Argo took the top prize Sunday at the Houston Film Critics Society annual awards gala and Ben Affleck gained recognition for his smart direction of the fact-based thriller about the successful CIA rescue of American escapees during the 1979 seige on the American embassy in Iran.
Lincoln was the other big winner, with Daniel Day-Lewis and Tommy Lee Jones nabbing prizes for best actor and best supporting actor, respectively, and Tony Kushner winning the award for best screenplay.
Other winners included Jennifer Lawrence for best actress for Silver Linings Playbook, Anne Hathaway for best supporting actress for Les Miserables and Robert Duvall, who was awarded a lifetime achievement award for his contribution to film over a large career as an actor and director. (See the full list of winners below)
A highlight of the evening was the bestowal of the Outstanding Contribution to Cinema award to Jeff Millar, the former film critic for the Houston Chronicle who died earlier this year of cancer. Millar retired in 2000 after a 35-year career as the Chronicle chief movie critic.
Alan Cerny, a writer for Ain’t It Cool News, and Sally Hill, critic for HereHouston.com, gave moving tributes to Millar’s influence on their work and on their youthful appreciation of cinema. The award was accepted by Bill Hinds, Millar’s longtime collaborator on Tank McNamara, the comic strip the two men started in the 1970s.
Another touching moment was the reading of a letter from Kushner, who said he couldn’t be here to accept the award because he and Spielberg were in Virginia for a public screening and discussion of Lincoln.
Kushner, who grew up in Lake Charles, La., talked about his kinship to Houston and how many times he’s driven on I-10 “past refineries and mattress factories” to get to and from the airport in Houston, the nearest big city. He wrote that had his father not recently died, he would have been proud to make that drive to attend the Houston ceremony.
The awards presentation at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
Houston Film Critic Society 2012 Award Winners
Best Picture – Argo
Best Director – Ben Affleck, Argo
Best Actor – Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Best Actress – Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Best Supporting Actor – Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
Best Supporting Actress – Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Best Screenplay – Tony Kushner, Lincoln
Best Cinematography – Roger Deakins, Skyfall
Best Animated Film – Wreck-It Ralph
Best Documentary – The Imposter
Best Foreign Film – Holy Motors
Best Score – Reinhold Heil, Johnny Klimek and Tom Tykver, Cloud Atlas
Best Song – “Skyfall” from Skyfall, music & lyrics by Adele and Paul Epworth
Texas Independent Film Award – Bernie
Worst Film – That’s My Boy
Technical Achievement – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Humanitarian of the Year – Adam Yauch
Lifetime Achievement – Robert Duvall
Outstanding Contribution to Cinema – Jeff Millar