Also: 'Lore' and 'Sapphires' rule Down Under, and Sundance premieres revealed
The surprise-sprinkled New York Film Critics' Circle vote may have been the biggest news of a stacked precursor day yesterday, but as usual, stories of the voting conflicts behind the scenes are even more interesting than the results themselves. The most detailed report I've read comes from esteemed NYFCC member J. Hoberman, and it's a fascinating read for awards geeks. While the winners list might suggest Best Picture was a close-run thing between "Zero Dark Thirty" and "Lincoln," the latter actually didn't even figure in the final three: "Argo" came in second and "The Master" took the bronze position, though neither film received any kind of consolation prize. Moreover, Steven Spielberg didn't receive a single Best Director vote. Moral of the story: this remains anyone's race, and hurrah for that. [Art Info]
'Les Mis' leads with 10 nods, but misses out in directing and writing races
Amid today's mad rush of awards activity, we almost forgot to mention the Satellite Award nominations. I confess I've never been sure entirely sure what these awards represent -- they're voted for by a group called the International Press Academy, but my knowledge ends there -- but they've been cheerfully going their own way for 17 years now, annually coming up with one of the season's more entertaining, eclectic nomination lists.
This year is no exception. Amid the predictable spread of mentions for the likes of "Lincoln" and "Silver Linings Playbook" -- "Les Mis" leads with 10 nods, though director Tom Hooper was left out -- are wildcard Best Picture nods for "Skyfall" and "The Sessions." More interesting still are crossover nominations for some pretty out-there foreign fare.
Freshly awarded by the NYFCC, the DP discusses the 'guerrilla' feel of the production
One of the callbacks critics are noting vis a vis Kathryn Bigelow's "Zero Dark Thirty" is Alan J. Pakula's 1976 political thriller "All the President's Men." Both films detail the minutiae of following a process to an end and how that end impacts the psyche of a nation, never shying away from inherent narrative bogging, unfussy in their visual vocabulary. It's no surprise, then, that cinematographer Greig Fraser, who shot "Zero Dark Thirty" for Bigelow, finds such minutiae fascinating.
Some unconventional picks for the east coast crew
If the New York Film Critics Circle believed they might cause a commotion with a number of their 2012 selections, they certainly succeeded in rattling the awards season boat. The NYFCC, like their Los Angeles counterparts, have rarely gone with the collective wisdom unless it’s the best picture or best director category. This year? They made sure Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” remained a centerpiece in the best picture race with honors for best actor (a very deserving Daniel Day-Lewis), best screenplay (cultural touchstone Tony Kushner) and, um, best supporting actress (Sally Field). Where they really stirred things up was by giving the season’s first major kudos to “Zero Dark Thirty" and pretty much anointing best actress and best supporting actors out of left field.
15 titles proceed in a competitive year for the category
More good timing as the Academy has announced its shortlist of 15 advancing titles in the Best Documentary Feature race after Anne and I discussed the field at length on the podcast Friday. And it naturally figures that most of the films we talked about were not passed through.
The biggest omission to my eyes is "The Queen of Versailles," one of the best films of the year -- doc or narrative -- period. Maybe they didn't like that filmmaker Lauren Greenfield lucked into her story, but that film is of the moment and vital as all hell. Alas, this is to be expected. Great stuff is so often skipped over, and it appears the new rules and regs did little to alter that course.
Also left off the list: "West of Memphis," which is just a travesty. I get worked up every year on this shortlist and I'll try not to now, but Amy Berg's film is a monument. Ditto "The Central Park Five," which just won the New York Film Critics Circle prize for non-fiction film this morning and now has to deal with this.
'Lincoln' wins three prizes, for Actor, Supporting Actress and Screenplay
Last year, the New York Film Critics' Circle rather set the pace for the season by handing their two top awards to “The Artist.” (They also set eventual Best Actress Oscar winner Meryl Streep on her way.) This year, however, they're more likely to mix the conversation up in a few crucial areas. Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor got a fresh injection in lieu of frontrunner rallying, while the group's selection of Kathryn Bigelow's "Zero Dark Thirty" in the Best Picture and Best Director categories puts it at the top of the Oscar heap.
Check out the full list of winners below and remember to keep track of all the goings on throughout the season at The Circuit.
'Hotel Transylvania' and 'ParaNorman' not too far behind
The nominations for the 40th annual Annie Awards were announced today, and Disney had to be all smiles with 27 nominations across four feature films in play. And it was "Brave" and "Wreck-It Ralph" from that stable that led the pack, along with DreamWorks Animation's "Rise of the Guardians," with 10 nominations apiece.
With NYFCC, LAFCA and more on the way, what films will get a boost?
Earlier today we launched this season's edition of The Circuit, which will track the ups and downs of the precursor circuit from the critics awards to the guild announcements all the way through the Oscars and more. But things will get serious later this afternoon as the New York Film Critics Circle sits down to hold its annual vote.
The job of the critics this time of year is to be honest about their view of quality, yes, but also to stand up for titles and individuals lost in the shuffle. Sometimes those calls line up with Oscar, sometimes not, but the road begins to get paved with these announcements. And the narrowing process -- particularly in a shortened phase one window -- is crucial.
Also: 'War Witch' wins at Camerimage, and Ang Lee's 'Life of Liberty Valance'
Oscar buzz is a strange, unscientific and totally intangible thing -- even contenders being left out of the precursor can generate their own conversation with some assistance from the blogosphere. Nathaniel Rogers calls it The Noise, and right now he's hearing it for Nicole Kidman, whose Oscar chances for a brilliant out-of-character turn in Lee Daniels' "The Paperboy" initially seemed to be shot down with the film's critical savaging. But Kidman's doing a stealth campaign, calling up sympathetic interviewers (including our own Greg Ellwood) herself, and it's paying off with some press at just the right time. Could she crack a still-thin Best Supporting Actress category? Though I think she's really a lead in "The Paperboy," I hope so, and so does Rogers: "You'd have to bring Daniel Day-Lewis's Honest Abe into the room to give her a worthy opponent for impossible commitment to the role," he writes. [The Film Experience]
'Tabu' and 'Amour' take medal positions in poll of over 90 international critics
The awards season has already begun to some extent, but the critics are about to add their collective voice to it: tomorrow, the New York Film Critics' Circle announce their picks for 2012's best, kicking off a long, long run of critics' awards that won't finish until January. So it's apt that Sight & Sound magazine have neatly foreshadowed this turn of events with their own annual critics' poll -- one of the largest and most internationally inclusive of the lot.
And though you may already have heard this, it's good news for "The Master" -- one of the films, as it happens, that has the most to gain from the upcoming bevy of critics' honors. Paul Thomas Anderson's remarkable Scientology-inspired dual character study has acquired a reputation for being a difficult, divisive beast -- but it still united enough opinion to score the most votes in S&S's survey of over 90 critics, academics and programmers. It wouldn't surprise me to see it emerge similarly triumphant with certain leading US critics' groups, reasserting its status as a potential Oscar player.