Winners of the 43rd annual Los Angeles Film Critics Association were announced on Sunday (Dec. 3). True to form, these West Coast based scribes went with winners that differed for the most part from those feted by the New York film critics. Luca Guadagnino‘s “Call Me By Your Name” was the big winner with the LA crowd, taking Best Picture, Director (in a tie with Guillermo del Toro for “The Shape of Water”) and Actor (Timothee Chalamet).
Only Chalamet had merited mention from the NYFCC. Coupled with his win there, his Oscar hopes are on the rise. At just 21, he would be the youngest Best Actor Oscar winner by almost a decade; the current record holder is Adrian Brody (“The Pianist”).
Sally Hawkins (“The Shape of Water”) won Best Actress over her fiercest Oscar rival Frances McDormand (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”). With Hawkins’ film having been snubbed by the NYFCC as well as both the Gotham and Indie Spirit Awards, this win, coupled with that of director del Toro, comes as a much-needed boost to its profile.
Willem Dafoe picked up the Supporting Actor award and his closest Oscar rival Sam Rockwell (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”) was named runner-up. Dafoe also won with the NYFCC and that could give him the edge in one of the tightest Oscar races of the year.
The NYFCC had named “Lady Bird” as its top film of the year. That charmer had to settle for a Supporting Actress win for Oscar frontrunner Laurie Metcalf. Mary J. Blige (“Mudbound”) got a boost to her Oscar prospects by being named runner-up.
Jordan Peele continues to rack up wins for “Get Out.” After claiming the first feature prize from both the Gotham Awards and the NYFCC, he won the screenplay award from the LA critics. “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” writer/director Martin McDonagh was the runner-up.
“Blade Runner 2049” and “The Shape of Water” split the below-the line races with the former winning production design and the latter taking cinematography; in each instance, the other film was named runner-up. And “The Shape of Water” composer Alexandre Desplat was runner-up in the score race to Jonny Greenwood for “Phantom Thread.”
Gallic documentarian Agnes Varda, who was just feted with an honorary Oscar, won the Non-Fiction Film award for “Faces Places,” her entertaining travelogue in which she and JR visit French villages and towns. She also picked up that prize from the NYFCC.
Likewise for Robin Campillo‘s French “BPM (Beats Per Minute)” which had been named Best Foreign Language Film by the New York critics and tied in LA with Andrey Zvyagintsev‘s Russian domestic drama “Loveless.”
Pixar’s “Coco,” which won over the NYFCC, had to settle for runner-up status from LAFCA as “The Breadwinner” won the Animated Feature award. However, according to the latest Gold Derby odds, this critically acclaimed film remains the 8-to-5 favorite to win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature, a category in which Pixar has won eight Academy Awards out of 10 nominations.
While we should certainly pay attention to these awards, we need to remember that over the course of its 42-year history, LAFCA has predicted only nine winners of the Best Picture Oscar and three of those came in the first five years of its existence. Granted one of these double dippers was “Spotlight” in 2015. Before that, LAFCA last aligned with the academy in 2009, the first year of the expanded Best Picture race, when both bodies went with “The Hurt Locker.” Prior to that, the last time that the L.A. critics predicted the top Oscar winner was way back in 1993 when “Schindler’s List” ran the board, also winning NYFCC and NBR before triumphing at the Oscars. The other Best Picture winners that were recognized first by these west coast critics were: “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (1975, tied with “Dog Day Afternoon” here); “Rocky” (1976, tied with “Network” here); “Kramer vs. Kramer” (1979); “Amadeus” (1984) and “Unforgiven” (1992).
Be sure to make your Oscar nomination predictions so that Hollywood studio executives can see how their films are faring in our Academy Awards odds. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before nominees are announced on January 23.