Critics groups across the country are chiming in with their annual “Best of” lists, and while we don’t report on all of them, I’m writing up the selections for the Southeastern Film Critics Association since I’m a member. Honestly, I’m a little disappointed by the selections. I don’t have a problem with 12 Years a Slave picking up Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actress. But all of SEFCA’s choices are safe and unremarkable, which makes the organization increasingly irrelevant. All critics organization lists should be trying to create a conversation rather than an echo chamber. In the press release, SEFCA president says Philip Martin says “this is an exceptionally deep year for the movies” except there’s not a single move in the Top 10 that was released before October. I think people should vote their consciences, but such narrow-minded thinking doesn’t strike me as particularly conscientious.
Hit the jump for the press release and full list of winners.
12 Years a Slave dominates Southeastern Film Critics 2013 Poll Results
British director Steve McQueen’s unblinking look at America’s original sin, 12 Years a Slave, is this year’s best film, according to the Southeastern Film Critics Association’s 2013 poll of its members. The organization, comprised of 51 film critics working for print and electronic media across nine Southern states, overwhelming voted for McQueen’s brutal adaptation of Solomon Northup’s memoir of being kidnapped and sold into slavery in the Antebellum South, which was first published in 1853.
McQueen was also voted best director in the poll, while Slave screenwriter Jim Ridley won in the Best Adapted Screenplay category
The critics also honored the film’s star, Chiwetel Ejiofor, naming him the year’s best actor for his portrayal of Northup, while Kenyan Lupita Nyong’o, a newcomer to American films, won Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Patsey, the “most favored” slave on Edwin Epps’ plantation. Michael Fassbender, who portrays the cruel planter, finished second in the Best Supporting Actor category to Jared Leto, who plays an HIV-infected drag queen in Dallas Buyers Club.
“While 12 Years a Slave was a clear-cut winner, the voting indicates that this is an exceptionally deep year for the movies,” SEFCA president Philip Martin says. “81 different films received votes.”
Alfonso Cuarón finished second in the director category, and his film Gravity finished second in the critics’ voting. Gravity’s cinematographer, Emmanuel Lubezki, won in that category.
Mud director Jeff Nichols became the first two-time winner of the groups’ Gene Wyatt Award, a prize for films that “best evoke the spirit of the South,” given by SEFCA in honor of the late Nashville Tennessean film critic and charter member of the critics’ group.
“Jeff is a great storyteller in the Southern tradition and Mud is a film that stands in the tradition of Mark Twain, William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor — filtered through a visual sensibility that recalls Terence Malick,” Martin says. “I’m proud that SEFCA recognized him early — his first film, Shotgun Stories, won the Wyatt award in 2008.
1. 12 Years a Slave
3. American Hustle
5. Inside Llewyn Davis
7. Dallas Buyers Club
9. Captain Phillips
10. The Wolf of Wall Street
1. Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
2. Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
1.Cate Blancett, Blue Jasmine
2. Judi Dench, Philomena
Best Supporting Actor
1. Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
2. Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
1. Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
2. Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
1. American Hustle
2. 12 Years a Slave
1.Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
2.Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
1.Spike Jonze, Her
2. David O. Russell and Eric Singer, American Hustle
1. John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave
2. Jeff Pope & Steve Coogan, Philomena
1. The Act of Killing
3. Muscle Shoals
2. Blue is the Warmest Color
2. The Wind Rises
1. Emmanuel Lubezki, Gravity
2. Sean Bobbitt, 12 Years a Slave
The Gene Wyatt Award for the Film that Best Evokes the Spirit of the South
1. Jeff Nichols, Mud
2. Greg “Freddy” Cammalier, Muscle Shoals