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Critical mass: Southeastern film critics weigh in with 2012 selections

by Mark Burger

The votes are in, and the members of the Southeastern Film Critics’ Association have selected Ben Affleck’s fact-based (and fast-paced) political thriller Argo as its best movie of 2012, followed by another fact-based political thriller, Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty.

There are almost 50 members of the organization, including yours truly, and nearly all of them participated in this year’s voting, the deadline of which was Sunday.

This year, the 10 films that received the most votes from critics were as follows, in order:

Argo Zero Dark Thirty Lincoln Moonrise Kingdom

Silver Linings Playbook Beasts of the Southern Wild The Master Les Miserables Life of Pi The Dark Knight Rises

Daniel-Day Lewis was voted best actor for his performance in the title role of Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, with Joaquin Phoenix the runner-up for Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master. Jennifer Lawrence earned Best Actress honors for her performance in David O. Russell’s adaptation of Silver Linings Playbook, with Jessica Chastain the runner-up for Zero Dark Thirty.

Philip Seymour Hoffman was named Best Supporting Actor for his performance as a charismatic philosopher in The Master, with Tommy Lee Jones the runner-up for his turn as real-life abolitionist Thaddeus Stevens in Lincoln. As the delicate and doomed Fantine, Anne Hathaway was selected Best Supporting Actress for Tom Hooper’s epic adaptation of the Broadway musical Les Miserables, with Sally Field the runner-up for her performance as Honest Abe’s long-suffering wife Mary Todd “Molly” Lincoln in Lincoln. Concluding the acting honors, SEFCA selected Lincoln as Best Ensemble with Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom the runner-up.

Actor-turned-director Ben Affleck earned Best Director honors for Argo and Bigelow was the runner-up for Zero Dark Thirty. For Best Original Screenplay, Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola) took the top spot, with Zero Dark Thirty (Mark Boal) the runner-up. For Best Adapted Screenplay, Chris Terrio won for Argo and Pulitzer- and Tony-winner Tony Kushner was the runnerup for Lincoln.

Lauren Greenfield’s The Queen of Versailles was selected Best Documentary, with Lee Hirsch’s Bully the runner-up. As Best Foreign Language Film, SEFCA cited The Intouchables with Amour the runner-up. SEFCA got scary with its selections for Best Animated Film, with top honors for ParaNorman and Frankenweenie the runner-up.

Claudio Miranda earned Best Cinematography honors for his work on Ang Lee’s adaptation of Life of Pi with Roger Deakins the runner-up for the James Bond extravaganza Skyfall. The Gene Wyatt Award, named for the late film critic and “the film that best evokes the spirit of the South,” Benh Zeitlin’s feature debut Beasts of the Southern Wild bested Richard Linklater’s fact-based Bernie.

This years marks SEFCA’s 20th anniversary. In terms of an Academy Awards barometer, last year SEFCA selected The Descendants as its Best Picture, followed by The Artist, which ended up winning the Oscar as Best Picture. SEFCA did, however, select eventual Oscar winners Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady) and Christopher Plummer (Beginners).

The official SEFCA website is www.sefca.org.

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