The ‘sparkling musical love story’ La La Land was the big winner when The Washington, D.C. Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA) announced their top honorees for 2016, racking up seven awards, including Best Film and Best Director for Damien Chazelle.
“La La Land,” a song-and-dance romance about two star-crossed lovers struggling to make their professional dreams a reality, also earned the Best Original Screenplay prize for Chazelle’s adept balance of intimate human drama and heart-soaring musical set-pieces. The film swept the technical categories, including Best Original Score for Justin Hurwitz’s lushly beautiful compositions and Best Cinematography for Linus Sandgren’s resplendent lensing.
WAFCA awarded Best Actor to Casey Affleck for his quietly devastating work in touching family drama Manchester by the Sea. In the film, Affleck plays a grieving handyman who is given custody of his teenage nephew following the sudden death of the boy’s father. Lucas Hedges, who portrays his nephew, took home the award for Best Youth Performance. For her exquisitely authentic turn in Jackie, Natalie Portman was feted with Best Actress honors. Portman portrays First Lady Jackie Kennedy during the week following President John F. Kennedy’s assassination.
Best Supporting Actor was awarded to Mahershala Ali, as a sympathetic drug dealer who offers solace to a bullied and neglected young boy, in Moonlight. Best Supporting Actress went to Viola Davis for her searing work in “Fences,” based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama by August Wilson. The Best Acting Ensemble award went to gritty Texas-set crime drama Hell or High Water, starring Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Jeff Bridges, Gil Birmingham and Katy Mixon.
In thoughtfully adapting author Ted Chiang’s short story “Story of Your Life,” Eric Heisserer earned Best Adapted Screenplay honors for humanist science-fiction drama “Arrival.” Lyrical stop-motion animated adventure “Kubo and the Two Strings,” set in Ancient Japan, was awarded Best Animated Feature. Best Documentary kudos went to “13th,” director Ava DuVernay’s incisive look at racism and the United States criminal justice system. Paul Verhoeven’s electrifying psychological thriller “Elle” won Best Foreign Language Film.
WAFCA introduced two new categories this year. For his delicious turn as a big friendly giant who befriends a young orphaned girl in “The BFG,” Mark Rylance won the award for Best Motion Capture Performance. Tenderly playing a different kind of giant who comes to the aid of a child in need, Liam Neeson earned Best Voice Performance for “A Monster Calls.”
The Joe Barber Award for Best Portrayal of Washington, DC, given each year in honor of one of WAFCA’s cherished late members, went to “Jackie.”
The Washington, D.C. Area Film Critics Association comprises 50 DC-VA-MD-based film critics from television, radio, print and the Internet. Voting was conducted from December 2-4, 2016.
THE 2016 WAFCA AWARD WINNERS:
La La Land
Damien Chazelle (La La Land)
Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)
Natalie Portman (Jackie)
Best Supporting Actor:
Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)
Best Supporting Actress:
Viola Davis (Fences)
Best Acting Ensemble:
Hell or High Water
Best Youth Performance:
Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea)
Best Voice Performance:
Liam Neeson (A Monster Calls)
Best Motion Capture Performance:
Mark Rylance (The BFG)
Best Original Screenplay:
Damien Chazelle (La La Land)
Best Adapted Screenplay:
Eric Heisserer, Based on the Story “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang (Arrival)
Best Animated Feature:
Kubo and the Two Strings
Best Foreign Language Film:
Best Production Design:
Production Designer: David Wasco;
Set Decorator: Sandy Reynolds-Wasco, SDSA (La La Land)
Linus Sandgren, SFS (La La Land)
Tom Cross, ACE (La La Land)
Best Original Score:
Justin Hurwitz (La La Land)
The Joe Barber Award for Best Portrayal of Washington, DC: