SEFCA Awards for 2008

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:

1. Milk
2. Slumdog Millionaire
3. WALL-E
4. The Dark Knight
5. The Wrestler
6. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
7. The Reader
8. The Visitor
9. Frost/Nixon
10. Revolutionary Road

Best Actor

Sean Penn, Milk
* Runner-up: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler

Best Actress

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

Best Director

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)

Best Documentary

Man on Wire
* Runner-up: Young@Heart

Best Animated Feature

WALL-E
* Runner-up: Kung Fu Panda

Wyatt Award

Shotgun Stories
* 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.

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

2 thoughts on “SEFCA Awards for 2008

  1. Kevin F.

    The Order of Myths was the most interesting film that I saw at this year’s Full Frame Documentary Festival. Did it ever play in Asheville?

  2. Ken Hanke

    Did it ever play in Asheville?

    No, nor was I sent a screener — at least I’m pretty sure I wasn’t.

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