‘The Zone of Interest’ Named Best Film of 2023 by Los Angeles Film Critics

Jonathan Glazer wins Best Director; acting awards go to Emma Stone, Sandra Hüller, Da’Vine Joy Randolph and Rachel McAdams

"The Zone of Interest"
"The Zone of Interest" (CREDIT: Cannes Film Festival)

“The Zone of Interest,” Jonathan Glazer’s chilling drama set just outside the fences of Auschwitz during World War II, has been named the best film of 2023 by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, which voted on and announced its 2023 awards on Sunday.

Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” was the runner-up. “Anatomy of a Fall” won the award for the best film not in the English language, with the Mexican film “Totem” finishing second.

Glazer also won the best director award, with Yorgos Lanthimos taking the runner-up slot for his twisted fantasia “Poor Things.”

“The Zone of Interest,” which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, won that festival’s Grand Prix, essentially the second-place award to the Palme d’Or (which was won by “Anatomy of a Fall”). It was nominated for six European Film Awards and won one, for sound design. The film’s sound designer, Johnnie Burn, received special mention in the LAFCA award that went to the film’s composer, Mica Levi.

The LAFCA made its performance categories gender neutral last year, though members still chose one man and one woman as winners in both the lead and supporting categories in 2022. This year, though, all four acting winners were female: Emma Stone for “Poor Things” and Sandra Hüller for both “Anatomy of a Fall” and “The Zone of Interest” in the lead performance category, and Da’Vine Joy Randolph for “The Holdovers” and Rachel McAdams for “Are You There, God? It’s Me Margaret.” in the supporting category.

While Stone, Hüller and Randolph are all firmly in the awards picture, the win will help give some visibility to McAdams, whose film is admired but not often discussed as an awards contender.

The acting runners-up were Andrew Scott for “All of Us Strangers” and Jeffrey Wright for “American Fiction” in the lead category and Lily Gladstone for “Killers of the Flower Moon” and Ryan Gosling for “Barbie” in the supporting category.

LAFCA is the first group to classify Gladstone as a supporting actress; she recently won the Best Actress award from the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Board of Review, and is being campaigned in the lead category for the Oscars and other awards.

The screenplay award went to Andrew Haigh for “All of Us Strangers,” with Samy Burch taking the runner-up spot for “May December.”

Two international films took the awards for animation, with “The Boy and the Heron” winning in the category and “Robot Dreams” named runner-up. That choice was typical of LAFCA voters, who gave awards to a handful of American-made productions (“Barbie,” “The Holdovers,” “Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret.”) but for the most part saluted films made by non-U.S. filmmakers (“Poor Things,” “Anatomy of a Fall,” “The Zone of Interest,” “All of Us Strangers,” “The Boy and the Heron”).

The nonfiction/documentary award went to 93-year-old Frederick Wiseman’s four-hour look at a restaurant in France, “Menus-Plaisirs – Les Troisgros,” with Maite Alberdi’s “The Eternal Memory” the runner-up.

Celine Song won the New Generation Award for her directorial debut, “Past Lives.”

In the craft categories, the award for Best Cinematography went to Robbie Ryan for “Poor Things.” The runner-up was Rodrigo Prieto for his work on both “Killers of the Flower Moon” and “Barbie.” The editing award went to Laurent Sénéchal for “Anatomy of a Fall,” with Jonathan Alberts the runner-up for “All of Us Strangers.”

Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt were runners-up to Mica Levi in the music/score category for “Barbie,” while Sarah Greenwood won the production-design award for that film. Shona Heath and James Price named runners-up for production design for “Poor Things.”

The LAFCA consists of 60 Los Angeles-based film critics working in print and electronic media.

The critics group is normally more idiosyncratic than Oscar voters, with a handful of similar choices but also a tendency to reward international films and performances. Last year, three LAFCA winners went on to receive Oscars, while another half dozen were nominated.

The winner of the LAFCA best-film award has gone on to win the Oscar for Best Picture only 12 times in the 48 years the group has been voting. Four of those matches have come in the last eight years, with “Spotlight” in 2015, “Moonlight” in 2016, “Parasite” in 2019 and “Everything Everywhere All at Once” in 2022, though “Everything Everywhere” tied with “Tár” in last year’s voting.

The LAFCA winner has been nominated for Best Picture 13 times in the last 14 years. The only exception came in 2020, when the critics’ choice, Steve McQueen’s “Small Axe,” was not eligible for Oscars because it was an anthology series rather than a film.

The other major regional critics group, the New York Film Critics Circle, chose Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” as its best of the year on Nov. 30.

The LAFCA previously announced that director Agnieszka Holland will receive its annual Career Achievement Award. The award will be presented at the group’s annual awards event on Jan. 13, 2024.

The winners:

Best Film: “The Zone of Interest”
Runner-up: “Oppenheimer”
Best Director: Jonathan Glazer, “The Zone of Interest”
Runner-up: Yorgos Lanthimos, “Poor Things”
Best Lead Performances: Sandra Hüller for “Anatomy of a Fall” and “The Zone of Interest”; Emma Stone for “Poor Things”
Runners-up: Andrew Scott, “All of Us Strangers” and Jeffrey Wright, “American Fiction”
Best Supporting Performances: Rachel McAdams for “Are you There, God? It’s Me Margaret” and Da’Vine Joy Randolph for “The Holdovers”
Runners-up: Lily Gladstone, “Killers of the Flower Moon” and Ryan Gosling, “Barbie”
Best Screenplay: “All of Us Strangers,” Andrew Haigh
Runner-up: “May December,” Samy Burch
Best Film Not in the English Language: “Anatomy of a Fall”
Runner-up: “Totem”
Best Documentary/Nonfiction Film: “Menus-Plaisirs—Les Troisgros”
Runner-up: “The Eternal Memory”
Best Animation: “The Boy and the Heron”
Runner-up: “Robot Dreams”
Best Cinematography: Robbie Ryan, “Poor Things”
Runner-up: Rodrigo Prieto, “Killers of the Flower Moon” and “Barbie”
Best Editing: Laurent Sénéchal, “Anatomy of a Fall”
Runner-up: Jonathan Alberts, “All of Us Strangers”
Best Music/Score: Mica Levi, “The Zone of Interest” (with special recognition to sound designer Johnnie Burn)
Runner-up: Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt, “Barbie”
Best Production Design: Sarah Greenwood, “Barbie”
Runner-up: Shona Heath and James Price, “Poor Things”
New Generation Award: Celine Song, “Past Lives”
Douglas E. Edward Experimental Film Award: “Youth (Spring),” Wang Bing
Career Achievement Award: Agnieszka Holland

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