Washington, D.C.-area Film Critics Like ParaNorman

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ParaNorman” was named Best Animated Feature of 2012 by the Washington, D.C. Area Film Critics Association on Monday morning.

The movie defeated fellow nominees Brave, Frankenweenie, Rise of the Guardians and Wreck-It Ralph.

WAFCA honored a wide sweep of films, ranging from musicals to science fiction. And while only three films garnered more than one award, it was clear that historical/political dramas resonated most with the critics from America’s capital.

Zero Dark Thirty, the account of United States intelligence specialists’ and Army special forces’ pursuit and elimination of terrorist Osama bin Laden, won Best Film. In 2009, Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to ever win the WAFCA prize for Best Director for her Iraq War film, The Hurt Locker. Just three years later, Bigelow has won the same award again for Zero Dark Thirty.

“In a year full of strong films,” said WAFCA president Tim Gordon, “director Kathryn Bigelow’s bold and audacious vision, represented in our Best Picture winner, is the perfect political story for our members in the District of Columbia. This story, told with steely, cold effectiveness, is a worthy entry into WAFCA’s Best Picture canon and a cinematic achievement that we are proud to honor.”

Zero Dark Thirty also netted Jessica Chastain her first Best Actress award. Daniel Day-Lewis won Best Actor for his riveting portrayal of President Abraham Lincoln in the year’s other outstanding historical drama, Lincoln. Best Supporting Actor went to Philip Seymour Hoffman for The Master, and Best Supporting Actress went to Anne Hathaway for Les Miserables, which also scooped the Best Acting Ensemble.

The screenplay awards covered two very different films: Best Adapted Screenplay went to David O. Russell for his story of love and shared neuroses in Silver Linings Playbook, and Rian Johnson won Best Original Screenplay for his time travel mind-bender, Looper.

The award for Best Documentary went to Bully, while that for Best Foreign Language Film was presented to Michael Haneke’s Amour. Best Art Direction went to Cloud Atlas, while Claudio Miranda won Best Cinematography for Life of Pi, and Jonny Greenwood took Best Score for The Master.

New this year, WAFCA proudly instituted The Joe Barber Award for Best Youth Performance, named in honor of beloved D.C. film critic and longtime WTOP arts editor Joe Barber, who died just over a year ago. The award, which highlights the best performance from an actor or actress under 20, went to Quvenzhane Wallis for Beasts of the Southern Wild.

“It’s a shame Joe was not able to see Quvenzhane’s fierce and compassionate performance in this gem of a film,” said Gordon. “It’s exactly the sort of role Joe would have loved, and we are so thankful to be able to remember him going forward with this very special award.”

The Washington, D.C. Area Film Critics Association is comprised of nearly 50 film critics from TV, radio, print and the Internet based in the District of Columbia, Virginia and Maryland. Voting was conducted from Friday to Sunday.

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