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42nd Annual IRA Movie Awards -- History Is Made And We Don't Even Screw Up The Envelopes!

The 42st Annual IRA FILM AWARD WINNERS -- 2016

The IRAs are a mysterious but august Film society that has voted on the best films of the year since 1976. Officially known as the New York Independent Film Critics Awards but lovingly nicknamed the IRAs, it is more international and indie focused than the Oscars, more mercurial than the LA Film Critics, more loyal to their favorites than the Golden Globes. The IRAs are proud to announce their picks for the best movies released in 2016.

The IRAs began when passionate film students and friends complained about the parade of annual awards shows, declaring, "We could do better!" What followed was an all-night, knock-down, drag-out fight to establish the very first winners of the IRAs. (One of the members is named Ira, but how his name became the name of the award is a story lost in the mist of time.) The IRAs has been profiled in The New Yorker so it is officially a New York institution, though no one has ever heard of it. Over the years, its rotating cast of voting members have included Oscar-winning writers, major directors, top studio execs, best-selling and critically acclaimed authors of books on movies, critics, screenwriters, budding playwrights, plain old film buffs and so on. 

Every year, the IRAs shine a light on some of the best films of the year. The secret reason the IRAs flourish is that its members are passionate film lovers. Many have careers involving the arts but it's not always easy to stay in the swim of things and keep on top of the flood of new releases every year, especially when the movies favored by IRA members are not always playing at your local multiplex for weeks at a time. The movies they appreciate tend to be harder to catch, playing in theaters only briefly before popping up (hopefully) on some streaming service or DVD if you miss it. Quite simply, the IRAs force them to stay committed to seeing new movies with the same fervor they felt in their college days when going to see a film was the only purpose in life, before jobs and family made claims on their time. So if you want to stay on top of great cinema every year or explore its history, there's no better place to start than the award winners of the IRAs. 

True, the IRAs have no more claim to pronounce the best films of the year than anyone else. But they've been doing it for decades so, hey, it's tradition! And the IRA goes to....


1. Moonlight -- 25 pts. (out of a possible 40 pts.)
2. Hell Or High Water -- 20 pts.
3. Dheepan -- 18 pts.
4. The Witch 12 pts.
5. (tie) American Honey 9 pts.
    (tie) Jackie 9 pts.

NOTE: When there's a tie, the number of films tied fill up a corresponding number of slots. Here, two films tied for #5, so six films make the final list. This year a record low eight ballots were submitted with a top score for each film of 5 pts, so the maximum any one film could achieve was 40 pts. For the first time in 40 years and only the second time in IRA history, the winner of Best Picture also won the Academy Award for Best Picture. The last time that happened, IRA and Oscar agreed on Woody Allen's Annie Hall. In other words, this almost never happens. Is it a sign of smarter voting by the Oscars, thanks to new members and new voting procedures? More likely it's a fluke and this convergence won't happen again until 2057. Typically, attacking a potential winner by mocking it for having already won the Oscar is a winning strategy, whether one things this means awarding the film is pointless, redundant or most often is simply suspect because the Academy Awards has bad taste. This year, that tactic died simply because too many people liked Moonlight too passionately. Is it their fault Oscar got it right for a change? A stopped clock, etc. etc. Welcome to picking good movies, Academy Awards! When you agree with us, you're doing something right.

The IRAs are voted on from Best Costumes up to Best Picture. So this award comes towards the end of the evening. The victory of Moonlight is no surprise, really: it won four of the Top 12 awards, usually by a substantial margin and placed strongly in others. (There are also "negative" awards, like Mechanical Actor for those phoning it in.) Clearly Moonlight's support was deep and strong. Still, sweeps are not the IRA way. The result? Six films enjoyed all or part of the top six awards for the night, thanks to one actor being honored for work on two films. The six films are A Bigger Splash; Dheepan; Hail, Caesar!; Hell Or High Water; Indignation; Moonlight and 20th Century Women. 


1. Barry Jenkins for Moonlight -- 26 pts.
2. Jacques Audiard for Dheepan -- 18 pts.
3. David Mackenzie for Hell Or High Water -- 17 pts.
4. (tie) Andrea Arnold for American Honey -- 8 pts.
    (tie) Pablo Larrain for Jackie -- 8 pts.

NOTE: While the IRA voters are not officially signatories to the International Code Of Auteurs, they do tend to link picture and director pretty strongly. But not that strongly. You will find ties amongst directors or one person winning Best Picture and their main competitor winning Best Director. Not this time. The good will Barry Jenkins banked with his debut Medicine For Melancholy back in 2008 helped fend off all pretenders and he won Best Director, pointing the way to his final victory with Best Picture.


1. Antonythasan Jesuthasan for Dheepan -- 19 pts.
2. (tie) Colin Farrell for The Lobster -- 16 pts.
    (tie) Peter Simonischek for Toni Erdmann -- 16 pts.
4. Tom Hanks for Sully and A Hologram For The King--14 pts.
5. Chris Pine for Hell Or High Water and The Finest Hours -- 11 pts.

NOTE: Here we see the passion for past IRA winner Jacques Audiard's Dheepan, not to mention the wide net cast by the members. Moonlight was filled with supporting actors, due to its unusual structure. Still, this one category roped in four more films for award attention, including the divisie comedy The Lobster and some serious support for Hanks in Hologram, which not enough members saw for it to gain momentum. We have placed the first name of the actor from Dheepan to reflect the Western style, so when you bump him on the street, you can say, "Congrats on your IRA Award, Mr. Jesuthasan!" and get his name right.


1. Annette Bening for 20th Century Women -- 15 pts.
2. Sasha Lane for American Honey -- 13 pts.
3. Sandra Hüller for Toni Erdmann -- 12 pts.
4. Royalty Hightower for The Fits --11 pts.

RESCINDED: Isabelle Huppert for Elle and Things To Come -- 19 pts.

NOTE: Here's one of the night's main controversies. The IRAs have featured perhaps 15 or so members voting in any one year. But this time, while eleven members voted on our list for the Best Films Of The 1940s, only eight weighed in on this year's annual awards. (Members were overwhelmed with work or life issues or simply felt they didn't see enough new movies to vote with integrity -- at least, those are among the more popular reasons for begging off.) The danger of a really small voting body is that two or three members can vote for a movie and come out on top even if the vast majority don't approve. Similarly, a film that lots of people liked but didn't love can become the consensus bland choice simply because a number of folk had it third on their list. And yet, no one is happy with the result. To avoid this, we have the RESCIND option. After every winner is announced, an automatic vote to rescind is held. If a majority of members vote to rescind, that award is rescinded and the runner-up is crowned the winner. Then a vote to rescind THAT winner is held and so on until the vote to rescind fails.

This year, the great Isabelle Huppert (a past IRA winner) won for her two performances, Elle and Things To Come. However, a combination of believing she had won too many honors already and that this wasn't the right time to honor her again (and some serious distaste for Elle, whatever one thought of her performance) led to a vote to rescind. It meant sweet victory for Bening, who previously had been tarred and feathered by IRA for delivering a Mechanical Actress performance and now was laureled for doing it right.


1. Ralph Fiennes for A Bigger Splash and Hail, Caesar! -- 18 pts.
2. Mahershala Ali for Hidden Figures and Moonlight -- 16 pts.
3. Ben Foster for Hell Or High Water -- 14 pts.
4. Patch Darragh for Sully --10 pts.
5. (tie) Michael Barbieri for Little Men -- 9 pts.
    (tie) Dev Patel for Lion -- 9 pts.

NOTE: This award was mainly for Fiennes' wonderfully irritating turn in A Bigger Splash. His amusing bit as a director saddled with an incompetent actor in Hail, Caesar! was just a sweet bonus. Moonlight didn't win here mostly because the excellent Ali has been so roundly and rightly singled out by virtually every other award group in the country. And still he almost pulled it off, proving the depth of support his film enjoyed.


1. Linda Emond for Indignation -- 18 pts.
2. Imogen Poots for Green Room -- 16 pts.
3. Riley Keough for American Honey-- 14 pts.
4. Katy Mixon for Hell Or High Water --10pts.
5. Janelle Monáe for Hidden Figures and Moonlight -- 9 pts.

NOTE: Just like the Oscars, the IRAs have a complicated relationship with supporting actor categories. Here they single out Emond in Indignation, a blink and you miss it performance and a film almost completely ignored by everyone else. Ditto Mixon, the other waitress with a memorable scene in Hell Or High Water. And here's the final mention of Green Room, a terrific B movie wrongly ignored by Hollywood that isn't award bait for Oscar (it's too violent) but is a calling card of a breakthrough movie akin to Reservoir Dogs in terms of very tight and effective direction.


1. O.J.: Made In America -- 23 pts.
2. Under The Sun -- 12 pts.
3. The Witness -- 10 pts.
4. Weiner-- 9 pts.
5. 13th -- 5 pts.

NOTE: Again, this is only the second time in history that the IRA Best Picture winner is the same as the Academy Award winner. Last year the IRAs added best nonfiction film and it's possible the overlap in that category may be more consistent. Certainly everybody and their movie praised O.J.: Made In America and rightly so. Some IRA members (Ok, me) argued it was THE best film of the year and should win the top prize just like previous Best Picture winner, Eyes On The Prize. (Also a lengthy documentary made for TV but shown in movie theaters.)


1. Taylor Sheridan for Hell Or High Water -- 18 pts.
2. Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney for Moonlight -- 16 pts.
3. Jacques Audiard and Thomas Bidegain and Noé Debré for Dheepan -- 13 pts.
4. Whit Stillman for Love And Friendship --9 pts.
5. (tie) Maren Ade for Toni Erdmann -- 8 pts.
   (tie) Mike Mills for 20th Century Women -- 8 pts.

NOTE: It felt like Dheepan was the best challenger to head off Moonlight. But in fact, perhaps it was Hell Or High Water. Its sole win came right here for Best Screenplay. But Hell Or High Water featured in eight of the 12 top categories, just like Moonlight. However you rank them and judge their relative support among IRA voters, there's no question Moonlight and Dheepan and Hell Or High Water were the three most popular films of the year among IRA voters.


1. James Laxton for Moonlight -- 30 pts.
2. Paul Yee for The Fits -- 14 pts.
3. Giles Nuttgens for Hell Or High Water -- 13 pts.
4. Robby Ryan for American Honey and I, Daniel Blake -- 11 pts.
5. Sean Porter for Green Room and 20th Century Women -- 8 pts.

NOTE: We live in a golden age for cinematography; often this category is a blood sport with many films scoring support and separated only by a vote or two. Not this year, with Moonlight's stellar work more than doubling the impressive indie The Fits. When we saw Moonlight simply crushing the competition in Score and Cinematography and in the mix elsewhere, it was clear early on this would be Moonlight's night and that IRA was not going to be afraid to single out the same movie as the Academy Awards.


1. (tie) Craig Lathrop for The Witch -- 15 pts.
    (tie) Ryan Warren Smith for Green Room -- 15 pts.
3. Kelly McGehee for American Honey -- 13 pts.
4. (tie) Alan MacDonald for Florence Foster Jenkins --9 pts.
    (tie) David Wasco for La La Land -- 9 pts.

NOTE: Here's a category that often has so many diverse possibilities that just a few members can push a wild card over the top. Green Room and The Witch are two exceptionally good films pretty much ignored by every other award group in the country. With its win here and runner-up status in Best Costumes, for a brief moment the supporters of Green Room fantasized about pulling off the upset of the century. But a strong showing in technical categories can often be misleading and that's exactly what happened here.


1. Nicholas Britell for Moonlight -- 27 pts.
2. Mica Levi for Jackie -- 13 pts.
3. Becky Bentham for Sing Street -- 12 pts.
4. Jóhann Jóhannsson  for The Arrival --10 pts.
5. Nick Cave and Warren Ellis for Hell Or High Water --9 pts.

NOTE: If there was any consensus about Moonlight, it was that the film's score and cinematography were brilliant. Not for a very low budget indie film but for any film.


1. Andrey Paperniy for Under The Sun -- 15 pts.
2. Joi McMillon and Nat Sanders for Moonlight -- 14 pts.
3. Joe Bini for American Honey -- 13 pts.
4. Sebastián Sepúlveda for Jackie -- 10 pts.
5. Blu Murray for Sully -- 6 pts.

NOTE: Documentaries often score highly in the editing category because they typically include a wealth of footage and the movie is "discovered" in the editing. This year, that was particularly true for Under The Sun, a documentary about North Korea in which the filmmaker had no control over his own project once he arrived in that nightmarish totalitarian state. The gov't controlled every element but the director kept the camera rolling and captured all the artifice involved in staging scenes, changing the jobs of the little girl's parents so it would reflect better on the country and so on. With minimal text explanation and no voice over, the film is edited to give a glimpse of the face the gov't wanted to present and how it was accomplished. Sad, funny, unnerving and truly created in the editing room.


1. Madeline Fontaine for Jackie -- 17 pts.
2. Amanda Needham for Green Room -- 14 pts.
3. Linda Muir for The Witch -- 10 pts.
4. Kari Perkins for Everybody Wants Some!! --9 pts.
5. Consolata Boyle for Florence Foster Jenkins -- 8 pts.

SOMINEX (The movie that put you to sleep)

1. The Girl On The Train -- 14 pts.
2. Hidden Figures -- 11 pts.
3. (tie) Café Society -- 7 pts.
    (tie) Knight Of Cups -- 7 pts.
5. Tallulah -- 6 pts.

1     1. Nocturnal Animals by acclamation
2. Hacksaw Ridge -- 11 pts.
3. Manchester By The Sea -- 9 pts.
4. I Am Not Your Negro-- 4 pts.
5. (tie) The Eagle Huntress -- 3 pts.
    (tie) Florence Foster Jenkins -- 3 pts.

NOTE: If a majority of the voters participating in the IRAs each year (some members vote in absentia via ballot) all nominate the same person or film in a category, that nominee is the winner by acclamation. They garnered a majority of support on the first ballot. We then go through our ballots to see the other honorees, but the winner is foreordained.  That was the case here with Nocturnal Animals derided by all who saw it.


1. Nicole Kidman for Lion -- 14 pts.
2. Michelle Williams for Manchester By The Sea -- 11 pts.
3. (tie) Leslie Mann for By The Comedian and How To Be Single -- 5 pts.
    (tie) Natalie Portman for A Tale Of Love And Darkness -- 5 pts.
    (tie) Meryl Streep for Florence Foster Jenkins -- 5 pts.

NOTE: The Mechanical awards are for actors relying on familiar tricks we've seen them personally use time and again or those tackling a role in a cliched manner. It's a moment for poisonous comments, getting revenge on movies and talent we once admired that have let us down or never fooled us in the first place but keep making moves we have to see. 


Aaron Taylor-Johnson for Nocturnal Animals by acclamation!

1. Aaron Taylor-Johnson for Nocturnal Animals -- 24 pts.
2. Ben Affleck for The Accountant, Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice, Live By Night, Suicide           Squad -- 18 pts.
3. (tie) Jovan Adepo for Fences -- 4 pts.
    (tie) Casey Affleck for Manchester By The Sea -- 4 pts.
    (tie) Simon Helberg for Florence Foster Jenkins -- 4 pts.
    (tie) Chris Pine for Hell Or High Water -- 4 pts.



1975 IRA Film Award Winners
Best Picture: Barry Lyndon
Best Director: Claude Chabrol for La Rupture and Just Before Nightfall
Best Actor: Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
Best Actress: Ellen Burstyn in Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore
Best Supporting Actor: François Perrier in Just Before Nightfall
Best Supporting Actress: Blythe Danner in Hearts Of The West
Best Screenplay: Tom Stoppard and Thomas Wiseman for The Romantic Englishwoman
Best Cinematography: John Alcott for Barry Lyndon

1976 IRA Film Award Winners
Best Picture: (tie) Lipstick and The Marquise Of O
Best Director: Eric Rohmer for The Marquise Of O
Best Actor: Sean Connery in Robin And Marian
Best Actress: Sissy Spacek in Carrie
Best Supporting Actor: Jason Robards in All The President’s Men
Best Supporting Actress: Anne Bancroft in Lipstick
Best Screenplay: Alain Tanner and John Berger for Jonah Who Will Be 25 In The Year 2000
Best Cinematography: Nestor Almendros for The Marquise Of O

1977 IRA Film Award Winners
Best Picture: Annie Hall
Best Director: Wim Wenders for The American Friend
Best Actor: John Gielgud in Providence
Best Actress: Dianne Keaton in Annie Hall and Looking For Mr. Goodbar
Best Supporting Actor: G. D. Spradlin in One On One
Best Supporting Actress: Vanessa Redgrave in Julia
Best Screenplay: Woody Allen and Marshall Brickman for Annie Hall
Best Cinematography: Robby Müller for The American Friend

1978 IRA Film Award Winners
Best Picture: Days Of Heaven
Best Director: Terence Malick for Days Of Heaven
Best Actor: Jon Voight in Coming Home
Best Actress: Jane Fonda in Coming Home
Best Supporting Actor: Dom DeLuise in The End
Best Supporting Actress: Stephane Audran in Violette
Best Screenplay: Eric Rohmer for Perceval
Best Cinematography: Nestor Almendros for Days Of Heaven

1979 IRA Film Award Winners
Best Picture: Fedora
Best Director: Blake Edwards for 10
Best Actor: Clint Eastwood in Escape From Alcatraz
Best Actress: Hanna Schygulla in The Marriage Of Maria Braun
Best Supporting Actor: Denholm Elliott in Cuba and Saint Jack
Best Supporting Actress: Frances Sternhagen in Fedora and Starting Over
Best Screenplay: Billy Wilder and I. A. L. Diamond for Fedora
Best Cinematography: Tak Fujimoto for Last Embrace and Remember My Name
Best Music: Miklos Rozsa for Fedora and Last Embrace
Best Production Design: Dean Edward Mitzner for 1941

1980 IRA Film Award Winners
Best Picture: The Big Red One
Best Director: Sam Fuller for The Big Red One
Best Actor: Lee Marvin for The Big Red One
Best Actress: Jodie Foster for Carny and Foxes
Best Supporting Actor: (tie) Joe Pesci in Raging Bull and Harry Dean Stanton in The Black Marble, The Long Riders, Private Benjamin and Wise Blood
Best Supporting Actress: Pamela Reed in The Long Riders and Melvin And Howard
Best Screenplay: Sam Fuller for The Big Red One
Best Cinematography: Jordan Cronenweth for Altered States
Best Music: Dana Kaproff for The Big Red One
Best Production Design: Tambi Larsen for Heaven’s Gate

1981 IRA Film Award Winners
Best Picture: Cutter’s Way
Best Director: Ivan Passer for Cutter’s Way
Best Actor: Jeff Bridges in Cutter’s Way
Best Actress: Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest
Best Supporting Actor: Jack Nicholson in Reds
Best Supporting Actress: Mona Washbouurne in Stevie
Best Screenplay: John Guare for Atlantic City
Best Cinematography: Jordan Cronenweth for Cutter’s Way
Best Music: Georges DeLerue for The Last Metro, Rich and Famous, True Confessions and The Woman Next Door
Best Production Design: Ken Adam for Pennies From Heaven
Best Costume Design: Shirley Russell for Reds


This post first appeared on POPSURFING.COM, please read the originial post: here

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42nd Annual IRA Movie Awards -- History Is Made And We Don't Even Screw Up The Envelopes!


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