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Boston Chooses 12 Years A Slave, Enough Said?

The Boston Society of Film Critics' (BSFC) very first Best Picture prize went to Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull (1980) and over the next 32 years they've mixed smart off the path choices with future Oscar darlings. In the past decade they seem to have mellowed and mainstreamed and unless you count a tie in 2008 (Wall•E shared the prize with Slumdog), it's been well over a decade since that grabby run when they thought outside the box consistently (1998-2001) when they were giving Best Film prizes to great movies like Out of Sight (2 below the line Oscar nods) Three Kings (0 Oscar attention) and Mullholland Dr (1 Oscar nod) which were obviously not going to play big with the Academy. (During that period they were also making interesting calls in non Oscar-baiting performances so something about the membership must have changed thereafter.

This year they've wrapped their Bostonian arms around native New Yorker Solomon Northrup in a big way giving 12 Years a Slave three top prizes. They were also kind to Nebraska and Enough Said which each won 2 prizes. Full list of winners with commentary after the jump

Picture 12 Years a Slave
Director Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
Actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Wolf of Wall Street
was the runner up in all three categories 

Yesterday an upstart Boston critics group which we didn't cover also went big for 12 Years. I think I'll have to institute a policy where we don't cover any awards group that hasn't been around for at least five years. Otherwise there's just too many and I'm unsure why new ones keep forming when so many existing ones covering just about every region on the planet are already in place! Unless it's a situation where people who've been rejected by certain critics groups are just forming their own so they can have one? I know it sucks to be rejected from established organizations. I've experienced it myself, twice by groups who don't seem to have high standards. LOL!  But, my own tragicomedies aside, I'm not sure why other awards sites cover every new group with as much weight as they do every other group. It's like expanding the Best Picture category at the Oscars or the Golden Satellite awards with their 8 to 10 nominees in each category. Eventually through sheer numbers awards lose all meaning. Plus why do we need "online" to have its own distinctions/groups in 2013 when EVERYONE who does criticism is now an online presence?

That's a serious and not a rhetorical question. I wonder if the OFCS has ever had internal debates about their existence now. They were once an absolutely necessity but... now?

Actress Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Supporting Actress June Squibb, Nebraska 
Supporting Actor James Gandolfini, Enough Said
Ensemble Cast Nebraska
Screenplay Enough Said
I like Nebraska more than many of my closest critic friends but I don't quite get the Squibb thing. I can see nominations but considering her the very best actress in a supporting role this year seems... shall I just say it? okay... indefensible. I'm not trying to be argumentative but I just can't figure it. AND I LIKE THE MOVIE AND HER IN IT.

Foreign Film Wadjda (Saudia Arabia's Oscar submission)
Documentary The Act of Killing (Joshua Oppenheimer)
Animated Film The Wind Rises (Hayao Miyazaki)
Frozen lost this by just a hair with some voters abstaining. This voting was controversial due to one member's objections to the films politics, the point made being largely its sins of omission in the telling.
Cinematography Gravity (Emmanuel Lubeszki)
That's a beautiful choices and many critics prizes will follow but it's problematic in terms of Oscar as discussed. The runner up was Phillipe LeSourd's work on The Grandmaster

Editing Rush (Daniel P. Hanley and Mike Hill)
I had once predicted this film for an Oscar nomination in this very category but given that people were no longer talking about the film, I assumed people would forget. Maybe not. 
Music Inside Llewyn Davis
First Film Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station)
The runner up was Joshua Oppenheimer for Act of Killing which seems like it would have been the obvious BSFC selection 10 years ago when they were a more daring society. But maybe they didn't want to give it two prizes.


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Reader Comments (16)

I haven't seen everything yet, but DAMN am I pleased as punch with that Cinematography award and runner-up. I think that's exactly how I would award that category. The Grandmaster (or at least it's American version, as I noted in my review here) was problematic, but Le Sourd's cinematography was undeniably gorgeous. And while I understand your reservations about the blurry line between VFX and cinematography, especially in regards to Gravity, even if we just look at the way the camera moves in that film, it's something special.

December 8, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

Enough Said for Screenplay! JLD next??!!??!!

December 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterWill

Hi! This is me being mean. Did you know that Melanie Griffith tied with Susan Sarandon in these awards back in 88?

December 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Well thank goodness Ejiofor and McQueen pulled it out (I say without having seen Wolf of Wall Street - I'm just very unenthused about what appears to be another misogynist romp).

December 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

oh lord at critics encouraging franco... (from LA, that is)

December 8, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermarcelo

I'm happy at least one major group recognized Spring Breakers in some way.

December 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBia

Shouldn't be surprising. Boston is a noted hub of the abolitionist movement, after all.

December 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSean C.

I agree about Nebraska..we just saw it and felt it was a sweet and charming movie with wonderful performances by Dern, Squibb and the younger son.... BUT I do not see it sweeping awards... there are more movies and performances that are way better.

December 8, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterrick

Peggy Sue -- i am fully aware of all movie sins committed in 1988 involving susan sarandon

December 8, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I see both sides of The Wind Rises argument.

Miyazaki wanted to make a film about the man and the spirit of invention removed from the context of war. Yet, a film about the man who designed the planes for the Japanese military cannot really extract itself from the context of war. The film is in an odd position of easily being praised because of its quality but succeeding with an asterisk pointing out who Miyazaki created a film about.

December 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

robert g -- i should probably write about this at length. it doesn't seem like american critics have any problem praising war films from the States that don't account for the atrocities we commit... and it's not like the wind rises doesn't feel icky about its central subject matter. he wants to create objects of beauty and time and again in the film he is pushing away what they're actually used for. i think objections to war are definitely in the film.

December 8, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I thought I was the only one who thought June Squibb was good, but far from great. Not a big fan of the film at all. But to say she was better than Lupita or Octavia or Sarah? No way.

December 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPatryk

@PeggySue and @Nathaniel: I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Melanie Griffith was actually the winner. A few years ago, the BSFC had missing info on its own site and on IMDb, so I did the research in old Boston Globes to help them fill out their page. They invited me to their ceremony that year as a way to say thanks, and I couldn't go, which sucks, because it turned out to be the year Juliette Lewis won for Conviction! Anyway, 1988 was one of the years with missing info, though most sites at least stated that Sarandon had won Best Actress. In fact, all the day-after journalism on microfiche said Griffith had won. Whoever eventually uploaded the change to IMDb rendered it as a tie instead of substituting MG for SS. So I'm now rubbing salt in that wound. (I know, for Nathaniel this is like something out of The Conjuring.)

December 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNick Davis

Nick -- if there were ever a horror film of my life. Melanie Griffith and "TIE!" would both appear, so yes.

December 8, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I choose to disbelieve it.

December 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

The Wind Rises whispering campaign just seems like, pardon my French, the assholish American Hegemonic Exceptional finger-wagging we rarely do when it is about ourselves. Yeah, I know there was a lot of non-critic flaggellation on Zero Dark Thirty, but WWII from the American perspective too often has our country sticking out its chest as the judge and jury of other countries. This is not a good lock when we never placed that much scrutiny on ourselves when portraying US conduct in WWII in cinema. I can somewhat understand this critic's complaint given the whole relationship between the Chinese-Japan in this period, but why are US critics group to suddenly take the role of WWII experts?

Anyway, I think The Wolf of Wall Street will continue to be the hardest film to place in the race because of how, even when it has made the deadlines, it does not mean all the critics have seen it. Nathaniel had this Twitter conversation yesterday but how women and older members of the Academy will respond may be an entirely different story than the breathless, hyperbolic (looking at you, Devin Faraci) opinion the fanboys are having with it.

I want James Gandolfini to happen. I cannot abide by Jared Leto being the consensus pick. Team sentiment/guacamole!!!!!

December 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

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