Moonlight Leads 2016 Florida Film Critics Circle Award Nominations

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With awards season at its peak and every critics association handing out prizes, the Florida Film Critics Circle (FFCC) announced its nominations for 2016 yesterday. The official winners will be revealed Friday, but Moonlight came out on top of the nominee list with ten well-deserved nods.

The film, nominated for best picture, tells the story of a gay black man growing up in the hypermasculine world of Miami’s crime-ridden neighborhood of Liberty City. The film’s protagonist is played by three actors at different stages of growth: a boy, a teenager, and a young adult. Three supporting actors — André Holland, Mahershala Ali, and Naomie Harris — received nominations. The film’s cast was also nominated for Best Ensemble.

Director Barry Jenkins, who grew up in the neighborhood in which the film is mostly set, was also nominated for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay, which is based on a play by Miami native Tarell Alvin McCraney. The film also earned nominations for cinematography and score and earned Jenkins a breakthrough nom. Moonlight is his second film.

Damien Chazelle’s La La Land and Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea earned eight and seven nominations, respectively, the only two films to come close to Moonlight in the number of nods. Both are competing for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original screenplay, as well as Best Actor, with Ryan Gosling and Casey Affleck in the running.

Joining them in the Actor category are Joel Edgerton for Loving, Viggo Mortensen for Captain Fantastic, and Denzel Washington for Fences. La La Land is also up for Lead Actress, with Emma Stone joining Annette Bening for 20th Century Women, Isabelle Huppert for Elle, Ruth Negga for Loving, and Natalie Portman for Jackie.
Other films with multiple nominations include The Lobster, Elle, Hell or High Water, 20th Century Women, The Handmaiden, Arrival, Jackie, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Love & Friendship, and Nocturnal Animals, with awards ranging from art direction to visual effects to cinematography.

For the first time in FFCC history, the collective will vote on Best First Film, celebrating directors who are taking on their debut feature. The batch is a solid collection of five films: Kelly Fremon Craig's The Edge of Seventeen, Andrew Ahn's Spa Night, Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert's Swiss Army Man, Brady Corbet's The Childhood of a Leader, and Robert Eggers' The Witch.

Some categories list fewer than five nominees, such as director, which includes Chazelle, Jenkins, and Lonergan alongside Yorgos Lanthimos for The Lobster. One category, a particularly stacked supporting-actress bunch, even features six nominees: Viola Davis for Fences, Greta Gerwig for 20th Century Women, Lily Gladstone for Certain Women, Naomie Harris for Moonlight, Octavia Spencer for Hidden Figures, and Michelle Williams for Manchester by the Sea.

The Florida Film Critics Circle is an organization of 27 writers from Florida-based print and online publications. Founded in 1996, the FFCC strives to recognize outstanding work in film, further the cause of good movies, and maintain the highest level of professionalism among film critics in Florida. Bill Gibron of PopMatters.com and FilmRacket.com has been chairman since March 2013.

A list of all the nominees can be found at floridafilmcritics.com.

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