Houston Film Critics Society Names Films for 2008

By Daniel A. Russ,
The Houston Film Critics Society, a group of critics in Houston, Texas, have named their list of "bests" for 2008.

The Houston Film Critics Society has named The Curious Case of Benjamin Button as the best film of 2008, although it split its awards list among 10 films in 14 categories.

The group of 18 critics that reviews movies for newspapers, broadcast outlets and Web sites serving the Houston market, presented its second annual awards Saturday at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston's Brown Auditorium Theater.

Benjamin Button, adapted from F. Scott Fitzgerald's short story, was nominated in 8 of the 14 categories, although it was limited to best picture and to best cinematography for Claudio Miranda.

Three other films won two awards from the group of critics. Viola Davis was named best supporting actress for Doubt, based on the Tony Award-winning play by John Patrick Shanley about the issues of child molestation and racial integration at a 1960s Catholic school. The film also won best ensemble cast.

Danny Boyle won best director for his work on Slumdog Millionaire, which told the story of a young Indian teen who wins fame on a television game show, and Simon Beaufoy for best screenplay. WALL-E, the animated movie from Pixar, was named the best animated film and for best original song, "Down to Earth."

Best actor and actress awards went to Sean Penn for Milk, telling the story of the late San Francisco city supervisor, Harvey Milk, and Anne Hathaway for Rachel Getting Married.

The late Heath Ledger was also named as best supporting actor for The Dark Knight, the newest installment of the Batman franchise.

"We believe the awards distribution will be all over the place this year. There are many great films, but none have the true brilliance of past years," said Nick Nicholson, president of the society.

Nicholson said the group attempts to honor achievements in a broader range of categories than most local film societies and was formed to promote critical film discussion rather than general entertainment and personality news reports.

Membership is limited to applicants who review films for newspapers with a circulation of more than 7,500, who deliver regularly scheduled reviews on public or commercial TV or radio stations and Internet writers whose sites attract at least 5,000 unique viewers per month. Applicants are subject to approval by 75 percent of current members.

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