African American Film Critics Awards: ‘American Fiction,’ ‘The Color Purple’ and ‘Origin’ Top Winners

The African American Film Critics Association on Monday announced the winners of the 15th annual AAFCA Awards as well as the organization’s picks for the 10 best films of the year.

Neon’s Origin, Amazon Studios’ American Fiction and Warner Bros.’ The Color Purple all won multiple honors, with American Fiction and The Color Purple leading with four wins apiece.

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American Fiction earned wins for best comedy, best supporting actor for Sterling K. Brown and best screenplay and emerging filmmaker for writer-director Cord Jefferson, who adapted Percival Everett’s novel Erasure into a biting satire of the publishing and entertainment industry’s limited view of Black storytelling.

The Color Purple received the awards for best musical, best ensemble and best music. Danielle Brooks also won best supporting actress for her role in the second adaptation of Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, reprising her role as Sofia, which Brooks played in the 2015 Broadway revival of the stage musical. Brooks tied that category with Da’Vine Joy Randolph, who collected yet another prize for her portrayal of a grieving mother in Focus Features’ The Holdovers, directed by two-time Oscar winner Alexander Payne.

Origin, Ava DuVernay’s film that follows Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Isabel Wilkerson as she embarks on a global journey to prepare to write her bestselling novel, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents — all while grieving two major losses — earned best drama, best director for DuVernay and best actress for Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor, who portrays Wilkerson.

American Fiction, Origin and The Color Purple also landed in the top three slots — in that order — of the AAFCA’s 10 best films of the year.

Colman Domingo took best actor for Netflix’s Rustin, in which he plays the civil rights activist Bayard Rustin, a mentor to Martin Luther King Jr. and an architect of the Aug. 1963 march on Washington where King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Lily Gladstone won best breakthrough performance for her role in Apple’s Killers of the Flower Moon.

Other winners include Focus Features’ A Thousand and One (best independent feature), Sony’s Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (best animated feature), Netflix’s Stamped From the Beginning (best documentary), Cohen Media Group’s Io Capitano (best international film) and Netflix’s The After (best short film).

“It’s become a tradition to announce our winners on MLK Day,” said AAFCA president and co-founder Gil Robertson in a statement. “And what a great year for cinema showcasing the vibrant tapestry of Black storytelling, where diversity is not a trend, but an imperative. This year’s winners have inspired, challenged and moved us and we are delighted to celebrate them and their cultural impact.”

Winners will be celebrated at the 15th annual AAFCA Awards on Feb. 21 at the Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills. Honorary awards recognizing “exceptional achievements behind-the-camera and from the executive suites” will be announced at a later date in Feburary.

Read the full list of winners below:


  1. American Fiction

  2. Origin

  3. The Color Purple

  4. Oppenheimer

  5. Past Lives

  6. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

  7. Poor Things

  8. Anatomy of a Fall

  9. Killers of the Flower Moon

  10. Barbie

Best Drama: Origin
Best Comedy: American Fiction
Best Musical: The Color Purple
Best Director: Ava DuVernay, Origin
Best Screenplay: American Fiction
Best Actor: Colman Domingo, Rustin
Best Actress: Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor, Origin
Best Supporting Actor: Sterling K. Brown, American Fiction
Best Supporting Actress: *TIE* Danielle Brooks, The Color Purple; Da’Vine Joy Randolph, The Holdovers
Best Ensemble: The Color Purple
Breakout Performance: Lily Gladstone, Killers of the Flower Moon
Emerging Filmmaker: Cord Jefferson, American Fiction
Best Independent Feature: A Thousand and One
Best Animated Feature: Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
Best Documentary: Stamped from the Beginning
Best Music: The Color Purple
Best International Film: Io Capitano
Best Short Film: The After

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