Awards Season in Critics Eyes   3 comments


Wow, it’s my first post of the year. Yay! Happy 2012, everyone!

Anyway, as any Oscar prognosticator knows, while there are lots of critics prizes left and right that give recognition to the outstanding film performances (both in and behind the screen) every year, there are only four critics award choices that actually matters when running an Oscar campaign. These four are the National Board of Review, Los Angeles Film Critics Awards, the National Society of Film Critics, and the New York Film Critics Circle Awards. And with the announcement of the NSFC awards just hours ago, it’s time to analyze who they chose as the cream of the crop for this year’s awards derby.

NBR: Hugo
NYFCC: The Artist
LAFCA: The Descendants
NSFC: Melancholia

It was a pretty divided choice for Best Picture this year as we don’t see any film winning more than one multiple critic title this year. This is indicative of what a divided this year was, and that can lead to a surprise Oscar win or a film that was in the middle with the least polarizing effect. Hugo, The Artist, and The Descendants are the three perceived films to fight for the Oscar this year, while Melancholia, despite the NSFC victory, can just pray for a very unlikely nomination. It is also noteworthy to see that while Tree of Life wasn’t able to be the champ in any of these critics choices, it was a consistent Top 3 placer. These placements may prove support for an Oscar nomination later this month.

NBR: Martin Scorsese, “Hugo”
NYFCC: Michael Hazanavicius, “The Artist”
LAFCA: Terrence Malick, “The Tree of Life”
NSFC: Terrence Malick, “The Tree of Life”

This is pretty much related to my discussion above regarding the Tree of Life. Ironically, Terrence Malick nabbed two of the four prizes for Best Director this season. He is in a good position to be one of the five directors for this year, and if the BP nominees were limited to five, he’d probably get the Fernando Meirelles, Pedro Almodovar, and Mike Leigh treatment of getting nominated for BP despite the film not making the BP line up. Malick is a far respected director who can get in just with name status alone. As for Hazanavicius and Scorsese, they’re shoo-ins for Oscar noms. It is also not perplexing that Payne missed out a win, as he also gets mention for his screenplay.

NBR: George Clooney, “The Descendants”
NYFCC: Brad Pitt, “Moneyball” and “Tree of Life”
LAFCA: Michael Fassbender, “Shame”
NSFC: Brad Pitt, “Moneyball” and “Tree of Life”

NBR loves ’em George Clooney, as he gets another win from the NBR this year after winning two years ago for Up in the Air. He is in a close fight with clsoe friend Brad Pitt, who wile being helped with two performances this year, is clearly being pushed for Moneyball. Surprisingly, Pitt won two of the four mentions and puts him in a better position to win the Oscar next month. Lastly, Michael Fassbender needs a critic win in order to maintain momentum, and though he missed his SAG nod for Shame, I think he’s still safe for a nomination. Getting a Tree of Life treatment though is Jean Dujardin who made all Top 3 mentions this year and is clearly a viable third place position after Clooney and Pitt.

NBR: Tilda Swinton, “We Need to Talk About Kevin”
NYFCC: Meryl Streep, “The Iron Lady”
LAFCA: Yoon Jeong-hee, “Poetry”
NSFC: Kirsten Dunst, “Melancholia”

The only two people who benefited this awards season for this category were Tilda Swinton and Meryl Streep. Yoon Jeong-hee, in traditional LAFCA fashion, is a very deserving but somehow predictable choice as the last four winners for Best Actress from them are for foreign language performances. It’s nice to see Kirsten finally winning something, but the lack of televised awards (Globes. BCCA, SAG) does not help her get any awards traction. Tilda’s very surprising NBR win was followed by Globes and SAG mention, and though she has no chance of winning, she finally nabbed a recognition aside from her Oscar (very surprising right?). However, as any other year, it was all about Meryl as she won the LAFCA (which also awarded her two years ago) and made the Top 3 for NSFC. Among the three perceived frontrunners (Viola Davis and Michelle Williams being the other two), Meryl is in a slightly ahead position.

NBR: Christopher Plummer, “Beginners”
NYFCC: Christopher Plummer, “Beginners”
LAFCA: Albert Brooks, “Drive”
NSFC: Albert Brooks, “Drive”

Now, this is a very interesting race. From the start, it has always been Plummer vs. Brooks, and they’re even tied up for critics awards. Both veterans due for Oscars in their mantle, they give standout performances in their films which most likely will make them as the sole major nomination for their film. However, I’d give Plummer the by a hair lead as he was just nominated two years ago, and has a longer screentime than Brooks.

NBR: Shailene Woodley, “The Descendants”
NYFCC: Jessica Chastain, “Take Shelter”, “The Help”, “The Tree of Life”
LAFCA: Jessica Chastain, “Take Shelter”, “The Help”, “The Tree of Life”, “The Debt”, “Coriolanus”, “Texas Killing Fields”
NSFC: Jessica Chastain, “Take Shelter”, “The Help”, “The Tree of Life”

It’s Jessica Chastain’s world, and we’re all just living in it. Definitely the winner of the best body of work for the past year, Jessica Chastain received three critics wins this year, and though it has been worrisome that she might be a victim of vote splitting, it is pretty clear now that she’ll get in for The Help. This certainly puts her in a very good position and now tied with The Help co-star Octavia Spencer. On the other hand, the NBR did it again by preventing Chastain’s four-peat win by choosing Woodley as their Supporting Actress pick (remember in 2009 when they chose Anna Kendrick over Mo’nique?) for The Descendants.

NBR: 50/50 (Original), The Descendants (Adapted)
NYFCC: Moneyball
LAFCA: A Separation
NSFC: A Separation

A Separation (surprisingly!) won two of the four mentions for the Screenplay categories this year, and it bodes well for an Oscar nomination (which I’m currently predicting). Aaron Sorkin will probably get a repeat nomination a year after his Oscar victory for The Social Network, Community’s Dean Pelton (Jim Rash) is the frontrunner for the Adapted Oscar screenplay (just imagine Oscar winner Dean Pelton), and while 50/50 is in a good position to be nominated, don’t get your hopes too high for NBr’s Original Screenplay choices (Buried won last year).

NBR: A Separation
NYFCC: A Separation
LAFCA: City of Life and Death
NSFC: A Separation

You can consider A Separation getting a sweep in this category as it got three of the four mentions in this category making them the official frontrunner for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. The only other film which won is China’s City of Life and Death (released in 2009), and it’s not even China’s entry for the FLF this year. What only stops A Separation all the way to the Oscar podium is the AMPAS’ weird process of voting for FLF winners which usually puts perceived frontrunners such as Amelie, Pan’s Labyrinth, The White Ribbon as Oscar losers in this category.

NBR: Rango
NYFCC: (did not give this year)
LAFCA: Rango
NSFC: (no category for Animated Feature)

Rango seems to be the critics’ bet this year for animated feature film, but you can always count on Adventures of Tintin to spoil since it’s a one two punch of Oscar favorites Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson. Although, come Oscar time, it will really be between Tintin and Rango.

NBR: Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory
NYFCC: Cave of Forgotten Dreams
LAFCA: Cave of Forgotten Dreams
NSFC: Cave of Forgotten Dreams

While Cave of Forgotten Dream gets three out of the four Documentary awards, it is very surprising to note that it is not included in the final fifteen list of possible Oscar Documentary nominees that the AMPAS released late last year; therefore, it has no chance of getting a nomination later this month. On the bright side, though, NBR’s pick is one of those fifteen; thus, it has the advantage of being the only documentary choice from the top critic groups now.

As always, it is not worthy to rely the facts just abused on the different groups. After all, their task is to choose their personal preferences and not to predict the Oscars. Every now and then, there are still cases of Sally Hawkins and Bill Murrays who, even after sweeping the critics, failed to received Oscar noms. They’re just good indicators of and chance boosters for the award season.

‘Til the next critics season! 🙂


Posted January 8, 2012 by Nicol Latayan in Awards, Films

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3 responses to “Awards Season in Critics Eyes

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  1. Brooks won the NYFCC. Plummer won L.A.

  2. Oscar Winner Dean Pelton please v:D

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