Carol wins big with four NYFCC awards

2 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Carol’ Named Best Picture By New York Film Critics Circle.

Todd Haynes’ 1950s lesbian romance “Carol” dominated the New York Film Critics Circle Awards, taking best picture and a leading four awards overall. Since 2000, all but four of the films named Best Picture by the NYFCC have gone on to be nominated in the same category at the Oscars; the odds are similar or better in the acting and directing categories. The film won best picture, best director for Todd Haynes, best cinematography and best screenplay for Phyllis Nagy’s adaptation of the Patricia Highsmith novel The Price of Salt.

Yes, she’s already won a César Award—the French equivalent of an Oscar—for her performance in Clouds of Sils Maria, but the competition in the best supporting actress Oscar category this year is tough, and Clouds of Sils Maria opened, without much fanfare, months ago. The Todd Haynes-directed film — which stars Cate Blanchett as a housewife who meets and begins an affair with a shop clerk and aspiring photographer, played by Rooney Mara, in 1950s New York — won four awards from the critics organization. From Queens (“In Jackson Heights”) to Manhattan (“Carol”) to Brooklyn (“Bridge of Spies” and, uh, “Brooklyn”), the Big Apple was well-represented by the group across the board. So based on the winners announced today, it’s safe to say that we’re looking at a crop of likely Oscar nominees, which also means there’s nothing very surprising here for awards season gawkers. The NYFCC focused on Carol’s behind-the-camera talent, and the film’s highly-regarded on-screen performances — from Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara — were slightly upset by young contenders.

The film’s victories came as small surprise, despite a late flurry of contenders including Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq, Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, David O Russell’s Joy and Alejandro González Iñárritu’s The Revenant. Acting awards went to Michael Keaton (“Spotlight”), Saoirse Ronan (“Brooklyn”), Mark Rylance (“Bridge of Spies”) and Kristen Stewart (“Clouds of Sils Maria”), while Todd Haynes took the best director prize. Saoirse Ronan is on pretty much every predictor’s top 5 list for Best Actress, and her win here for the charming Brooklyn can only add fuel to her campaign fire—at this point, the actress (who was nominated almost a decade ago at the age of 13 for Atonement) seems like a lock for the Academy Awards’ shortlist.

But there were more unexpected wins in other categories: Michael Keaton, who narrowly missed out on last year’s Oscar to Eddie Redmayne, now looks firmly back in the race after taking best actor in New York. The organization, one of the country’s most prestigious film critic’s groups and among the first to announce their annual awards, met Wednesday and announced their choices via Twitter throughout the day.

Michael Keaton won the best actor prize for Spotlight, even though he and the rest of that film’s cast are being campaigned in the supporting categories by distributor Open Road, and Saoirse Ronan won best actress for her role in Brooklyn. The actor plays Robby Robinson, who headed up the Globe’s investigative journalism team – until now, the film had been perceived as an ensemble piece rather than especially showcasing one star’s talents.

Critics have consistently singled out Mark Rylance’s performance as a suspected Russian spy during the Cold War as Bridge of Spies’ secret weapon, but this could also be a sign that he hasn’t been overshadowed in a particularly stacked supporting actor year that includes the men from Spotlight, Tom Hardy in The Revenant, and, of all people, Sylvester Stallone in Creed. Keaton has mostly been highlighted as a potential Best Supporting Actor in the Oscar race, and most of Spotlight’s acting awards so far have honored its star-studded ensemble, including Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Brian d’Arcy James, Liev Schreiber, Stanley Tucci, and John Slattery.

Inside Out was named best animated film, the latest honor for the Pixar movie after it was named best animated film by the National Board of Review and receiving 14 Annie award nominations on Tuesday. But Stewart’s presence here may be the most welcome surprise of all, a reminder that, even when the crush of December awards hopefuls begin, strong work from any time of the year can still shine through.

I think this offers more proof that this year’s Oscar ceremony will be more celebratory of female-driven narratives (along with contenders Joy and Room) than it usually is. Founded in 1935, the organization’s membership includes critics from daily newspapers, weekly newspapers, magazines and qualifying online general-interest publications. The NYFCC Awards aren’t always the most accurate measure of whether a film will do well at the Oscars, but the critics group’s picks do help to garner buzz for certain films and performances throughout awards season.

If even Big Apple critics let Pixar pip Charlie Kaufman’s stop-motion Anomalisa to the post it seems unlikely Academy voters will fail to follow suit. Bet on it. (Lachman also won this prize for Todd Haynes’ “Far From Heaven” in 2002.) A nice consolation for the great Frederick Wiseman after his film was left off the Academy’s list yesterday of the 15 contenders for the best documentary feature Oscar.

In addition to the regular categories, which include best picture, director, actor and actress, special stand-alone awards are given to individuals and organizations that have made substantial contributions to the art of cinema, including producers, directors, actors, writers, critics, historians, film restorers and service organizations. Frederick Wiseman’s documentary In Jackson Heights chronicling life in Queens was a winner predictable only in its parochialism, while Ennio Morricone won the special award.

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