Austin Film Critics Association Award Winners

The AFCA laud acclaimed drama and local filmmaker Keith Maitland


Why is it not surprising that when the members of the Austin Film Critics Association (AFCA) weighed in with their thoughts on the best films of 2016, the two titles that came up with the most overwhelming numbers of votes across numerous categories can combine to create a distinct signifier? Those titles are Moonlight and Tower.

Moonlight, a moving story about self-realization and growing up poor, black, and gay in Eighties crack-drenched Miami, is the group's big winner with five awards. Moonlight placed first for Best Film, Best Director for Barry Jenkins, Best Supporting Actor for Mahershala Ali, and Best Original Screenplay for Barry Jenkins. Moonlight also received an Honorary Award for the ensemble cast and casting director Yesi Ramirez for excellence as an ensemble.

The locally made and animated Tower, a documentary about the 1966 mass shooting conducted from atop the University of Texas Tower, received a total of four awards from AFCA. Tower won Best Documentary, the Robert R. "Bobby" McCurdy Memorial Breakthrough Artist Award for its director Keith Maitland, the group's exclusive Austin Film Award, and an Honorary Award for filmmaker Keith Maitland and Tower for revisiting a tragic event in Austin, Texas, history in a sensitive and unique manner. (Full disclosure: Chronicle co-editor and co-publisher Louis Black is an executive producer of the film.)

Other awards given out by AFCA include Best Actor to Casey Affleck for his performance in Manchester by the Sea, Best Actress to Isabelle Huppert for Elle, and Best Supporting Actress to Viola Davis for Fences. Eric Heisserer was recognized for Arrival with the Best Adapted Screenplay award. La La Land got nods for Best Cinematography (Linus Sandgren) and Original Score (Justin Hurwitz). South Korea's The Handmaiden (Park Chan-wook) received the Best Foreign-Language Film award, Kubo and the Two Strings (Travis Knight) was bestowed the Best Animated Film award, and The Witch (Robert Eggers) took the award for Best First Film.

The more than 30 members of the AFCA comprise a diverse roster of professional film critics who regularly review movies for national television stations, daily newspapers, alternative weeklies, local radio, monthly magazines, and websites with international prominence. Outlets include Ain't It Cool News, the Austin American-Statesman, The Austin Chronicle, Birth.Movies.Death., Cinapse, DVDActive, Fandango, Film School Rejects,, Hill Country News, Horror's Not Dead, KOOP 91.7FM Radio,, One of Us, ScreenCrush, Slackerwood, Smells Like Screen Spirit, and We Live Film.

AFCA 2016 Winners

Best Film: Moonlight (D: Barry Jenkins)

Best Director: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Best Actor: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

Best Actress: Isabelle Huppert, Elle

Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis, Fences

Best Original Screenplay: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Best Adapted Screenplay: Eric Heisserer, Arrival

Best Cinematography: Linus Sandgren, La La Land

Best Score: Justin Hurwitz, La La Land

Best Foreign-Language Film: The Handmaiden (D: Park Chan-wook)

Best Documentary: Tower (D: Keith Maitland)

Best Animated Film: Kubo and the Two Strings (D: Travis Knight)

Best First Film: The Witch (D: Robert Eggers)

Robert R. "Bobby" McCurdy Memorial Breakthrough Artist Award: Keith Maitland, Tower

Austin Film Award: Tower (D: Keith Maitland)

Special Honorary Award: To the ensemble cast of Moonlight and casting director Yesi Ramirez for excellence as an ensemble.

Special Honorary Award: To honor Anton Yelchin for his contribution to the cinema of 2016, including performances in Green Room and Star Trek Beyond.

Special Honorary Award: To A24 Films for excellence in production in distribution. Their work gave us Moonlight, Green Room, Swiss Army Man, The Lobster, The Witch, and 20th Century Women, among others.

Special Honorary Award: To filmmaker Keith Maitland and his film Tower for revisiting a tragic event in Austin, Texas, history in a sensitive and unique manner.

Tower director Keith Maitland by Craig Staggs

AFCA 2016 Top 10 Films

1) Moonlight

2) La La Land

3) Arrival

4) The Handmaiden

5) Manchester by the Sea

6) Elle

7) Hell or High Water

8) The Lobster

9) Jackie

10) Sing Street

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