Emmanuelle Riva in Amour
Emmanuelle Riva in Amour
Emmanuelle Riva in Amour | Sony Pictures Classics

Amour was named best picture of the year by the 60 members of the National Society of Film Critics, who met Saturday at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Center in Lincoln Center to cast their ballots.

They also gave the top actress prize to the film’s star, Emmanuelle Riva, who beat Jennifer Lawrence by eight votes (50 to 42), and honored Michael Haneke with the best directing award. He narrowly beat Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty) and Paul Thomas Anderson (The Master), who each tied with 24 votes to his 27.

Daniel Day-Lewis was voted best actor for Lincoln. The historical drama written by Tony Kushner was named best screenplay.

In the supporting actor categories the prizes went to Matthew McConaughey for Magic Mike and Amy Adams for The Master.

The Gatekeepers, the provocative, troubling and brilliant film by Israeli director Dror Moreh, which brings together six former heads of Israel’s secret service, was named best documentary.

The National Society of Film Critics was founded in 1966 and is a national organization of 60 film critics from major papers in Los Angeles, Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Chicago. They are critics not just from Time, Newsweek and the New Yorker, but also the Village Voice, the Boston Phoenix and NPR. Since the days of newspapers and magazines are numbered, it will be interesting to see how this group will evolve.

By now, if the awards season hasn’t put you in a stupor, you will be asking what the National Society of Film Critics choices mean for the Oscars. The answer is probably not much. Last year they chose Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia as best picture of the year and its star, Kristin Dunst as best actress. The Oscar went to The Artist and Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady.

One word about Andrew Sarris, the late distinguished film critic and educator, who was also one of the founding members of the society, to whom this year’s awards are dedicated. I took an introductory film class with him at Columbia University more years ago than I want to admit. He was an amazing teacher and passionate movie lover. I will never forget how much I enjoyed his class, which was huge.

About seven years ago I was lucky enough to sit next to him at a dinner after a private screening and told him how much his class meant to me. When he mentioned my New York Times Oscar coverage in his column six years ago, I was touched, grateful and deliriously happy.

Here’s the rundown of winners from the National Society of Film Critics:


  1. *Daniel Day-Lewis – Lincoln – 59 (Dreamworks/Touchstone)
  2. Denis Lavant – 49
  3. Joaquin Phoenix – 49


  1. *Emmanuelle Riva – Amour – 50 (Sony Classics)
  2. Jennifer Lawrence –  42
  3. Jessica Chastain– 32


  1. *Matthew McConaughey – Magic Mike (Warner Bros.), Bernie (Millennium Entertainment) – 27
  2. Tommy Lee Jones – 22
  3. Philip Seymour Hoffman – 19


  1. *Amy Adams – The Master (The Weinstein Co.) – 34
  2. Sally Field – 23
  3. Anne Hathaway – 13


  1. *Amour (Sony Classics) – 28
  2. The Master – 25
  3. Zero Dark Thirty – 18


  1. *Michael Haneke (Amour) – 27
  2. Kathryn Bigelow – 24
  3. Paul Thomas Anderson – 24


  1. *The Gatekeepers – Sony Pictures Classics – 53
  2. This Is Not a Film – 45
  3. Searching for Sugar Man – 23


  1. *Lincoln (Dreamworks/Touchstone) – Tony Kushner – 59
  2. The Master (P.T. Anderson)– 27
  3. Silver Linings Playbook (David O. Russell) – 19


  1. *Master (Mihai Malaimare, Jr. ) – 60
  2. Skyfall (Roger Deakins) – 30
  3. Zero Dark Thirty (Greig Fraser) – 21

EXPERIMENTAL:  This Is Not a Film (Jafar Panahi)


  • To Laurence Kardish, Senior Film Curator at MoMA, for his extraordinary 44 years of service, including this year’s Weimar Cinema retrospective.
  • To Milestone Film and Video for their ongoing Shirley Clarke project.

DEDICATION: This year’s awards are dedicated to the late Andrew Sarris, one of the most original and influential American film critics as well as a founding member of the Society.



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