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Southeastern critics pick ‘Argo’ as best movie of 2012

The Southeastern Film Critics’ Association has voted Ben Affleck’s period thriller “Argo” the best motion picture of 2012.

The organization, whose 47 members represent electronic and print media outlets in nine Southern states, also named Affleck best director in its annual poll.

“‘Argo’ was far and a way the most-mentioned film on our critics’ ballots,” SEFCA president Philip Martin said. “While there were other films that had more first-place votes, ‘Argo’ was consistently well-regarded by our membership and it ended up winning the poll by a comfortable margin.”

In a much closer race, actor-director Affleck was named Best Director over Kathryn Bigelow, whose “Zero Dark Thirty” edged out Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” for the second spot in the critics’ poll.

“It’s interesting that the top three films are all dramas based on historical events,” Martin said.

“Argo” is a dramatization of the joint CIA-Canadian covert operation that extracted six fugitive American diplomatic personnel out of revolutionary Iran in 1980; “Zero Dark Thirty” is about the decade-long hunt for Osama bin Laden after the September 2001 terrorist attacks and “Lincoln” is about the 16th president’s efforts to pass the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution that would formally abolish slavery in the country.

Daniel Day-Lewis became the first three-time winner of the group’s Best Actor award for his performance as the title character in Lincoln (Day-Lewis previously won the award for his work in “There Will Be Blood” in 2007 and in “Gangs of New York” in 2002) while Jennifer Lawrence was named Best Actress for her turn in the dark comedy “Silver Linings Playbook.”

Ben Zeitlin’s “Beasts of the Southern Wild” was the overwhelming choice for the group’s Gene Wyatt award, given for the film that “best evokes the spirit of the South,” with Richard Linklater’s “Bernie” — yet another dramatization of a true story — finishing second.

“Overall it was an amazing year for Southern film,” Martin said. “I can’t remember a year when we had so many excellent candidates for the Wyatt Award. Our members nominated 13 different movies for the award — and one actor: Matthew McConaughey, for appearing in the Southern-set films ‘Killer Joe,’ ‘The Paperboy,’ ‘Bernie’ and ‘Magic Mike’ in 2012.”

2012 SEFCA AWARD RESULTS — TOP TEN

  1. “Argo”
  2. “Zero Dark Thirty”
  3. “Lincoln”
  4. “Moonrise Kingdom”
  5. “Silver Linings Playbook”
  6. “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
  7. “The Master”
  8. “Les Misérables”
  9. “Life of Pi”
  10. “The Dark Knight Rises”

BEST ACTOR

Winner: Daniel Day-Lewis, “Lincoln”

Runner-up: Joaquin Phoenix, “The Master”

BEST ACTRESS

Winner: Jennifer Lawrence, “Silver Linings Playbook”

Runner-up: Jessica Chastain, “Zero Dark Thirty”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Winner: Philip Seymour Hoffman, “The Master”

Runner-up: Tommy Lee Jones, “Lincoln”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Winner: Anne

Hathaway, “Les Misérables”

Runner-up: Sally Field, “Lincoln”

BEST ENSEMBLE

Winner: “Lincoln”

Runner-up: “Moonrise Kingdom”

BEST DIRECTOR

Winner: Ben Affleck, “Argo”

Runner-up: Kathryn Bigelow, “Zero Dark Thirty”

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Winner: “Moonrise Kingdom,” Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola

Runner-up: “Zero Dark Thirty,” Mark Boal

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Winner: “Argo,” Chris Terrio

Runner-up: “Lincoln,” Tony Kushner

BEST DOCUMENTARY

Winner: “The Queen of Versailles”

Runner-up: “Bully”

BEST FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM

Winner: “The Intouchables”

Runner-up: “Amour”

BEST ANIMATED FILM

Winner: “ParaNorman”

Runner-up: “Frankenweenie”

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Winner: “Life of Pi,” Claudio Miranda

Runner-up: “Skyfall,” Roger Deakins

GENE WYATT AWARD for FILM THAT BEST EVOKES THE SPIRIT OF THE SOUTH

Winner: “Beasts of the Southern Wild”

Runner-up: “Bernie”