‘The Lobster’ stuck its claws into Florida Film Critics Circle

In a surprise move, The Lobster surged ahead of awards season frontrunners Moonlight, La La Land, and Manchester by the Sea to win Best Picture from Florida Film Critics Circle, of which I’m a member. Below are the winners, runners-up, and my votes.

BEST PICTURE
The Lobster
Runner-Up: La La Land
My Vote: The Lobster

An amusing feature length conceit, The Lobster is not a movie that will play well to octogenarian Academy members; it’s got no “narrative” to sell other than the fiendish working out of a conceit. It’s not by any stretch my favorite movie of 2016, but I’m delighted it won.

BEST DIRECTOR
Damien Chazelle – La La Land
Runner-Up: Yorgos Lanthimos – The Lobster
My Vote: Yorgos Lanthimos

Both writer-directors exerted masterful control over visions that were theirs and theirs only, but The Lobster had no unmemorable songs I was stuck trying to remember.

BEST ACTOR
Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea
Runner-Up: Joel Edgerton – Loving
My Vote: Joel Edgerton

I had no problem with Affleck’s excellent turn as the flinty, grief-allergic husband and father in Manchester by the Sea. While Joel Edgerton was less interesting as the more stolid half of the Loving couple, his angry simmer was a tonic.

BEST ACTRESS
Isabelle Huppert – Elle
Runner-Up: Emma Stone – La La Land
My Vote: Isabelle Huppert

If Isabelle Huppert had given her Elle performance on stage, I would have given her a standing ovation and whooped until the cops dragged me away.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water
Runner-Up: Ralph Fiennes – A Bigger Splash
My Vote: Ralph Fiennes

Bridges was fine overacting his grizzled routine in the fine, grizzled Hell or High Water: it’s amazing how many years the long-gorgeous Bridges has held the grizzles at bay. When I want My Favorite Year-type emoting, though, I reward Ralph Fiennes’ hopped-up ex husband in the marvelous twaddle A Bigger Splash. What I wrote a few months ago: “The star is Fiennes, in whose performances I see no trace of the starchy colonizers he played in the nineties. As a sybarite, Fiennes has no equal; Harry would frighten Voldemort into exile again.”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Michelle Williams – Manchester by the Sea
Runner-Up: Viola Davis – Fences
My Vote: Lily Gladstone – Certain Women

Viola Davis’ already legendary work in Fences is duplicated in Denzel Washington’s adapation; I’ve got no problems with it besides category fraud. She is a lead actress, as anyone who knows film and play understands. In a year dotted with terrific renditions of queer desire, Lily Gladstone’s taciturn work in Kelly Reichardt’s Certain Women was the subtlest and most heart-wrenching.

BEST ENSEMBLE
American Honey
Runner-Up: Moonlight
My Vote: American Honey

The best film of the year you haven’t seen, American Honey understood the power dynamics of a young cast of amateurs: direct them as if they’re best friends for a day.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
The Lobster
Runner-Up: Manchester by the Sea
My Vote: The Lobster

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Love & Friendship
Runner-Up: Moonlight
My Vote: Love & Friendship

In truth, Whit Stillman’s adaptation of Jane Austen juvenilia added and compressed the novel to such a degree that it qualifies as original.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
La La Land
Runner-Up: The Handmaiden

BEST DOCUMENTARY
Cameraperson
Runner-Up: OJ: Made In America
My Vote: Cameraperson

One is made for TV, the other reckons with the legacy of cinema, both play like new peeks into familiar territory.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Elle
Runner-Up: The Handmaiden
My Vote: Elle

A surprise! Both choices more adventurous than what we’ve rewarded in recent years.

BEST ANIMATED FILM
Kubo and the Two Strings
Runner-Up: Zootopia
My Vote: Kubo and the Two Strings

If Jason Bateman’s fox had been given the stop-motion treatment in Kubo, it would’ve been my film of the decade.

BEST FIRST FILM
The Edge of Seventeen
Runner-Up: The Witch

PAULINE KAEL BREAKOUT AWARD:
Barry Jenkins – Moonlight
Runner-Up: Lucas Hedges – Manchester by the Sea

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