Vancouver Film Critics Circle takes a shine to Hello Destroyer, Manchester by the Sea

The Vancouver Film Critics' Circle announced their top films of 2016 in their 17th annual ceremony last week, attended by nominees, member critics and industry professionals at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. 

Hello Destroyer was the big winner in Canadian categories, winning Best Canadian Picture, Best B.C. Film and Best Director for Kevan Funk. The film is a no-holds-barred look at Canada's national pastime, and how one young man's life spirals out of control after his hockey family abandons him. 

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Hello Destroyer also earned Vancouverite and 2016 TIFF Rising Star Jared Abrahamson Best Canadian Actor for his portrait of a quiet junior hockey player pushed to aggressive limits, only to be left out in the cold after tragedy strikes on the ice.  

Kurt Max Runte was on hand to accept Best Canadian Supporting Actor for Hello Destroyer, in which he plays the coach who cajoles and debases his young players until they produce results. Molly Parker won Best Canadian Supporting Actress for Weirdos.

Werewolf, Ashley Mackenzie's brutally frank look at the daily existence of two 20-something drug addicts, won for Best First Film by a Canadian Director. The film also earned Bhreagh MacNeil Best Canadian Actress honours.  

Best Canadian Screenplay went to Ann Marie Fleming's wondrous animated film Window Horses: The Poetic Persian Epiphany of Rosie Ming. The Prison in Twelve Landscapes, a series of vignettes about the ancillary benefits and costs of prison life, won Best Canadian Documentary for Brett Story.

In International categories, Manchester by the Sea hauled in awards for Best Film, Best Director (Kenneth Lonergan), Best Screenplay (Lonergan again), Best Actor (Casey Affleck) and Best Supporting Actress for Michelle Williams. Told with unrestrained pathos and no small amount of humour, the film is a painful mystery into why Lee Chandler (Affleck) is so reluctant to assume custody of his nephew and return to his hometown after the sudden death of his brother. 

With more than 100 films to her credit, Isabelle Huppert won Best Actress for her powerful portrait of a rape victim out for vengeance in Paul Verhoeven's Elle. Best Supporting Actor went to Mahershala Ali and his fatherly, surprisingly tender drug dealer in Moonlight.

Wildy funny, touching father-daughter story Toni Erdmann, directed by Maren Ade, won Best Foreign Language Film while Best Documentary went to Kirsten Johnson's Cameraperson, a compilation of memories and footage gathered from decades of cinematography around the globe that raises pertinent questions about the photographer-subject relationship.

Prolific documentary cinematographer Kirk Tougas was the recipient of the Ian Caddell Achievement Award, which honours outstanding contribution to the B.C. film and television industry. Tougas spoke at length about the advancements in Canadian film since the 1960s and the ongoing struggle by filmmakers to get Canadian film voices heard. 

Catch Hello Destroyer and other must-see films during the Cinematheque’s Canada's Top 10 Film Festival, running until Jan. 22. 

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