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Sunday
Dec162012

Cross Country Critics Champs

To some extent I've lost my taste for covering the critics awards -- at least in depth -- since there are more each year and more which do that coy "nominations first!" thing to try to drum up publicity (it works since the web always needs content... even if the content is the same as the day before as so many of these awards prove!). I'm not trying to be a killjoy -- I'm really not! -- but I guess I have anger issues with my fellow critics since they are all so willing to abandon anything they loved during the year once the year end Oscar movies hit. I challenge everyone to go back and read what critics wrote about Michael Fassbender when Prometheus premiered and then wonder why they can't be bothered with them now... even when they go so far as to announce nominations ?!? Oscar has a bias against genre performances but unfortunately many of the same media voices who complain about this share the same bias in their own year end honors! Someone will have to explain to me how Alan Arkin in Argo and Robert DeNiro in Silver Linings Playbook for example are more exemplary examples of Great Film Acting than Fassy in Prometheus. I'd wait but I fear the wait would be longer than the running time of 25 historical epics combined  since who in their right mind would try and justify this verbally even if they votes say differently?

But look at me flying way off track!

So grumpy, me, I apologize! All that said, this year has had a bit more variety in critical winners than some recent years and I do some love reading awards lists. So let's hit four cities and one multi-city stop after the jump and see what they liked most this week... The results are not uninteresting. MORE

Detroit Film Critics Society
Film Silver Linings Playbook
Director David O Russell Silver Linings Playbook
Actress Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Actor Daniel Day Lewis, Lincoln
Supporting Actress Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables
Supporting Actor Robert DeNiro, Silver Linings Playbook
Ensemble Lincoln
Breakthrough Zoe Kazan, Ruby Sparks
Screenplay Silver Linings Playbook
Documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi 

Detroit shows a distinct fondness for their manic pixie dream girls (Zoe & Jennifer) and for all things Silver Linings. Wow, you'd think the film took place in Detroit rather than Philly. In Documentary they haven't gone for either of the Detroit docs that won raves this year (Detropia or ) 

San Diego Film Critics
Film Argo
Director Ben Affleck Argo
Actress Michelle Williams, Take This Waltz
Actor Daniel Day Lewis, Lincoln
Supporting Actress Emma Watson, The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Supporting Actor Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
Original Screenplay The Master
Adapted Screenplay Argo
Foreign Film The Kid With a Bike
Documentary The Invisible War
Cinematography Life of Pi
Animated Film ParaNorman
Editing Argo
Production Design Cloud Atlas
Score The Master
Ensemble The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Body of Work Greig Fraser (cinematography: Zero Dark Thirty, Killing Them Softly, Snow White and the Huntsman)
Kyle Counts Award Dan Bennett, Festival Director of San Diego International Children's Film Festival 

San Diego can be deliciously stubborn about bucking the trends -- especially in Supporting Actress where they tend to cite someone no one else is bothering to honor. And that citation is especially sweet since they also gave The Perks of Being a Wallflower their ensemble prize. But who saw their Argo fixation coming? In Body of Work they've made a truly great call. Frasier has been amazing since day one on short films and his career has justifiably skyrocketing post Bright Star (2009) though weirdly people didn't honor that amazing film in cinematography in its year.

Oh but San Diego, you show much more independent thinking than many critics groups so what the hell with buying the lie that Christoph Waltz is a supporting player? It's not like you're an Oscar influencing behemoth who is sticking up for an unheralded performer. So have some integrity about it. He drives well over two hours of Django's narrative (it might more accurately be titled Schutlz Unchains Django he's so central to the film. Hell, Django only takes the movie away from Schultz once he has no other option!) 

San Francisco Film Critics Circle
Picture The Master
Director Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty
Actress Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
Actor Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
Supporting Actress Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Supporting Actor Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
Documentary The Waiting Room
Foreign Film Amour
Animated Film ParaNorman 
Editing Argo
Production Design Moonrise Kingdom
Cinematography Life of Pi
Adapted Screenplay Lincoln
Original Screenplay Zero Dark Thirty 
Marlon Riggs Award Peter Nicks, The Waiting Room
Special Citation Girl Walk / All Day, a dance film 

Ah, Helen Hunt. Well done. Figures that it would be sexually permissive San Francisco that finally wins her some statue (plaque? scroll?) to call her own. Not that she's a supporting actress but whatevs. Earlier in the year I thought that Joaquin Phoenix might give Daniel Day-Lewis a run for his Best Actor money with critics prizes but that was just me being stupid. Still, it's nice to see him pick up a thing or two during DDL's hardware collecting tour of the world.

Kansas City Film Critics
Film The Master
Director Ang Lee Life of Pi
Actress Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Actor Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Supporting Actress Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables
Supporting Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Adapted Screenplay Argo
Original Screenplay The Master
Foreign Film Amour
Best Sci Fi Fantasy Horror Film Cabin in the Woods
Animated Film Frankenweenie
Documentary Imposter 

Kansas is yet another example of interesting critical trend this year. Even when The Master wins Best Picture it fails to take Best Director for Paul Thomas Anderson. That's a bit strange for such an auteurist film, no?

Oh and Kansas. Hoffman is not a supporting actor. Sheesh! He's THE MASTER of The Master! Stop sucking up to Oscar campaigns. Get some stones. Quick would you still give him your prize if you put him in the right category? That would be interesting to know.

African American Film Critics Association
Film Zero Dark Thirty
Top Ten (Descending): Zero Dark Thirty, Argo, Lincoln, Middle of Nowhere, Life of Pi, Les Misérables, Django Unchained, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Moonrise Kingdom, and Think Like a Man
Director Ben Affleck Argo
Actress Emayatzky Corinealdi Middle of Nowhere
Actor Denzel Washington, Flight
Supporting Actress Sally Field, Lincoln
Supporting Actor Nate Parker, Arbitrage
Screenplay Middle of Nowhere
Foreign Film The Intouchables
Animated Film Rise of the Guardians
Documentary (tie) The House I Live In and Versailles 73: American Runway Revolution
Independent Film Middle of Nowhere
Breakthrough Performance Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Use of Music Middle of Nowhere 
Special Achievement Cicely Tyson and Billy Dee Williams 

Did I tell you I finally saw Middle of Nowhere? Loved! So sensitively written, directed and acted with interesting characters and well wrought central identity anxiety (why do people struggle to stay the same when time and circumstance march on?) I guess this means I have to look up Ava DuVernay's previous feature I Will Follow

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Reader Comments (13)

Of all of the second tier critics groups, I look forward to San Diego and Chicago (and to a lesser extent, San Francisco) for their choices -- they seem to be the most iconoclastic and do not kowtow to herd thinking and AMPAS predictions.

December 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCraig

Guess this would be the only prize Think Like a Man collect throughout the whole award season?

December 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPJ

You absolutely need to look up I Will Follow. If I'm not mistaken, It's available on Netflix Instant. It's a truly stunning film and one of the more realistic portrayals of the grieving process I've seen committed to film. I'm eagerly awaiting Middle of Nowhere.

December 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterW.J.

Nat, PTA won Best Director at the LAFCA, while Amour won Best Picture. Just FYI.....

December 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRichter Scale

"Hoffman is not a supporting actor. Sheesh! He's THE MASTER of The Master!"

Oh, but IS HE? (I agree he's a lead, though, obviously.)

December 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGuy Lodge

Guy -- well, yes. there's that reading ;)

December 17, 2012 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

The Master of "The Master" was Paul Thomas Anderson, so it's too bad that he's not getting recognized while his cast is, especially since the cast may have been the main problem with the movie. If Ryan Gosling or a young Daniel Day-Lewis had taken on Phoenix's part (Gosling can do ramped-up intensity without becoming completely offputting and deformed) and someone who was actually charismatic had taken on Hoffman's role, I might have tolerated the opacities of the movie and even begun to think of them as brilliant the way I did with "There Will Be Blood." (I won't even mention Amy Adams, whose face was stuck in that dreadful Actress Roundtable smirk.)

December 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterOwen Walter

Hey Nathaniel...I totally agree with you about Fassy...honestly, before I saw Prometheus for the first time just a few weeks ago, I thought Fassy's performance was just hype...oh how I was wrong...awesomeness! And the movie as a whole has been unfairly maligned...great film...the surgical pod scene is classic. Looking forward to sequels.

The Argo boys I just don't get...the roles are not baity enough.

Shout out to Matthew McConaughey - he owned that role in Magic Mike...so deserving as well.

December 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSo Sue

The Perks of Being a Wallflower mentions from San Diego make me SO FRIGGIN' HAPPY!

December 17, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

I LOVE how you can see my city (National City!) in the San Diego mapquest-gy image! Also, congrats to Michelle Williams on your WIN!

December 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge P.

I find it hilarious whenever American critics criticise the Oscars for not rewarding stuff they think is great filmmaking when now the glut of critics awards is just proving day after day that they're as guilty as the Academy.

December 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

I firmly believe Amy Adams is the master of The Master. But what do I know.

December 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJacob D

Great call San Diego on the Ensemble prize. :)

December 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSanty.C

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