Monday, January 22, 2024

Poor Things Named Best Picture of 2023 by Houston Film Critics Society

The Houston Film Critics Society has given Poor Things, Yorgos Lanthimos’ flamboyant fable about a scientifically revivified woman’s search for her identity, top honors in the organization’s 17th annual awards.

In addition to choosing the critically acclaimed film as Best Picture of 2023, HFCS also named Emma Stone the year’s Best Actress, and honored the movie’s visual effects.\

“In a year full of established directors making new works at a time when audiences rediscovered the joy of going to a cinema,” says Travis Leamons, president of the organization, “our critics favored the weird above all others.”

The Holdovers garnered two awards for acting — one for Paul Giamatti as a teacher examining the impact of isolation, and Da'Vine Joy Randolph as a voice of truth during the instructor’s searchChristopher Nolan was named Best Director for the epic biography Oppenheimer, which also was cited for its cinematography.

Claiming the award for Best Ensemble Cast: The actors in Killers of the Flower Moon – including Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro and Lily Gladstone. Chocolate Lizards, a look at a failed actor in Buffalo Gap, won the Texas Independent Film Award for the best movie made in the Lone Star State.

Here's a complete list of 2023 Houston Film Critics Society Award Winners.

Best Picture: Poor Things

Best Director: Christopher Nolan, Oppenheimer

Best Actor, Leading Role: Paul Giamatti, The Holdovers

Best Actress, Leading Role: Emma Stone, Poor Things

Best Actor, Supporting Role: Ryan Gosling, Barbie

Best Actress, Supporting Role: Da'Vine Joy Randolph, The Holdovers

Best Screenplay: Cord Jefferson, American Fiction

Best Animated Feature: Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Best Cinematography: Hoyte Van Hoytema, Oppenheimer

Best Documentary Feature: Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie

Best Foreign Language Feature: The Zone of Interest

Best Original Score: Robbie Robertson, Killers of the Flower Moon

Best Original Song: “I’m Just Ken,” Barbie

Best Visual Effects: Poor Things

Best Stunt Coordination Team: John Wick: Chapter 4

Best Ensemble Cast: Killers of the Flower Moon

Texas Independent Film Award: Chocolate Lizards

(In the interest of full disclosure: I am a founding and voting member of The Houston Film Critics Society. And while I don’t always agree with my colleagues, I cannot say I am not proud of their willingness to swim against the tide in many categories.)

Tuesday, January 09, 2024

Barbie and Oppenheimer Lead Nominees for Houston Film Critics Society Awards.

The double-barrel cultural phenomenon known as Barbenheimer —  Greta Gerwin’s Barbie and Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer — loomed large in the list of nominees announced Tuesday for the 17th annual awards from the Houston Film Critics Society (HFCS).

Greta Gerwig’s comic fantasy leads all films with 10 nominations, followed closely with nine nominations for Nolan’s epic biography of the physicist who changed the world. Killers of the Flower Moon, Martin Scorsese’s exploration of the Osage County murders, and Poor Things, Yorgos Lanthimos’ outrageous look at a woman’s search for identity – each received eight nominations. All four are nominated for Best Picture of 2023.

Other films competing for the top prize include American Fiction, a seriocomic examination of Black literature and identity; Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, a girl’s journey adjusting to a new community; The Color Purple, the film adaptation of the Broadway musical from Alice Walker’s novel; Godzilla Minus One, an homage to traditions of sci-fi thrillers; The Holdovers, a touching visit to personal and academic challenges in the 1970s; and Past Lives, a heartbreaking celebration of a distant friendship.

“In a year where audiences rediscovered the magic of returning to theaters, filmmakers were more than happy to deliver some incredible cinema that will be hard to top next year,” says HFCS president Travis Leamons. “For 2023, the films and talent we recognize as a collective organization remind us why while the business of movies have changed, the magic of cinema still charms.”

(In the interest of full disclosure: Yours truly is a founding and voting member of the Houston Film Critics Society.)

Contenders for the Texas Independent Film Award, honoring the best of film made in the Lone Star State, are Bolivar, a young woman’s journey to recover from her mother’s death; Breaking the Code, the work and life of artist Vernon Fisher of Fort Worth; Chocolate Lizards, a failed actor’s next steps in Buffalo Gap; I’ll Be There, people searching for connection in the midst of chaos; and A Town Called Victoria, citizens confronting how they learn to hate.

Winners of the 2023 Houston Film Critics Society awards will be announced Jan. 22.  Here is a complete list of nominees.



Best Picture

American Fiction

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.


The Color Purple

Godzilla Minus One

The Holdovers

Killers of the Flower Moon


Past Lives

Poor Things


Best Director

Greta Gerwig, Barbie

Yorgos Lanthimos, Poor Things

Christopher Nolan, Oppenheimer

Alexander Payne, The Holdovers

Martin Scorsese, Killers of the Flower Moon


Best Actor – Leading Role

Leonardo DiCaprio, Killers of the Flower Moon

Paul Giamatti, The Holdovers

Cillian Murphy, Oppenheimer

Andrew Scott, All of Us Strangers

Jeffrey Wright, American Fiction


Best Actress – Leading Role

Fantasia Barrino, The Color Purple

Lily Gladstone, Killers of the Flower Moon

Greta Lee, Past Lives

Margot Robbie, Barbie

Emma Stone, Poor Things


Best Actor – Supporting Role

Robert De Niro, Killers of the Flower Moon

Robert Downey Jr., Oppenheimer

Ryan Gosling, Barbie

Mark Ruffalo, Poor Things

Dominic Sessa, The Holdovers


Best Actress – Supporting Role

Emily Blunt, Oppenheimer

Danielle Brooks, The Color Purple

Rachel McAdams, Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.

Rosamund Pike, Saltburn

Da'Vine Joy Randolph, The Holdovers


Best Screenplay

American Fiction, Cord Jefferson

Barbie, Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach

The Holdovers, David Hemingson

Oppenheimer, Christopher Nolan

Past Lives, Celine Song

Poor Things, Tony McNamara


Best Animated Film

The Boy and the Heron


Robot Dreams

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem


Best Cinematography

Barbie, Rodrigo Prieto

Killers of the Flower Moon, Rodrigo Prieto

Oppenheimer, Hoyte Van Hoytema

Poor Things, Robbie Ryan

Saltburn, Linus Sandgren


Best Documentary Feature

American Symphony

Beyond Utopia

The Eternal Memory

Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie

20 Days in Mariupol


Best Foreign Language Feature

Anatomy of a Fall

Godzilla Minus One

Perfect Days

Society of the Snow

The Zone of Interest


Best Original Score

The Boy and the Heron, Joe Hisaishi

Killers of the Flower Moon, Robbie Robertson

Oppenheimer, Ludwig Göransson

Poor Things, Jerskin Fendrix

Spider-Man, Across the Spider-Verse: Daniel Pemberton


Best Original Song

“Dance the Night” from Barbie

“I'm Just Ken” from Barbie

“Keep It Movin'” from The Color Purple

“Meet in the Middle” from Flora and Son

“What Was I Made For?” from Barbie


Best Visual Effects

The Creator

Godzilla Minus One

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One

Poor Things


Best Stunt Coordination Team

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

The Iron Claw

John Wick: Chapter 4

Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One

Polite Society


Best Ensemble Cast


The Holdovers

The Iron Claw

Killers of the Flower Moon



Texas Independent Film


Breaking the Code

Chocolate Lizards

I’ll Be There

A Town Called Victoria