African American critics name ‘The Tree of Life’ best film of 2011


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‘The Tree of Life,’ Terrence Malick’s 1950s-set drama that ruminates on questions of family, faith and the universe, was named best picture of the year Monday by the African-American Film Critics Assn. The group also awarded two prizes to the stars of the civil-rights period piece ‘The Help,’ declaring Viola Davis best actress and Octavia Spencer best supporting actress.

Here’s a full rundown of the group’s awards, and some links to our recent coverage of these titles.


Best picture: ‘The Tree of Life.’ (Check out film critic Kenneth Turan’s review of the film here.) The other films rounding out the top 10, following in order of distinction, are: ‘Drive,’ ‘Pariah,’ ‘Rampart,’ ‘Shame,’ ‘Moneyball,’ ‘The Descendants,’ ‘A Better Life,’ ‘My Week With Marilyn’ and ‘The Help.’

Best director: Steve McQueen, ‘Shame.’ (The director talks about his collaboration with star Michael Fassbender in this story.)

Lead actor: Woody Harrelson, ‘Rampart.’ (Here’s a video in which the two-time Oscar nominee talks about approaching his character, an LAPD cop.)

Lead actress: Viola Davis, ‘The Help.’ (An interview with the actress, who recently graced the cover of The Envelope, can be found here.)

Best supporting actress: Octavia Spencer, ‘The Help.’ (She talks about adjusting to the frenzy of award season in this feature.)

Best supporting actor: Albert Brooks, ‘Drive.’ (The actor recalls how he prepared to play a mobster in this story.)

Breakout performance: Adepero Oduye, “Pariah.’ (Read about all the ingenues in this year’s awards race here.)

Best Documentary: ‘The Black Power Mixtape.’ (Learn more about the film, set in the 1960s and 1970s, in this article.)

Best screenplay: Ava DuVernay, “I Will Follow.’ (DuVernay, who grew up in Compton, talks about how her upbringing with her aunt inspired her to write and direct her first feature film.)

Best foreign film: Alrick Brown, “Kinyarwanda.’ (A review of the film can be found here.)

Best song: Jason Reeves & Lenka Kripac, writers, “The Show” from “Moneyball.’

Best independent film: ‘Pariah.’

Special Achievement: George Lucas, (Cinema Vanguard); Richard Roundtree, (AAFCA Legacy); Hattie Winston (AAFCA Horizon) and Institution, Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Founded in 2003, the AAFCA tries to bring attention to films that appeal to black audiences, were created by or star African Americans or center on the black experience. Last year, the group named ‘The Social Network’ best picture and gave its top acting honors to Halle Berry for ‘Frankie & Alice’ and Mark Wahlberg for ‘The Fighter.’ None went on to win awards in those categories at the Oscars.


National Board of Review names ‘Hugo’ best picture

New York critics name ‘The Artist’ best film of the year

L.A. Critics name ‘Descendants’ best film, laud ‘Tree of Life’ too

-- Amy Kaufman