The New York Film Critics Circle held its annual vote today, “first!” among the critics groups to announce and firing the latest in a series of “starting guns” for the season. (Truly, where does it all really “begin” anymore?) And the big, hardly surprising winner? Richard Linklater's “Boyhood.”
The 12-year opus also took awards for Best Director and Best Supporting Actress. The only other film to land multiple wins was “The Immigrant,” interestingly enough, which shared Marion Cotillard in the Best Actress arena with “Two Days, One Night” and also took the organization's cinematography prize.
Curiously lost in the mix was Alejandro González Iñárritu's “Birdman,” but it's entirely possible the LA critics right that ship next week. I'm expecting Best Film and Best Actor wins there, but we'll see. Ditto Ava DuVernay's “Selma,” which was beloved by a number of critics but still didn't find room.
In recent years the NYFCC has handed its Best Picture prize to films like “American Hustle,” “Zero Dark Thirty,” “The Artist,” “The Social Network,” “The Hurt Locker,” “Milk,” “No Country for Old Men,” “United 93,” “Brokeback Mountain” and “Sideways.” How will this year's winners fit into that legacy and where will they go in the season from here? Time will tell.
Check out the full list of winners below, with running commentary from this morning's vote throughout.
Best Animated Film: “The LEGO Movie”
I would call it the only real choice for critics groups who don't want to sully themselves by voting for a legitimately great sequel that deserves to be in the Best Picture race, but then there are also the GKIDS titles. Either way, “The LEGO Movie” is a hip choice all around this year. And so it goes… Probably your Oscar winner in the end.
Best Foreign Language Film: “Ida”
A handsome choice and a film that has been around for quite a long time. Striking photography, austere in its delivery, it's one of the frontrunners for a nomination in this year's foreign Oscar race.
Best Nonfiction Film: “CITIZENFOUR”
No surprise here as it's become the default choice, despite there being far better movies like “The Overnighters” and “Tales of the Grim Sleeper” out there. It's an important film and one that should be seen for a number of reasons, but I remain flummoxed. It's not formally impressive and really feels like self-lionization more than anything. Not that it doesn't send viewers off on a high note with its final reveal.
Best Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons (“Whiplash”)
First step toward Oscar? It just might be. I watched the film again this week and GOD does it sing. And Academy types love it. It could be a sleeper nominee in a number of categories. Meanwhile, Simmons has been toiling away as a character actor for so long, people are going to want this for him. He dominates. Kudos.
Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette (“Boyhood”)
The other frontrunner in this year's supporting races. And with Meryl Streep seemingly her only competition, Arquette still looks poised for an Oscar. What a deserving one it would be. (Check out our interview with Arquette here.)
Best Screenplay: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
An inspired choice and part of an intense and heated Best Original Screenplay Oscar race. This is a great example of a film the critics can really help revive as they continue to hand out awards this month. The March release was a huge hit for Fox Searchlight, Wes Anderson's biggest to date. But people need to be reminded of it.
Best Cinematography: Darius Khondji (“The Immigrant”)
ABSOLUTELY INSPIRED. Khondji's work on this film is one of the unsung elements of the season. Or, at least, it was looking to be that way. Kudos to the New York critics for speaking up on its behalf. The lighting and composition is staggering throughout. Khondji remains one of the very best in the game.
Best Actor: Timothy Spall (“Mr. Turner”)
They took a while to decide on this one, and you can understand why. It's a crazily intense category this year, and frankly, one that finds Mr. Spall on the bubble. But this will be a massive boost for him, and maybe the New York crowd had their eye on that very notion. This plus his Cannes Best Actor honor keep him in the conversation, but again, it's tight. And there's bound to be a “sure thing” that gets left off here, just like last year. (Check out our interview with Spall here.)
Special Award: Adrienne Mancia
Mancia has been with New York's Museum of Modern Art since 1964, where she is the curator of film exhibitions. A hometown love letter. Mazel tov.
Best Actress: Marion Cotillard (“The Immigrant” and “Two Days, One Night”)
With such a thin Oscar race for this category, there was a lot of leeway for the group to be adventurous, not unlike their Rachel Weisz/”Deep Blue Sea” pick a few years back. And so they were. I'm not sure Cotillard can push into the Oscar race; the Dardennes are an acquired taste. But this will certainly make the screener more of a priority for voters.
Best First Film: Jennifer Kent (“The Babadook”)
I've written the word “inspired” a couple of times now, and, well, here it is again. A great choice and a vital one, to recognize a female filmmaker. I keep meaning to give this another look. It's an impressive debut and people like William Friedkin and Stephen King are out there stumping for it.
Best Director: Richard Linklater (“Boyhood”)
That's two each for “Boyhood” and “The Immigrant.” I was expecting the group to go with “Boyhood” for Best Film but with this, that could change the dynamic a bit. We'll see. But what else is there left to say about this guy and this film? I think he's winning the Oscar.
Best Film: “Boyhood”
And there it is. I figured on this, but after the Best Director win, I was wondering if the group might look to “Birdman” or “Selma.” Maybe the LA critics will stick up for those.