The group chose Alexander Payne’s THE DESCENDANTS as the best film of the year. THE DESCENDANTS was also the Houston Film Critics Society’s most honored film. FilmDistrict and Bold Films’ DRIVE was the other major awards recipient, receiving two awards. Other major winners included Michael Fassbender as Best Actor for SHAME and Tilda Swinton as Best Actress for WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN.
The organization also bestowed its Lifetime Achievement award to Academy Award Winner Jeff Bridges, for his vast body of work stretching from THE LAST PICTURE SHOW to CRAZY HEART and TRUE GRIT.
For the first time since its inception the Houston Film Critics Society has elected to give its Humanitarian of the Year Award not to an actor or direct member of the film society but to local philanthropist Joanne King Herring for her extended humanitarian efforts in Afghanistan, part of which made up the plot of the film CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR.
The Houston Film Critics Society continued its tradition of singling out the Worst Film of the Year as well, selecting Universal Pictures’ YOUR HIGHNESS.
Alexander Payne’s adaptation of the novel THE DESCENDANTS was also given the nod for Best Screenplay for Payne and co-writers Nat Faxon and Jim Rash. Actress Shailene Woodley beat out a talented field to be given the award for Best Supporting Actress.
Thriller DRIVE received two awards, taking home Best Director for Nicholas Winding Refn and Best Supporting Actor for Albert Brooks.
Korean suspense I SAW THE DEVIL took the award for Best Foreign Film and provocative documentary PROJECT NIM was selected as Best Documentary of the year. THE MUPPETS’ return to film was greeted with the award for Best Song for “Life’s A Happy Song” and modern silent film THE ARTIST was picked for BEST SCORE.
In the technical categories, Emmanuel Lubezki’s exquisite nature photography for THE TREE OF LIFE was selected as the best of the year. The Houston Film Critics also gave their inaugural award in the category of Technical Achievement, selecting RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES for Andy Serkis evocative motion capture performance as Caesar.
Gore Verbinski’s RANGO won out as Best Animated Film.
The society also handed out two Special Achievement in Cinema awards to Hunter Todd for founding and running WorldFest and to Mary Lampe, founder and director of SWAMP, the Southwest Alternative Media Project.
The Houston Film Critics Society awards will presented in a ceremony Saturday, January 7, at the Museum of Fine Arts’ Brown Auditorium.
During the ceremony, the Houston Film Critics Society will announce the winner of their inaugural selection for Best Texas Independent Film, to be given to a film majorly financed and filmed in Texas. The award will be decided upon between five nominees:
Founded in 2007, the Houston Film Critics Society is comprised of critics from the most influential Houston-area newspapers, magazines, TV & radio stations and websites with both regional and national audiences and was organized for the purpose of increasing public awareness of cinematic excellence and to encourage the publication and broadcasting of substantive critical commentary on film. This is the fifth year the organization has presented Best of the Year awards.
The Houston Film Critics Society complete list of 2011 winners: