12 YEARS A SLAVE, GRAVITY Among Top Winners at 2013 WAFCA Awards

12 YEARS A SLAVE, GRAVITY Among Top Winners at 2013 WAFCA Awards

The Washington, D.C. Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA) announced their winners for 2013 this morning, lavishing the lion's share of their praise on one of the most difficult, and critically acclaimed, films of the year.

"12 Years a Slave," about a free black man ripped from his family and sold into more than a decade of bondage, won six awards including Best Film, Best Actor (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Best Supporting Actress (Lupita Nyong'o), Best Ensemble, Best Adapted Screenplay (John Ridley) and Best Original Score (Hans Zimmer). Only the lauded sci-fi juggernaut "Gravity" dented its momentum, snatching the coveted Best Director award for Alfonso Cuarón, as well as two sought-after technical wins for Best Cinematography and Best Editing.

"This story of perseverance and the triumph of the human spirit over degradation and misery appealed to our members in a powerful way," said WAFCA President, Tim Gordon, "and I'm proud of the choice that we collectively made."

Cate Blanchett, who turned in a riveting performance in Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine," as a woman whose life unravels after it is discovered her husband is enmeshed in real estate fraud, won the Best Actress award. Best Supporting Actor went to Jared Leto, who has been absent from film for nearly five years, for his role as a transgendered AIDS patient in "Dallas Buyers Club." The award for Best Youth Performance, which highlights the best performance from an actor under 20, went to 17-year-old Tye Sheridan, for "Mud."

Writer-director Spike Jonze won the Best Original Screenplay award for "Her," the story of a man who falls in love with an artificially intelligent operating system, and Best Art Direction went to "The Great Gatsby." Disney's "Frozen" iced the competition in the Best Animated Film category and Best Foreign Language Film went to "The Broken Circle Breakdown," from Belgium. Best Documentary honors were awarded to "Blackfish," for its harrowing, behind-the-scenes glimpse into SeaWorld's treatment of its animal performers.

"This year's lineup of contenders is arguably one of the strongest groups since Hollywood's golden year of 1939," gushed Gordon. "In a year full of bonafide contenders, '12 Years a Slave's' expert storytelling, painful subject matter and extraordinary performances made it the undeniable choice for our group. But it was just one of many films that floored our members this year."

"Lee Daniels' The Butler" won The Joe Barber Award for Best Portrayal of Washington, DC, an award instituted last year in honor of the late, beloved D.C. film critic and WTOP's longtime arts editor, Joe Barber.

"This was one of those films Joe would have adored," said Tim Gordon. "He loved this city and he loved movies and his Absence is still keenly felt."

The Washington, D.C. Area Film Critics Association is comprised of 58 DC-VA-MD-based film critics from television, radio, print and the Internet. Voting was conducted from December 6-8, 2013.

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