Okay, time to overreact to the New York Film Critics' Circle awards. We finally—fucking FINALLY—have something tangible to chew on, so it's time to start speculating about the Oscars. I mean, we could speculate about the Oscars yesterday, too, just like we could have a couple weeks ago, but now it's REAL. So. Here are the list of winners:
Best Film: ZERO DARK THIRTY
Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow (ZERO DARK THIRTY)
Best Screenplay: Tony Kushner (LINCOLN)
Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis (LINCOLN)
Best Actress: Rachel Weisz (THE DEEP BLUE SEA)
Best Foreign Language Film: AMOUR
Best Animated Film: FRANKENWEENIE
Best Supporting Actor: Matthew McConaughey (BERNIE, MAGIC MIKE)
Best Supporting Actress: Sally Field (LINCOLN)
Best Cinematographer: Greig Fraser (ZERO DARK THIRTY)
Best Non-Fiction Film (Documentary): "The Central Park Five"
Best First Film: David France (HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE)
All in all, gotta say, pretty good list. Nothing I hate, a couple things I absolutely love. But what, you may ask, does this imply for the larger narrative? Let's unpack a bit of data and determine the big-picture implications of each item:
1—No awards for Argo, Silver Linings Playbook, Les Miserables, or Life of Pi.
All four have been talked up as big contenders, for various reasons, and the absence of each has different significance. Argo, first of all, we can toss as having any chance at winning anything in February. B-Fleck made a really good fucking Sydney Pollack 70s movie, but the field's too crowded this year.
Silver Linings Playbook was probably the biggest surprise omission of the bunch due to the whole Weinstein imprimatur, but more than that the general consensus that Jennifer Lawrence was the frontrunner for Best Actress (on which, more in a bit).
Les Miz, independent of how good it was, was not going to get any love from the crème de la crème New York film critics. It could have been the greatest thing since sliced (stolen) bread, Anne Hathaway could have cured a leper with a high F-sharp, Victor Hugo himself could have raised up from the fucking dead and personally offered a “for your consideration s'il vous plait.” None of that shit would have mattered in the face of Andrew Lloyd Webber. Them's the bricks. Once this comes out it'll be easier to get a read on it, butdo not be at all surprised if it kills with audiences and becomes a massive hit.
Life Of Pi is probably destined for technical and design awards only, much for the same reasons as Argo: the field is simply too crowded this year. The CGI tiger has to be good for an award or two.
2—“Hey, you forgot The Master, Django Unchained, Moonrise Kingdom, Cosmopolis, and a variety of other auteur pictures of which there were zillions of good ones this year.”
No, I didn't. The Academy is not, to put it mildly, remotely auteurist, which is what drives film nerds nuts every year. The most we're likely to see is a possible Original Screenplay win for The Master, and that's not anything we can count on, and even then it might get stomped by Zero Dark Thirty (Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Les Miz, and Life of Pi, the likely other top four Best Picture nominees, are all from adapted screenplays).
3—Rachel Weisz winning Best Actress
This was a big surprise, and a pleasant one for anyone who saw her in the gorgeous, sensuously melancholy The Deep Blue Sea. It was, however, reportedly brought on by a split of the vote between overwhelming favorites Jennifer Lawrence (The Silver Linings Playbook) and Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty). So, don't get too overexcited about her Oscar prospects. First, she already has one (for The Constant Gardener), and second, The Deep Blue Sea is another one of those darn auteur pictures—what's good, Terence Davies—and so just about any wins Weisz or the movie pick up are almost certainly going to be from critics' groups. Still, it's awesome that she won this. That movie is so fucking good.
4—Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty each win three awards
Does this necessarily make them the two overwhelming frontrunners? Not necessarily. Remember, Silver Linings Playbook is still out there, and Harvey Weinstein is going to break out the 60 caliber promotional guns at some point. Whether it'll be enough to beat out two Big Important Movies About America remains to be seen, but remember feel-good movies with happy endings play big with Oscar voter types, and if there's one of those around it always has a chance come Oscar time. What the Lincoln/Zero Dark Thirty split does mean is that most of the critics' awards to come are likely going to be an either/or proposition as to which one takes the top prize. We could see a lot of Lincoln/ZD30 Spielberg/Bigelow Picture/Director splits, or a bunch of critics' groups liking one or the other.
5—No Best Editing? What the fuck?
Pssh, don't look at me. Though, in Oscar terms, that could be Argo's one chance to win something, B-Fleck manipulated the pace masterfully in that.
6—DDL wins Best Actor
DDL is going to win at least 90% of the Best Actor prizes given out, including the Oscar. Carve it in marble. Same for Tony Kushner's script. I'm personally not over the moon about either, but the game is the game.
7—Sally Field, Best Supporting Actress
She was great—all the bullshit about her being too old for the role can be referred to my two raised middle fingers—but from what people coming out of Les Miz screenings are saying, Anne Hathaway's going to start winning a ton of these. Still, don't count Sally Field out.
8—Amour for Best Foreign Film
Stupidly, none of the other foreign movies that would be competition are eligible, either because they weren't submitted by their country or release date weirdness. So, no Holy Motors or Once Upon A Time In Anatolia, both of which are outstanding (and were Amour's biggest competition with NYFCC, which doesn't abide by the same dumbass guidelines the Oscars do). Expect Michael Haneke to win an Oscar to keep his Palmes D'Or company.
9—Frankenweenie for Best Animated/Central Park Five for Best Doc
Fuck if I know. A wise man admits when he knows nothing, so as a wiseass my ass ain't sayin boo.
10—Matthew McConaughey for Best Supporting Actor
There's only one thing to say to that, and that's “alright, alright, alright, alright.” And you know what? He's got a shot to win, as Tom Berenger put with a hilarious inability to say the word “fuck” properly in Major League, “the whole....fuckin....thing.” Because, dig it: everybody's like “oooh, Tommy Lee Jones in Lincoln.” And he was great. But there's also David Straithairn in Lincoln and James Spader in Lincoln, and those are a lot of Lincoln votes to get split. Also Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained) only just won Best Supporting for a Quentin movie (Inglourious Basterds), Oscar's not gonna double-dip there. Barring a no-hold-barred Weinstein “get Bob DeNiro his....wait, his third Oscar? Huh, would have been a better story if it was his first....anyway, yay,” campaign, McConaughey could totally pull this one out, and probably for Magic Mike, because it secretly made a fucking fuckton of money this summer and Oscar's kinky that way.
Also, just think: what if he comes to the Oscars with no shirt. That would just....it would be....alright, alright, alright, alright!