The 2019 Atlanta Film Critics Circle Awards have been announced, and South Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s fascinating blend of social commentary and dark comedy, Parasite, takes home the top award.
Parasite highlights the deep class divides and economic inequality in South Korea. It’s a very contemporary tale of a struggling-to-stay-afloat South Korean family that finds dark forces unleashed when they infiltrate a wealthy family’s home.
The film also won AFCC’s award for Best International Film and Best Director for Bong Joon-ho as well as a Best Screenplay award for co-writers Bong Joon-ho and Han Jin-won.
AFCC co-founder and Atlanta Journal-Constitution critic Felicia Feaster, calls Parasite “a lacerating take on the incredibly topical 21st-century issue of income inequality that bubbles up a very nasty vein of dark comedy.”
Martin Scorsese’s ensemble mob epic The Irishman, starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci was the second place award-winning film on the AFCC’s top 10 list. The based-on-fact film stars longtime Scorsese collaborator De Niro as a man in his twilight years reflecting upon his career as a mob hitman and confidante of union organizer Jimmy Hoffa.
“Martin Scorsese and his brilliant cast made a movie which is measured and thoughtful and at nearly three and a half hours doesn’t feel the least bit overlong,” says Atlanta Film Critics Circle co-founder Michael Clark.
“Two films on our list are from two of the worlds’ greatest directors, 77-year-old Martin Scorsese and 70-year-old Pedro Almodovar, and both have aging protagonists looking back at their lives with regret,” notes AFCC member and Creative Loafing columnist Curt Holman. Both The Irishman and Spanish director Almodovar’s rueful semi-autobiographical Pain and Glory — number nine on the AFCC’s top 10 award list — are thoughtful meditations on time’s passage.
Other notable winners in this year’s AFCC awards include Best Documentary Apollo 11 which uses archival footage of the first manned mission to the moon in 1969 to document an event of incredible importance and — considering our own politically divided times —remarkable solidarity and national pride.
For his role as a husband and father contending with a traumatic divorce from his actress wife (Scarlett Johansson), Adam Driver won the AFCC’s Best Lead Actor award for Marriage Story. “It’s a performance full of bewilderment, surprise, pent-up anger, and sadness, yet a hope that the two can still be part of each other’s lives in some way,” says AFCC member and Georgia Voice critic Jim Farmer.
Laura Dern garnered a Best Supporting Actress award for her equally enthralling performance as a mercenary, charismatic divorce lawyer in Noah Baumbach’s third on AFCC’s top 10 list, Marriage Story. For her deeply empathetic, galvanizing performance as troubled, beloved actress and singer Judy Garland, Renée Zellweger received the Best Lead Actress award from the AFCC for Judy.
The AFCC also presented special awards for Best Breakthrough Performer to Kelvin Harrison Jr. who in 2019 appeared in both Luce as an adopted son and model student who may be harboring dark impulses, and in Waves as a suburban Florida teenager trying to balance his father’s expectations and his own anxieties in the family melodrama Waves. Actress-turned-director Olivia Wilde won AFCC’s Special Award for Best First Feature Film for another tale of anxious, overachieving teens. Her ribald, deliciously inventive tale of two nerdy high schoolers finally cutting loose during one wild night in Booksmart was an inventive, convention-busting take on the usual teen comedy.
“Many of this year’s biggest films had moments of high anxiety that cut across genres,” says AFCC member and ScreenRex editor Hannah Lodge of films like Parasite, Sam Mendes’ World War I epic 1917 (number 5 on the AFCC’s top 10 list) and the Adam Sandler drama Uncut Gems (number 7), about a compulsive gambler watching his life fall apart.
“I think whatever element of collective unrest or unease has sparked the trend has given us a year of amazing and thrilling films,” says Lodge.
Take a look at the complete list of 2019 Atlanta Film Critics Circle Awards below:
2019 Atlanta Film Critics Circle Awards
TOP 10 FILMS
ONCE UPON A TIME…IN HOLLYWOOD
PAIN AND GLORY
BEST LEAD ACTOR:
ADAM DRIVER in MARRIAGE STORY
BEST LEAD ACTRESS:
RENEE ZELLWEGER in JUDY
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:
BRAD PITT in ONCE UPON A TIME…IN HOLLYWOOD
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
LAURA DERN in MARRIAGE STORY
BONG JOON-HO for PARASITE
BONG JOON-HO and HAN JIN-WON for PARASITE
BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM:
PARASITE (South Korea)
BEST ANIMATED FILM:
TOY STORY 4
ROGER DEAKINS for 1917
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE:
THOMAS NEWMAN for 1917
AFCC Special Award for BEST BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMER:
KELVIN HARRISON JR.
AFCC Special Award for BEST FIRST FEATURE FILM:
OLIVIA WILDE for BOOKSMART
About the AFCC
Co-founded by longtime Atlanta film critics Felicia Feaster and Michael Clark, the Atlanta Film Critics Circle is an attempt to fill a void in the local film community and in the representation of Atlanta’s media on the national stage.
Composed of a dynamic mix of Atlanta-based critics working in newspaper, magazine and online journalism, the AFCC’s mission is to establish a national presence for a film critics group in Atlanta and to foster a vibrant film culture in Atlanta, already home to an exploding film industry production presence.
Founding members (critics living in and/or currently writing for global, national, regional and/or Atlanta metro area outlets) of AFCC vote in early December for the group’s annual awards.