Filmmaker Ava DuVernay and her Martin Luther King Jr drama Selma took home top honors from the African-American Film Critics Association, which awarded Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor (David Oyelowo) and Best Song to the Paramount Oscar contender. Also announced today, Gugu Mbatha-Raw won Best Actress for period drama Belle, and Octavia Spencer nabbed Best Supporting Actress for Relativity’s Black Or White, while a surprise tie in the Best Supporting Actor category went to J.K. Simmons for Whiplash and Tyler Perry for his turn in David Fincher’s Gone Girl.
Perry, who has won a Razzie for acting but had yet to enter the end-of-year awards race proper, was acknowledged for his supporting role in Gone Girl as Tanner Bolt, the high-profile defense attorney who assists Ben Affleck’s Nick Dunne in the adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s thriller novel. It is a rare acting category tie for the AAFCA, which is in its 12th year of awards and holds its annual vote by secret ballot tabulated by a third-party accounting firm.
Awards will be handed out at the organization’s annual dinner on February 4 in Hollywood, where special achievement kudos will also go to Universal Pictures’ Donna Langley, LA Film Festival Director and film producer Stephanie Allain, and Black List co-founder Franklin Leonard. AAFCA’s Ashley Boone Award will go to producer Debra Martin-Chase, and Susan King of the Los Angeles Times will receive the group’s Roger Ebert Award for journalism.
Also notable: AAFCA awarded Best Screenplay to Beyond The Lights writer-director Gina Prince-Bythewood, the second female creator to nab top honors this year. Roadside Attractions’ Dear White People, from neophyte director Justin Simien, took home both Best Independent Film and Breakout Performance for actress Tessa Thompson, who also has a supporting role in Selma.
“Our members found the output of cinema released this year to be a truly insightful mix of titles that reflect the world we live in. The members of AAFCA were especially pleased with this range of storytelling supported by the studios that gave voice to the many sides of the experience of black people in America and around the world,” said AAFCA president Gil Robertson. “We had a lot to pick from this year from Belle, Dear White People, Top Five, Timbuktu and Selma and hope the industry will continue to provide a platform for diversity on the big screen.”
Here’s AAFCA’s full roster of 2014 award winners:
Best Actor David Oyelowo, Selma (Paramount)
Best Actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Belle (Fox Searchlight)
Best Supporting Actress Octavia Spencer, Black and White (Rela.)
Best Supporting Actor Tyler Perry, Gone Girl (Fox) /J.K. Simmons, Whiplash (SPC)
Best World Cinema Timbuktu (Les Films du Worso)
Breakout Performance Tessa Thompson, Dear White People (RAtt.)
Best Director Ava Duvernay, Selma (Paramount)
Best Screenplay Gina Prince-Bythewood, Beyond the Lights (Rela)
Best Music John Legend/Common, “Glory” (Selma soundtrack)
Best Ensemble Get On Up (Universal)
Best Independent Film Dear White People (Roadside Attractions)
Best Animation The Boxtrolls (Focus)
Best Documentary Life Itself (Magnolia)
AAFCA’s Top 10 Films of 2014:
2. The Imitation Game
3. The Theory of Everything
6. Top Five
8. Dear White People
9. Get On Up
10. Black Or White