This year, the Houston Film Critics Society will pay tribute to some noble, local heroes and stars of screen, during its 11th Annual Houston Film Critics Society Movie Awards ceremony. The fun film fest, which will be held at the Midtown Arts and Theater Center Houston (MATCH) Saturday night, promises cinematic treats for attendees such as bobbleheads from Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, and framed prints from flicks such as La La Land, and Sidekicks, the 1992 Chuck Norris film that was shot in Houston.
Legendary Houstonian Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale will be honored with the annual Humanitarian of the Year Award, for his selfless efforts after Hurricane Harvey; the Gallery Furniture owner made national news for opening up his store to flood victims, and hosting a Thanksgiving dinner for needy families.
The late, iconic actor Harry Dean Stanton will be given a special tribute by local film critic Joe Leydon. “I’m the one who proposed this to fellow members,” says Leydon, a film critic for The Houston Post, Houston Press, Variety, CultureMap and more, and recently wrote a memorial piece on Stanton for Cowboys and Indians Magazine. “They readily agreed that this is something we should do to honor, really, a prolific and prodigious character actor who really has gone out in a blaze of glory with Lucky.” (The film critic also jokes that McIngvale should also be heralded for Sidekicks, as McIngvale served as an executive producer. “I have to say I’m one of the people who view Sidekicks as kind of a guilty pleasure,” says Leydon. “So, I’d be willing to honor Mr. McIngvale for that alone.”)
Leydon calls Stanton’s final film role in Lucky, as an old loner coming to terms with his mortality: “the performance of a lifetime.” But he also says the man should be remembered for his knack of slipping into any production, and making it ten times better. “You look over his career, going all the way back to bit parts in prime-time Westerns to movies like Repo Man, Paris, Texas and Alien, and you really see a — I don’t wanna say a journeyman actor, but an actor who was willing to take on any role in any size in any movie and, more often than not, elevate that film.”
The Shape of Water leads the list of HFCS nominated films — with nods in seven categories — and Lady Bird with five.
Attendees will also a chance to win a dinner with Jonathan Sandys, the great-grandson of Sir Winston Churchill. Sandys will discuss the three Churchill era films released in 2017, over a three course meal with wine at a Houston restaurant.
By annually throwing this grand spectacle — instead of just tossing out a press release like other critics’ groups — the 34-member HFCS hands out awards to popular films and filmmakers, some of whom actually do find a way to accept their award. (British director-writer-director Edgar Wright once sent a cheeky video, when he was awarded the Best Original Song award for a tune from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.)
The HFCS also focuses on films that were made in and around the Lone Star State, via its Texas Independent Film Award. This year, the nominees include the supernatural drama A Ghost Story, filmed in Dallas, and Terrence Malick’s examination of Austin's music scene, Song to Song, shot in Austin, and starring Christian Bale, Rooney Mara, Michael Fassbender, and Ryan Gosling. Also look for coming-home-to-Austin pic Mr. Roosevelt, buddy comedy Mustang Island; and The Secret Life of Lance Letscher, a documentary on the life of experimental collage artist and Austin native Lance Letscher.
These awards remind Houstonians that this town has a rich, booming film community. “I think this event is bigger than a gathering of critics passing judgment on films released during the previous 12 months,” says Leydon. “It’s bigger than a bunch of us getting up and making nice speeches and showing film clips to people. It’s also a way of fostering and encouraging a film community — people from all areas in the film community in Houston: production, publicity, the Houston Film Commission, representatives of various universities and colleges, students.”
“There is, I think, a lot of a really strong and cohesive and encouraging film community in Houston,” Leydon adds. “And I think that an event such as the Houston Film Critics Society Movie Awards is one way to foster that.”
The 11th Annual Houston Film Critics Society Movie Awards starts at 7:30 pm Saturday, January 6, at MATCH's Matchbox 4, 3400 Main Street. CultureMap readers can use promo code HFCGUEST to purchase tickets at the discounted price of $5, while seats remain. ESPN 97.5 FM and SportsMap 94.1 FM are co-sponsors of this event.