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L.A. Critics name 'Descendants' best film, laud 'Tree of Life' too

December 11, 2011 |  2:35 pm

"The Descendants" was named best picture of the year Sunday by the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. Awards, but the group also showered praise on Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life." They named Malick best director, and his film runner-up for best picture. "Tree's" Jessica Chastain was named best supporting actress, and Emmanuel Lubezki the best cinematographer.

Here's a full rundown of the group's awards, and some links to our recent coverage of these titles.

Best picture: "The Descendants." Runner-up: "The Tree of Life."

Best director: Terrence Malick, "The Tree of Life." (Read our profile of the reclusive director here.) Runner-up: Martin Scorsese, "Hugo." (Check out our story on how the 69-year-old Scorsese was inspired to make the 3-D family film because of his 12-year-old daughter.)

Best actor: Michael Fassbender, for his work in "A Dangerous Method," "Jane Eyre," "Shame" and "X-Men: First Class." Runner-up: Michael Shannon, "Take  Shelter."

Best actress: South Korea's Yun Jung-hee in "Poetry." (For nearly three decades, Yun was one of the brightest lights in Korean cinema. She made her feature debut in 1967's "Sorrowful Youth," then went on to appear in nearly 300 films, amassing a reputation as possibly the greatest actress in the nation's history. She announced her retirement in 1994 after completing the film "Two Flags"; ever since, fans had clamored for her return. Now in her mid-60s, she said she "had many offers from different directors, television dramas and plays, but I was waiting for something special." Read L.A. Times film critic Kenneth's Turan's review of this film here and our May interview with her here.) Runner-up: Kirsten Dunst, "Melancholia." (Check out our recent Q&A with her here.)

Best supporting actress: Jessica Chastain, who was recognized for her work in six films -- "Coriolanus," "The Debt," "The Help," "Take Shelter," "Texas Killing Fields" and "The Tree of Life." (Our critic Betsy Sharkey recently wrote about Chastain's appeal.) Runner-up: Janet McTeer, "Albert Nobbs."

Best supporting actor: Christopher Plummer, "Beginners." Runner-up: Patton Oswalt, "Young Adult."

Best Documentary/Nonfiction film: "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" by Werner Herzog.  Runner-up: "The Arbor" by Clio Barnard.

Best animated film: "Rango." Runner-up: "The Adventures of Tintin."

Best screenplay: Asghar Farhadi, “A Separation.” (This Iranian film will be arriving in U.S. theaters at the end of the month. Our Sunday Calendar section today features this and other foreign films of the season.) Runner-up: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash, “The Descendants.”

Best foreign film: "City of Life and Death." Runner-up: "A Separation."

Best cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki, "The Tree of Life." Runner-up: Cao Yu, "City of Life and Death."

Best music/score: The Chemical Brothers, "Hanna." Runner-up: Cliff Martinez, "Drive." (L.A. Times pop music critic Randall Roberts talked with  Martinez about the soundtrack recently.)

Best production design: Dante Ferretti, "Hugo." Runner-up: Maria Djurkovic, "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy."

Best Independent, Experimental: "Spark of Being." Directed by Bill Morrison, it's a re-imagining of Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein,: using images culled from archives around the world.

The L.A. critics group doesn't see itself as a predictor or advocate for the Academy Awards and often goes its own way in choosing which films it honors. Last year, the group named "The Social Network"  best picture and handed it three other awards -- best director for David Fincher (in a tie), screenplay for Aaron Sorkin and, in another tie, music for Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. But "Social Network" did not win best picture or best director Oscars -- those instead went to "The King's Speech." 


What will win the LA film critics' top award?

National Board of Review names 'Hugo' best picture

New York critics name 'The Artist' best film of the year

-- Julie Makinen

Photo: Brad Pitt and Laramie Heppler in Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life." Credit: Merie Wallace/Fox Searchlight