Award Watch :: "The Artist" takes New York
Usually it is mid-December before the New York Film Critics Circle make their choices for the best of the year. Not so in 2012 - the group jumped the gun by announcing their awards today.
To nobody's surprise, "The Artist" won Best Picture. It also earned best director for Michel Hazanavicius. These two awards bode well for the film's Oscar chances, which will mark the first time the Academy will give the nod to a silent movie since 1927. Even before this award, the film became the one to beat in February.
But neither of the film's stars Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo was cited. Dujardin won the Best Actor award at Cannes for his performance as a swashbuckling silent movie star that is unable to make the transition to sound films. Nor did George Clooney win for his acclaimed performance in "The Descendants," which will no doubt garner him an Oscar nod.
Instead, the choice was a bit of a surprise: Brad Pitt for two films - "Moneyball" and "The Tree of Life." It was the first time Pitt was honored by the group.
Best Actress went to perennial favorite Meryl Streep - her fourth win - for playing British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady." The film is set to be released at the end of December.
Supporting nods went to Albert Brooks for "Drive" and Jessica Chastain for three films: "The Tree of Life," "The Help" and "Take Shelter." (Unlike other awards, the New York Film Critics honor actors for multiple performances.)
The Best Screenplay went to Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin for "Moneyball," the hit sports film about how Oakland A’s manager Billy Beane transformed baseball with a new recruiting system. Best Cinematography went to Emmanuel Lubezki for "The Tree of Life." Werner Herzog’s documentary "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" won Best Non-Fiction Film. The Wall Street thriller "Margin Call" won Best First Feature. And the Best Foreign Language Film went to the Iranian drama "A Separation," which has already won multiple awards and is the country’s submission for the foreign-language film Oscar. The Chilean filmmaker Raoul Ruiz, who died in August, received a special posthumous award.
The New York Film Critics Circle, founded in 1935, is comprised of 33 members from newspapers, magazines and online sites. Traditionally they give their awards in mid-December after the National Board of Review. This year, though, they moved their date to the end of November.
Shut-out of awards are such possible Oscar nominees as "The Descendants," "War Horse" and "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close."
The awards will be handed out in a ceremony in Manhattan on Jan. 9, 2011.
It’s a nice lineup with some surprises," the group’s chair, critic John Anderson, said of the winners.
He noted that while most categories required many ballots, there was also no rancor. He called the group "hardly a unified mass," but told Reuters the choice of "The Artist" made sense.
"It’s a film about film, so it would appeal to the critical sensibility. It’s a movie that celebrates movies."
"But it’s also well done," Anderson added. "And it’s upbeat, joyful, and just hard to resist."
With the Independent Spirit Award nominations and the Gotham Independent Spirit Awards also announced on Tuesday, the award season is in full swing.
The five Spirit nominations for "The Artist" also are a good barometer that the film will do well when the Oscar nominations are presented in January. Currently playing in New York City and Los Angeles, "The Artist" rolls out in other cities beginning this Friday.
Here is complete list of the New York Film Critics Circle winners:
Best Picture: "The Artist"
Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki, "The Tree of Life"
Best Screenplay: Steven Zaillian & Aaron Sorkin, "Moneyball"
Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius, "The Artist"
Best Foreign Language Film: "A Separation"
Best Actor: Brad Pitt, "Moneyball" & "The Tree of Life"
Best Actress: Meryl Streep, "The Iron Lady"
Best Supporting Actor: Albert Brooks, "Drive"
Best Supporting Actress: Jessica Chastain, "The Tree of Life," "The Help," and "Take Shelter"
Best First Feature: "Margin Call"
Best Non-Fiction Film: "Cave of Forgotten Dreams"