize. It’s a superficially obvious choice, and the rather simplistic, forgettable song craft is just not that impressive.

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You know what movie this year also had a better score? Moonlight (Moonlight heightens intimacy with exquisitely tempered cinematic technique — a film review). This brings me to my last bit of protestation. Though we bestowed special attention to Moonlight with the Golden Orange, a prize the FFCC hands out only when there is something special happening in the state, it was shutout in all the major categories. This is surprising because the film had such a strong lead in nominations, as noted in this early release from the FFCC. Maybe the Golden Orange decision was a distraction? I’d hate to think some film critics actually skipped it, as we did get DVD screeners during the consideration period. This is a movie, despite its local connection, all the critical raves and real Oscar buzz, that truly stands as a great bit of filmmaking and deserves attention by film critics.

Still, the spread of the awards, which also included such interesting wins like Cameraperson (Cameraperson is a subtle but deeply moving film about filmmaking – a film review) in the documentary category and Elle (With Elle, Verhoeven skillfully turns judgement against audience and leaves room for love — a film review) in both the acting and foreign language area, makes the Florida group of film critics interesting and distinctive. I’m proud to count myself a member of this group. Now to see what 2017 will bring. Finally, below is the complete list of winners and below them is my ballot:

BEST PICTURE
The Lobster
Runner-Up: La La Land

BEST DIRECTOR
Damien Chazelle – La La Land
Runner-Up: Yorgos Lanthimos – The Lobster

BEST ACTOR
Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea
Runner-Up:  Joel Edgerton – Loving

BEST ACTRESS
Isabelle Huppert – Elle
Runner-Up: Emma Stone – La La Land

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water
Runner-Up: Ralph Fiennes – A Bigger Splash

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Michelle Williams – Manchester by the Sea
Runner-Up: Viola Davis – Fences

BEST ENSEMBLE
American Honey
Runner-Up: Moonlight

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
The Lobster
Runner-Up: Manchester by the Sea

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Love & Friendship
Runner-Up:  Moonlight

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
La La Land
Runner-Up: The Handmaiden

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Arrival
Runner-Up: Doctor Strange

BEST ART DIRECTION/PRODUCTION
La La Land
Runner-Up: Jackie

BEST SCORE
La La Land
Runner-Up: Jackie

BEST DOCUMENTARY
Cameraperson
Runner-Up: OJ: Made In America

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Elle
Runner-Up: The Handmaiden

BEST ANIMATED FILM
Kubo and the Two Strings
Runner-Up: Zootopia

BEST FIRST FILM
The Edge of Seventeen
Runner-Up: The Witch

PAULINE KAEL BREAKOUT AWARD
Barry Jenkins – Moonlight
Runner-Up: Lucas Hedges – Manchester by the Sea

GOLDEN ORANGE
The Cast and Crew of Moonlight

MY BALLOT:

BEST PICTURE

The Lobster

BEST DIRECTOR
Barry Jenkins – Moonlight
BEST ACTOR
Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea
BEST ACTRESS
Isabelle Huppert – Elle
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

André Holland – Moonlight

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Michelle Williams – Manchester by the Sea

BEST ENSEMBLE

Moonlight

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
The Lobster
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Love & Friendship

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Moonlight

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Arrival
BEST ART DIRECTION/PRODUCTION DESIGN
Jackie
BEST SCORE
Moonlight
BEST DOCUMENTARY
Cameraperson
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Embrace of the Serpent
BEST ANIMATED FILM
Kubo and the Two Strings
BEST FIRST FILM
Swiss Army Man
BREAKOUT AWARD
Barry Jenkins – Moonlight

Hans Morgenstern

(Copyright 2016 by Independent Ethos. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)

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