As mentioned earlier, the New York Film Critics Circle were casting their vote today for their annual awards and Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist took the top honors, winning Best Picture and Best Director. Otherwise, the group spread their awards fairly evenly between a number of films with Meryl Streep winning Best Actress for The Iron Lady and Brad Pitt received the lead acting award for his work in Bennett Miller’s Moneyball, also honored for its screenplay, and Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, which also was praised for cinematography. Albert Brooks took Supporting Actor for his work in Nicolas Refn’s Drive and Jessica Chastain received Supporting Actress for a trio of her many 2011 films, The Tree of Life, The Help and Take Shelter. Foreign Language Film went to the Iranian drama A Separation, Werner Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams received an award for NonFiction Film and Margin Call received an award for First Feature.
So what does this mean? Well, it’s certainly significant for all the winners in the acting categories because the New York film critics are a good barometer for the quality of acting that would get the four nominees into the Oscars. The fact that two of the honors were split between two or three movies is somewhat worrisome because Oscar voters may split.
It’s also bad news for Alexander Payne’s The Descendants, which was once again snubbed when some thought it had a chance at least for screenplay and George Clooney’s performance, but not receiving even one of those isn’t a very good sign. It’s a significant bump for both Moneyball and The Tree of Life, which were not thought of as serious contenders but need to be after the last 24 hours.
The good news is that the National Board of Review (NBR) are selecting their own awards later this week on Thursday, December 1, and they can either back up the NYFCC picks or go a different route, pulling others firmly into the Oscar race, and that includes offering support for Payne’s film.