The film critics of Hollywood not only gave major wins to streaming giants, but their choice for Best Film of 2020 is a five-part TV anthology that is Oscar-ineligible.
In a big surprise, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association named Small Axe Best Picture of the Year. A co-production of the BBC and Amazon Studios, the five episode epic is, essentially, a collection of feature films, all directed by 12 Years A Slave Brit-helmer Steve McQueen.
Most individual critics have been choosing between the five episodes separately, with the first two — titled Mangrove and Lovers Rock — popping up on many Top 10 lists. But the LAFCA went all-in on McQueen’s ambitious look at late-60s racial turmoil in Great Britain, with fictionalized true stories that resonates in the year of Black Lives Matter.
In total, Small Axe won two awards from the LA Critics (Picture and Best Cinematography) as well as two runner-up citations, Director and Music Score (which went to Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for Pixar’s Soul).
The biggest winner among theatrical releases was Nomadland, the beautiful micro-budget indie starring Frances McDormand as a modern day American nomad. Chloé Zhao was named Best Director, and Nomadland took runner-up honors to Small Axe for Best Picture.
Netflix saw big wins in the acting categories for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Chadwick Boseman was honored as Best Actor for his final career role, and Glynn Turman was a surprise winner for Best Supporting Actor.
Viola Davis, who stars as Ma Rainey, was runner-up for Best Actress; she was topped by Carey Mulligan who was named Best Actress for the #MeToo vigilante satire Promising Young Woman.
Amazon Studios Sound of Metal took both runners-up citations in the Actor and Supporting Actor categories for, respectively, star Riz Ahmed and his co-star Paul Raci. Both performances involve facing the challenges of going deaf.
As Oscar harbingers go, the LA Critics have been consistently prophetic — but with the win by Small Axe, that’ll change this year.
Ever sine they began handing out awards in 1975, the LAFCA Best Picture winner has been nominated in at least one (but usually more) of the major Oscar categories, including directing, acting and screenplay. This also applies to winners; with the exception of 2003’s “American Splendor”, every LAFCA Picture winner has won at least one Academy Award on Oscar night.
Small Axe, however, is ineligible for the Oscars and will have to “settle” for Emmy awards. All five films — with an ensemble that includes Star Wars‘ John Boyega and Black Panther‘s Letitia Wright — can be viewed now on Amazon Prime.
For the full list of winners and runners-up from this year’s Los Angeles Film Critics Association, read below.
LOS ANGELES FILM CRITICS ASSOCIATION
Best Picture: Small Axe (5 film anthology)
Best Director: Chloé Zhao, Nomadland
Runner-up: Steve McQueen, Small Axe
Best Actor: Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Runner-up: Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal
Best Actress: Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman
Runner-up: Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Best Supporting Actor: Glynn Turman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Runner-up: Paul Raci, Sound of Metal
Best Supporting Actress: Youn Yuh-jung, Minari
Runner-up: Amanda Seyfried, Mank
Best Animated Film: Wolfwalkers
Best Foreign-Language Film: Beanpole (Russia)
Runner-up: Martin Eden (Italy)
Best Documentary/Non-Fiction: Time
Best Screenplay: Promising Young Woman, Emerald Fennell
Runner-up: Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Eliza Hittman
Best Editing: The Father, Yorgos Lamprinos
Runner-up: Time, Gabriel Rhodes
Best Production Design: Mank, Donald Graham Burt
Runner-up: Beanpole, Sergey Ivanov
Best Music/Score: Soul, Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross
Runner-up: Lovers Rock (Small Axe, Ep. 2), Mica Levi
Best Cinematography: Small Axe (all 5 anthology films), Shabier Kirchner
Runner-up: Nomadland, Joshua James Richards
New Generation Prize: Radha Blank, The Forty-Year-Old Version
The Douglas Edwards Experimental Film Award: John Gianvit, Her Socialist Smile
Career Achievement Award: Hou Hsiao-Hsien (Taiwanese film director, screenwriter, producer and actor) and Harry Belafonte (Jamaican-American actor, singer, and activist)
Legacy Award: Norman Lloyd, actor/producer/director
Click on links below for other Critics Group Awards and Guild Nominees that have been announced so far for the 2020 / 21 season: