Boston film critics name ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ the year’s best film

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The Boston Society of Film Critics honored “If Beale Street Could Talk,” a story of love and racial injustice, with three awards, including best picture at its 38th annual meeting Sunday.

The Barry Jenkins-directed drama – his first film since his Oscar-winning “Moonlight” – also earned nods for Nicholas Britell’s score and Regina King’s standout supporting role as a righteous mother fighting on behalf of her pregnant daughter. J. Smith-Cameron (“Nancy”) was runner-up in the supporting actress category.

“If Beale Street Could Talk,” an adaptation of James Baldwin’s 1974 novel, was named best picture over “Shoplifters” in a tight contest that was settled after three rounds of voting. It opens in Boston on Christmas Day.

Director Marielle Heller’s “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” also earned a trio of awards. Melissa McCarthy was a second-ballot winner for best actress, playing prickly literary forger Lee Israel in the fact-based drama. Her co-star, Richard E. Grant, won in the best supporting actor category for his turn as Israel’s convivial companion and drinking buddy. The film’s co-writers, Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty, beat out Tamara Jenkins (“Private Life”) for best screenplay honors after two rounds of voting.

Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda’s “Shoplifters” had a strong showing, nabbing a pair of awards, including best ensemble cast, comprised of Lily Franky, Jyo Kairi, Ando Sakura, Matsuoka Mayu and Kiki Kirin. About a multigenerational, marginalized family of thieves, the movie also edged out “Cold War,” Poland’s Oscar entry, after three rounds of voting for best foreign language honors. Ando was the runner-up to McCarthy in the best actress category.

After five rounds of voting, John C. Reilly picked up best actor for his role as iconic comedy star Oliver Hardy in “Stan & Ollie.” Ethan Hawke finished second for his turn as a Protestant priest questioning faith and morality in “First Reformed.”

After three rounds of voting, Lynne Ramsay won best director for “You Were Never Really Here,” starring Joaquin Phoenix as an abuse survivor who rescues exploited children. Yorgos Lanthimos claimed the second spot for the pitch-black royal comedy “The Favourite.”

The critics group spread its honors around in other categories. Alfonso Cuaron’s black-and-white epic “Roma” scored the cinematography award over Pawel Pawlikowski’s black-and-white beauty “Cold War.” Damien Chazelle’s “First Man” received the editing award after two rounds of voting, besting the editors-by-committee of Orson Welles’ “The Other Side of the Wind.” Wes Anderson’s “Isle of Dogs” won for best animation, defeating “Ralph Breaks the Internet” after two ballots. Morgan Neville’s well-reviewed “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” picked up best documentary for its intimate look at children’s-TV host Fred Rogers. “Three Identical Strangers” was runner-up.

Hamilton native Bo Burnham was named best new filmmaker for “Eighth Grade,” a coming-of-age story that follows eighth-grader Kayla (breakout star Elsie Fisher) as she navigates the landmine that is adolescence. Ari Aster (“Hereditary”) and Boots Riley (“Sorry to Bother You”) were tied for second.

The Boston Society of Film Critics consists of 20 local critics, including writers from The Patriot Ledger, The MetroWest Daily News, The Boston Herald and The Boston Globe. Sunday’s meeting was dedicated to the late Stephen Brophy, a film professor, critic for Bay Windows and Boston Society of Film Critics member who died this past August.


Best picture: “If Beale Street Could Talk”

Best director: Lynne Ramsay, “You Were Never Really Here”

Best actress: Melissa McCarthy, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

Best actor: John C. Reilly, “Stan & Ollie”

Best supporting actor: Richard E. Grant, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

Best supporting actress: Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk”

Best screenplay: Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

Best cinematography: Alfonso Cuarón, “Roma”

Best editing (awarded in memory of Karen Schmeer): Tom Cross, “First Man”

Best Original Score: Nicholas Britell, If Beale Street Could Talk”

Best ensemble cast: “Shoplifters”

Best animated film: “Isle of Dogs”

Best foreign language film (awarded in memory of Jay Carr): “Shoplifters”

Best documentary: “Won’t You Be My Neighbor”

Best new filmmaker (awarded in memory of David Brudnoy): Bo Burnham, “Eighth Grade”