Founded in 1975, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA) is comprised of Los Angeles-based, professional film critics working in the Los Angeles print and electronic media.
Each December, LAFCA members vote on the year’s Achievement Awards, honoring screen excellence on both sides of the camera. Plaques of recognition are presented to winners during LAFCA’s annual ceremony, held in mid-January.
Aside from honoring each year’s outstanding cinematic achievements, LAFCA has also made it a point to look back and pay tribute to distinguished industry veterans with its annual Career Achievement Award (which is announced in October), as well as to look forward by spotlighting fresh, promising talent with its annual New Generation Award.
Over the years, LAFCA Career Achievement winners have included filmmakers John Huston, Orson Welles and Billy Wilder, actors Robert Mitchum, Barbara Stanwyck, Myrna Loy and Robert Preston, producer Roger Corman, and, more recently, cinematographer Conrad L. Hall and composer Ennio Morricone.
Meanwhile, those New Generation Award-winners who were voted most likely to succeed over the past three decades include Martin Scorsese and Jodie Foster (1976’s recipients), John Carpenter, Sean Penn, Spike Lee, Pedro Almodóvar and Leonardo DiCaprio.
The Association’s formation had been spearheaded by the late Ruth Batchelor, a writer for the L.A. Free Press and a correspondent for KTTV-TV. Opening its membership to L.A.-based film critics whose reviews appeared regularly in newspapers, trade publications and magazines, as well as on radio and television, LAFCA voted in its first batch of awards on Feb. 13, 1976 at the old Cock’n’Bull Restaurant.
While there was no official awards presentation that year, inaugural winners included “Dog Day Afternoon” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” which tied for Best Picture, while Al Pacino was voted Best Actor and Sidney Lumet received the nod for Best Director, both for “Dog Day Afternoon.” Best Actress Honors went to Florinda Bolkan, the star of Vittorio De Sica’s “A Brief Vacation.”
In the years that followed, LAFCA would continue to grow both in ranks and influence to become a respected organization with a reliable eye for excellence.
But LAFCA is not just about handing out awards. Over the past three decades, LAFCA has sponsored and hosted numerous film panels and events and donated funds to various Los Angeles film organizations, especially where film preservation was concerned.
LAFCA members have also collectively been vocal about taking up causes they’ve felt passionate about, from drafting formal protests against censorship and colorization to lending their support to controversial films.