By Matt Neglia With the Gotham Awards and the National Board Of Review kick starting off the Oscar Season by awarding both “Manchester By The Sea” & “Moonlight,” we now turn our attention towards the New York Film Critics Circle which will announce their winners tomorrow. The first thing we should do is pay attention to the past winners of the New York Film Critics Circle to see if there is a pattern in their winners and their relation to the eventual winners at the Oscars. Let’s take a look at the last 10 years.
Best Picture: Carol (NYFCC), Spotlight (Oscar)
Best Director: Todd Haynes (NYFCC), Alejandro G. Inarritu (Oscar)
Best Picture: Boyhood (NYFCC), Birdman (Oscar)
Best Director: Richard Linklater (NYFCC), Alejandro G. Inarritu (Oscar)
Best Picture: American Hustle (NYFCC), 12 Years A Slave (Oscar)
Best Director: Steve McQueen (NYFCC), Alfonso Cuaron (Oscar)
Best Picture: Zero Dark Thirty (NYFCC), Argo (Oscar)
Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow (NYFCC), Ang Lee (Oscar)
Best Picture: The Artist (NYFCC & Oscar)
Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius (NYFCC & Oscar)
Best Picture: The Social Network (NYFCC), The King’s Speech (Oscar)
Best Director: David Fincher (NYFCC), Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech)
Best Picture: The Hurt Locker (NYFCC & Oscar)
Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow (NYFCC & Oscar)
Best Picture: Milk (NYFCC), Slumdog Millionaire (Oscar)
Best Director: Mike Leigh (NYFCC), Danny Boyle (Oscar)
Best Picture: No Country For Old Men (NYFCC & Oscar)
Best Director: The Coen Bros. (NYFCC & Oscar)
Best Picture: United 93 (NYFCC), The Departed (Oscar)
Best Director: Martin Scorsese (NYFCC & Oscar)
So out of the last 10 years they have predicted Best Director 4 times and Best Picture only 4 times. And for the years where both aligned with the Oscars, those were considered steamroller years where 1 film and its director took pretty much everything. And that’s typically the New York Film Critics way. Expect them to award the film which you most expect to steamroll the early critics awards. “No Country For Old Men,” “The Hurt Locker,” “The Social Network,” “The Artist,” “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Boyhood” did just that eventually leading to a win at the Kodak theater or a takedown in phase two of the season (“Zero Dark Thirty” and “Boyhood” are two recent examples of this). The one year where things don’t seem to make much sense was 2013 when they unexpectedly awarded “American Hustle” with Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Lawrence) and Best Screenplay despite not many people having seen the film up until that point.
So what does all of this mean? Not too much in the grand scheme of things really. We can expect that whatever wins here will either be a steamroller for most critics awards (And maybe the Oscar?) or an outlier that doesn’t manage to make much of a dent for the rest of the season (“Milk” or “American Hustle”). When it comes to the New York Film Critics Circle, there is no “in-between” winner, where they win a few awards throughout the season and don’t win the Oscar. They either win it all, come close and fail in spectacular fashion (“The Social Network”) or nothing at all.
Looking at the films which they could possibly award, it appears to me that the only three obvious picks are “La La Land,” “Moonlight” or “Manchester By The Sea.” While those three may appear to be “obvious” to some of you, lets keep in mind that to predict an “American Hustle” like win, the only film that fits the bill on that is “Silence” which is the last film that NYFCC has seen and is thus, very fresh in their minds at the time of voting. And we cannot say this early if “Silence” is a fizzle player like “American Hustle” yet or a steamroller for other critics awards and eventually the Oscar because too few have seen it yet and we still don’t know what the exact word on the film is yet (Although, a screenplay prize from the National Board Of Review certainly helped matters).
“La La Land” is still the Best Picture frontrunner, whether you like it or not and many are predicting it to steamroll through the season much in the same way that “The Artist” did in 2011. While “The Artist” did not have as stiff competition as “La La Land” does with “Moonlight” and “Manchester By The Sea,” it’s still a crowd pleasing critics darling (97% on RT & 90 on Metacritic) that cannot be discounted. “Manchester By The Sea” was expected to be the critics darling for the year when it premiered at Sundance earlier this year and comparisons to “Ordinary People” are certainly fair. However, this is not 1980 and in an election year with an artistic achievement such as “Moonlight” pulling steam from “Manchester By The Sea” (Especially in Original Screenplay), the two are destined to do battle all season in Ensemble, Screenplay, Directing and Best Picture awards. The Gothams have already gone with “Moonlight” while the National Board Of Review went with “Manchester By The Sea” (Although, Barry Jenkins did manage to get Best Director) and “La La Land” was not a factor in both. I believe that as of tomorrow, that will change and a steamroller (Yes, that one, the one we have all been predicting for months since its debut at Venice) will finally emerge.
Best Picture: La La Land
Best Director: Damien Chazelle
Best Actor: Casey Affleck – Manchester By The Sea
Best Actress: Emma Stone – La La Land
Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali – Moonlight
Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis – Fences
Best Screenplay: Moonlight
Best Cinematography: Silence
Best Animated Film: Zootopia
Best Documentary: 13th
Best Foreign Language Film: Neruda
Best First Film: The Witch
What do you think will happen tomorrow? Will they go for “Silence?” “La La Land?” “Moonlight?” “Manchester By The Sea?” Something else entirely? Let us know in the comments.
You can follow Matt and hear more of his thoughts on the Oscars and Film on Twitter at @NextBestPicture