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Local Critics Pick ‘Zero Dark Thirty’

Austin Film Critics Association names P.T. Anderson Best Director

By Kimberley Jones, 11:00AM, Tue. Dec. 18, 2012

Jessica Chastain in 'Zero Dark Thirty'
Jessica Chastain in 'Zero Dark Thirty'

Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow’s harrowing drama about the hunt for Osama bin Laden, was named Best Film by the Austin Film Critics Association.

The film, which doesn’t open theatrically in Austin until early January, has been vigorously debated in the media, with some critics decrying the film as “pro”-torture (an allegation this critic calls tosh). Best Film was the only prize awarded Zero Dark Thirty, though the film also rose to the top of Austin critics’ individual Top Ten lists, as well. (Sidenote: I’m a voting member of the organization.)

Indeed, no one film dominated the list. Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master took the most prizes – for Anderson’s direction, Joaquin Phoenix’s stunning lead actor performance, and Mihai Malaimare Jr.’s cinematography – while Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild was singled out for Best First Film and Breakthough Performance by its pint-sized lead Quvenzhané Wallis, who was 6 years old at the time the film was shot and looks to be on track to become the youngest ever Best Actress Oscar nominee.

Richard Linklater’s slice of Texas true-crime Bernie was recognized as Best Austin Film, while a Special Honorary Award was given to Bernie costar Matthew McConaughey in recognition of his truly bang-up year; in addition to Bernie, he turned out diverse and stellar work in Magic Mike, Killer Joe, and The Paperboy.

AFCA 2013 Awards:

Best Film: Zero Dark Thirty (D: Kathryn Bigelow)

Best Director: Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master

Best Actor: Joaquin Phoenix, The Master

Best Actress: Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook

Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained

Best Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables

Best Original Screenplay: Rian Johnson, Looper

Best Adapted Screenplay: Chris Terrio, Argo

Best Cinematography: Mihai Malaimare Jr., The Master

Best Score: Reinhold Heil, Johnny Klimek, and Tom Tykwer, Cloud Atlas

Best Foreign Language Film: Holy Motors (D: Leos Carax)

Best Documentary: The Imposter (D: Bart Layton)

Best Animated Film: Wreck-It Ralph (D: Rich Moore)

Best First Film: Beasts of the Southern Wild (D: Benh Zeitlin)

Breakthrough Artist: Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild

Best Austin Film: Bernie (D: Richard Linklater)

Special Honorary Award: Matthew McConaughey, for his exceptional work in four films this year (Bernie, Killer Joe, Magic Mike, and The Paperboy)

AFCA 2012 Top Ten Films:
1. Zero Dark Thirty
2. Argo
3. Moonrise Kingdom
4. Django Unchained
5. Cloud Atlas
6. Holy Motors
7. Beasts of the Southern Wild
8. The Master
9. Silver Linings Playbook
10. Looper

The 25 members of the AFCA hail from such outlets as Ain't It Cool News, the Austin American-Statesman, the Austin Chronicle, DVDActive, Film.com, Film School Rejects, KOOP Radio, MSN Movies, Movies.com, ScreenCrush, Slackerwood, Smells Like Screen Spirit, Spill.com, Twitch, and YNN Austin.

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