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NC Film Critics Association picks the best of 2016

La La Land

Mia, an aspiring actress, and Sebastian, a dedicated jazz musician, are struggling to make ends meet in a city known for crushing hopes and breaking hearts. Set in modern day Los Angeles, this original musical about everyday life explores the joy
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Mia, an aspiring actress, and Sebastian, a dedicated jazz musician, are struggling to make ends meet in a city known for crushing hopes and breaking hearts. Set in modern day Los Angeles, this original musical about everyday life explores the joy

The North Carolina Film Critics Association announced the winners of its fifth annual awards honoring excellence in film on Monday. In its closest race to date, the organization’s five Best Narrative Film nominees sat within one vote of each other less than four hours before deadline Sunday night, the movie sitting in first place changing with each new ballot submitted.

In the end, “La La Land,” director Damien Chazelle’s modern take on the musical romances that once ruled cinemas, emerged victorious as the critics’ choice for Best of 2016. The film also garnered awards for director Chazelle, cinematographer Linus Sandgrin, and actress Emma Stone.

The sleeper-hit nouveau Western “Hell or High Water” continued its surprising streak of industry awards by receiving two honors from the NCFCA, one for Best Supporting Actor Jeff Bridges, and writer Taylor Sheridan nabbing Best Original Screenplay. Other notable winners included Best Actor Casey Affleck (“Manchester by the Sea”), Best Supporting Actress Viola Davis (“Fences”), and the nearly 8-hour long “O.J.: Made in America” capturing Best Documentary.

A notable change was made this year in honor of a fallen colleague. The Ken Hanke Memorial Tar Heel Award, annually given to a film production or artist with a special connection to the state of North Carolina, will now also serve as an ongoing reminder of the recently deceased Asheville writer’s impact on film criticism. Director – and UNC School of the Arts alumnus – Jeff Nichols was selected in recognition of his two critically acclaimed feature releases in 2016, “Midnight Special” and “Loving.”

The NCFCA consists of approximately 40 professional critics who live in the state or whose work contributes to an outlet based in North Carolina.

A full list of nominations and winners follows.

BEST NARRATIVE FILM: “Arrival,” “ Hell or High Water,” “La La Land” (winner), “Manchester by the Sea,” “Moonlight”

BEST DOCUMENTARY FILM: “13th,” “ I Am Not Your Negro,” “ Life, Animated” “O.J.: Made in America” (winner), “Weiner”

BEST ANIMATED FILM: “Finding Dory,” “ Kubo and the Two Strings,” “ Moana,” “ Sausage Party,” “Zootopia” (winner)

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: “Elle,” “The Handmaiden” (winner), “ A Man Called Ove,” “ Toni Erdmann,” “Things to Come”

BEST DIRECTOR: Damien Chazelle “La La Land” (winner), Barry Jenkins “Moonligh,” “t Kenneth Lonergan “Manchester by the Sea,” David Mackenzie “Hell or High Water,” Chan-woo Park “The Handmaiden”

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Chung-hoo Chung “The Handmaiden,” James Laxton “Moonlight,” Giles Nuttgens “Hell or High Water,” Linus Sandgren “La La Land” (winner), Bradford Young “Arrival”

BEST SPECIAL EFFECTS: “Arrival,” “Captain America: Civil War,” “Doctor Strange” (winner), “Jungle Book,” “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”

BEST ACTOR Casey Affleck “Manchester by the Sea” (winner), Joel Edgerton “Loving,” Ryan Gosling “La La Land,” Viggo Mortensen “Captain Fantastic,” Denzel Washington “Fences”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Mahershala Ali “Moonlight, Jeff Bridges “Hell or High Water” (winner), Ben Foster “Hell or High Water,” Lucas Hedges “Manchester by the Sea,” Sam Neill “Hunt for the Wilderpeople”

BEST ACTRESS: Annette Bening “20th Century Women,” Kate Beckinsale “Love & Friendship, Ruth Negga “Loving,” Natalie Portman “Jackie,” Emma Stone “La La Land” (winner)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Viola Davis “Fences” (winner), Greta Gerwig “20th Century Women,” Naomie Harris “Moonlight,” Nicole Kidman “Lion,” Michelle Williams “Manchester by the Sea”

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Damien Chazelle “La La Land,” Barry Jenkins “Moonlight,” Kenneth Lonergan “Manchester by the Sea,” Mike Mills “20th Century Women,” Taylor Sheridan “Hell or High Water” (winner)

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Tom Ford “Nocturnal Animals,” Eric Heisserer “Arrival” (winner), Seo-kyeong Jeong and Chan-wook Park “The Handmaiden,” Whit Stillman “Love & Friendship,” Taika Waititi “Hunt for the Wilderpeople”

KEN HANKE MEMORIAL TAR HEEL AWARD Anthony Mackie, Jeff Nichols (winner), “Starving the Beast”

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