I’m a proud member of the newly launched Atlanta Film Critics Circle (AFCC) which was co-founded this year by longtime Atlanta film critics Michael Clark and Felicia Feaster, and just this morning the AFCC released its awards for this year’s top films, performers and other stand-outs in a host of critical categories.
Jordan Peele’s debut film effort, Get Out, a blend of horror and social commentary, was the winner as the top film of the year for its insightful transposition of issues of race to the horror genre, followed by Christopher Nolan’s skillful, galvanizing Dunkirk, about that definitive WWII battle, and a rousing throwback to the technical proficiency and style of classic Hollywood cinema.
Winners in the Top 10 film category were a blend of established talent like Steven Spielberg for The Post, horror/fantasy vet Guillermo del Toro for The Shape of Water and Nolan (Dunkirk).
But in addition to notable works by some of Hollywood’s heavy-hitters, 2017 also signaled the rise of some promising newcomers including actress and first-time director Greta Gerwig whose coming-of-age dramedy Lady Bird, centers on a Sacramento teen headed for college who continually clashes with her emotionally-paralyzed mother (AFCC’s Best Actress winner Laurie Metcalf); writers Emily V. Gordon and comedian Kumail Nanjiani’s The Big Sick, based on Gordon’s real-life experience with a life-threatening illness; and Jordan Peele, a former member of the comedy duo Key and Peele, who delivered a stunning testament to black fear of the white power structure told through the eyes of a young black man meeting his white girlfriend’s parents for the first time in Get Out.
Newcomers and indie and Hollywood stalwarts alike defined this year’s AFCC acting winners. British actress Sally Hawkins delivered a complex, emotionally resonant performance as a mute woman in love with an amphibious creature in The Shape of Water while Laurie Metcalf, perhaps best known for her turn on television’s “Roseanne,” offered a tragic, nuanced performance as a deeply flawed mother in Lady Bird. Longtime film and theater heavyweight Willem Dafoe won a Best Supporting Actor nod from the AFCC for his performance as a harried but decent Orlando, Florida motel manager in director Sean Baker‘s poignant treatment of characters living on society’s margins in The Florida Project. Heralded for his exceptional turn as a brilliant, sophisticated but romantically inexperienced young man falling in love for the first time, 21-year-old Timothée Chalamet was recognized by AFCC for his heart-wrenching performance in Call Me by Your Name.
In addition to these awards, the AFCC each year recognizes a performer, writer or director in the AFCC Breakthrough Award dedicated to exceptional emerging talent in the film industry.
This year’s Breakthrough Award winner was Jordan Peele for his remarkable dexterity in moving from comedy to profound social issue horror in Get Out. This year’s runner up for the Breakthrough Award was Timothée Chalamet. Says AFCC co-founder Michael Clark, of the Gwinnett Daily Post, “the nomination process for our ‘Breakthrough Award’ alone speaks volumes about the diversity in our group. The finalists were the director of a cutting-edge, socially aware horror/thriller and an emerging young actor starring in a tragic romantic drama. I’m proud to have co-founded a group with such a collective keen eye on blossoming talent.”
“This has been an exceptionally good year to be a film critic” says AFCC co-founder Felicia Feaster whose work appears in Atlanta magazine, Burnaway, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Travel Channel, “with a host of remarkable films that engage with very relevant social issues and also propel the art of filmmaking forward by reinvigorating a genre like monster movies in The Shape of Water or the war film in Dunkirk. The AFCC has already demonstrated a knack for identifying notable talent, both new and established.”
Full list of AFCC winners:
TOP 10 2017 FILMS
- Get Out
- Lady Bird
- The Shape of Water
- Call Me by Your Name
- The Florida Project
- Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
- The Big Sick
- Baby Driver
- The Post
BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Timothée Chalamet in Call Me by Your Name
BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Sally Hawkins in The Shape of Water
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Willem Dafoe in The Florida Project
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Laurie Metcalf in Lady Bird
BEST ENSEMBLE PERFORMANCE
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Christopher Nolan for Dunkirk
Jordan Peele for Get Out
Tie: Jane and Kedi
BEST FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM
BPM (Beats Per Minute)
BEST ANIMATED FILM
Hoyte van Hoytema for Dunkirk
AFCC BREAKTHROUGH AWARD
Jordan Peele for Get Out
ABOUT THE AFCC
Composed of a dynamic mix of Atlanta-based critics working in newspaper, magazine and online journalism, the newly launched Atlanta Film Critics Circle solidifies Atlanta’s status as a Top 10 film market with a robust media presence and a booming film production industry. Georgia is currently number 1 in feature film production over any other market according to FilmL.A. Inc.
Co-founded by Michael Clark and Felicia Feaster, founding members (in alphabetical order) of AFCC are: Ed Adams (Kaleidoscope Reviews), Christopher Campbell (Movies.com), Michael Clark (The Gwinnett Daily Post), Jake Cole (Slant.com), Jim Farmer (Out on Film), Felicia Feaster (Burnaway, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Travel Channel.com), Matt Goldberg (Collider.com), Jonathan Hickman (Newnan Times-Herald), Curt Holman (Creative Loafing, Living Intown Magazine), Will Leitch (New York Magazine, Paste Magazine, The New Republic), Emma Loggins (FanBolt), Michael McKinney (the CW), Steve Murray (ArtsATL), Kyle Pinion (Comicsbeat.com, GeekRex.com), Eleanor Ringel-Cater (The Atlanta Business Chronicle), Gil Robertston (Kaleidoscope Reviews), Matt Rodriguez (Shakefire.com), Elijah Sarkesian (Outtakes ATL), Josh Sewell (Times-Georgian, Douglas County Sentinel), Jeff Stafford (ArtsATL), Dean Treadway (Movie Geeks United), Jim Vorel (Paste Magazine), Steve Warren (InSite), Drew Wheeler (Athens Flagpole).