African American Film Critics Association Fetes ‘King Richard,’ ‘The Harder They Fall’ at 2022 Awards

The AAFCA Awards always attracts a starry crowd as awards season returns to live events.
at the 13th Annual AAFCA Film Awards held at SLS Hotel on March 2nd, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.
Aunjanue Ellis
Dan Steinberg for Variety

Awards season switched back to live mode this week, starting with the star-packed live SAG Awards  on Sunday night. This weekend brings multiple tributes and panels promoting Oscar nominees at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival —which opened March 2 — including Sunday tributes to Will Smith and Aunjanue Ellis for “King Richard” (Warner Bros./HBO Max).

But before those tributes, Smith and “King Richard” had much to celebrate March 2 at the 13th annual African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA), where Smith won the Leading Male in a Motion Picture and Aunjanue Ellis picked up Best Supporting Actress, in addition to two more wins for the film: Breakout Actor (Saniyya Sidney) and Emerging Director (Reinaldo Marcus Green). Netflix’s “The Harder They Fall” (Netflix) took home Best Picture, Best Ensemble, Best Music (Jeymes Samuel, Kid Cudi, Jay-Z), and Best Director (Jeymes Samuel).

Also taking acting honors were Jennifer Hudson (“Respect,” MGM/UA) and Corey Hawkins (“The Tragedy of Macbeth,” Apple TV+). Best Screenplay went to Adam McKay’s Oscar-nominated “Don’t Look Up” (Netflix), while Jeffery Robinson documentary “Who We Are” (Sony Pictures Classics) landed Best Independent Feature. Oscar-nominated Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson’s “Summer of Soul” (Searchlight) took Best Documentary, while fellow nominee Stanley Nelson and Traci Curry’s “Attica” won the The Stanley Kramer Award for Social Justice.

In attendance at the SLS Hotel in Los Angeles — and with some accepting honors on behalf of winners who couldn’t be there — were Aunjanue Ellis, Sherri Shepherd, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Reinaldo Marcus Green, Lee Daniels, Shaka King, Jeymes Samuel, Travon Free, Charlamagne Tha God, Adam McKay, Meagan Good, Cassandra Freeman, Franklin Leonard, and more.


Best Picture: “The Harder They Fall”

Best Director: Jeymes Samuel (“The Harder They Fall”)

Best Screenplay: “Don’t Look Up” (Adam McKay)

Best Actor: Will Smith (“King Richard”)

Best Actress: Jennifer Hudson (“Respect”)

Best Supporting Actor: Corey Hawkins (“The Tragedy of Macbeth”)

Best Supporting Actress: Aunjanue Ellis (“King Richard”)

Breakout Actor: Saniyya Sidney (“King Richard”)

Best Ensemble: “The Harder They Fall”

Emerging Director: Reinaldo Marcus Green (“King Richard”)

Best Music: “The Harder They Fall” (Jeymes Samuel, Kid Cudi, Jay-Z)

Best Independent Feature: “Who We Are”

Best Documentary: “Summer of Soul”

The Stanley Kramer Award for Social Justice:  “Attica” Director Stanley Nelson and Co-Director Traci Curry

Building Change Award: Roxanne Avent-Taylor, The Hidden Empire Film Group

Salute to Excellence: John Gibson, MPA Advisor for Inclusion and Multicultural Outreach

The Innovator Award: Oscar-nominated composer Terence Blanchard (“Da 5 Bloods,” “BlacKkKlansmen”)

Winners are voted on by AAFCA’s some 90 members, a geographically diverse cross-section of journalists covering all genres of the cinematic arts via multiple media including print, TV, radio broadcast and online. Collectively, they reach a worldwide audience in excess of 100 million.

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