And we're off...
PICTURE: The Artist
DIRECTOR: Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
ACTOR: Brad Pitt, Moneyball & The Tree of Life
ACTRESS: Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Albert Brooks, Drive
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Jessica Chastain, The Tree of Life, The Help & Take Shelter
SCREENPLAY: Moneyball- Steven Zailian & Aaron Sorkin
CINEMATOGRAPHY: The Tree of Life- Emmanuel Lubezki
DOCUMENTARY: Cave of Forgotten Dreams
FOREIGN FILM: A Separation
FIRST FEATURE: Margin Call- J.C. Chandor
The first of the majors to come out the gate, the New York Film Critics offer some illumination and also a bit of bah-humbug for gone conclusions. Firstly, hurrah is in order in the final swoop by announcing The Artist with best of honors over the likely more predicted The Tree of Life and The Descendants (shockingly snubbed), and for Albert Brooks way-too-cool mention...one that I still find hard to buy that the fuss-backs of the Academy will truly appreciate. Cave of Forgotten Dreams mentioned as Best Documentary was a subtle middle finger for the branch that failed to shortlist Werner Herzog's 3-D art history lesson, and Margin Call is a subtle and informed choice for Best First Feature (even if it slighted a first feature I admired slightly more in Martha Marcy May Marlene.)
The rest, well reeks a bit of the expected, not that it's undeserving. Brad Pitt has had an exceptional 2011 with his most poised and assured performance to date with Moneyball and amassed artistic cred while working with one of the greatest auteurs of all time in The Tree of Life; certainly feels like it's his time and winning his first NYFCC award is the best way to start his awards adventure. Meryl Streep, winning for her still-unreleased Margaret Thatcher biopic The Iron Lady is another thing altogether-- this is certainly not her first NYFCC award; she won in fact two years ago for Julie & Julia, however sight unseen, she will be nominated, all doubts removed for a legend of her stature could coast without this achievement-- with it, there's little to fight. She's won this round Glenn Close. Jessica Chastain, having the most banner year of any American actor this year had to settle for tying her Supporting Actress prize with only three of her nine thousand 2011 entries...for the record, I'm on team Take Shelter. Lubezki's cinematography prize was a forgone conclusion, and that category should now be stricken from the record from any other critical organization...I still have a chill that this mastermind behind the camera will swoop up everything but the Nobel Prize only to lose the Oscar to War Horse.
Of all the mess and analysis of the NYFCC moving up there date for whatever reason, I suppose it matters nil after the fact...they likely would have voted similarly anyway-- perhaps I'm only being kind since The Artist is on top...and of that film, I certainly hope it makes it past the inevitably murky paths of first play awards exhaustion. For the record, the only film that was not screened (at least the only one publicly kvetched about) was Stephen Daldry's Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close-- perhaps that was an intentional thing at that...
Kudos to the NYFCC for not even bothering with an Animated Feature category this year...why bother?