Waiting for the prestigious New York Film Critics Circle to announce their awards is an all-day affair. Film geeks tweeted their anxiety and frustration about the glacial pace at which the group announced their picks today via tweets and postings on their Web site. One by one. Very slowly.
But you have to hand it to this group: they know how to build suspense! Here’s how the day progressed.
BEST PICTURE: Zero Dark Thirty
This film is the much anticipated follow-up to Kathryn Bigelow’s Oscar-winning film The Hurt Locker, and like that film, is also shot in a documentary style. Last year, the New York Film Critics Circle chose The Artist for best film and Michael Hazanavicius for best director.
BEST DIRECTOR: Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty
BEST SCREENPLAY: Tony Kushner, Lincoln
BEST ACTRESS: Rachel Weisz, The Deep Blue Sea
The New York Film Critics Circle is known for following its own beat. Blue Sea, released in March of this year, is directed by Terence Davies and adapted from Terence Rattigan’s 1952 erotic play of adultery and romantic obsession. Weisz won an Oscar in 2006 for The Constant Gardener, but her performance in Blue Sea has received virtually no awards buzz.
BEST ACTOR: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Last week at the Gotham Awards, Matt Damon said Day-Lewis was one of his favorite actors. The method actor is the Oscar frontrunner this year — and every year when he’s in a movie (except for 2010 when he starred in Nine).
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Sally Field, Lincoln
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Matthew McConaughey, Bernie and Magic Mike
The actor is on a roll. Last week, he received two Independent Spirit Award nominations for Killer Joe and Magic Mike. On the red carpet, Jack Black singled out his Bernie co-star for his ensemble work and said McConaughey, with four films out this year, “was on fire.” No one can disagree.
BEST ANIMATED FILM: Frankenweenie
Tim Burton’s stop motion-animated black-and-white tale about a boy and his beloved dog Sparky comes from Disney.
BEST FOREIGN FILM: Amour
My favorite film of the year, by 70-year-old Austrian director Michael Haneke (The White Ribbon, Funny Games, Cache), stars octogenarian actors Jean-Louis Trintignant (The Conformist, Z, A Man and a Woman) and Emmanuelle Riva (Hiroshima Mon Amour) as a longtime happily-married couple now facing the end of their lives. It won the Palme d’Or at Cannes and just yesterday at the European Film Festival in Malta, won the big prize, for best feature, as well as awards for Haneke and the film’s stars.
Amour is the frontrunner for best foreign film Oscar, and Trintignant and Riva both deserve Oscar nominations. When the film was shown at the New York Film Festival, the director said of his stars, “I wrote the screenplay for Jean-Louis Trintignant. In fact, I wouldn’t have shot the film without him. Not only is he a superb actor, but also he exudes the human warmth that was necessary for the role. It was different with Emmanuelle Riva. I’d seen her as a young man in Hiroshima My Love, and I was immediately smitten by her, but I’d lost her from sight over the years. So when I came to that part, I did a normal casting in Paris and met with all the actresses of the appropriate age. It was clear from the first audition with Emmanuelle that she was ideal for the part. Not only because she’s a wonderful actress, but also because she and Jean-Louis Trintignant form a very credible couple.”
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHER: Greig Fraser, Zero Dark Thirty
BEST NON-FICTION FILM (DOCUMENTARY): The Central Park Five, co-directed by Ken Burns, David McMahon and Sarah Burns
The film follows the events of April 1989, which led to the wrongful imprisonment of five teenagers for the infamous Central Park jogger rape. But mainly, it is a study of miscarriage of justice and an indictment of the criminal justice system. The film provokes equal parts rage and despair, especially since the exonerated, now in their 30’s, have yet to receive any financial compensation from the State of New York for their wrongful imprisonment. Some of them served jail time for more than a decade.
BEST FIRST FILM: David France’s How to Survive a Plague
In an upset, this film about the story of two activist coalitions, ACT UP and TAG (Treatment Action Group, has bested frontrunner Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild. Last week at Fox Searchlight’s holiday party, I spoke to a member of the New York Film Critics Circle, and he told me he liked Zeitlin’s film but it wasn’t his favorite. This should have been a tip off.