In light of recent calls to revive the Black Oscars as a response to the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, the African-American Film Critics Association's awards gala (tonight, Wednesday, February 10th, 8 pm at the Taglyan Complex in Hollywood) has emerged as more vital than ever, honoring the excellence of artists whose work was overlooked by the Academy. Gil Robertson, the head of the AAFCA will oversee the awards, whose winners were voted upon and announced earlier. The widely acclaimed NWA biopic "Straight Outta Compton" scored wins for Best Picture, Best Ensemble and Best Supporting Actor (Jason Mitchell), while the beloved crowd-pleaser "Creed" garnered accolades for Best Director (Ryan Coogler), Best Supporting Actress (Tessa Thompson) and Best Breakthrough Performance (Michael B. Jordan). Will Smith will be given the AAFCA's Best Actor prize for delivering arguably his best work to date in the whistleblower drama, "Concussion." Spike Lee's Chicago-set passion project, "Chi-Raq," will take home two major awards, Best Actress (Teyonah Parris) and Best Independent Film.
New York Times film critic Manohla Dargis will become the third recipient of the Roger Ebert Award, which was established by the AAFCA in 2014. RogerEbert.com publisher Chaz Ebert has been invited to present Dargis with the award. The first Ebert award recipient was Justin Chang, the Chief Film Critic of Variety. At that time, Chaz Ebert noted that Roger would have been thrilled to see that kind of diversity—an African-American film critics group giving an award honoring a white film critic to an Asian-American film critic. Last year's award was given to Susan King of The Los Angeles Times.
Five out of the Top Ten Movies on the AAFCA's list are for films that don't have a predominantly African-American theme. They are: "Mad Max: Fury Road," "The Martian," "Carol," "The Big Short," and "The Danish Girl."
Other winners announced include "The Peanuts Movie" for Best Animated Film; Nelson George's film about Misty Copeland, "A Ballerina's Tale," for Best Documentary"; Rick Famuyiwa's "Dope" script for Best Screenplay; the "Furious 7" tune "See You Again" for Best Song; ABC's "Black-ish" for Best TV Comedy; ABC's "How to Get Away With Murder" for Best TV Drama; and Starz's "Survivor's Remorse" for Best Cable/New Media TV Show. Special Achievement awards will honor the work of Codeblack Entertainment CEO, Jeff Clanagan; director John Singleton; Maverick Carter and LeBron James’ SpringHill Entertainment. The Cinema Vanguard Award will be presented to HBO. Below are AAFCA's Top Ten Films of 2015, in order of distinction:
1. Straight Outta Compton (Universal Pictures)
2. Creed (Warner Bros.)
3. Mad Max: Fury Road (Warner Bros.)
4. Beasts of No Nation (Netflix)
5. The Martian (20th Century Fox)
6. 3 1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets/Dope (HBO/Open Road Films)
7. Chi-Raq (Roadside Attractions)
8. Carol (Weinstein Co.)
9. The Big Short (Paramount Pictures)
10. The Danish Girl (Focus Features)For tickets to the awards gala or more information on the AAFCA, visit their official site.