Surreal ‘A Ghost Story’ is best movie of 2017, says Utah Film Critics Association

Members give directing nod to Christopher Nolan for ‘Dunkirk,’ acting awards to Sally Hawkins, Andy Serkis, Willem Dafoe and Tatiana Maslany.

(Bret Curry/A24 via Associated Press ) This image released by A24 shows Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck in a scene from the film, 'A Ghost Story.' Affleck plays the ghost in the David Lowery film. For most of the movie he’s silent and cloaked in a white sheet with eye holes as he returns to his home to look in on his still-living partner, played by Mara.

“A Ghost Story,” a surreal drama about death and grief, is the best movie of 2017 — so say the members of the Utah Film Critics Association, who voted Sunday on the group’s major awards.

The movie, directed by David Lowery (“Pete’s Dragon”), stars Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara as a young married couple whose lives are altered when he is killed in a car crash. The husband, played by Affleck wearing a sheet, continues to haunt their home, even years after she has moved away.

Runner-up for Best Picture was Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk,” a visually arresting chronicle of the retreat of 400,000 Allied troops from a French beach in World War II. In a hotly contested battle, the Utah critics gave Nolan the award for Best Director, and Lowery was the runner-up.

(Andrew Droz Palermo | A24 Films) Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck star in David Lowery's "A Ghost Story." The surreal drama was named the best picture of 2017 by the Utah Film Critics Association, in a meeting Dec. 17, 2017.

Top acting honors went to Andy Serkis, who donned a performance-capture suit to portray the ape uprising leader Caesar in “War for the Planet of the Apes,” and Sally Hawkins, who portrayed a mute cleaning woman who falls in love with a sea monster in Guillermo Del Toro’s “The Shape of Water.”

Supporting-acting awards went to Tatiana Maslany, portraying the guilt-stricken girlfriend of a Boston Marathon bombing survivor in “Stronger,” and Willem Dafoe, as a tough-but-tender motel manager in “The Florida Project.”

“The Shape of Water” also received top honors for composer Alexandre Desplat’s score. The only other multiple award winner was the futuristic thriller “Blade Runner 2049,” which won for Hampton Fancher and Michael Green’s adapted screenplay and Roger Deakins’ cinematography.

Seventeen of the Utah Film Critics Association’s 18 members attended Sunday’s meeting. They are all Utah-based critics who write for newspapers, TV and radio stations and websites. Here is the full list of winners chosen by the association:

Best Picture: “A Ghost Story”; runner-up: “Dunkirk.”

Director: Christopher Nolan, “Dunkirk”; runner-up: David Lowery, “A Ghost Story.”

Lead Actor, Female: Sally Hawkins, “The Shape of Water”; runner-up: Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.”

Lead Actor, Male: Andy Serkis, “War for the Planet of the Apes”; runner-up: James Franco, “The Disaster Artist.”

Supporting Actor, Female: Tatiana Maslany, “Stronger”; runner-up: Allison Janney, “I, Tonya.”

Supporting Actor, Male: Willem Dafoe, “The Florida Project”; runner-up: Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.”

Original Screenplay: Jordan Peele, “Get Out”; runners-up: Greta Gerwig, “Lady Bird,” and Martin McDonagh, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (tie).

Adapted Screenplay: Hampton Fancher and Michael Green, “Blade Runner 2049”; runner-up: Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber, “The Disaster Artist.”

Cinematography: Roger Deakins, “Blade Runner 2049”; runner-up: Hoyte van Hoytema, “Dunkirk.”

Documentary: “Jane”; runner-up: “Chasing Coral.”

Score: Alexandre Desplat, “The Shape of Water”; runner-up: Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch, “Blade Runner 2049.”

Animated Film: “Coco”; runner-up: “The LEGO Batman Movie.”

Non-English Language Film: “Thelma” (Norway); runners-up: “A Fantastic Woman” (Chile) and “Raw” (France/Belgium) (tie).

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