The Oscar Warrior: The Critics Are Voting! The Critics Are Voting!


If you think the awards season has been crazy so far, things really haven’t even started, but over the next two weeks, we’re going to be seeing a stream of precursor awards and nominations that will make the Oscar race look much, much clearer.

In the next week, the New York Film Critics Circle (NYFCC) and Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), two of the most prestigious and respected critics groups, at least in North America, will meet in person to decide who to reward with their annual picks. NYFCC kicks the week off on Monday morning, December 3, and we think they’re going to go with some of more heady films like Ben Affleck’s Argo or Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty or PT Anderson’s The Master with Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom likely to be mentioned as well.

Last year was an anomaly for the group, not because they picked the same movie as the Academy, Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist, but because they went with the cheery silent movie musical over something more serious. After all, this was the group who picked United 93 and Milk in previous years, boosting their presence in the Oscar race. Other than The Artist, they’ve only picked three other movies since 1994 that went on to win Best Picture at the Oscars: Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker, the Coens’ No Country for Old Men and Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

LAFCA follows on Friday, December 7 and they’re very likely to go with some more esoteric choices like Emmanuelle Riva for Michael Haneke’s Amour. Their Best Film choices have been similarly esoteric with regular support for Alexander Payne, having picked his last three movies, even though none of them have won Best Picture at the Oscars. The only time in the last 20 years they’ve aligned with the Academy was with Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker, so whatever they pick will get nominated but won’t win. So David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook maybe?

Although it has the word “review” in its title, the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures (NBR) doesn’t have a critic in the bunch–okay, maybe one or two–but is in fact a group of movie lovers, mostly older folks, who watch movies year-round and are thought to be a believable stamp of approval due to the length of time they’ve been in the awards business. They will announce in between the two critics groups on Wednesday, December 5. Last year, they went with Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, the year before with David Fincher’s The Social Network (which was popular with critics as well) and they’ve had a pretty decent run with many of their picks receiving Oscar nominations in the Best Picture category, even back when it was just five. We think they’ll either go with Les Miserables or possibly Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln as well as giving a couple awards to Silver Linings Playbook (probably Jennifer Lawrence), solidifying the three movies as frontrunners.

The Oscar Warrior is a member of the New York Film Critics Online (NYFCO), not to be confused with the NYFCC, and we’ll vote on Sunday, December 9, as will the Boston Film Critics, who we think will put all their eggs in hometown boy Ben Affleck’s Argo, although they may also give some love to Matt Damon and John Krasinski’s Promised Land.

Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the group who awards the Critics Choice Awards every year–and of which the Oscar Warrior is also a member–announce their nominations on December 11, priding themselves on regularly aligning themselves with the Academy’s picks. The group is made up of television, radio and internet critics, as well as what some critics refer to negatively “junketeers” i.e. those who do interviews, glad-handing talent and being flown places making them easily compromisable. As a member who knows many of my fellow members, I obviously disagree with that sentiment.

Just one day later, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), the first actual film industry guild to vote, made up of thousands of unionized actors, will announce their nominations, giving us a clear idea of what actual actors think of their colleagues and peers. Their nominations will be very telling about who is going to be taken seriously in the acting races and their Best Ensemble category gives us a clearer idea of what movies the acting division of the Academy is getting behind. We expect Argo, Lincoln, Les Miserables and Silver Linings Playbook to have a strong presence.

The first round of Oscar precursor nominations will end on December 13 with the announcement of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) Golden Globe nominations, which after the Oscars, is thought to be the most prestigious of awards, although one has to bear in mind that the group is made up of foreign journalists working in Hollywood who are easily compromised and swayed by star power. This may be why they sometimes have some absolutely oddball choices that make absolutely no sense, such as how they nominate Johnny Depp for every movie he makes. We’ll see if they’re the ones who look past how bad Dark Shadows was and nominate Depp anyway.