L.A. Film Critics Name ‘Moonlight’ Best Picture

Three days after their East coast colleagues (the New York Film Critics Circle) went gaga for “La La Land,” the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. voted to award Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight” best picture and three other prizes.

The Los Angeles-set “La La Land” was runner-up in five categories, but won just one: best music/score for composer Justin Hurwitz and lyricists Benj Pasek and Justin Paul — a fitting honor for a movie that puts a modern spin on classic Hollywood musicals.

Another New York critics’ favorite, Kenneth Lonergan’s “Manchester by the Sea,” made a strong showing during voting, finishing runner-up in three categories, while the prizes for actor, supporting actress, and screenplay went to fellow indies “Paterson” (Adam Driver), “Certain Women” (Lily Gladstone), and “The Lobster” (Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthimis Filippou), respectively.

The group continued its trend of celebrating international performers in foreign-language films by awarding Isabelle Huppert best actress for her lead roles in “Elle” and “Things to Come” (a tradition extended to “Amour” co-star Emmanuelle Riva in 2012, among many others), while Park Chan-wook’s “The Handmaiden” won the foreign-language film and production design categories.

At a time when Hollywood is being scrutinized for its lack of diversity, no one will be tweeting #LAFCAsowhite. With more than 40 of the group’s 51 members (most of whom are middle-aged white men) in attendance, the voting session was driven by a sincere passion for talent, rather than tokenism, which makes it all the more remarkable that in the end, only two of the prizes went to white male honorees. “Moonlight” helmer Barry Jenkins won director honors; “Certain Women,” foreign film runner-up “Toni Erdmann,” and experimental film prize-winner “The Illinois Parables” were all directed by women.

Though “La La Land” had widespread support, one contrarian joked that it was “only the second-best film about Los Angeles this year” — a back-handed compliment that reflects the group’s enthusiasm for best editing winner “O.J.: Made in America” — which also came in second for the documentary prize, behind Raoul Peck’s equally timely “I Am Not Your Negro.” (Viola Davis was nearly recognized for her turn in “Fences,” though confusion over whether it was a lead of supporting actress performance worked against her.)

Animated feature winner “Your Name.” beat blockbuster American studio fare (in fact, no studio film won any category) — and yet, though the Japanese toon had opened just two days earlier in Los Angeles, it’s already a genuine phenomenon overseas, earning more than $170 million in Japan, and $41 million this weekend in China.

LAFCA members also voted to award a special citation to Turner Classic Movies at its awards dinner, to be held on Jan. 14, 2017.

The full list of winners:

BEST PICTURE: “Moonlight”
Runner-up: “La La Land”

DIRECTOR: Barry Jenkins, “Moonlight”
Runner-up: Damien Chazelle, “La La Land”

ACTRESS: Isabelle Huppert, “Elle” and “Things to Come”
Runner-up: Rebecca Hall, “Christine”

ACTOR: Adam Driver, “Paterson”
Runner-up: Casey Affleck, “Manchester by the Sea”

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Lily Gladstone, “Certain Women”
Runner-up: Michelle Williams, “Manchester by the Sea”

SUPPORTING ACTOR: Mahershala Ali, “Moonlight”
Runner-up: Issei Ogata, “Silence”

SCREENPLAY: Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthimis Filippou, “The Lobster”
Runner-up: Kenneth Lonergan, “Manchester by the Sea”

CINEMATOGRAPHY: James Laxton, “Moonlight”
Runner-up: Linus Sandgren, “La La Land”

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Seong-hie Ryu, “The Handmaiden”
Runner-up: David Wasco, “La La Land”

EDITING: Bret Granato, Maya Mumma, Ben Sozanski, “O.J.: Made in America”
Runner-up: Tom Cross, “La La Land”

MUSIC/SCORE: Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek, Justin Paul, “La La Land”
Runner-up: Mica Levi, “Jackie”

FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM: “The Handmaiden”
Runner-up: “Toni Erdmann”

DOCUMENTARY/NON-FICTION FILM: “I Am Not Your Negro”
Runner-up: “O.J.: Made in America”

ANIMATION: “Your Name”
Runner-up: “The Red Turtle”

NEW GENERATION: Trey Edward Shults and Krisha Fairchild, “Krisha”

DOUGLAS EDWARDS INDEPENDENT/EXPERIMENTAL FILM/VIDEO: Deborah Stratman, “The Illinois Parables”

Full disclosure: Variety critics Andrew Barker, Geoff Berkshire, and Peter Debruge are members of LAFCA. Owen Gleiberman is a member of the New York Film Critics Circle.

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