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2012 New York Film Critics Circle Awards

December 4, 2012 Leave a comment

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Well, we’ve officially had our first shake-up of the season. While many of the main contenders remain at the top of the field without having to take a mention, several have confirmed their frontrunner status through victory. Moreover, one film that has largely been a mystery this awards season has instantly positioned itself as possibly the film to beat.

I am, of course, speaking of Karthryn Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty.” The highly anticipated expose on the search for Osama Bin Laden had a big night at the first official critics awards of the year. With the first reviews coming in from early screenings (a not-too-shabby Metacritic score of 97 after 8 reviews), this may end up being not so much of a surprise. Whether this will turn out becoming the year’s proverbial critical darling is yet to be seen. Personally, I’m hoping for a bit more diversity in opinion coming from this year’s critics awards rather than the usual polarization. Yet, if Bigelow’s film is a as good as it appears, you can’t argue with who knows best.

Here’s the full list of winners:

BEST PICTURE: “Zero Dark Thirty”

BEST DIRECTOR: Kathryn Bigelow – “Zero Dark Thirty”

BEST ACTOR: Daniel Day Lewis – “Lincoln”

BEST ACTRESS: Rachel Weisz – “The Deep Blue Sea”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Matthew McConaughey – “Magic Mike” and “Bernie”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Sally Field – “Lincoln”

BEST SCREENPLAY: Tony Kushner – “Lincoln”

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Greg Fraser – “Zero Dark Thirty”

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: Michael Hanecke – “Amour”

BEST FIRST FILM: David France – “How to Survive a Plague”

BEST DOCUMENTARY: Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, David McMahon – “Central Park Five”

BEST ANIMATED FILM: “Frankenweenie”

Now to cite “Zero Dark Thirty” as the only big winner yesterday would be a mistake. Steven Spielberg’s epic biopic “Lincoln” also snagged three awards, including two for acting, confirming the idea, shared by myself, that it truly has one of the best ensemble casts in recent memory. Meanwhile, Rachel Weisz has skyrocketed herself back into contention for a film that has been largely forgotten about. And while some people may still refuse to accept it, Matthew McConaughey has now become a legitimate candidate for an Oscar nomination. Who would have thought, though credit must be paid to the stellar year his career has had.

matthew_mcconaughey_nyfcc

Village Voice critic J. Hoberman gave some insight as to how some of the voting went down. Apparently, the female acting awards were incredibly tight. The decided winners barely beat out frontrunners Jennifer Lawrence from “Silver Linings Playbook” and Anne Hathaway from “Les Miserables” in their respective categories. Tommy Lee Jones’ performance in “Lincoln” came in a very close second for Supporting Actor. Though, as one would expect, Daniel Day Lewis met little resistance in his victory.

Without a doubt, the film that had the worst night was Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest work of genius, “The Master.” With very little box office support and a topic that’s not much of a crowd-pleaser, this film is definitely dependent on its critical success to attempt to revive itself. Despite showing up in late ballots for Picture, Director, Actor (Phoenix) and Cinematography, its failure to claim a single honor is not a good sign. It still has a chance for redemption with the Los Angeles Critics or NYFCO this weekend, but it’s chances of winning any major awards are fading fast.

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Some pundits are already claiming the race down to “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Lincoln,” but I am nowhere near sold. Tomorrow brings about the National Board of Review which might just change the landscape all over again. Plus, the potential success that “Argo” and “Les Miserables” will find once guild nominations start rolling out may make all the difference in the world. No doubt about it, though, things are certainly getting interesting.

And the Wheels Started Turning…

December 3, 2011 2 comments

Okay. Take a second. Deep breath…there we go. It’s been a bit of a big week with a lot to take in. However, this is just the opening salvo, and some much heavier ones are soon to come. However, in the last several days, we’ve had two extremely influential critics groups weigh in along with nominations announced by one of the more prestigious awards bodies in the country. So, while the jigsaw puzzle is far from complete, we’re getting a glimpse of the outline through the forming edges.

Let’s start with the antsiest of the lot, who just couldn’t wait their turn in line. The New York Film Critics Circle, being about as bigheaded as a group of big apple critics could be, pushed their awards announcement up by about two weeks. This was in an attempt to better influence the Oscars and separate themselves from the other critics. In case there was a critical darling such as “The Social Network” of yesteryear, they at least wanted to make it seem as though it were their idea. This has, honestly, put a rotten taste in the mouth of the whole awards season. The circle defied convention and tradition, forced movies to hurry their final touches in order to be screened in time, didn’t care to take a moment’s pause to reflect on their decisions and in the end made some really safe and traditional decisions from a group that usually champions the edgy and bold. I really must say…for shame.

For their high honors, the NYFCC went with “The Artist,” the silent film with a heart of gold. I definitely am looking forward to catching this one, though not quite as much as others. Director Michael Hazanavicius also took home high honors. By the time that Best Picture rolled in, I was hoping that “Moneyball” would pull through, after it had already won Best Actor for Brad Pitt and Best Screenplay for Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zallian. “Tree of Life” also had a pretty big day, winning Best Cinematography, sharing in Brad Pitt’s Best Actor award and Best Supporting Actress for Jessica Chastain (who also won for “Take Shelter” and “The Help”).

The other two acting awards were picked up by Albert Brooks for “Drive” and Meryl Streep for “The Iron Lady.” I’m straight-up not wild about Brooks who gives a couple of great scenes in only a good performance. Not worthy of any high accolades. As far as Meryl Streep is concerned, I’m on the fence. Whenever La Streep is once again up for her third Oscar, I just can’t decide whether I want it or not. As weird as it sounds, she is more due for an Oscar than practically any other actress, being that she is widely considered to be the greatest living performer and yet hasn’t won gold in nearly thirty years. However, when it comes to critics, Meryl is the safest choice that can be made. It’d be nicer to see some hutzpah with a choice like Tilda Swinton or Olivia Colman.

“The Descendants” turned out to be S.O.L., a surprise considering that Alexander Payne’s previous film, “Sideways,” swept this particular group, taking awards for Best Picture, Actor, Supporting Actress and Screenplay. George Clooney especially had a bad day, even missing out on a Best Actor nomination from the Spirits. However, he and the film lucked out that the National Board of Review voted differently, so much that it would seem they from a different planet (when really they’re centered out of the same city).

Here, Payne’s festival favorite came up big, taking down the awards for Best Actor (Clooney), Best Supporting Actress (Shailene Woodley) and Best Adapted Screenplay. Sadly, the prizes for Picture and Director went to “Hugo.” While it’s nice to see a wrench thrown in the works, this choice baffles me based on merit. Personally, the immensity of critical love for this film, in general, blows my mind. Pretty and heartwarming, but low on entertainment, conflict and drama. Christopher Plummer received Best Supporting Actor for his career-best performance in “Beginners,” hopefully asserting himself as the man to beat. And where NYFCC dropped the ball, the usually straight-as-an-arrow NBR chose the dicey performance of Tilda Swinton in “We Need to Talk About Kevin” for their Best Lead Actress. God, I can’t wait to see that film.

Quite strangely, the three big winners from the NYFCC went home almost completely empty-handed. “The Tree of Life” and “The Artist” only received spots on the NBR’s top ten, while “Moneyball” disturbingly did not even make that cut. However, they weren’t the unluckiest films of the day. “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” failed to receive even a single nomination from anyone. If it continues to fly under the radar with critics, it will need a massive push from the guilds to stay alive.

Also, there’s “Martha Marcy May Marlene.” The big hit at Sundance failed to even make the NBR’s top ten independent films and received only a pair of acting nominations from the Independent Spirits, an organization many would have thought the film would have championed. It has a giant hole to climb out of if it wants to stay in any kind of Oscar contention. Personally, I’m not too bummed. A great concept that failed to achieve an emotional surge and tries so hard for subtlety, but often comes off as light-handed. I do hope that Elizabeth Olsen is able to pick up some steam for her deeply nuanced performance.

So, barring any surprise announcements from critics, we’re being given a bit of a lull for the next eight days. However, starting on Sunday, December 11th, it’s going to be difficult to find a busier week. Kicking off with honors from the Los Angeles and Boston Film Critics, we’ll then be receiving nominations from the Screen Actors Guild, the Broadcast Film Critics and Golden Globes, one day after another. Until then, I’ll be reporting anything I can and probably re-evaluating my current Oscar predictions. Stay tuned.

NYFCC Winners Announced LIVE

November 29, 2011 Leave a comment

Well, here we go. The NYFCC wanted to be first and now they definitely get their wish. They’re choices will either deify them for setting the tone of the next two months or make them look like fools. We shall see.

Keep checking back as I update this page with each award as they are announced and I’ll round it out with my insights when all is said and done.

BEST PICTURE: “The Artist”

BEST DIRECTOR: Michael Hazanavicius – “The Artist”

BEST ACTOR: Brad Pitt – “Moneyball” and “The Tree of Life”

BEST ACTRESS: Meryl Streep – “The Iron Lady”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Albert Brooks – “Drive”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Jessica Chastain – “The Help,” “Take Shelter” and “The Tree of Life”

BEST SCREENPLAY: “Moneyball” by Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zallian

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: “The Tree of Life” by Emmanuel Lubezki

BEST FIRST FEATURE: “Margin Call” dir. J.C. Chandor

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: “A Separation” dir. Asghar Farhadi

BEST NON-FICTION FILM: “Cave of Forgotten Dreams” dir. Werner Herzog

NYFCC Changes the Gameplan

October 31, 2011 Leave a comment

This is the kind of news that means absolutely nothing to the average person who doesn’t understand the ins-and-outs of the Oscar race. However, for someone like me, and hopefully many of you, this is some exciting and somewhat outrageous news. The New York Film Critics Circle has been bumping up its awards announcement gradually over the last decade. The event used to not occur until late January, around the time the Oscar nominations were announced. Later, as critics began to take a more influential role in the race, they were bumped up to a mid-December date.

This year, however, the Circle is really going to shake things up by announcing their choices on November 29th, far before anyone else. For sure, this news is bound to ruffle the feathers of other organizations who will now be stuck next in line. In particular, the National Board of Review must be fuming out of their ears in response. Not only was the NBR the very first critics organization to come into existence (founded in New York in 1909 and presenting awards since 1930), but is also traditionally the first group to name the best of each year, usually in the first week of December. They wear that badge of honor like New Hampshire flaunts being the first presidential primary and I cannot believe that they’ll give it up that easily.

While not admitted, there is a clear reason for this shift in the NYFCC’s policy and it comes in the form of my (and many others’) choice for Best Picture last year: “The Social Network.” The groundbreaking film was a unanimously named darling by nearly every critics group in the entire country. Despite believing the obvious (that the film really is that good, which it is), some viewers and pundits lashed out at the critics by calling them sheep and questioning their singularity and individual distinction.

It’s because of this that New York has decided to separate itself from the pack. Now, in case there was any confusion, there is nothing that makes the NYFCC more prestigious or knowledgeable than any of the other major critics’ groups in the country such as Los Angeles, Boston, San Francisco or Chicago. In the case that another film comes along and gains a monopoly on the cinema press, New York will probably be on board. It will just appear that they came up with the idea first. So there’s a chance that their egos might be a little fatter than the rest of the country’s.

Stay tuned for more news at The Edge of the Frame as the awards race begins to rear its head.

“The Social Network” Takes Top Honors at NYFCC

December 13, 2010 Leave a comment

Well, I think that nearly marks a clean sweep for “The Social Network.” It takes the Best Picture and Best Director awards. “The Kids Are All Right” actually had the biggest day at this particular junction though, gaining much needed traction for the rest of the season. I think this is the first time a film has, in fact, beaten out “Social” in a straight-up Best Screenplay fight. Kind of an overrated film, in my opinion. Funny and interesting at times, but it has the least amount of satisfying closure that I’ve seen in a film all year.

Colin Firth picks up another win, perhaps once again solidifying himself in the Best Actor race lead. Also, Melissa Leo wins yet another Supporting Actress honor. I think that she may have just become the frontrunner for the Oscar.

Here is the full list of winners:

BEST PICTURE
“The Social Network”

BEST DIRECTOR
David Fincher – “The Social Network”

BEST SCREENPLAY
“The Kids Are All Right”

BEST ACTOR
Colin Firth – The King’s Speech

BEST ACTRESS
Annette Bening – “The Kids Are All Right”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Mark Ruffalo – “The Kids Are All Right”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Melissa Leo – “The Fighter”

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
“Black Swan”

BEST ANIMATED FILM
“The Illusionist”

BES DOCUMENTARY
“Inside Job”

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Carlos

BEST FIRST FEATURE
“Animal Kingdom”