Jordan Peele, Guillermo del Toro, Jessica Chastain, Sally Hawkins and Gary Oldman were among the stars at the inaugural LAOFCS Awards on Wednesday.
Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water was named best picture by L.A. Online Film Critics Society, the organization founded in late 2016, on Wednesday night.
The first critics group to separate directing honors by gender also named del Toro best male director, while Greta Gerwig won best female director for Lady Bird, which also received the award for best independent film and best performance by an actor 23 years old or younger in Saoirse Ronan.
Gerwig sent a video message expressing her gratitude for the award. “I’m so thrilled for the recognition of the work I did as a director — a female director,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to be a film director and it has just been the thrill of my life to have this moment.”
Sally Hawkins, who received the award for best actress for her portrayal of a mute woman who falls in love with a mysterious creature in The Shape of Water, fought back tears on stage as she thanked del Toro for the role that he had written with her in mind.
“I haven’t stopped crying all night,” she admitted to the audience, who offered their encouragement with a standing ovation. “Guillermo knew not to give me words. I’m so much better without them.”
Del Toro was equally effusive when it came to his leading lady. “Sally inspired me to write the movie the way I did, without knowing her,” del Toro said on stage, while receiving his directing award. “Like a songwriter, I heard her voice and I thought, ‘Goddammit, I’m going to write a song for this woman.”
Del Toro told THR that his priority remains equal compensation for the actors on his projects. “This is something I’ve been very proud of,” he said.
“And not only about writing parts for women that are strong and complete and powerful. But I have been careful in the aspect of salary for a long time. Way before this. When Jessica Chastain and I did Crimson Peak, I assured that those things were balanced. And we do it in Shape of Water. And I do it in every movie I do because I think that inequality sends a message that shouldn’t be.”
The awards for best first feature, best original screenplay and best horror/sci-fi all went to Jordan Peele for his feature directorial debut, Get Out. “Horror is my favorite genre because that is where we go to face our fears,” said the director. “And fear is the hardest emotion to face and we need help with that sometimes.”
The comedian talked about not feeling represented in his youth, when attending horror movies in theaters. “People, and I’m talking about black people obviously, want not only that our skin is represented but that our fears, that our relationships with our fears is represented… Being black in America means you can possess common sense, you can make the intelligent choice. You can do everything you’re supposed to do to avoid being put in harm’s way, and you can still end up in harms’ way. That’s what Get Out means to me.”
With the Time’s Up movement at the forefront of everyone’s mind, the Trailblazer Award was given to Jessica Chastain, for her advocacy for gender equality and equal pay.
Though Chastain said she doesn’t see herself as a trailblazer, she admits she feels very protective of the underdog. “It’s not people that are voiceless – we all have voices. It’s people no one’s listening to. So if I can use my platform to shine a light on someone who hasn’t been afforded that, then that’s what I want to do. It’s a ‘thank you’ for what I’ve been given.”
Asked if she feels a shift in the industry, Chastain is blunt: “No. It’s too early. But the Golden Globes was a special night for all of us there, for many women around the world. It was a monumental evening, and it’s just the beginning.”
While thematically the evening tackled hard subjects, there was plenty of levity throughout the ceremony. Best actor winner Gary Oldman took the opportunity to thank Joe Wright for his direction on Darkest Hour after played off the stage at the Golden Globes last Sunday. “They play that sad, sad music,” he griped, to a roaring audience. “But I’m pretty safe — there’s no clock ticking, there’s no orchestra, there’s no music playing, so it’s great to finally say, thank you Joe.”
Prior to the ceremony, Oldman told THR that he was terrified to take on the challenge of Darkest Hour.“I was very fearful,” he said. “You have to have a very encouraging and supportive wife who says, ‘Don’t be an idiot. Do it.’ And a very good manager who’s saying the same thing. You have got Joe Wright in charge. And a good script. And then you just have to step out on the wire and hope that someone will catch you.”
A complete list of winners is below.
The Shape of Water
Best Male Director
Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water
Best Female Director
Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
Best Supporting Actor
Patrick Stewart, Logan
Michael Stuhlbarg, Call Me By Your Name
Best Supporting Actress
Allison Janney, I, Tonya
Best Performance by an Actor or Actress 23 Years Old or Younger
Best Independent Film
Best Comedy or Musical
The Big Sick
Best Adapted Screenplay
Aaron Sorkin, Molly’s Game
Best Original Screenplay
Jordan Peele, Get Out
Jim & Andy
Roger Deakins, Blade Runner 2049
Best Foreign Film
Alexandre Desplat, The Shape of Water
Best Visual Effect Performance
Andy Serkis, War for the Planet of the Apes
Best Visual Effects
War for the Planet of the Apes
Paul Machliss and Jonathan Amos, Baby Driver
Best Stunt Work
Best Animated Film
Best First Feature
Jordan Peele, Get Out
The Trailblazer Award