‘12 Years a Slave’ dominates Southeastern Film Critics 2013 Poll Results

Special to The Atlanta Voice | 1/10/2014, 1:25 p.m.
British director Steve McQueen’s unblinking look at America’s original sin, 12 Years a Slave, is this year’s best film, according ...
The critics also honored the film"12 Years a Slave" star, Chiwetel Ejiofor, naming him the year’s best actor for his portrayal of Northup.

British director Steve McQueen’s unblinking look at America’s original sin, 12 Years a Slave, is this year’s best film, according to the Southeastern Film Critics Association’s 2013 poll of its members. The organization, comprised of 51 film critics and writers working for print and electronic media across nine Southern states, overwhelming voted for McQueen’s brutal adaptation of Solomon Northup’s memoir of being kidnapped and sold into slavery in the Antebellum South, which was first published in 1853. 

McQueen was also voted best director in the poll, while Slave screenwriter John Ridley won in the Best Adapted Screenplay category.

The critics also honored the film’s star, Chiwetel Ejiofor, naming him the year’s best actor for his portrayal of Northup, while Kenyan Lupita Nyong’o, a newcomer to American films, won Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Patsey, the “most favored” slave on Edwin Epps’ plantation. Michael Fassbender, who portrays the cruel planter, finished second in the Best Supporting Actor category to Jared Leto, who plays an HIV-infected drag queen in Dallas Buyers Club.

“While 12 Years a Slave was a clear-cut winner, the voting indicates that this is an exceptionally deep year for the movies,” SEFCA president Philip Martin says. “81 different films received votes.”

In the Best Actress category, Cate Blanchett’s portrayal of a fallen socialite in the process of having a nervous breakdown in Woody Allen’s dark comedy “Blue Jasmine” was also a clear-cut winner followed by the great Judi Dench in “Philomena”. The talented Austrailian actress who has been the top winner on a number of critics’ lists is the front-runner to win the Golden Globe and the Academy Award.

“After seeing her powerful true performance, I immediately thought that she was the frontrunner for the Oscar and every other award given to an actress,” said SEFCA member Stan Washington of The Atlanta Voice.

Alfonso Cuarón finished second in the director category, and his film Gravity finished second in the critics’ voting. Gravity’s cinematographer, Emmanuel Lubezki, won in that category.

Mud director Jeff Nichols became the first two-time winner of the groups’ Gene Wyatt Award, a prize  for films that “best evoke the spirit of the South,” given by SEFCA in honor of the late Nashville Tennessean film critic and charter member of the critics’ group.

“Jeff is a great storyteller in the Southern tradition and Mud is a film that stands in the tradition of Mark Twain, William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor — filtered through a visual sensibility that recalls Terence Malick,” Martin says. “I’m proud that SEFCA recognized him early — his first film, Shotgun Stories, won the Wyatt award in 2008.

Top 10

  1. 12 Years a Slave 

  2. Gravity

  3. American Hustle 

  4. Her 

  5. Inside Llewyn Davis

6. Nebraska

7. Dallas Buyers Club

8. Philomena

  1. Captain Phillips

10. The Wolf of Wall Street

Best actor 

  1. Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave

  2. Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club 

Best Actress

  1. Cate Blancett, Blue Jasmine

  2. Judi Dench, Philomena

Best Supporting Actor

  1. Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

  2. Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave

Supporting Actress

  1. Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave

  2. Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle


  1. American Hustle 

2.12 Years a Slave 


1.Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave

2.Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity

Original Screenplay

  1. Spike Jonze, Her 

  2. David O. Russell and Eric Singer, American Hustle

Adapted Screenplay 

  1. John Ridley,12 Years a Slave

  2. Jeff Pope & Steve Coogan,Philomena 


  1. Act of Killing 

  2. Blackfish 

  3. Muscle Shoals

Foreign Language

1.The Hunt 

  1. Blue is the Warmest Color 

Animated Film 

  1. Frozen 

  2. The Wind Rises 


  1. Emmanuel Lubezki, Gravity 

  2. Sean Bobbitt,12 Years a Slave

The Gene Wyatt Award for the Film that Best Evokes the Spirit of the South 

  1. Jeff Nichols, Mud 

  2. Greg “Freddy” Cammalier, Muscle Shoals