2018 WAFCA Winners

December 3, 2018

As a film critic of medium-low importance, one of my most sacred duties is participating in the Washington Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA) year-end awards extravaganza. During this hallowed time of year, I watch dozens of movies and mine my own recollection of the good, the bad, and the ugly to determine what, precisely, the best films of the year were. At the end of this grueling process—this death march through endless stacks of DVDs, searching for the rarest pearl in an ever-increasing sea of muck—we WAFCA members nominate up to five films/people in each category. The five films/people who earn the most votes in every category are then voted upon by the whole of the membership, the winners are chosen, the press release is sent out, and blessed, blessed relief descends upon us as we put the exercise to rest for 11 months.

You can see all the nominees and the winners here. For purposes of transparency, I'm going to list my nominees in this blog post, followed by the winner and who I voted for, as well as a few stray comments here and there.

Best Picture

  • The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
  • Mandy
  • The Death of Stalin
  • Isle of Dogs
  • A Quiet Place

Winner: Roma.

So, none of the films I nominated made the top five; I ended up voting for If Beale Street Could Talk despite the fact that it's a deeply mediocre film because I was hoping to defeat a far-more-mediocre film, Green Book. If I had known Roma was the favorite of the group, I'd have gone with it in my effort to defeat Green Book. I'm actually pretty happy with Roma winning: it's a movie of magnificent, marvelous skill that leaves me feeling a bit cold despite its deeply human subject matter. It may still end up making my top ten; none of the other nominees will.

Best Director:

  • Joel and Ethan Coen, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
  • Panos Cosmatos, Mandy
  • Wes Anderson, Isle of Dogs
  • Armando Iannucci, The Death of Stalin
  • Orson Welles, The Other Side of the Wind

Winner: Alfonso Cuaron, Roma.

I voted for Cuaron, since none of my picks made the final cut. The failure of The Ballad of Buster Scruggs to receive a nomination in any category is a grave black mark on WAFCA's reputation. Also, I nominated Orson Welles because I'll probably never get to nominate Orson Welles in a category ever again, so why not?

Best Actor: 

  • Nicolas Cage, Mandy
  • Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born
  • Christian Bale, Vice
  • Stephan James, If Beale Street Could Talk
  • John Huston, The Other Side of the Wind

Winner: Bradley Cooper.

I voted for Cooper. Apparently Cage just missed the cut, coming in at sixth in the list of nominees. Too bad.

Best Actress:

  • Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me
  • Olivia Colman, The Favourite
  • Yalitza Aparicio, Roma
  • Viola Davis, Widows
  • Anya Taylor-Joy, Thoroughbreds

Winner: Lady Gaga

I voted for McCarthy. Lady Gaga winning for A Star Is Born is by far the worst choice the group made this year. She was great during the performance scenes and deeply mediocre during everything else. Cooper blew her off the screen.

Best Supporting Actor:

  • Harry Melling, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
  • Tim Blake Nelson, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
  • Michael B. Jordan, Black Panther
  • Sam Elliott, A Star Is Born
  • Steve Carell, Vice

Winner: Mahershala Ali, Green Book. (I voted for Jordan.)

Best Supporting Actress:

  • Elizabeth Debicki, Widows
  • Emma Stone, The Favourite
  • Rachel Weisz, The Favourite
  • Natalie Portman, Vox Lux
  • Amy Adams, Vice

Winner: Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk. (I voted for Stone.)

Best Acting Ensemble:

  • The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
  • The Death of Stalin
  • The Favourite
  • Vice
  • Widows

Winner: The Favourite. (I voted for The Favourite.)

Best Youth Performance:

  • Millicent Simmonds, A Quiet Place
  • Rafey Casssidy, Vox Lux
  • Jade Pettyjohn, Destroyer
  • Milly Shapiro, Hereditary
  • Deric McCabe, A Wrinkle In Time

Winner: Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade. (I voted for Simmonds.)

Best Voice Performance:

  • Bryan Cranston, Isle of Dogs
  • Bill Murray, Isle of Dogs
  • Nicolas Cage, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
  • Jake Johnson, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
  • Willem Dafoe, Vox Lux

Winner: Bryan Cranston, Isle of Dogs. (I voted for Cranston.)

Best Motion Capture Performance:

  • Josh Brolin, Avengers: Infinity War
  • TJ Miller, Ready Player One

Winner: Josh Brolin, Avengers: Infinity War. (I voted for Brolin, as I think did everyone else in the group.)

Best Original Screenplay:

  • The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Joel and Ethan Coen
  • Isle of Dogs, Wes Anderson
  • The Favourite, Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara
  • Vox Lux, Brady Corbet
  • Chappaquiddick, Taylor Allen, Andrew Logan

Winner: The Favourite. (I voted for The Favourite.)

Best Adapted Screenplay:

  • Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty
  • The Death of Stalin, Armando Iannucci, David Schneider, and Ian Martin.
  • The Front Runner, Matt Bai, Jay Carson, and Jason Reitman
  • Ready Player One, Zak Penn and Ernest Cline
  • Annihilation, Alex Garland

Winner: Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty. (I voted for Holofcener and Whitty.)

Best Animated Feature:

  • Isle of Dogs
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

Winner: Isle of Dogs. (I voted for Isle of Dogs.)

Best Documentary:

  • Filmworker
  • They'll Love Me When I'm Dead
  • John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection

Winner: Won't You Be My Neighbor? (I voted for Three Identical Strangers.)

Best Foreign Language Film:

  • Cold War
  • The Captain
  • Roma
  • Godard Mon Amour

Winner: Roma. (I voted for Cold War.)

Best Production Design:

  • The Favourite
  • The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
  • Black Panther
  • First Man
  • Annihilation

Winner: Black Panther. (I voted for The Favourite.)

Best Cinematography:

  • Alfonso Cuaron, Roma
  • Lukasz Zal, Cold War
  • Bruno Delbonnel, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
  • Rob Hardy, Annihilation
  • Joshua James Richards, The Rider

Winner: Alfonso Cuaron. (I voted for Cuaron.)

Best Editing:

  • Stefan Grube, The Front Runner
  • Bob Murawski and Orson Welles, The Other Side of the Wind
  • Jaroslaw Kaminski, Cold War
  • Joel and Ethan Coen, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
  • Brett W. Bachman and Paul Painter, Mandy

Winner: Tom Cross, First Man. (I voted for Alfonso Cuaron, Adam Gough, Roma.)

Best Original Score:

  • Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury, Annihilation
  • Johann Johannsson, Mandy
  • Carter Burwell, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
  • Hans Zimmer, Widows
  • Alexandre Desplat, Isle of Dogs

Winner: Nicholas Britell, If Beale Street Could Talk. (I voted for Zimmer.)

Best Portrayal of DC:

  • Vice.

Winner: Vice. (I voted for Vice, duh.)