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Lucrecia Martel’s ‘Zama’ Tops International Cinephile Society Winners

If, at this point in this season, you’re tired of hearing the same handful of titles bandied about in the awards conversation, the prizes given out by the International Cinephile Society should come as a tonic. Voted on by a globe-spanning group of over 100 film critics, scholars, programmers and industry professionals, they can be counted on to zig where even the most broad-minded critics’ groups zag, often singling out films widely ignored by other precursors.

Case in point: The big winner in this year’s ICS awards was a Spanish-language auteur work, but it wasn’t “Roma” — Alfonso Cuarón’s Oscar frontrunner received only the cinematography prize. Instead, it was “Zama,” a nightmarishly atmospheric colonial drama from Argentinian director Lucrecia Martel, that ruled the roost with wins for Best Picture, Director, Non-English Language Film and Actor for leading man Daniel Giménez Cacho. (It also landed runner-up citations for its adapted screenplay, lensing, production design and supporting actress Lola Dueñas.)

A favorite of critics on the festival circuit — reviewing for Variety at the 2017 Venice fest, this writer called it a “defiantly difficult, finally exhilarating vision” — “Zama” passed largely under the radar on its U.S. release, though the cult of Martel (whose previous films include “The Headless Woman” and “The Holy Girl”) is an intensely devoted one. Submitted as Argentina’s official Oscar entry in last year’s race, it failed to make the shortlist.

The group’s other acting winners included “The Favourite’s” Rachel Weisz and “If Beale Street Could Talk’s” Brian Tyree Henry in the supporting categories, while in a typically idiosyncratic result, newcomer Helena Howard (“Madeline’s Madeline”) and “Shoplifters” star Sakura Ando tied for Best Actress. Screenplay honors went to Paul Schrader’s “First Reformed” and Lee Chang-dong’s “Burning” — the latter, shortlisted but not nominated for this year’s foreign-language Oscar, was the group’s Best Picture runner-up. American docmaker RaMell Ross, meanwhile, was a two-time winner, taking Best Documentary and Best Editing for his Oscar-nominated “Hale County This Morning, This Evening.”

Full list of winners:

Best Picture: “Zama” (Runner-up: “Burning”)

Best Director: Lucrecia Martel, “Zama” (Runner-up: Alfonso Cuarón, “Roma”)

Best Actress: Sakura Ando, “Shoplifters” and Helena Howard, “Madeline’s Madeline” (tied)

Best Actor: Daniel Giménez Cacho, “Zama” (Runner-up: Ethan Hawke, First Reformed)

Best Supporting Actress: Rachel Weisz, “The Favourite” (Runner-up: Lola Dueñas, “Zama”)

Best Supporting Actor: Brian Tyree Henry, “If Beale Street Could Talk” (Runner-up: Steven Yeun, “Burning”)

Best Original Screenplay: Paul Schrader, “First Reformed” (Runner-up: Hirokazu Kore-eda, “Shoplifters”)

Best Adapted Screenplay: Lee Chang-dong and Oh Jung-Mi, “Burning” (Runner-up: Lucrecia Martel, “Zama”)

Best Documentary: “Hale County This Morning, This Evening” (Runner-up: “Minding the Gap”)

Best Non-English Language Film: “Zama” (Runner-up: “Burning”)

Best Animated Feature:“Isle of Dogs” (Runner-up: “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”)

Best Cinematography: Alfonso Cuarón, “Roma” (Runner-up: Rui Poças. “Zama”)

Best Editing: RaMell Ross, “Hale County This Morning, This Evening” (Runner-up: Bob Murawski and Orson Welles, “The Other Side of the Wind”)

Best Original Score: Nicholas Britell, “If Beale Street Could Talk” (Runner-up: Mowg, “Burning”)

Best Production Design: Astrid Tonnelier, “The Wild Boys” (Runner-up: Renata Pinheiro, “Zama”)

Best Ensemble: “Shoplifters” (Runner-up: “A Paris Education”)

Top 12 Films of 2018

  1. “Zama”
  2. “Burning”
  3. “Roma”
  4. “The Wild Boys”
  5. “Shoplifters”
  6. “The Rider”
  7. “A Bread Factory”
  8. “If Beale Street Could Talk”
  9. “Madeline’s Madeline”
  10. “First Reformed”
  11. “The Favourite”
  12. “The Other Side of the Wind”

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