Los Angeles Film Critics Awards Names 'The Descendants' Best Film of the Year

The Descendants - Movie Still of George Clooney, Robert Forster, Shailene Woodley and Barbara L. Southern - H - 2011
Fox Searchlight Pictures

The Descendants, Alexander Payne's drama about a family in Hawaii undergoing a crisis, was named best film of the year by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association.  The Fox Searchlight release prevailed over another Searchlight title The Tree of Life, which was runner-up.

But Terrence Malick was named best director of the year for Life, his meditation on the meaning of it all. His closest competition came from Martin Scorsese, who earned runner-up status for Hugo.

The critics group pulled a surprise out of its hat by choosing South Korean actress Yun Jung-Hee as its best actress for her performance as a woman confronting Alzheimer's in Poetry. Runner-up was Kirsten Dunst for Melancholia.

Michael Fassbender was given the best actor award for his four films: Shame, A Dangerous Method, Jane Eyre and X-Men: First Class. The category's runner-up was Michael Shannon for Take Shelter.

Jessica Chastain was named best supporting actress for the six films in which she appeared this year: The Tree of Life, The Help, The Debt, Take Shelter, Coriolanus and Texas Killing Fields. Janet McTeer was runner-up for her performance in Albert Nobbs.

Christopher Plummer was singled out as best supporting actor for his turn as a widower who comes out late in life in Focus' Beginners. In that category, Patton Oswalt was hailed as runner-up for Young Adult.

A Separation, the Iranian submission for the best foreign-language Oscar, earned the screenplay award for Asghar Farhadi, who also directed the film. The Descendants checked in as runner-up for its writers Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash.

In the foreign film category, though, A Separation was runner-up, with the award going instead to Lu Chaun's City of Life and Death.

Dante Ferretti, who created the elaborate Parisian train station in Paramount's Hugo, was rewarded with the prize for production design. Maria Djurkovic earned runner-up honors for the spy tale Tinker Tailor Solider Spy.

The cinematography award went to Emmanuel Lubeski for Terrence Malick's majestic The Tree of Life, released by Fox Searchlight. Cao Yu was voted runner-up for City of Life and Death.

The Chemical Brother's score for Focus' thriller Hanna was named best score with Cliff Martinez's work for Drive as runner-up.

Werner Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams, the director's 3D look at prehistoric cave paintings, took the prize for best documentary. Clio Barnard's The Arbor was runner-up.

Rango was named best animated film, with The Adventures of Tintin as runnerup.

The Doublas Edwards Independent/Experimental Award went to Bill Morrison's Spark of Being.

LAFCA gave its New Generation award to the creative team behind Martha Marcy May Marlene: Writer/director Sean Durkin, producers Antonio Campos and Josh Mond and actress Elizabeth Olsen.

At a previous meeting in October, the group also announced that it is honoring Doris Day with its Career Achievement Award.

LAFCA 2011 winner and runner-up complete list:

Winner:  The Descendants
Runner-Up: The Tree of Life

Winner: Rango
Runner-Up: The Adventures of Tintin

Winner: Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life
Runner-Up: Martin Scorsese, Hugo

Winner: Michael Fassbender, A Dangerous Method, Jane Eyre, Shame, X-Men: First Class
Runner-Up: Michael Shannon, Take Shelter

Winner: Yun Jung-Hee, Poetry
Runner-Up: Kirsten Dunst, Melancholia

Winner: Spark of Being

Winner: Cave of Forgotten Dreams
Runner- Up: The Arbor

Winner: Asghar Farhadi, A Separation
Runner-Up: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash, The Descendants

Winner: Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Runner-Up: Patton Oswalt, Young Adult

Winner: Jessica Chastain, Coriolanus, The Debt, The Help, Take Shelter, Texas Killing Fields, The Tree of Life
Runner-Up: Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs

Winner: Emmanuel Lubezki, The Tree of Life
Runner-Up: Cao Yu, City of Life and Death

Winner: Dante Ferretti, Hugo
Runner-Up: Maria Djurkovic, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Winner: The Chemical Brothers, Hanna
Runner-Up: Cliff Martinez, Drive