Reactions to WAFCA awards

Today The Washington Area Film Critics Association, of which I am a member, announced its awards for 2011. I agree with some of the picks and disagree with others. That’s democracy, I guess, and I’m all for it until they appoint me Empress of the Universe.

The Artist



Critics like movies about movies.WAFCA awarded Best Picture to “The Artist,” an homage to silent movies. Best Director went to Martin Scorsese for “Hugo,” a love song to the early days of film covering roughly the same era. Best Actress was awarded to Michelle Williams for her portrayal of Marilyn Monroe in “My Week with Marilyn,” an exploration of the reigning queen of the Golden Age. And “Rango,” a movie about an actor who happens to be a gecko having an adventure in the Wild West, won Best Animated Film. All four are excellently made movies, yet their focus on art and specifically cinematic art leaves out much of human experience. It makes sense that critics (and later, it’s likely, the Academy) love movies about movies. After all, we don’t become critics for the paychecks, but for a passion for film. Still, we tend to be a bit myopic.

The rest of my reactions after the jump.


The Tree of Life

Disappointed that “The Tree of Life” was not nominated for Best Picture. My favorite movie of 2011, indeed of several years, is “The Tree of Life.” I was disappointed that it didn’t get enough votes to be nominated for Best Picture, to nominate Terrence Malick for Best Director, and Brad Pitt for Best Actor. I was glad to see it win for Cinematography. I think it’s an astonishing movie and deserves better recognition. However, it’s also a movie that creates strong passions – both ways. Those who dislike it really, really dislike it. Chalk this one up to Malick’s vision being so unique that it turns come critics and audiences completely off.

Andy Serkis


Loved Albert Brooks in “Drive,” who won for Best Supporting Actor, but wish Andy Serkis could win as well for “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” Serkis is the most famous actor you’ll never recognize on the street. He played Gollum in “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy and Caesar in “Apes.” His phenomenal acting, especially considering that it’s done through motion capture technology, deserves to be recognized as well. In playing Caesar, he brought to life animal facial expressions and ape body language, while still giving the hyperintelligent chimp enough humanity to keep us engaged. Here’s to you, Andy!

I wish there had been a category for “The Muppets.” Best Animated Film was the nomination category and the nominees were “Rango,” “The Adventures of Tin Tin,” “Arthur Christmas,” “Puss in Boots,” and “Winnie the Pooh.” “The Muppets” could compete with any of them and is certainly better than “Puss” or “Arthur Christmas.” I wish there was a place for it to be recognized, a family film category, or non-R film category or something.


Glad to see “The Help” and “Bridesmaids” recognized. You go, girls!

The nominees can be found here. Below are the winners.


Best Film:
The Artist 

Best Director:
Martin Scorsese (Hugo)

Best Actor:
George Clooney (The Descendants)

Best Actress:
Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn)

Best Supporting Actor:
Albert Brooks (Drive)

Best Supporting Actress:
Octavia Spencer (The Help)

Best Acting Ensemble:

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Alexander Payne and Nate Faxon & Jim Rash (The Descendants)

Best Original Screenplay:
Will Reiser (50/50)

Best Animated Feature:

Best Documentary:
Cave of Forgotten Dreams

Best Foreign Language Film:
The Skin I Live In

Best Art Direction:
Dante Ferretti, Production Designer, and Francesca Lo Schiavo, Set Decorator (Hugo)

Best Cinematography:
Emmanuel Lubezki (The Tree of Life)

Best Score:
Ludovic Bource (The Artist)

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