The Southeastern Film Critics Association named Milk the Best Picture of 2008 in its 17th annual voting. Director Gus Van Sant’s powerful look at slain activist Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to hold public office in the nation, earned a total of three awards, with its other victories coming in the categories of Best Actor (Sean Penn) and Best Original Screenplay (Dustin Lance Black).
The uplifting drama Slumdog Millionaire proved to be the only other film snagging more than one prize, as it copped awards for Best Director (Danny Boyle) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Simon Beaufoy, adapting Vikas Swarup’s novel Q&A).
In the closest contest of the day, Anne Hathaway received the Best Actress award for her performance as a recovering addict in Rachel Getting Married; she beat The Reader‘s Kate Winslet by two points. Winslet also earned multiple votes for her work in Revolutionary Road.
The late Heath Ledger won Best Supporting Actor for his mesmerizing take on The Joker in the summer blockbuster The Dark Knight, while Penélope Cruz earned Best Supporting Actress kudos for her turn as a feisty free spirit in Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
In other races, the Swedish vampire yarn Let the Right One In was cited as Best Foreign-Language Film, while Man on Wire, about tightrope walker Philippe Petit’s amazing 1974 World Trade Center crossing, nabbed the honors as Best Documentary. WALL-E, the latest Disney/Pixar triumph, took the Best Animated Feature award by a landslide.
In its fourth year, the Wyatt Award went to Shotgun Stories, writer-director Jeff Nichols’ drama about members of a feuding family in rural Arkansas. Named after the late SEFCA member Gene Wyatt, the prize seeks to honor one film each year that best embodies the essence of the South.
In addition to naming its Best Picture, SEFCA also releases its Top 10 for the year. The complete list follows:
2. Slumdog Millionaire
4. The Dark Knight
5. The Wrestler
6. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
7. The Reader
8. The Visitor
10. Revolutionary Road
Sean Penn, Milk
* Runner-up: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married
* Runner-up: Kate Winslet, The Reader
Best Supporting Actor
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
* Runner-up: Robert Downey Jr., Tropic Thunder
Best Supporting Actress
Penélope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
* Runner-up: Viola Davis, Doubt
Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
* Runner-up: Gus Van Sant, Milk
Best Original Screenplay
Dustin Lance Black, Milk
* Runner-up: Robert D. Siegel, The Wrestler
Best Adapted Screenplay
Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire
* Runner-up: Eric Roth and Robin Swicord, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Best Foreign-Language Film
Let the Right One In (Sweden)
* Runner-up: I’ve Loved You So Long (France)
Man on Wire
* Runner-up: Young@Heart
Best Animated Feature
* Runner-up: Kung Fu Panda
* Runner-up: The Order of Myths
The Southeastern Film Critics Association is comprised of journalists from nine states representing the Southeastern section of the United States. This year, 38 members participated in the voting.