The New York Film Critics Circle, the oldest such organization in the country, provided us with a surprise bang this morning. Like Jennifer Lawrence playing with her "science oven" in American Hustle their announcement leaves visible scorch marks, as if awards season has just blasted off like a rocket.
Whether or not these prizes have a lasting impact is yet to be determined. Some will say that the one-two punch of the Gotham Awards and NYFCC not awarding 12 Years a Slave with their best feature is a sign. But it may well just be a coincidence and could even be good for the film; it's better to be a wildly special underdog than a frontrunner with heavy baggage when you have three whole months left to carry oneself across the finish line.
Picture American Hustle
Director Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
Actress Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Actor Robert Redford, All is Lost
Supporting Actress Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Supporting Actor Jared Leto, Dallas Buyer’s Club
Critics prizes, even the once holy trinity (NYFCC, LAFCA, and NSFC) don't mean as much as the internet likes to pretend. With roughly 30 other critics organizations handing out prizes each year now, and those same critics groups often behaving like Oscar pundits instead of critics, I'd argue that the value of critics prizes has greatly depreciated from market saturation and loss of identity. The thing that constitutes bragging rights these days seems to be domination (who can win the most?) rather than key victories.
Screenplay American Hustle
Foreign Film Blue is the Warmest Color
Animated Film Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises
Non Fiction Film Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell
First Film Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station
Cinematography Bruno Delbonnel for Inside Llewyn Davis
Special Award Frederick Wiseman, documentarian
Do you think they did the "special award" for Frederick Wiseman solely because they didn't give him best documentary for At Berkeley? And, referencing the most recent podcast, am I the only person who isn't wild for the cinematography in Inside Llewyn Davis?
For what it's worth, American Hustle (which is under critical embargo until tomorrow), is very entertaining and also very fresh in the minds of voters having been screened just this past weekend. And Jennifer Lawrence is also very fresh (and entertaining) in it.
[More on their voting and runners up here]