Terence Malick, Michael Fassbender, Yun Jung-Hee, Jessica Chastain and Christopher Plummer also among top picks from LAFCA.
The Descendants, Alexander Payne‘s drama about a family in Hawaii undergoing a crisis, was named best film of the year by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. The Fox Searchlight release prevailed over another Searchlight title The Tree of Life, which was runner-up.
But Terrence Malick was named best director of the year for Life, his meditation on the meaning of it all. His closest competition came from Martin Scorsese, who earned runner-up status for Hugo.
The critics group pulled a surprise out of its hat by choosing South Korean actress Yun Jung-Hee as its best actress for her performance as a woman confronting Alzheimer’s in Poetry. Runner-up was Kirsten Dunst for Melancholia.
Michael Fassbender was given the best actor award for his four films: Shame, A Dangerous Method, Jane Eyre and X-Men: First Class. The category’s runner-up was Michael Shannon for Take Shelter.
Jessica Chastain was named best supporting actress for the six films in which she appeared this year: The Tree of Life, The Help, The Debt, Take Shelter, Coriolanus and Texas Killing Fields. Janet McTeer was runner-up for her performance in Albert Nobbs.
Christopher Plummer was singled out as best supporting actor for his turn as a widower who comes out late in life in Focus’ Beginners. In that category, Patton Oswalt was hailed as runner-up for Young Adult.
A Separation, the Iranian submission for the best foreign-language Oscar, earned the screenplay award for Asghar Farhadi, who also directed the film. The Descendants checked in as runner-up for its writers Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash.
In the foreign film category, though, A Separation was runner-up, with the award going instead to Lu Chaun‘s City of Life and Death.
Dante Ferretti, who created the elaborate Parisian train station in Paramount’s Hugo, was rewarded with the prize for production design. Maria Djurkovic earned runner-up honors for the spy tale Tinker Tailor Solider Spy.
The cinematography award went to Emmanuel Lubeski for Terrence Malick‘s majesticThe Tree of Life, released by Fox Searchlight. Cao Yu was voted runner-up for City of Life and Death.
The Chemical Brother‘s score for Focus’ thriller Hanna was named best score with Cliff Martinez‘s work for Drive as runner-up.
Werner Herzog‘s Cave of Forgotten Dreams, the director’s 3D look at prehistoric cave paintings, took the prize for best documentary. Clio Barnard‘s The Arbor was runner-up.
Rango was named best animated film, with The Adventures of Tintin as runnerup.
The Doublas Edwards Independent/Experimental Award went to Bill Morrison‘s Spark of Being.
LAFCA gave its New Generation award to the creative team behind Martha Marcy May Marlene: Writer/director Sean Durkin, producers Antonio Campos and Josh Mondand actress Elizabeth Olsen.
At a previous meeting in October, the group also announced that it is honoring Doris Daywith its Career Achievement Award.
LAFCA 2011 winner and runner-up complete list:
Winner: The Descendants
Runner-Up: The Tree of Life
Runner-Up: The Adventures of Tintin
Winner: Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life
Runner-Up: Martin Scorsese, Hugo
Winner: Michael Fassbender, A Dangerous Method, Jane Eyre, Shame, X-Men: First Class
Runner-Up: Michael Shannon, Take Shelter
Winner: Yun Jung-Hee, Poetry
Runner-Up: Kirsten Dunst, Melancholia
Winner: Spark of Being
Winner: Cave of Forgotten Dreams
Runner- Up: The Arbor
Winner: Asghar Farhadi, A Separation
Runner-Up: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash, The Descendants
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Winner: Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Runner-Up: Patton Oswalt, Young Adult
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Winner: Jessica Chastain, Coriolanus, The Debt, The Help, Take Shelter, Texas Killing Fields, The Tree of Life
Runner-Up: Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
Winner: Emmanuel Lubezki, The Tree of Life
Runner-Up: Cao Yu, City of Life and Death
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Winner: Dante Ferretti, Hugo
Runner-Up: Maria Djurkovic, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Winner: The Chemical Brothers, Hanna
Runner-Up: Cliff Martinez, Drive
I gotta tell ya . . . having been a part of “Tree of Life” (when I was even able to call Terrence Malick “Terry” when we were speaking to each other) — it’s super cool to see the title and the people who worked so hard to put it together continue to receive recognition and praise for the final product.
with passion & gratitude — jb