Southeastern film critics name ‘12 Years a Slave’ best 2013 film

This image released by Fox Searchlight shows Bryan Batt, left, and Chiwetel Ejiofor in a scene from Show caption
This image released by Fox Searchlight shows Bryan Batt, left, and Chiwetel Ejiofor in a scene from "12 Years A Slave." (AP Photo/Fox Searchlight, Francois Duhamel)

The Southeastern Film Critics Association picked the New Orleans area-filmed “12 Years a Slave” as its best film of 2013.

SEFCA, which includes 51 print and online film critics from Virginia to Louisiana, gave “12 Years a Slave” five of its top awards. The group named the film’s Chiwetel Ejiofor as best actor, Lupita Nyong’o as best supporting actress, Steve McQueen as best director and John Ridley’s adaptation of Solomon Northup’s 1853 slave narrative as best adapted screenplay.

The cast of “American Hustle” — the David O. Russell con-artist film featuring Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence — placed just above “12 Years a Slave” as best ensemble.

SEFCA president Philip Martin, of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, noted that 81 different films received votes.

“While ‘12 Years a Slave’ is a clear-cut winner, the voting indicates that this is an exceptionally deep year for the movies,” Martin said.

Cate Blanchett won SEFCA’s best actress honor for “Blue Jasmine.” Blanchett stars in the Woody Allen comedy as a Manhattan socialite who faces ruin when her husband’s Ponzi scheme collapses.

In the best supporting actor category, Jared Leto won for the AIDS-infected transgender character he plays in the Matthew McConaughey-starring “Dallas Buyers Club,” another New Orleans-shot film.

Other winners include Spike Jonze’s futuristic “Her” for best original screenplay; Disney’s “Frozen” for best animated feature; and Emmanuel Lubezki’s work for the space drama “Gravity” was chosen for best cinematography.

The Mississippi River-set “Mud,” another McConaughey drama, earned writer-director Jeff Nichols the Gene Wyatt Award, the SEFCA honor given to films that “best evoke the spirit of the South.” It’s the second time Nichols has won the Wyatt Award, which is named after The Tennessean’s late film critic.