First, it was just NYC. Then people got huffy ’cause the New York Film Critics Circle didn’t make allowances for national reviewers. Say, the folks at The New Yorker or Time. Thus, The National Society of Film Critics which, to tell the truth, is still mostly New York and L.A., with a sprinkling of Boston and Chicago (and me … the sole yahoo from the South).
Then so many writers relocated to the West Coast that there was a need for the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. As for The National Board of Review, well, apparently they have about a gazillion members and no one is quite sure who they are, but they always get a lot of press because they are the first to announce their winners every December — often, I have to say — without seeing all the movies that are opening in December.
Now, there are film groups made up of ONLY writers from Boston or Chicago. There’s something for broadcast critics. A group in San Francisco and another in Seattle (or maybe it’s Portland). Texas has a few. And in the Southeast, we have the Southeastern Film Critics Association (SEFCA) which started off a bit shaky, but has hung in for 18 years and has more than proved its credentials. It’s made up of film critics from all over the South, from Miami to Atlanta to Charlotte to Knoxville. Currently, it claims 44 members.
This year, the association named “Up in the Air” the Best Picture of 2009 in which George Clooney flies around the country firing people (the timing is uncanny). And I agree with them. It probably is the best picture of the year. Certainly it’s my favorite.
In its fifth year, the Wyatt Award went to writer-director Scott Teems’ “That Evening Sun,” an excellent South-drenched drama starring Hal Holbrook as an elderly Tennessee farmer trying to reclaim his home. Named after the late SEFCA member Gene Wyatt, the prize seeks to honor one film each year that best embodies the essence of the South.
In addition to naming its Best Picture, SEFCA also releases its Top 10 for the year. The complete list follows.
1. Up in the Air
2. The Hurt Locker
4. Inglourious Basterds
5. A Serious Man
6. 500 Days of Summer
7. Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
8. The Messenger
9. The Fantastic Mr. Fox
10. District 9
George Clooney – Up in the Air
Runner-up: Jeremy Renner – The Hurt Locker
Meryl Streep – Julie & Julia
Runner-up: Gabourey Sidibe – Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
Best Supporting Actor
Christoph Waltz – Inglourious Basterds
Runner-up: Woody Harrelson – The Messenger
Best Supporting Actress
Mo’Nique – Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
Runner-up: Anna Kendrick – Up in the Air
Kathryn Bigelow – The Hurt Locker
Runner-up: Jason Reitman – Up in the Air
Best Original Screenplay
Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber – 500 Days of Summer
Runner-up: Mark Boal – The Hurt Locker
Best Adapted Screenplay
Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner – Up in the Air
Runner-up: Wes Anderson & Noah Baumbach – Fantastic Mr. Fox
Best Foreign Language Film
Summer Hours (France)
Runner-up: The White Ribbon (Germany)
Runner-up: The Cove
Best Animated Feature
Runner-up: Fantastic Mr. Fox
That Evening Sun
Runner-up: Goodbye Solo