Every other year the BSFC chooses the future Oscar winner as their Best Picture. Look at the evidence: 2009 The Hurt Locker; 2010: The Social Network; 2011: The Artist; 2012: Zero Dark Thirty; 2014: 12 Years a Slave; 2015: Boyhood. Before that it's a little bumpier statistically since 2008 saw a tie between Slumdog Millionaire (the eventual Oscar winner and WALL•E, a much more deserving (and braver) choice. But it was only in 2006 with The Departed that they started lining up regularlyt. Before then Boston could often be counted on for more iconoclastic choices like Mulholland Drive, Out of Sight, Three Kings, Trainspotting, Bull Durham, Ran, etcetera. They've been handing out awards since 1980 when Raging Bull won their inaugural Best Picture award.
Entries in Boston (8)
My apologies to Boston, Los Angeles and the online contingency of New York City for their shared billing but what can you do? When they all announce on the same weekend they share column space. The DC Film Critics also announced nominations today but in the interest of sanity, TFE only covers actual awards from critics groups, not their nomination rounds (which give performers and films no real juice publicity wise anyway); we have 30+ critics organizations in the US alone so any requested coverage other than wins for the non-institutions feels ego-driven.
It was another good day for Birdman and Boyhood or "Boyman" as Sasha likes to call it. Particularly Boyhood which no films seem to be able to squirm around for top billing. Grand Budapest Hotel probably came close in L.A., Birdman looked like a distant second in Boston, but NYFCO seemed very committed. Is it now the Oscar frontrunner for Best Picture? It probably always was so yes.
BOSTON SOCIETY OF FILM CRITICS (BSFC)
The BSFC was formed in 1981 and were once known for scrappy idiosyncratic choices. They were among the first awards group to rubber stamp Steven Soderbergh and David O. Russell (before their prime Oscar years). In the past ten years they've become far more conservative usually awarding their top prize to the Oscar frontrunner or its presumed challenger. Like NYC, Boston now has a second younger "online" group which already announced this year.
Film: Boyhood (runner up: Birdman)
Director: Richard Linklater, Boyhood (runner up: Clint Eastwood, American Sniper)
Actor: Michael Keaton, Birdman (runner up: Timothy Spall, Mr Turner)
Actress: Marion Cotillard, Two Days One Night AND The Immigrant (runner up: Hilary Swank, The Homesman)
Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash (runner up: Edward Norton, Birdman)
Supporting Actress: Emma Stone, Birdman (runner up: Laura Dern, Wild)
Screenplay [TIE]: Birdman & Boyhood (runner up: Mr Turner)
Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki, Birdman (runner up: Dick Pope, Mr Turner)
Editing: Sandra Adair, Boyhood (runner up: Joel Cox & Gary Roach, American Sniper)
Foreign Film: Two Days One Night (runner up: Ida)
Animated Film: The Tale of Princess Kaguya (runner up: The Lego Movie)
New Filmmaker: Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler (runner up: Gillian Robespierre, Obvious Child)
Documentary: Citizen Four (runner up: Jodorowsky's Dune)
Use of Music: Inherent Vice (runner up: Whiplash)
LOS ANGELES FILM CRITICS ASSOCIATION (LAFCA)
Founded in 1975, the LAFCA is one of the twin (coastal) towers of film critics associations alongside NYFCC which announced their prizes on December 1st. Last year the LAFCA had a very hard tie figuring out their prizes and the day ended with ties in three headline categories: Best Picture, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor. These days they are perhaps best known for daring choices in Best Actress and Best Picture.
Film Boyhood (runner up: The Grand Budapest Hotel)
Director Richard Linklater, Boyhood (runner up: Wes Anderson, Grand Budapest Hotel)
Actress Patricia Arquette, Boyhood (runner up: Julianne Moore, Still Alice)
Actor Tom Hardy, Locke (runner up: Michael Keaton, Birdman)
Supporting Actress: Agata Kulesza, Ida (runner up: Rene Russo, Nightcrawler)
Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash (runner up: Edward Norton, Birdman)
New Generation: Ava DuVernay, Selma
Screenplay: Grand Budapest Hotel (runner up: Birdman)
Animated Film: The Tale of Princess Kaguya (runner up: The LEGO Movie)
Foreign Film: Ida (runner up: Winter Sleep)
Documentary: Citizen Four (runner up: Life Itself)
Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubeszki, Birdman (runner up: Dick Pope, Mr Turner)
Editing: Sandra Adair, Boyhood (runner up: Barney Piling, Grand Budapest Hotel)
Score: TIE Jonny Green, Inherent Vice and Mica Levi, Under the Skin
Production Design: Adam Stockhausen, Grand Budapest Hotel (runner up: Ondrej Nekvasil Snowpiercer)
Experimental Film: Walter Reuben, The David Whiting Story
Career Achievement: Gena Rowlands
The LAFCA seem to have bought into their own myth about their iconoclastic Best Actress behavior. They weirdly switched categories for Patricia Arquette from supporting to lead despite backing J.K. Simmons as supporting from his far leadier work as half of a two-hander relationship drama between two men in a film with basically only two major characters.
Agata Kulesza is a worthy fascinating choice but she's really very obviously more of a lead than Patricia Arquette. But what can you do? I suppose you could make a better case for her in supporting than you could for Arquette as a lead but it's all rather baffling.
NEW YORK FILM CRITICS ONLINE
Said to have been formed in 2000 the internet only has records dating back to 2003 for their prizes. They are not to be confused with the ancient and highly important NYFCC which already announced on December 1st and were Boyhood & Immigrant focused this year.
Director: Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Actress: Marion Cotillard, Two Days One Night
Actor: Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything
Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Ensemble Cast: Birdman
Use of Music: Get On Up
Debut Director: Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler
Breakthrough: Jack O'Connel for Unbroken AND Starred Up
Documentary: Life Itself
Animated Feature: The LEGO Movie
Marion Cotillard is perhaps the other big story of the day having won NYFCC, BSFC, and NYFCO already. Her Oscar chances still seem debatable though for a number of reasons including two separate films and the lack of any real campaigning beyond a screener for Two Days One Night.
J.K. Simmons, Richard Linklater, and Citizen Four continues to be steamrollers in Supporting Actor, Director, and Documentary respectively. Meanwhile Birdman marches along as a strong contender for basically everything if not, yet, a dependable film to bank any actual golden statues on. More unfortunately (especially given my change of heart about the film) critics have optioned not to really back Grand Budapest Hotel beyond the category that Oscar would have awarded it any way, Best Screenplay, which is the only category in which Wes Anderson films ever find any traction, sadly, despite often being sheer wonders in terms of Production Design, Costuming and weirdly expressive stylized performances.
CORRECTION & APOLOGY: I had originally stated these were the winners for the Boston Society of Film Critics, a group with a long fascinating history. Unfortunately, as is all too common these days these prizes are from an upstart critics group from the same city, the Boston Online Film Critics Association*.
The young BOFCA (now in its third year) seem to have issued some sort of challenge to the far more famous BSFC. The BSFC has had a place of honor in critics circles in that, for many years of their history, they seemed less interested in the Oscar race than actually offering an opinion on the best of a given film year which is, we unfortunately need reminding, the entire purpose of critical year-end prizes. In recent years their choices have seemed as Oscar driven as 90% of the critics groups that exist today. So perhaps the younger organization will remind them of their roots in iconoclastic choices?
The new group has taken the entire year into account, and given December the shrug but for two prizes for the Belgian film Two Days One Night (adding another feather in Marion Cotillard's cap after her NYFCC win).
DIRECTOR: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman
ACTRESS: Marion Cotillard, Two Days One Night
ACTOR: Brendan Gleeson, Calvary
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Tilda Swinton, Snowpiercer
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Edward Norton, Birdman
SCREENPLAY: John Michael McDonagh, Calvary
FOREIGN FILM: Two Days One Night
DOCUMENTARY: Life Itself
ANIMATED FILM: The LEGO Movie
EDITING: James Herbert & Laura Jennings, Edge of Tomorrow
ORIGINAL SCORE: Mica Levi, Under the Skin
THE BOSTON ONLINE FILM CRITICS ASSOCIATION NAMES THEIR TEN BEST FILMS OF THE YEAR:
- UNDER THE SKIN
- ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE
- THE BABADOOK
- TWO DAYS ONE NIGHT
- INHERENT VICE
* P.S. Again my apologies. I would not have given this organization and entire post to themselves had I realized they were a new group. The fact remains that no matter how interesting your choices, each city does not need multiple competing critics groups. And the proliferation of so many new groups, correctly or incorrectly, suggests that they are formed by people who cannot get into the pre-existing group. I don't know if this is the case in Boston but with the walls having all but vanished between Print and Online there seems little point in "Online" organizations these days as all former print sources are now online.
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
Total Film Idina Menzel on the long delayed Wicked movie adaptation
AV Club a Hilarious takedown of Nikki Finke's awful couching of Nelson Mandela's passing (RIP) in movie terms
Boy Culture Happy birthday Boy Culture. Matt selects his 100 favorite posts from 8 years of blogging
The Onion "Google Streep View Panorama" LOL! (This could not be more appropriate to share at The Film Experience since we're always discussing Meryl Streep's Ubiquity).
i09 Disney buys Indiana Jones. all the franchises will soon belong to them [insert evil laugh]
Playbill Sutton Foster will lead another TV show. This one is not a musical though... boo.
Playbill but another Broadway diva Alice Ripley will be starring in a film called Sugar which she'll do music for. Yay.
MNPP Which is hotter, Brad Pitt edition
me says wishes there were people of color in Frances Ha. I remember people had the same complaint about Girls and Woody Allen films before it. NYC is a very multi-ethnic place but movies and tv are less so
EOnline Mandy Patinkin Holla! He shaved off his beard
Boston Online the upstart critics group in Boston (not to be confused with the 32 year old institution that is the Boston Society of Film Critics) has given nearly 50% of their 2nd annual awards to 12 Years a Slave
Coming Soon Have you heard that Brie Larson and Emilia Clarke are the two finalists for the role of Sarah Connor in a Terminator reboot? Allow me to dry heave a little at the idea of rebooting a series that has already had three lives and whose concept allows for sequels on end without pretending the (great) originals never happened. Ugh! Normally I'd root for my favorite actresses to get whatever parts they wanted but I'm hoping Brie finds something else instead. She's too good to waste on another tired 'no new ideas' franchise.
FWIW, Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street was widely seen by critics on both coasts today, all three hours of it. Some onliners immediately broke the embargo (sigh) but I play the rules. Sure it costs me, but what can you do? I actually like embargos. They give you time to sit with a movie and consider before mouthing off. But it's definitely... um... a talking point. The only thing I'll say for now is that I was so proud of Margot Robbie for shaking off whatever dullness clung to her beauty in "Pan Am" (remember that show?) and really going for it. This is a hungry performance and Hollywood will surely reward her with a buffet of new roles to feast on. The competition for 'Hot Young Actress I Wish I Could Sleep With' critics org prize (commonly known as Best Supporting Actress... but critics can be so transparent) just got stiffer.
Warning this post will contain no photos of Zero Dark Thirty in protest. It's a film I thoroughly enjoyed but critical sweeps do great injustice to the art of cinema each year. No film or performance has ever been so great as to be the only achievement worth rewarding in its calendar year. The modern age of hive-mindedness also does great injustice to awards season which needs drama as fuel. This is not to say that one shouldn't vote one's mind if a certain sweeper is also your personal favorite but if everyone's personal favorites are always the same we automatically a) need fewer groups trumpeting the collective opinion or b) we need more critics who have idiosyncratic taste to keep the art of the discussion of cinema at its liveliest.
We've already heard from NYC's top critics who gave three awards each to Zero Dark Thirty and Lincoln and today the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the LA wing of critical-consensus makers get their say. Given that this particular group is something like the Home Team for the bulk of AMPAS members, their votes matter. Stay tuned as voting commences!
FILM Amour (ru: The Master)
DIRECTOR Paul Thomas Anderson for The Master (ru: Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty)
ACTRESS (tie) Jennifer Lawrence Silver Linings Playbook and Emmanuelle Riva Amour
ACTOR Joaquin Phoenix The Master (ru: Denis Lavant, Holy Motors)
SUPPORTING ACTRESS Amy Adams, The Master (ru: Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables & The Dark Knight Rises)
SUPPORTING ACTOR Dwight Henry Beasts of the Southern Wild (ru: Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained)
ANIMATED FILM Frankenweenie (ru: It's Such a Beautiful Day)
DOCUMENTARY The Gatekeepers (ru: Searching for Sugar Man)
FOREIGN FILM tba tba
NEW GENERATION tba tba
SCREENPLAY Argo (ru: Silver Linings Playbook)
CINEMATOGRAPHY Roger Deakins Skyfall (ru: Mihai Malaiare, Jr. The Master)
PRODUCTION DESIGN David Crank & Jack Fisk The Master (ru: Adam Stockhausen, Moonrise Kingdom)
EDITING Zero Dark Thirty
MUSIC SCORE Dan Romer & Benh Zeitlin Beasts of the Southern Wild (ru: Jonny Greenwood, The Master)
Last Year's LAFCA Winners if you'd like to compare them...
Boston & NYFCO after the jump