Local critics choose ‘La La Land’ over ‘Manchester by the Sea’

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in Damien Chazelle’s “La La Land.”
Dale Robinette/Lionsgate via AP
Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in Damien Chazelle’s “La La Land.”

“La La Land,” a throwback to the glory days of Hollywood musicals, was named the best film of 2016 by the Boston Society of Film Critics on Sunday. The film, which stars Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling and opens in Boston this Friday, also won for Damien Chazelle’s direction.

Otherwise, the voting members of the BSFC spread the honors widely for their 37th annual film awards. Casey Affleck won best actor for his portrayal of an emotionally damaged man coming to terms with his past in “Manchester by the Sea” — the performance is widely considered a leading candidate for a best actor Oscar. (”Manchester” came close to winning best picture and director as well.) Isabelle Huppert was awarded best actress for two performances, as a hard-nosed rape victim in “Elle” and a divorcing academic in “Things to Come.”

Mahershala Ali was awarded best supporting actor for his paternal drug dealer in the acclaimed coming of age film “Moonlight”; the film also won the award for best ensemble cast. Lily Gladstone was named best supporting actress for her performance as a lonely ranch hand in “Certain Women,” just edging Michelle Williams’s performance as the hero’s bereft ex-wife in “Manchester by the Sea.”


The Boston critics named “OJ: Made in America,” a five-part HBO series that received enough theatrical play dates to qualify for film awards, as the best documentary of 2016.

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As has been customary since 2014, the foreign-language prize was awarded in the memory of the late Boston Globe film critic Jay Carr; the award went to South Korea’s “The Handmaiden,” directed by Park Chan-wook. That film also won for best cinematography (Chung Chung-hoon).

In an unexpected vote, best animated film was won by “Tower,” Keith Maitland’s documentary about the 1966 University of Texas shootings that employs rotoscoping techniques to powerfully re-create historical events.

Robert Eggers, director of the critically admired cult horror film “The Witch,” was named best new filmmaker, a prize awarded in the name of the late Boston critic David Brudnoy. The editing award, given in memory of film editor Karen Schmeer, went to Tom Cross for “La La Land.” Mica Levi’s brooding string music for “Jackie” won the prize for best original score.

The critics’ group also awarded special commendations to the Boston University Cinematheque, overseen by Gerald Peary for 22 years; to Connie White, who is stepping down as artistic director of the Provincetown International Film Festival after 17 years; to Boston-based filmmaker Peter Flynn for “The Dying of the Light,” his documentary about film projection in the digital era; and to The Somerville Theatre and projectionist David Kornfeld for the 70mm and Widescreen Festival, launched this year to critical and popular success.


The full list of winners can be found at

Ty Burr can be reached at