The Oscar Warrior: New York Film Critics Announce Today!

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Last night’s Gotham Awards kicked off the start of awards actually being handed out in the months leading up to Oscar night and the first critics group to weigh in are the New York Film Critics Circle, who have a good track record for setting the stage for the Oscars.

Made up of roughly 33 film critics for major New York City newspapers, magazines and online publications, today will mark their 77th awards meeting and for the first time, they will be announcing their selections on Twitter, starting at 9:30 AM Eastern with an awards ceremony to hand out the awards on Monday, January 9.

There was a bit of controversy this year as the group moved their awards meeting up two weeks, forcing studios to show them their awards-worthy movies earlier than usual – and possibly earlier than the filmmakers were ready to show their films. Originally, the group was going to meet yesterday, but the meeting was delayed so that the majority of members could see David Fincher’s adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. They weren’t able to watch Scott Rudin’s other production being released for Christmas, Stephen Daldry’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

The group could really go in a lot of directions with the potential for Alexander Payne’s The Descendants and Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist getting special attention, although they could also go a bit off the wall and honor films like Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life or Nicolas Refn’s Drive, both of which received rave reviews earlier in the year.

Best Actress is a bit of a crap shoot as the New York Film Film Critics Circle are not as likely to go political when casting their votes, so Meryl Streep isn’t necessarily thought of as a favorite, even though they were the first group to honor her portrayal of Julia Child in Julie & Julia a few years back. It’s been a while since an actress who won the New York Film Critics Circle award won an Oscar, though, the last one being Helen Mirren for The Queen five years ago. They could easily go for someone young and new like Elizabeth Olsen for Martha Marcy May Marlene or even Rooney Mara for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which is very fresh in their minds.

They’ve generally been more consistent with the Academy when it comes to actors as four of their last five picks have went onto win the Oscar in the leading actor category, although they picked George Clooney two years ago for Up in the Air, most likely because not enough members had a chance to see Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart since their meeting is so early.

They’re also fairly consistent with directors although last year, they went with Fincher for The Social Network, although the Academy went with Tom Hooper for The King’s Speech. A few years earlier, they awarded Mike Leigh for his direction of Happy-Go-Lucky, while the Academy chose to honor his screenwriting.

As far as their award for Best Film, they’ve been consistent enough that most of their winners at least receive a nomination from AMPAS in the Best Picture category with one notable exception being Paul Greengrass’ United 93, which the NYFCC awarded with their top prize in 2006, though only Greengrass’ direction and the film’s editing were nominated for Oscars.

The NYFCC meeting is also fairly legendary for snarky arguments over the winners, because critics rarely agree on anything, even if you lock them in a room for three or four hours.

You can follow the New York Film Critics Circle on Twitter for instant updates of their awards meeting starting at 9:30 AM Eastern, and then look for our recap later today.