New York Film Critics Delight, Confound

10:14 am Update: This is the final ignominious straw for the NYFCC — they’ve just given their Best Picture award to The Artist. God! All right, calm down…a little grace and dignity here. This will obviously help Harvey Weinstein‘s effort to get more under-40 nabobs to check out this perfectly delightful diversion (and then tell their friends about it), and that’s fine. The Artist should be seen and enjoyed. But this is otherwise wrong, wrong…not cool.

Repeat after me for the 17th or 37th time — The Artist is all about re-creation, backward visitation and reflective surfaces. It possesses and radiates nothing that is truly its own, except for a desire to give entertainment-seekers a nice pleasant time. And that’s not nearly enough to warrant a Best Picture prize. Shame on the NYFCC in this respect…shame!

9:50 am Update: NYFCC has given its Best Screenplay award to Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin for Moneyball. That’s more like it! Major Moneyball awards-cred momentum is now established and unmistakable. (Very much looking forward to slapping around those Moneyball detractors.) But NYFCC probably won’t give it their Best Picture award. A voice is telling me that The Tree of Life will win in that respect. But if The Artist takes it….yeesh. I’m still reeling from that Hazanavicius win

9:33 am Update: NYFCC has handed its Best Director prize to Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist. WHAT?? For making a highly engaging curio, a nostalgic bauble…a shimmering, silver-toned audience pleaser? And in so doing blowing off the efforts of Bennett Miller, Alexander Payne, Terrence Malick (which I could totally live with) and others? This is a major NYFCC embarassment.

8:56 am Update: Somewhere in this realm there is a God, and justice besides, and a good amount of satisfaction — Moneyball and Tree of Life‘s Brad Pitt has won Best Actor from the NYFCC. Throw a chair through a glass window! Tapley: “Now is the time for Moneyball to strike. An uncertain time in the season.”

8:44 am Update: Hooray for Drive‘s Albert Brooks! He’s just won the NYFCC’s Best Supporting Actor trophy. Waiting for Brooks’ Twitter acceptance riff. 8:48 am Brooks Update: So where is it? Deciding what tone to take, Albert? C’mon, man…just let fly.

Update: The Iron Lady‘s Meryl Sreep has won the NYFCC Best Actress award. Beginning of a sweep? Uncertain impact upon Viola Davis, Michelle Williams bandwagons. Awareness is settling in that Glenn Close‘s Albert Nobbs performance has never lit anyone up. She deserves a career tribute Best Actress nom, but the performance itself is recessive, overly congealed.

Spirit Awards Nominations for Best Feature: 50/50, Beginners, Drive, Take Shelter and The Artist. I’ll have to post the entire slate of nominees after the NYFCC voting is over. Here’s the Hollywood Reporter‘s rundown.

Earlier: The slowly tweeting, drip-dri[–dripping New York Film Critics Circle has given the expected Best Supporting Actress award to Jessica Chastain for Take Shelter (best), The Tree of Life (2nd best) and The Help (not so much).

NYFCC’s Best First Feature: Margin Call — an unpopular choice among fans of Martha Marcy May Marlene, which also lost last night at the Gothams. NYFCC Best Documentary: Werner Herzog‘s Cave of Forgotten Dreams.

37 thoughts on “New York Film Critics Delight, Confound

  1. bobbyperu on said:

    Jeff, was it expected that Chastain would win? No one is more deserving, but not sure it was expected.

    Also, Martha Marcy May Marlene is being shut out because it is simply a director’s exercise and as you noted recently, does not pay off when the credits roll. Sure, sure, it’s impressive that Durkin can weave past and present and blah blah blah, create the tension between the two worlds, etc. But there’s no character arc at all — it’s a real problem for this movie.

  2. Also, Chastain knocked it out of the park in The Help. Say what you will about the movie, but her performance was, for my money, the best in the film — especially when compared to her other work this year. You can’t look at The Debt or Take Shelter or Tree of Life and then see The Help, and recognize any traces of anything. The Celia Foote character is pivotal to the film (more than Octavia Spencer’s Minnie, maybe) and she nailed the smart woman inside the dumb blonde visage. She could have easily played Monroe, much as I love Williams.

  3. Rashad – NYFCC (and many other critics groups) do the multiple-film thing. If you’re great in more than one film, you’re the best actor/actress of the year in that category. It’s always made sense to me — too many actors get screwed by the Academy by having to compete against themselves. Chastain is one of the acting stories of the year, undoubtedly.

  4. It’s one thing to be allowed a second nomination in the category, but winning for two performances is absurd. Credibility out the window

  5. Mike-

    The other acting story of the year is Michael Fassbender, who should have rightfully won this for Shame (as well as Jane Eyre, X: Men and A Dangerous Method). Talk about diametrically opposed characters and performances. One could find high notes in each, but to deny Fassbender Shame, where there is literally nothing he doesn’t do physically and emotionally, with such a level of transparency and exposure and complexity (the New York, New York scene, his expressions during the three-way sex scene and the big dock scene near the end), that honestly, while I loved Pitt in Tree of Life, this doesn’t seem just. To me, his performance in Moneyball was aces but not deep; even his scenes with the daughter he pushed emotion and couldn’t wring a tear.

  6. Rashad’s always great when he says things like “Credibility out the window.” I wonder if his mom ever tells him that HIS credibility’s out the window, after he fucks up taking out the trash or something.

  7. THE ARTIST is the film with unmistakable and established momentum, Jeff, not Moneyball…but nice try.

    Director and Best Picture – Oscars here we come!

  8. So I know I’m not the first to see the parallel here – Spielberg war movie goes up against little Weinstein Artisitic movie for Best Pitcure. Who will come out on top this time?

  9. Am I the only one who thinks Win Win was a bunch of overly sentimentalized, sitcom-level pap? Like a feature length version of when the Seavers brought in Leo on Growing Pains with about as much to say? There were some seriously cringe-inducing, embarrassing moments of unearned schmaltz in that thing. Ending plot with the mom and ultimate resolution of the film was pretty good. and Burt Young was fun. But… really overall thought it was just… suburbanized drab…

  10. I assume this means that there was a Descendants-Tree of LIfe split and The Artist was the compromise.

    I wouldn’t say a bad choice. An enjoyable film, but an awfully light choice.

  11. So both of the adult actors in Tree of LIfe win, but not the director or film. Does anyone else think of Tree of LIfe as an actor-y movie? Isn’t it the definition of a director’s film?

  12. Hey, K. Bowen, WE GET IT ALREADY.

    Jesus CHRIST, what are you, like 24 years old? Enough with the fucking TREE OF LIFE, it’s NOT THAT GOOD, it’s kind of embarrassing and not really that profound.

    OH WOW LOOK A JELLYFISH IT’S THE CREATION SEQUENCE, TEARS SOB WHOOOO. Fucking BORING.

    Get a new pet cause.

  13. @K Bowen:

    They won for their body of work this year, especially deserved in Chastain’s case. If/when they are nominated for a single film at subsequent awards programs, their chances of winning will go down.

    But yes, it is a director’s film foremost. Does anybody ever spill the beans on how the voting transpired at the various critic’s group votes?

  14. This is a bit surprising – the NYFCC usually goes for something dark and/or Foreign. This is a group that once picked ‘Cries And Whispers’ as its Best Picture, for God’s sake.

    “The Artist” is certainly enjoyable, and yes, that dog is dymamite, but…’tis but a trifle. Luckily, that’s all it aims to be, so I had a good time. Seems like it may just be a safe choice by the Circle – I’d be interested to know if they split ballots on other movies, then just said ‘fuck it’ and picked something they could all agree on. It’s happened before.

    And finally, add me to the list that thought “The Tree Of Life” was full of shit up to its neck. Just because something aspires to be profound does not automatically mean it succeeds. At least the Euro-Malick (Von Trier) managed to reign in his inherent batshit-craziness enough to make a compelling movie, even if he’s the only one who truly understands it. Plus Kirsten Dunst in the buff….that beats dinosaurs and shots of molten lava any day of the week.

  15. For the record, the last non-English-language film that won Best Picture from the NYFCC was Amarcord. The Artist is as close as they’ve come since.

  16. Dear Lex,

    I know you were bored. You were probably confused and disappointed by seeing the only film this year without the trailer for Jack and Jill.

  17. K. Bowen…

    No, I was bored because, as a point of direct comparison and though they came out later, both Lars Von Trier and Jeff Nichols each made not-dissimilar movies to ToL that wipe the floor with it in terms of emotion, heft and style.

  18. I thought the award was for Best Picture, not Most Important And/Or Very Serious One. If THE ARTIST is indeed a superb film, then the fact that it’s a trifle shouldn’t matter. The Academy once gave Best Picture to things like IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT and YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU, which are even more “trifling” than THE ARTIST.

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