12 Years a Slave, Cate Blanchett Take Top SEFCA Honors

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The gripping historical drama 12 Years a Slave, its lead actor Chiwetel Ejiofor and director Steve McQueen, and Blue Jasmine lead actress Cate Blanchett received top honors from the Southeastern Film Critics Association, which today announced its 21st annual awards for the year's best films.

Adapted from Solomon Northup's memoir by John Ridley (who received a nod from SEFCA for best adapted screenplay), McQueen's unflinchingly brutal account of abduction and enslavement in the pre-Civil War South also garnered acting honors from the group for Lupita Nyong'o as best supporting actress, while Jared Leto was named best supporting actor for his role as an AIDS-stricken drag queen in Dallas Buyers Club.

Best ensemble went to the cast of David O. Russell's ’70s sting-operation comedy American Hustle, and Spike Jonze won best screenplay for his romantic comedy-drama Her, with Joaquin Phoenix as a man who begins a relationship with his cellphone's sentient Siri (voiced by Scarlett Johannson). Neither film has opened yet in Nashville.

Other awards went to Thomas Vinterberg's The Hunt for best foreign film, Disney's Frozen for animated feature, Joshua Oppenheimer's The Act of Killing for best documentary, and Gravity's Emmanuel Lubezki for best cinematography. The annual Wyatt Award for the film that best evokes the South, named for the late Tennessean critic Gene Wyatt, went to writer-director Jeff Nichols for the Matthew McConaughey drama Mud. Nichols is the award's first two-time recipient.

Founded in 1992, SEFCA represents more than 40 film writers across the Southeast (including myself and Scene contributors Jason Shawhan and Craig D. Lindsey). Below, a full list of the year's Top 10 films and the runners-up in each category.

Top 10 Films of 2013
1. 12 Years a Slave

2. Gravity
3. American Hustle
4. Her
5. Inside Llewyn Davis
6. Nebraska
7. Dallas Buyers Club
8. Philomena
9. Captain Phillips
10. The Wolf of Wall Street

Best Actor
1. Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave

2. Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

Best Actress
1. Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

2. Judi Dench, Philomena

Best Supporting Actor
1. Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

2. Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave

Best Supporting Actress
1. Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave

2. Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle

Best Ensemble
1. American Hustle

2. 12 Years a Slave

Best Director
1. Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave

2. Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity

Best Original Screenplay
1. Spike Jonze, Her

2. David O. Russell and Eric Warren Singer, American Hustle

Best Adapted Screenplay
1 .John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave

2. Jeff Pope & Steve Coogan, Philomena

Best Documentary
1. The Act of Killing

2. Blackfish
3. Muscle Shoals

Best Foreign Language Film
1. The Hunt

2. Blue is the Warmest Color

Best Animated Film
1. Frozen

2. The Wind Rises

Best Cinematography
1. Emmanuel Lubezki, Gravity

2. Sean Bobbitt, 12 Years a Slave

Wyatt Award
1. Jeff Nichols, Mud

2. Greg “Freddy” Cammalier, Muscle Shoals

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