WAFCA (Washington D.C. Film Critics) History and Preview


While I will not go into as much depth with some of the regional critics’ organizations as I have done with the more well known precursor awarding groups, the WAFCAs began in 2002 and have an interesting bend to their award giving.  They trumpet a film’s increased Oscar potential at times in their award press releases, so they obviously feel they have an impact in the conversation.  I’m not sure they are the “kingmakers” they think they are (are any regional critics groups?!?), but without question they are next up, turning their announced nominees from 12/3 into the latest winners on the road to Oscar, Monday morning, December 5, 2011, at 8am EST/5am PST.

The bricks keep getting laid and as of this writing, we have yet to have a repeat Best Picture/Best Film winner.  Beginning with Happy Potter and the Deathly Hallows- Part 2 in October’s Hollywood Film Awards. we have since had Beginners, The Tree of Life, The Artist, and Hugo be named the best of the year.  Can we foretell what the DC Critics will select in their awarded categories based on this organization’s history?  Sure we can… (he says justifying the existence of this column…!)

Can George Clooney build on his NBR win?

George Clooney (The Descendants)
Jean Dujardin (The Artist)
Michael Fassbender (Shame)
Brad Pitt (Moneyball)
Michael Shannon (Take Shelter)

Previous Winners:  2010 – Colin Firth; 2009 – George Clooney; 2008 – Mickey Rourke; 2007 – George Clooney; 2006 – Forest Whitaker; 2005 – Philip Seymour Hoffman; 2004 – Jamie Foxx (Ray); 2003- Bill Murray; 2002 – Jack Nicholson.

Analysis:  If you win with WAFCA, you have a 100% chance of being nominated for an Oscar and have a 44.4% chance of winning.  It is arguable that they gave levity to Mickey Rourke’s near-win in 2008, and the rest of the winners were largely expected and/or frontrunners entering the season.

Who This Helps?  George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Jean Dujardin.


Do the DC Critics get Viola Davis on track?

Viola Davis (The Help)
Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene)
Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady)
Tilda Swinton (We Need to Talk About Kevin)
Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn)

Previous Winners:  2010 – Jennifer Lawrence; 2009 – Carey Mulligan; 2008 – Meryl Streep (Doubt); 2007 – Julie Christie; 2006 – Helen Mirren; 2005 – Reese Witherspoon; 2004 – Imelda Staunton; 2003- Naomi Watts (21 Grams); 2002 – Julianne Moore (Far From Heaven)

Analysis:  If you win with WAFCA, you have a 100% chance of being nominated for an Oscar and have a 22.2% chance of winning.  More adventurous in their picks here by and large, they can crown a nominee, but have only matched Mirren and Witherspoon in their history.  Staunton, Mulligan, and Lawrence’s wins came with breakout performances and their recent selections have shown a willingness to anoint a newcomer in a breakout role.

Who This Helps?  Elizabeth Olsen and Michelle Williams.

Andy Serkis as Caesar in "Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes"

Kenneth Branagh (My Week with Marilyn)
Albert Brooks (Drive)
John Hawkes (Martha Marcy May Marlene)
Christopher Plummer (Beginners)
Andy Serkis (Rise of the Planet of the Apes)

Previous Winners:  2010 – Christian Bale; 2009 – Christoph Waltz; 2008 – Heath Ledger; 2007 – Javier Bardem; 2006 – Djimon Hounsou; 2005 – Paul Giamatti; 2004 – Jamie Foxx (Collateral); 2003- Benicio del Toro (21 Grams); 2002 – Chris Cooper and Dennis Haysbert (Far From Heaven).

Analysis:  If you win with WAFCA, you have a 90-100% chance of being nominated for an Oscar and have a 60-66.7% chance of winning.  Matching Oscar 5 of the last 6 years, the WAFCA winner is typically the frontrunner and save Haysbert, the win is largely given to someone whose eventual Oscar nomination is not a surprise.  Nominating Serkis was a unique surprise, one of the first of the season.

Who This Helps?  Christopher Plummer and Albert Brooks.

Can Carey Mulligan and Michael Fassbender shock with wins for "Shame"?

Bérénice Bejo (The Artist)
Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids)
Carey Mulligan (Shame)
Octavia Spencer (The Help)
Shailene Woodley (The Descendants)

Previous Winners:  2010 – Melissa Leo; 2009 – Mo’Nique; 2008 – Rosemarie DeWitt; 2007 – Amy Ryan; 2006 – Jennifer Hudson; 2005 – Amy Adams; 2004 – Cate Blanchett; 2003- Anna Deveare Smith; 2002 – Kathy Bates.

Analysis:  If you win with WAFCA, you have a 77.8% chance of being nominated for an Oscar and have a 44.4% chance of winning.  WAFCA make the occasional “HUH?” selection, as evidenced by Rosemarie DeWitt and Anna Deveare Smith’s wins, which never amounted to much else than a momentary blip on the Oscar radar (perhaps DeWitt had more traction, but you understand…).  Matching Oscar with Leo and Mo’Nique in the last couple of years, the winners with WAFCA are not always the expected choices.

Who This Helps?  Melissa McCarthy and Carey Mulligan.  Although, frontrunners Spencer and Woodley are likely.  The wildcard is Bejo, which would seem like a stretch based on WAFCA choices.

Lots will be rooting for Nicholas Winding Refn's "Drive"

Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris)
Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
Alexander Payne (The Descendants)
Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive)
Martin Scorsese (Hugo)

Previous Winners:  2010 – David Fincher; 2009 – Kathryn Bigelow; 2008 – Danny Boyle; 2007 – Joel Coen and Ethan Coen; 2006 – Martin Scorsese; 2005 – Steven Spielberg; 2004 – Michel Gondry; 2003- Peter Jackson; 2002 – Sam Mendes/Denzel Washington/Spike Jonze.

Analysis:  If you win with WAFCA, you have a 63.6% chance of being nominated for an Oscar and have a 45.5% chance of winning.  Including the goofy 2002 year when all three of their tied recipients were shut out of the Oscar’s Best Directing category, WAFCA has pinpointed the eventual Oscar winner 4 of the last 5 years.  In 2005, Munich and Spielberg swept Directing and Picture and it is quite notable that WAFCA’s Director and Picture winners have matched 7 of 9 years.  The frontrunner is the WAFCA winner each of the last 5 years and gutsy winners like Michel Gondry and the 2002 triad seem rare anymore.

Who This Helps?  Alexander Payne, Michel Hazanavicius, and perhaps Martin Scorsese.


Is this the first film to nab two Best Picture/Best Film wins this season?

The Artist
The Descendants
Win Win

Previous Winners:  2010 – The Social Network; 2009 – Up In The Air; 2008 – Slumdog Millionaire; 2007 – No Country For Old Men; 2006 – United 93; 2005 – Munich; 2004 – Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind; 2003- Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King; 2002 – Road To Perdition.

Analysis:  If you win with WAFCA, you have a 66.7% chance of being nominated for an Oscar and have a 33.3% chance of winning.  WAFCA’s awarding of Munich may have kickstarted that film’s rather surprising Oscar nomination for Picture, Director, and a few technicals.  Their influence did nothing for United 93, Eternal Sunshine…, and Road To Perdition.  The last four years they have voted for the frontrunner; however, as we all know, the last two years, the frontrunner this early in the game has not made it to the movie award season’s final destination.

Who This Helps?  The Artist, The Descendants.

The remaining WAFCA winners are listed below with Oscar’s receipient in parentheses:

2010  The Town
2009  The Hurt Locker
2008  Doubt
2007  No Country For Old Men
2006  Little Miss Sunshine
2005  Crash
2004  Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
2003  Love, Actually
2002  Barbershop

2010  The Social Network (The Social Network)
2009  Up In The Air (Precious…)
2008  Slumdog Millionaire (Slumdog Millionaire)
2007  Charlie Wilson’s War (No Country For Old men)
2006  Thank You For Smoking (The Departed)
2005  Capote (Brokeback Mountain)
2004  Sideways (Sideways)
2003  Mystic River (Mystic River)
2002  Adaptation. (The Pianist)

2010  Inception (The King’s Speech)
2009  Inglourious Basterds (The Hurt Locker)
2008  Rachel Getting Married (Milk)
2007  Juno (Juno)
2006  Little Miss Sunshine (Little Miss Sunshine)
2005  Crash (Crash)
2004  Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind)
2003  Lost In Translation (Lost In Translation)
2002  My Big Fat Greek Wedding (Talk To Her)

2010  Toy Story 3 (Toy Story 3)
2009  Up (Up)
2008  WALL-E (WALL-E)
2007  Ratatouille (Ratatouille)
2006  Happy Feet (Happy Feet)
2005  Wallace And Gromit In The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit (Wallace and Gromit…)
2004  The Incredibles (The Incredibles)
2003  Finding Nemo (Finding Nemo)
2002  Lilo And Stitch (Spirited Away)

2010  Exit Through The Gift Shop (Inside Job)
2009  Food, Inc. (The Cove)
2008  Man On Wire (Man On Wire)
2007  SiCKO (Taxi To The Dark Side)
2006  An Inconvenient Truth (An Inconvenient Truth)
2005  Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room (March Of The Penguins)
2004  Fahrenheit 9/11 (Born Into Brothels)
2003  Fog Of War (Fog Of War)
2002  The Kid Stats In The Picture (Bowling For Columbine)

2010  Biutiful (In A Better World)
2009  Sin Nombre (The Secret In Their Eyes)
2008  Let The Right One In (Departures)
2007  The Diving Bell And The Butterfly (The Counterfeiters)
2006  Pan’s Labyrinth (The Lives Of Others)
2005  Kung Fu Hustle (Tsotsi)
2004  Maria Full Of Grace (The Sea Inside)

2010  Inception (Alice In Wonderland)
2009  Nine (Avatar)
2008  The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button (Curious Case…)
2007  Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street (Sweeney Todd…)
2006  Marie Antoinette (Pan’s Labyrinth)
2005  The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (Memoirs Of A Geisha)

2010  Inception (Inception)

2010  Inception (The Social Network)

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My love of film began at the age of 7 when my parents not only gave me a television, but HBO to boot. My first theatrical experience was "E.T." My first movie cry came with "Old Yeller". "The Usual Suspects" made me decide to make movies and film writing a priority in life, even knowing the twist beforehand. My passion for film, music, and pop culture in general can be isolated to my youth. My love for film took root in high school. Above all else, movies and art, in any form, exist to entertain and I remain much more interested in how art affects others, more than with myself. But I love the conversation and to have a chance to share my thoughts and be a part of the community here is a unique and enriching experience.