Daisy Ridley and the Cast of Star Wars: The Force Awakens Honored by Georgia Critics

By  · Published on January 4th, 2016


Sometimes, it’s worth it to wait. While everyone else is in such a hurry to post their picks and nominees for the best of the year, the Georgia Film Critics Association always takes its time. As a result, many of their nominations, announced today, are distinctly different from other organizations handing out honors for the movies of 2015.

I should say “our” nominations, since I’m one of the 24 critics in the membership of the GAFCA. I love being a part of this group because it is the one that requires my input the latest. That means I have more time before our ballot is due to play catch up, and while I have to admit this year has been difficult for me to do so in general, I still appreciate the extension.

The most notable difference between our awards and those of other groups is the four nominations for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. No, we didn’t name it one of the contenders for best picture – but it is worth comparing the GAFCA’s patience to the criticized decision by the Broadcast Film Critics Association (of which I’m also a member) to retroactively add the Star Wars sequel to its top category, as an 11th nominee, after release.

What, and who, we did recognize from the movie, which certainly doesn’t need our help or any other group’s, is its score by John Williams, its production design/art direction by Rick Carter, Darren Gilford, Alastair Bullock and Gary Tomkins, the performance of its entire cast, who are together nominated for best ensemble, and particularly newcomer Daisy Ridley, who is up for the breakthrough award.

Other films that are getting a more necessary boost from the GAFCA include the documentary Frame by Frame, which was a highlight of the Atlanta Film Festival last year. Also, The Look of Silence, while getting plenty of love in doc categories all around, is nominated by us for best foreign film, too. I’ll personally take some credit for that. Same goes for Rose Byrne being recognized for her hilarious supporting performance in Spy.

We also seem to love Sicario more than other organizations (well, my fellow members do, if I don’t), honoring it with six nominations including best picture. And one of my favorites of the year, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, has mostly been overlooked during awards season in spite of its strong reception at Sundance last year, but we named it one of our 10 best picture contenders. It’s the only title in the category without any other nominations.

Next: Austin Film Critics Love Mad Max, Room and Ex Machina

Not to make it sound like we’re all better than everyone else in terms of racial tolerance, but the GAFCA does appear to be the only group besides the African-American Film Critics Association and the Foundation for the Advancement of African-Americans in Film (who give out the Black Reel Awards) to name Ryan Coogler a best director nominee for Creed (as it turns out, this is the third year in a row we’ve included a black filmmaker in the category). Regardless of race, I really think he deserves recognition for what he did with the Rocky reboot-sequel.

Other fairly unique picks include a best actress nod for Blythe Danner for I’ll See You in My Dreams. She’s one of seven contenders, apparently due to there being multiple ties. Also Jason Segel is up for best actor for his performance in The End of the Tour, somewhat making up for his long-declined Oscar buzz, The Assassin is up for best cinematography, and while Ex Machina helmer Alex Garland was shut out of the best director race, he is in the breakthrough category, alongside his actress, Alicia Vikander.

Below is the full list of GAFCA nominees. The winners will be announced on Friday, at which time I’ll update this post by highlighting the results.

Best Picture

Best Director

Best Actor

Best Actress

Best Supporting Actor

Best Supporting Actress

Best Original Screenplay

Best Adapted Screenplay

Best Cinematography

Best Production Design

Best Original Score

Best Original Song

Best Ensemble

Best Foreign Film

Breakthrough Award

Best Animated Film

Best Documentary

Oglethorpe Award for Excellence in Georgia Cinema

Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.