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Sunday
Jan082012

"Melancholia" it is for the NSFC

Bucking 2011-focused critical tradition thus far, which has divvied up the best picture prizes between The Tree of Life, The Descendants, Drive and The Artist. The National Society of Film Critics have gone with Lars von Trier's epic sci-fi depression metaphor Melancholia (TFE's top ten list) for their Best Film. 2011 precursor season continues to be a delight with its wide spread of honors. We're especially pleased for Kirsten Dunst though their backing comes far too late to improve her neglible Oscar traction. But Oscar isn't everything. This is a beautiful way for the resurgent actress to close out 2011 which will undoubtedly be a pivotal year for her career. 

The year began with the afterglow of terrific reviews for All Good Things (interview) and peaked with a Cannes win for Best Actress. Meanwhile with goodwill for her career finally restored, she lined up or filmed a completed work on a handful of new movies. Well done Kiki!

Picture Melancholia (ru: The Tree of Life and A Separation)
Director Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life (ru: Martin Scorsese for Hugo and Lars von Trier for Melancholia)
Actress Kirsten Dunst, Melancholia (ru: Yun Jung-Hee for Poetry and Meryl Streep)
Actor Brad Pitt, for Moneyball and The Tree of Life (ru: Gary Oldman and Jean Dujardin)

Supporting Actress
Jessica Chastain, for Tree of Life, Take Shelter and The Help  (ru: Jeannie Berlin for Margaret and Shailene Woodley for The Descendants)
Supporting Actor Albert Brooks, Drive (ru: Christopher Plummer and Patton Oswalt)
Screenplay A Separation (ru: Moneyball and Midnight in Paris)
Non Fiction Film Cave of Forgotten Dreams (ru: The Interrupters and Into the Abyss)
Foreign Film A Separation (ru: Mysteries of Lisbon and Le Havre)
Experimental Film Ken Jacobs for "Seeking the Monkey King"

Film Heritage Prizes
• BAMcinématek for its complete Vincente Minnelli retrospective
• Lobster Films, Groupama Gan Foundation for Cinema and the Technicolor Foundation for Cinema for the restoration of the color version of George Méliès’s “A Trip to the Moon.”  
• New York’s Museum of Modern Art's Weimar Cinema retrospective
• Flicker Alley's box set “Landmarks of Early Soviet Film.”
• Criterion Collection's DVD package “The Complete Jean Vigo.” 

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Reader Comments (26)

Don't you think the screenplay award for "A SEPARATION" will improve its chance for an oscar nod in this category?

January 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

Julie -- i'd like to think so but i still worry that it got way too late of a start to affect Oscar ballots.

January 8, 2012 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

re: A Separation - I think it has a shot at the Screenplay nomination, but only because the year is a little bit off in that sense AND SPC had the good sense (rare for them) to send out screeners early enough that enough buzz might get voters to watch.

re: Nathaniel, you didn't mention it, but the leading categories provides a reunion from Interview with a Vampire between Dunst and Pitt

The success of Pitt here suggests to me that he's so clearly winning. Great year, talked about films, liked guy, etc. It's like Jamie Foxx in 2004 without the obvious mimicry.

January 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

Yay! Brad Pitt! NY! Boston! NSFC! I like his Oscar chances.

January 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSusy

Arkaan & Susy -- hmmm. I hope you're right but the buzz seems to be behind George Clooney because people are so apeshit crazy about The Descendants for whatever reason (i can't figure it. Mediocre film for me through and through)

January 8, 2012 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Nathaniel, I think you forgot to mention the cinematography award.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
*1. The Tree of Life – 76 (Emanuel Lubezki)
2. Melancholia – 41 (Manuel Alberto Claro)
3. Hugo – 33 (Robert Richardson)

January 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJin

I don't see Clooney winning at all,Pitt is where it's at,i think he will be in 2 best pic nominees and maybe end up in supporting too,as for Dunst i am very pleased for her i have her in my top 3 of the year behind Colman and Theron although she was better in all good things and i did not care for Melancholia.

January 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMARK

I see Clooney taking it right now- hard to put my finger on why, but he seems to be where the buzz is at. It wouldn't bother me at all; in fact, the nice thing about Pitt, Clooney and Dujardin is that they're great in movies that I quite like. (Which is different from the best actress race, where the frontrunners are great in movies I'm not wild about.)
I'm loving how close these races still are. Whoever wins the Globe next week between Pitt/Clooney and Davis/Streep, I'll be rooting for the other one at SAG just to hold on to this feeling.

January 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

http://www.awardsdaily.com/2012/01/michelle-williams-at-the-palm-springs-film-festival/#more-47901

Okay, so we know in terms of speeches Meryl is the best, but Michelle just blew me away.

January 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKeegan

I think all categories are hard to call yes even supp actor.

January 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMARK

Sorry guys, I was wondering if films in foreign language can also be nominated as best pictures because if they can then A Separation deserves a nod.

January 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTerris

Terris -- A Separation is eligible for all categories yes. But not every foreign film is eligible in all categories. To be eligible they have to meet all the requirements that english language films have to meet so most of the competitors for foreign film each year are not eligible for other prizes since you have to actually be in movie theaters to become eligible in other categories.

January 8, 2012 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

totally called all these except for Chastain (thought Redgrave would finally show up but guess it was wishful thinking)

January 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRyanSt

This makes Chastain the only acting contender to pull off the trio of NYFCA, LAFCA and NSFC wins this year. Tres impressive.

Guys, I think our Jessica might start to look like a front-runner now, especially if Spencer stumbles at the Globes -- which is entirely possible. Though I think there's still a chance she can cancel herself out, it looks like she's definitely in for a nod. But then again, Sally Hawkins had all this + a Golden Globe win and she still had to sit it out. SO CONFUSING.

And can I call it now without jinxing it? I think A Separation might just take it all the way. It's 'conservative' enough for the older voters to fall for it and exciting/worldly/acclaimed enough for the panel committee to lobby around. And if some random-ass WWII bait movie sneaks in instead (and at the finish line esp.) I can't imagine the firestorm of hell people are gonna rain on that category.

If I can have one wish this award season (aside from Jonah Hill-gate) it's that the Shailene Woodley love stops here and now. Such an average performance in a mediocre film taking up precious space in a very crowded and strong category. DOES NOT COMPUTE.

January 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMark

I don't have any use for a Hollywood that doesn't have any use for Kirsten Dunst. Thank god for her past two years.

January 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHayden W

Mark -- that's always true though right. In just about every category.

Hayden -- i hear you. so so so glad her career picked back up. hhoping it lasts.

January 8, 2012 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Can you think of the last time an Alexander Payne film performed to expectations, though? Election did about right (screenplay only, though everyone loved Witherspoon). About Schmidt surprised and missed out on a screenplay nomination. Sideways had that huge Giammati snub. The Descendants is doing reasonably well in the critics darby, but not so well that Clooney's gonna walk to the podium. Box office wise it's doing quite well, I'll admit.

But in every category it's doing well in, I'd argue Moneyball is outperforming it.

Critics: Two of the big three for Pitt, NBR and minor ones for Clooney

Year: The Tree of Life is the success d'estime, though The Ides of March is slinking in quite strongly, I'd say it's too little, too late.

Obstacles: Both are epic stars, but Clooney's already won. It generally takes something special to clinch that second win (Sophie's Choice level hysteria, lockity-lock-lock Forrest Gump) and people don't seem to think that The Descendants is it. It's done well enough, but I don't think the Globes or SAG will vote for Clooney above Pitt.

Mark, people think that AMPAS voters care about the critics/buzz/etc. THEY DON'T!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Internet hysteria doesn't translate to AMPAS hysteria. Remember how the internet was all abuzz that the voters regretted not voting for The Dark Knight and Inception/Nolan was gonna make it in (heck, the rules were even changed). Well, Nolan was still ignored. Or how the media was telling us that Harry Potter could be nominated for best picture? Anyone still making that bet?

I think A Separation could win, of course, but not because voters (who snubbed Volver. And 4 months, 3 weeks, 2 days. And Silent Light. And Persepolis. And The Edge of Heaven. and Gommorah. And ..... you get the picture) are worried about reputation.

January 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

Nathaniel--- And I guess they must be in movie theatres not only in their country but also abroad, right?

January 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTerris

I really like Chastain, but really her performance in The Help on its own is not awards worthy, not compared to the others in that category, it would be a case of rewarding the year more than the performance itself, which I don't like. She'll get nominated at the Oscars, but I can't see her winning.

January 9, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterramification

I love that this is the first time I can remember where everything is this wide-open (at least to those of us "outsiders"); I always think that will happen and then by December it usually all falls into locks and so forth and it becomes a crashing bore. This is how it should be, IMHO, and this is part of how you keep the excitement going. (it helps tremendously when critics groups have MINDS OF THEIR own - you've been beating that drum Nathaniel, and I'm with you on that groove) Don't you think that may be a part of why viewership has been down? (Aside from the internet and the availability of more home entertainment choices, too many almost mind-numbing awards that all take themselves very seriously, and of course the fact that the entertainment industry is incapable of producing an entertaining awards show.)

January 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJanice

I wonder when it'll be Christina Ricci's turn for a Dunst style upturn in her career.

January 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterYoyo

Terris -- they have to play one week theatrically in Los Angeles within the calendar year to be eligible for all categories (and they have to be the chosen submission by their home country -- and play in their home country within a specific time frame (which is slightly different than the calendar year) to be eligible for foreign film.

So for example THE SKIN I LIVE IN is eligible in all categories EXCEPT foreign film since it was not Spain's submission. A SEPARATION is eligible in all categories including foreign film since it played a week in LA and was also submitted by Iran. and, DECLARATION OF WAR from France for example is only eligible for foreign film since it is not opening until 2012 in US.

January 9, 2012 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Nat I forgot to say thank you for listing the film heritage prizes. Just last week I watched on YouTube a version of Trip to the Moon that had it's ending restored, and is the best-quality version I'd seen so far (a lot of sequences I hadn't seen or didn't remember from the damaged copies I saw in college), though still in black and white. Hearing it's been restored further makes me all kinds of happy (no doubt with an assist from Scorsese? I'm sure Hugo will lead to a renewed appreciation of Melies.)

The funny thing about Melies, though - you've seen one, you've seen them all. I do love early films (they were never really "silent" as music was played in the theaters) but after a film or two, you realize you've seen all Melies has to offer in terms of tricks and painted sets and themes - although his contribution to the cinema is indisputable. (Although if anyone has a recommendation of another Melies must-see please let me know.)

January 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJanice

I really wish Yun Jung-Hee was getting some Oscar traction, runner up here and LAFCA winner, she would have been in the conversation more had she been American/British/French etc. I saw Poetry over 4 months ago now and I still think about it.

January 9, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterramification

ramification --- Every year now there seems to be some stunning Asian performance by an actress that's utterly ignored by Oscar. It's becoming a tragic norm. They'd have to literally sweep EVERYTHING to even be noticed, it would appear. Plus, it doesn't help that their films are barely released -- I live in one of the most populated cities in the US and I don't think a single screen here was devoted to Poetry this year or Mother, Thirst or Secret Sunshine of the past few years. Lust Caution barely got a release if I recall correctly and that's an Ang Lee.

Arkaan --- I guess I'm talking about ANOTHER firestorm of hell that would be inflicted upon that category. LOL. As I recall, didn't they modify the rules directly after that 4M, 3W, 2D glaring snub and eventual criticism? But I would disagree that those FL votes are worried about reputation, the nominees in the past few years are very telling. At the very least, they've been forced to clean up their act which I guess means they care on some level. And if something as monstrously acclaimed as A Separation loses out AGAIN, I wouldn't be surprised for another change in the rules.

January 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMark

Nathaniel--- Very clear explanation. Thanks again! I'm learning lots of cinematic things here at The Film Experience! =)

January 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTerris
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