‘Amour,’ ‘The Master’ win big with Los Angeles Film Critics Association

Over a week after their colleagues on the east coast went in big for Kathryn Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty,” the Los Angeles Film Critics Association put the brakes on Kathryn Bigelow’s film, which has been dominating the circuit. It even won two Best Picture prizes today, but one of them was not LAFCA’s crown. Instead, the LA critics went with Michael Haneke’s “Amour,” and as a runner-up, a film clearly beloved by the group that won four other prizes, including Best Director, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress.

Check out the full list of winners below with running commentary.

Best Picture: “Amour” (Runner-up: “The Master”)

Thoughts: Such an awesome choice, and interesting that we figured “The Master” would march all the way to it, given the other prizes. This is a huge help for “Amour,” which is very much in the Best Picture hunt and even more so now.

Best Director: Paul Thomas Anderson, “The Master” (Runner-up: Kathryn Bigelow, “Zero Dark Thirty”)

Thoughts: If it isn’t obvious at this point late in the game (these awards are listed in reverse order as they’re announced), “The Master” is coming on strong with LA after “Zero Dark Thirty” dominated the early days of the circuit last week. And of course, we knew it would. I submit it is in no small part reactionary.

Best Actress: (TIE) Jennifer Lawrence, “Silver Linings Playbook” and Emmanuelle Riva, “Amour”

Thoughts: This would have been a nice place to honor Emmanuelle Riva alone, particularly given that it would have been in keeping with recent winners. Maybe they saw her wins with NYFCO and BSFC earlier today as enough and wanted to go in a direction no one (surprisingly) has gone yet. So Jennifer Lawrence gets a big boost alongside Riva in a tie as Jessica Chastain has been dominating the category’s discussion as of late.

Best Actor: Joaquin Phoenix, “The Master” (Runner-up: Denis Lavant, “Holy Motors”)

Thoughts: Yet another group without the stones to just go with Lavant. Sigh. I guess they get the cool points of him actually having been in the mix, and there’s no question that Phoenix NEEDED this in the Oscar race. Apparently this was a very close race between Phoenix, Lavant and Daniel Day-Lewis (“Lincoln”). Jack Black was also in the mix for “Bernie.”

Best Screenplay: “Argo” (Runner-up: “Silver Linings Playbook”)

Thoughts: That’s a boost for Chris Terrio. The adapted screenplay category is going to be really competitive this year with “Argo” and the runner-up here, “Silver Linings Playbook,” in the running, as well as “Lincoln.”

Best Film Editing: “Zero Dark Thirty” (Runner-up: “Argo”)

Thoughts: This was the first year LAFCA decided to vote on this award, and it’s a good thing, I feel (as you know), to expand into the below-the-line fields for recognition. And it’s a great year for William Goldenberg, who was a runner-up for “Argo” to himself (and Dylan Tichenor) for “Zero Dark Thirty.” An interview with Goldenberg will be landing here some time next week.

Best Cinematography: “Skyfall” (Runner-up: “The Master”)

Thoughts: Roger Deakins! That would be my pick, as his digital work on the latest Bond film is just that good, that crisp, that stunning in all its elements: framing, lighting, movement. “The Master” was clearly in the hunt but I’m glad the group opted to go with “Skyfall.” And what an interesting film vs. digital showdown it must have been.

Best Supporting Actress: Amy Adams, “The Master” (Runner-up: Anne Hathaway, “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Les Misérables“)

Thoughts: The LA crowd continues to show much love for “The Master,” and Amy Adams really needed this boost, I think. The prohibitive frontrunner for the Oscar, Anne Hathaway, takes the runner-up spot.

Best Foreign Film: “Holy Motors” (Runner-up: “Footnote”)

Thoughts: If a foreign film is the “best film of the year,” then it is by definition the “best foreign film of the year.” Nothing else makes sense, no matter how backwards you bend to justify nothing more than spreading the wealth. Be definitive with yourself, at the VERY least. Alas, “Holy Motors” is awesome, so I’m happy it has a prize I guess. It should have taken Best Actor, too, but, well, they aren’t MY awards.

Best Documentary: “The Gatekeepers” (Runner-up: “Searching for Sugar Man”)

Thoughts: A nice pick to change it up from “How to Survive a Plague” and “Searching for Sugar Man” for a bit, and a truly powerful piece of work, at that. Part of me wonders if “The Gatekeepers” is something to watch for at the Oscars, but the rule changes have really shifted things on that landscape.

Best Animation: “Frankenweenie” (Runner-up: “It’s Such a Beautiful Day”)

Thoughts: I confess I never saw Don Hertzfeld’s trilogy-closing short “It’s Such a Beautiful Day,” but I will one of these days. But the story is “Frankenweenie” having nailed down this prize from both the NYFCC and now the LAFCA.

Best Music/Score: “Beasts of the Southern Wild” (Runner-up: “The Master”)

Thoughts: A great choice. The score for Benh Zeitlin’s film, cooked up by Zeitlin and Dan Romer, is a soaring piece of work and was a huge part of my memory of the film months and months after first seeing it at Sundance. But note that “The Master” was close here.

Best Production Design: “The Master” (Runner-up: “Moonrise Kingdom”)

Thoughts: Will this be the first of a few awards for “The Master” today? Some of us are thinking the group will stand up for Paul Thomas Anderson’s film? It’s handsomely mounted design-wise but I might have gone with the runner-up here.

Best Supporting Actor: Dwight Henry, “Beasts of the Southern Wild” (Runner-up: Christoph Waltz, “Django Unchained”)

Thoughts: And we’re off with a huge feather in Dwight Henry’s cap. I just watched “Beasts of the Southern Wild” again last night and had a pang of sadness that he hasn’t been getting his due this season. Well, the LA crowd has changed that. Interesting that they went with Christoph Waltz as supporting in “Django.” Apparently the campaign on that changed (or was never lead to begin with).

New Generation Award: Benh Zeitlin, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”

Thoughts: And another debut prize for a guy who deserves it.

Douglas Edwards Experimental/Independent Film/Video Award: “Leviathan”

Thoughts: I wanted to see this at the New York Film Festival but never made it over there. It’s an intriguing concept and so a lovely winner for a prize such as this.

As always, keep track of all the ups and downs of the 2012-2013 season via The Circuit.