I’ve written for a variety of outlets, most recently for the Animation Scoop blog on Indiewire, and consistently Screen Relish, but I always post all the latest on my own site, Cinema Siren… So it seems natural i’d write about WAFCA (the Washington Area Film Critics Association), to which I belong, and this morning’s announcement of the WAFCA awards winners.

It’s early days yet in the awards season, but things are heating up.  So far the Gotham Independent Film Awards, NYFCC, or the New York Film Critics Circle Awards, the LAFCA, or Los Angeles Film Critics Awards, and the BIFA or British Independent Film Awards have shown their hands. The New York Film Circle gave CAROL top honors for Best Picture, cinematography, and screenplay, and its director Todd Haynes won for Best Director.

LAFCA chose SPOTLIGHT as best picture but went with George Miller as best director for MAD MAX. BIFA and Gotham are both focused on Independent film.  They favored Spotlight and Ex Machina respectively.

The acting awards are far more spread out, but it frequently early in the awards season that can be attributed to the members not having seen all the films.  I can say as a member of WAFCA there are still movie screeners coming in, not least of which is TRUMBO, which promoted Bryan Cranston for Best Actor. JOY and CREED only had one screening before voting took place, and THE REVENANT and THE HATEFUL EIGHT were screened less than 48 hours before our nominations were meant to be pulled together.  I can only imagine what other critics associations who voted even earlier than us might have seen or not seen, as CREED, THE REVENANT, JOY, and THE HATEFUL EIGHT are conspicuously absent.

THE REVENANT brings up an interesting point about the acting awards race.  Up until the last few days, it’s been anyone’s game, as exampled by the wide diversity of winners, from Michael Keaton as best actor for SPOTLIGHT, to Michael Fassbender in STEVE JOBS, from Charlotte Rampling for 45 YEARS to Saoirse Ronan for BROOKLYN.  Brie Larson is also carrying strong odds in the Oscars race for her work in ROOM.  Just how much do these early winners influence the Oscars race? Opinions differ about that, but I discovered one thing this year, when commitment to informed decisions meant watching as many as seven movies a day this last week.  If I had devoted any less time to blowing through the screeners and driving out to see films every night, I would have had to depend on word of mouth and other people’s opinions about who to nominate.  Even given the advanced median age of  Oscar voters, those largely aging white dudes are busy! I’m guessing they weigh how critic associations around the country vote when they decide what movies to make priority viewing.

WAFCA isn’t at the top tier of the critics associations.  We aren’t televised, and we are relatively new, but we do represent the film critics in the nation’s capital.  As such, we are taken seriously, and with that consideration comes responsibility.

All this brings us to this morning’s announcements from WAFCA.  Here are the nominations and winners:

Best Film:


Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant



Best Director:

Alex Garland (Ex Machina)

Todd Haynes (Carol)

Alejandro G. Iñárritu (The Revenant)

George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)

Ridley Scott (The Martian)

Best Actor:

Matt Damon (The Martian)

Johnny Depp (Black Mass)

Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)

Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs)

Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl)

Best Actress:

Cate Blanchett (Carol)

Brie Larson (Room)

Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn)

Sarah Silverman (I Smile Back)

Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road)

Best Supporting Actor:

Paul Dano (Love & Mercy)

Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation)

Tom Hardy (The Revenant)

Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies)

Sylvester Stallone (Creed)

Best Supporting Actress:

Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight)

Rooney Mara (Carol)

Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)

Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina)

Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)

Best Acting Ensemble:

The Big Short

The Hateful Eight


Steve Jobs

Straight Outta Compton

Best Youth Performance:

Abraham Attah (Beasts of No Nation)

Raffey Cassidy (Tomorrowland)

Oona Laurence (Southpaw)

Güneş Şensoy (Mustang)

Jacob Tremblay (Room)

Best Adapted Screenplay:

Nick Hornby (Brooklyn)

Phyllis Nagy (Carol)

Drew Goddard (The Martian)

Emma Donoghue (Room)

Aaron Sorkin (Steve Jobs)

Best Original Screenplay:

Matt Charman and Ethan Coen & Joel Coen (Bridge of Spies)

Alex Garland (Ex Machina)

Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve and Josh Cooley (Original Story by Pete Docter and Ronnie Del Carmen) (Inside Out)

Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer (Spotlight)

Amy Schumer (Trainwreck)

Best Animated Feature:


The Good Dinosaur

Inside Out

The Peanuts Movie

Shaun the Sheep Movie

Best Documentary:


Best of Enemies

Cartel Land

Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief

The Look of Silence

Best Foreign Language Film:

The Assassin

Goodnight Mommy


The Second Mother

Son of Saul

Best Production Design:

Production Designer: François Séguin, Set Decorators: Jennifer Oman and Louise Tremblay (Brooklyn)

Production Designer: Judy Becker, Set Decorator: Heather Loeffler (Carol)

Production Designer: Dante Ferretti, Set Decorator: Francesca Loschiavo-Ferretti (Cinderella)

Production Designer: Thomas Sanders, Set Decorators: Jeffrey Melvin and Shane Vieau (Crimson Peak)

Production Designer: Colin Gibson, Set Decorator: Lisa Thompson (Mad Max: Fury Road)

Best Cinematography:

Yves Bélanger, CSC (Brooklyn)

Ed Lachman, ASC (Carol)

John Seale, ASC, ACS (Mad Max: Fury Road)

Emmanuel Lubezki, ASC, AMC (The Revenant)

Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC (Sicario)

Best Editing:

Margaret Sixel (Mad Max: Fury Road)

Pietro Scalia, ACE (The Martian)

Stephen Mirrione, ACE (The Revenant)

Joe Walker, ACE (Sicario)

Elliott Graham, ACE (Steve Jobs)

Best Original Score:

Michael Brook (Brooklyn)

Carter Burwell (Carol)

Ennio Morricone (The Hateful Eight)

Tom Holkenborg aka Junkie XL (Mad Max: Fury Road)

Jóhann Jóhannsson (Sicario)

I can say I’m very proud of being part of the nominations and voting on these.  Most pleasing to me are the inclusion of THE REVENANT for best actor and cinematography, as the film is a stunner of historic proportions, and one of this year’s essential viewings in a theater.  I’m also thrilled to see Idris Elba win Best Supporting Actor for BEASTS OF NO NATION, a film everyone should see, and perhaps more will as a result of our awards.  Lastly, it’s lovely to see INSIDE OUT win for best screenplay.  I am very hopeful the film will get this kind of attention at the Oscars, proving loud and clear that animation can be an artistic expression of depth and meaning.  But we already knew that…

What do you readers think?  Let us know in the comments below!