The New York Film Critics Circle Loves ‘Carol,’ ‘Spotlight,’ And Kristen Stewart

A handful of national bodies have begun to weigh in on the end-of-year film conversation, but we have yet to hear from any of the regional critics’ organizations. Until today, that is: The New York Film Critics Circle rolled out their selections for the awards commending the cream of 2015’s crop. And a bumper crop it was, with some sorely under-acknowledged excellence getting well-deserved recognition and worthy frontrunners securing their leads.

Carol waltzed away with four awards in key categories, not only landing Best Picture honors, but also adding to the mantlepieces of director Todd Haynes, scribe Phyllis Nagy, and cinematographer Edward Lachman. If we choose to interpret these awards as tea leaves for Oscar season — with the grain of salt taken that the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and the NYFCC are made up of very different sorts of people — then Carol all but has at least one of the top prizes sewn up. Wins from Saoirse Ronan for her steadfast immigrant in Brooklyn and Kristen Stewart (more on her in a moment) could complicate chances for Carol stars Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett, both of whom are understood to be major contenders. But Carol was undoubtedly the announcements’ victor, and Todd Haynes has plenty more hardware to look forward to in the coming months.

But about ascendant K-Stew: It’s deeply gratifying to see her mature, measured, brilliantly assured work in Olivier Assayas’ hall-of-mirrors drama Clouds of Sils Maria drawing the plaudits it so richly deserves. It’s always been clear that the actress was bigger than the constrictions of the Twilight franchise would allow her to be, but Clouds represents the first full realization of her potential. As the opaque, sharply analytical personal assistant Valentine, Stewart evinces more naturalism, intelligence, and honesty than in any of her performances to date. In a kind and loving world, Academy members would take notice and scout out this brilliant film that was released quietly, and all the way back in April. It’s a real treat.

The Best Supporting Actor category just got a bit more interesting, as well, due to an unexpected win from stage fixture Mark Rylance as Bridge of Spies‘ suspected Communist defended by Tom Hanks. Though Sylvester Stallone has been gaining traction recently as Creed has collected raves during its opening weeks, the Best Supporting Actor race has yet to develop a real frontrunner. This win might provide Rylance with some much-needed visibility before the awards season kicks into high gear.

Read the full list of awards below.

Best Picture – Carol
Best Director – Todd Haynes, Carol
Best Screenplay – Phyllis Nagy, Carol
Best Actress – Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn
Best Actor – Michael Keaton, Spotlight
Best Supporting Actress – Kristen Stewart, Clouds of Sils Maria
Best Supporting Actor – Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
Best Cinematographer – Edward Lachman, Carol
Best Animated Film – Inside Out
Best Non-Fiction Film (Documentary) – In Jackson Heights
Best Foreign Film – Timbuktu
Best First Film – László Nemes, Son of Saul
Special Award – William Becker and Janus Films
Special Award – Ennio Morricone