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« Cate and Pedro | Main | "La La Land" leads the Critics Choice Nominations »

New York ♥︎s Moonlight & La La Land

The New York Film Critics Circle was founded way back in 1935 when the Oscars were just 8 years old themselves. In their first year they agreed but disagreed with the NYFCC choosing The Informer and Oscar following suit with a Best Picture nomination for that but the eventual prize to Mutiny on the Bounty. Not much has really changed since. The NYFCC aesthetics aren't anti-Oscar but they're just as likely to go slightly left of field with a more challenging option as their #1 as they are to pre-stamp a future winner. 

Here's what they chose this year...

Picture: LA LA LAND
Director Barry Jenkins MOONLIGHT
Screenplay Kenneth Lonergan MANCHESTER BY THE SEA
Actress Isabelle Huppert ELLE & THE THINGS TO COME
Supporting Actress Michelle Williams MANCHESTER BY THE SEA & CERTAIN WOMEN
Supporting Actor Mahershala Ali MOONLIGHT
Cinematographer James Laxton MOONLIGHT
Animated Film ZOOTOPIA
Non-Fiction Film (Documentary) O.J. MADE IN AMERICA
Foreign Language Film TONI ERDMANN
First Film [TIE] Kelly Fremon Craig THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN and Trey Edward Shults KRISHA
Special Award Thelma Schoonmaker & Julie Dash DAUGHTERS OF THE DUST (25th Anniversary Restoration)

This has been a tremendously good week or so for Moonlight and Manchester by the Sea (both taking 3 prizes from the NYFCC) as they were honored at all five significant awards stops in the past 9 days: the Spirit Nominations, the Gotham Awards, the Critics Choice Nods, and the NBR. The little seen indie Krisha and French goddess Isabelle Huppert also had spectacular weeks being honored at three of the four. 

But in the end the top prize went to the musical La La Land. Contrary to what you may have heard from some shocked corners of the internet today this "nothing but the top prize" situation is hardly unprecendented. The same thing happened to United 93 (2006), Return of the King (2003), Mulholland Dr (2001), Saving Private Ryan (1998), Fargo (1996), Quiz Show (1994), The Accident Tourist (1988), Reds (1981), Ordinary People (1980) and presumably several others before that if you look further back.

More on La La Land's awards pull soon.

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Reader Comments (38)

I saw that Best Actress prize for those two performances coming. #sorryamy

And LAFCA must now go to Moonlight for the proper symmetry.

December 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

ugh, no love for Denzel in these awards? was really hoping this was the year for his third Oscar

December 1, 2016 | Unregistered Commentercaroline

@Caroline it still will be, most likely, but Affleck makes more sense for critics awards. Once the guilds start rolling out Denzel will win more and more (Affleck is the Social Network, Washighton is The King's Speech)

December 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDuncan Dykes

No Viola sweep in supporting actress?

December 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

Isabelle Huppert and Mahershala Ali are in. Mark my words.

December 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

Besides the Moonlight wins these are pretty meh.

Michelle Williams is an actress that only white people get (and then proceed to shove down everyone's throats). She has the shittiest taste in movies and hasn't been in anything truly great since Dick in 1998. It's like she only wants to be in movies where she can ugly cry and Laura Dern already has you beat there.

December 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRahul

"Michelle Williams is an actress that only white people get (and then proceed to shove down everyone's throats). She has the shittiest taste in movies and hasn't been in anything truly great since Dick in 1998. It's like she only wants to be in movies where she can ugly cry and Laura Dern already has you beat there."

As a white person who loves Michelle Williams, I'm not sure I can offer a rebuttal that wouldn't serve to reinforce your point... but I did chuckle at this. And Dick was truly great! At least we agree on Dick :)

December 1, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterchoog

Rahul, why must your comments be so repetitive and insufferable? WE GET IT, you don't like this random actor/actress, how many times are you gonna let it be known?

December 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKC

Anway I'm so happy for Ali! Hope he takes the Oscar.

December 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKC

It's enough to get some hate from Trump. Not from the comment section in this site too.
YAY ISABELLE HUPPERT! She is in fellas even stronger than Rampling last year.

December 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCraver

When Michelle Williams fans are triggered smh

You know this isn't the one in Destiny's Child right?

December 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRahul

oh brother, are we going to have a #sorryamy each time she doesn't win a critics award just to attempt to prove Nathaniel's hypothesis about Adams not scoring a nomination?

December 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterYavor

I agree with Nathaniel here. Huppert MUST be nominated. And I would hand her the trophy. Emmas Stone it's ok, but c'mon. The range of the French legend in ELLE is astounding.
I don't get, like at all, the love for FENCES here. Yeah, Denzel and Vila deliver, but it's the less cinematic experience I've had out of all the supossed contenders. Some shots are god-aweful apalling. Ugh. Washington should stay in front of the camera, not behind.

December 1, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterchofer

I'm so happy for Michelle Williams.

Wouldn't it be great if LAFCA voted for Sonia Braga? Huppert is totally winning the National Society Award.

Who gets the Drama Globe? Portman or Adams?

December 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

oh brother, are we going to have a #sorryamy each time she doesn't win a critics award just to attempt to prove Nathaniel's hypothesis about Adams not scoring a nomination?

Actually, this particular #sorryamy is referencing a comment I made in another thread specifically discussing the possibility of either Adams or Huppert winning NYFCC for two performances today. #noshade

December 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

I don't care for Michelle Williams' public persona a.k.a. "scared meek pixie", but I do think she is a superior actress with great taste.

Fingers crossed for Isabelle to keeping sweeping this ish!

December 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBia

Super happy to hear Isabelle Huppert's win in the NYFCC. I would be happier if she also wins in the LAFCA since the latter have a history of honoring actresses in non-English-language films. But I'm also elated that Things To Come was also singled out as a complement book-end to Huppert's supreme prowess as an actress.

I like Michelle Williams like I love Amy Adams. It's mainly because Michelle's film choices are not the usual trajectory of a Hollywood-based actress, especially her forays in Kelly Reichardt's films Wendy & Lucy, Meek's Cut-Off and Certain Women. She was heartbreaking in Wendy & Lucy without ever grandstanding, or doing a big dramatic scene. In fact, I don't think Reichardt's meditative films ever have a moment that is tailored for the type that is chosen for an Oscar clip. The quiet rhythm of Reichardt's films found a perfect correlative to Michelle Williams' sombre countenance.

My first Amy Adams film was Junebug where she was incandescent. Because this was the pre-glamour, pre-hyped Amy Adams, I thought I discovered a truly magical yet obscure actress and continued the love in her subsequent films even as her film stature became bigger. I rarely become indifferent to actresses I learned to love before the hype (there are a few that I didn't love as much through the years but that's another story), and Amy Adams and Michelle Williams are two of those actresses.

For now, I am so happy for la reine Isabelle's reign of wins. So incredibly happy.

December 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterOwl

How soon before I can get excited about Mahershala Ali not just being nominated but maybe winning? :)

December 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

Yaaaaayyyyy for Isabelle Huppert!!!! I am *living* for the day she gets the Oscar nomination. I can't wait to see Moonlight, the reception is astounding. Also, has anyone noticed how mainstream (and I mean this in the most complimentary way possible, I swear) the NYFCC has gotten in the last 10-ish years? Their Best Actress and Best Picture picks are only *slightly* less adventurous than the other critics groups. I really thought we'd see Amy Adams' name, or Emma Stone's, then possibly Annette Bening's, and I mean this not as a slight on the talents of the actresses in question, all of whom are exemplary.. I am overjoyed that they chose Huppert's work, and even moreso with Things to Come at the helm. Her greatest performance since La Pianiste if you ask me. I she HAPPENING?! :D

PS. Does anyone want to bet that the LAFCA might choose Sandra Huller for Toni Erdmann?? It's hers or Huppert's :D

December 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAmandaBuffamonteezi


I'm with you that LAFCA might choose another foreign-born actress as their Best Actress. Sandra Huller is a good one, same with Min-Hee Kim in The Handmaiden. Or go Sonia Braga (wow that would be great as well!). Or go with Cannes' choice: Jaclyn Jose in Ma'Rosa.

While I prefer Huppert over any of these actresses, I would be happy with the choice for Huller, Braga, Kim, and yes even Jose.

December 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterOwl

Owl: Well said.

December 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.

Owl: I meant your first comment. Though your second was lovely too!

December 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.

Can I just say, I love this site! It's so positive (for the most part ;) )

December 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAmandaBuffamonteezi

Well I'm a non-white person who loves Michelle Williams. And I think she is one of the best actresses of her generation.

December 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

New York Film Critics Awards, the only award in the U.S. film industry that really matters. Along with the L.A. film critics.

December 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSteven

Count me as another non-white who loves Michelle Williams, and pretty much what Ryan T. said. #sorryRahulnotsorry #movetoawardsdaily?

Thrilled for Huppert. I'm really hoping for more Critics groups to rally around her. And Peggy, I would love if LAFCA honored Braga. That would be pretty darn great, if not just.

Very fine choices overall, NYCC. Celebrating the win of Toni Erdmann as best foreign language film with cheese and wine and nude.

December 2, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJones

I tink huppert is a lock w stone n portman. Adams shld b safe too judging fr e luv Arrival is recvin rite now. Imo, it will be bening n negga fightin for the last spot.

N if it come down to this two, then pls let The Bening in n WIN!!!

December 2, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterClaran

I tink Huppert is a lock together w Stone n Portman. Adams shld b safe too judgin fr the luv n multiple noms its recvin. Imo, its down to Bening n Negga for the final spot.

If it really boils down to these two, then I hope tt The Bening gets in n win!!!

December 2, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterClaran

Thanks, Edward L. Appreciate that.

If LAFCA bestows the Lead Actress to, say Huller or Braga, will that eventually build momentum? LAFCA can be a game-changer, no? Once upon a time I was pleasantly surprised that they chose Vera Farmiga's little-seen Down the Bone as lead actress performance of the year, then later Yolande Moreau in Seraphine then Kim Hye-Ja in Madeo and then Yoon Jeong-hee in Poetry. I became a fan of a film group that casts their net in a much wider sea, even if those actresses didn't get Oscar nominations eventually.

December 2, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterowl

owl: Yes, LAFCA's Best Actress choices have continually been inventive and intriguing. I think that any of the actresses you mention stand a chance for the LAFCA award (although they may also go with Portman, Stone, Bening...). But I think that, sadly, only Huppert stands a chance of converting it to an Oscar nomination (and I think she stands a very good chance indeed). As you point out, some of the LAFCA choices in recent years didn't net Oscar nominations - and so we have a paradox: that the more inventive and intriguing LAFCA's choice, the less likelihood there is that it will generate Oscar buzz! But we'll see. In any event, surprises in awards season are always welcome, and so it'll be great to see who they choose.

December 2, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.

I think Michelle Williams has a unique gift and a face full of emotions and I'm happy she's getting some recognition (because if you think about it, she never got properly recognized).

Very very happy for Ali. I hope he continues his streak to an oscar. He gives an incredibly sexy, magnetic and ultimately heartbreaking performance that resonates throughout the movie long after his last scene. It is incredibly hard for a man to do something like that. Female actresses do it all the time, Swinton, Blanchett, Kidman ... they can do sexy and magnetic and break your heart two scenes later. Men? I can't think of any off the top of my head.

I think Affleck is deserving but I struggle because I kind of dislike him as a celebrity. He's very bro-ey and can be very obnoxiously serious actor in his celebrity persona. So good for him. But I hope someone else starts picking up some steam in this category. Ryan Gosling? Denzel?

And I am absolutely ecstatic for Huppert. what if Cotillard and Rampling were acte un et deux to a magical final act where Huppert receives an oscar? Who would complain? She's easily one of the 5 best living actresses in the world. Can you really claim legitimacy if you hand out awards to Emma Stone, Natalie Portman or Amy Adams when Huppert is walking around with two flooring performances?

December 2, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterTony T

Amanda -- you may always say such things

December 2, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

@Tony T
You had me smiling at your last sentence.

But wow--Cotillard and Rampling and Huppert receiving lead nominations in a year! Won't probably happen but I can't get that image out of my mind now. Since I'm on this mode, I say it would be great to see Huppert walking up the stage to collect her Oscar with the same likable verve and breathless energy she demonstrated at the Gotham Awards. I read somewhere that Gael Garcia Bernal and Damien Lewis were both ecstatic when she won that night.

@Edward L.
You nailed it perfectly when you wrote "the more inventive and intriguing LAFCA's choice, the less likelihood there is that it will generate Oscar buzz!" While I do care about Oscar nominations and wins, I see it more as an opportunity for an actor/tress to work with other directors and get even better parts. But at the end, my one measure of a timeless performance is when people still talk about it many many years later. Or discussed in film theory classes. Or when it reaches iconic level (no matter how subjective this sounds). But yes, I think LAFCA should just forge ahead and name the best of the year even if it comes from a rarely-seen movie.

Someone mentioned here in TFE that critics should give their awards to other worthy actresses (as it does get dull once the same name gets all the awards) especially when you have a strong year for actresses like this year. I agree with that assessment. It levels the playing field to a certain extent.

December 2, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterOwl

I can't remember a season that was so back-loaded with Christmas goodies. We often have to wait for the good stuff. But this year was really pitiful quality-wise till December rolled around.

December 2, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy


Michelle Williams is one of my favorite actress AND I'm biracial???????

(see Rahul's post)

December 2, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDomgo

I saw "Jackie" this week. very good movie. Portman was fine....fine. that's about it. she captured the voice of Jackie, but no one can ever capture her magic. many have tried from Blair even, God forbid, Katie Holmes. No one will ever capture her. Portman won't win the Oscar.

December 2, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterjimmy

Happy for Ali but god I'm going to be so disappointed this whole season when Trevante Rhodes is ignored.

December 2, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

More "Nothing But the Top Prize":

1968: The Lion in Winter
(Until 1961 there were no Best Supporting players awards, which makes it easier to add to films to this list. In the early years there were only 5 awards: Picture, Director, Actor, Actress and Foreign Film).
1961: West Side Story
1959: Ben-Hur
1941: Citizen Kane
1939: Wuthering Heights
1938: The Citadel
1936: Mr. Deeds Goes to Town

December 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMarcos

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