By MCN Editor editor@moviecitynews.com

National Society Of Film Critics 2010 Awards & Statements

Best Picture: The Social Network

Best Director: David Fincher, The Social Network

Best Actor: Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network

Best Actress: Giovanna Mezzogiorno, Vincere

Best Supporting Actor: Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech

Best Supporting Actress: Olivia Williams, The Ghost Writer

Best Nonfiction Film: Inside Job

Best Screenplay: The Social Network

Best Foreign Language Film: Carlos

Best Cinematography: True Grit

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FILM HERITAGE AWARDS:

  1. The Film Foundation (on its 20-year anniversary)
  2. “Chaplin at Keystone” (Flicker Alley)
  3. “Elia Kazan Collection” (Fox)
  4. John Ford’s “Upstream” (1927), one of 75 films recently found in the New Zealand Film Archive and repatriated to the U.S. with the cooperation of the National Film Preservation Foundation
  5. “On the Bowery” (Restored by Davide Pozzi of the Cineteca del Comune di Bologna’s L’Immagine Ritrovata in cooperation with the Rogosin Heritage and Anthology Film Archives and distributed by Milestone.)
  6. “Word Is Out”  (Restored by Ross Lipman for the UCLA Film & Television Archive and the Outfest Legacy Project and distributed by Milestone.)

“The meeting was dedicated to the memory of our colleague Peter Brunette.”

STATEMENT ON THE MPAA RATINGS SYSTEM

The members of the National Society of Film Critics applaud the recent decision by the Classification & Ratings Administration of the Motion Picture Association of America to change the rating of “Blue Valentine” from NC-17 to R. But several other recent decisions by CARA have been allowed to stand, and these call into question the integrity and legitimacy of that office as it is presently constituted.

“The King’s Speech,” the drama about King George VI’s attempt to overcome his speech impediment, was rated R for “language,” specifically, several moments where the King is instructed by his speech therapist to swear to relieve the pressure of his stammer.

“The Tillman Story,” the documentary about the military cover-up of the death of Corporal Pat Tillman in Afghanistan, was similarly rated R for “language.” In the case of that film the offending content is the agitated language of soldiers in combat fearing for their lives.

“A Film Unfinished,” which contains footage taken by the Nazis inside the Warsaw Ghetto, was given an R for “disturbing images of Holocaust atrocities, including graphic nudity.”

In the case of the documentaries “The Tillman Story” and “A Film Unfinished,” this amounts to CARA assigning a rating to reality.

In an editorial on the MPAA’s web site, Joan Graves, the head of CARA, claims,  “These ratings are purely informational.”

This is simply untrue.

An R rating restricts who can get in to see a film and thus its potential earnings. An NC-17 rating, such as was originally assigned to “Blue Valentine,” will keep a film out of many theater chains and can deny its being advertised on most television networks and in many newspapers.

This can have an especially damaging effect on the earning potential of independently made films, such as those mentioned above, which do not have access to the large advertising budgets at the disposal of the major studios — studios, which, as CARA’s record indicates, have received much more lenient ratings for similar content.

Another damaging inconsistency is CARA’s record of judging sexual content more harshly than it does violence. We by no means advocate condemning violence in movies, and we do not believe we are doing so by pointing out that there is no equivalence between an R given to the most explicit horror images and the same rating given to a drama in which King George VI utters a four letter word. And certainly no equivalence to a historical document showing the emaciated bodies of dead Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto.

Despite Ms. Graves’ contention that CARA decisions are “purely informational,” it’s clear that the board has become an agency of de facto censorship. There is a difference between giving parents the information they need to make a decision as to which films they want their children to see, and a system whose decisions make it harder for adults — and their children — to see films clearly meant for them.

The National Society of Film Critics believes that CARA has for too long demonstrated these inconsistencies and has refused to explain itself.  We would like to believe that the major studios who constitute the membership of the MPAA care enough about the availability of movies to recognize that the ratings system should be open and consistent, not arbitrary and unfair, and that films from independent distributors should be judged by the same criteria as their own releases. It has become a system that enforces the kind of moral policing that, when it was founded in 1968, it was intended to prevent.

STATEMENT ON JAILED IRANIAN DIRECTORS
On December 18, 2010, an Iranian court sentenced Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof to six years in prison and banned both from filmmaking for 20 years for “colluding in gatherings and making propaganda against the regime.”

The members of the National Society of Film Critics add their voices to those of the many other individuals and organizations who have protested this injustice. We strongly urge the Iranian government to release both artists, whose work can only further the advancement of such values as justice, compassion, tolerance, and human dignity. Jafar Panahi’s films in particular have won international awards, earned the accolades of critics all over the world, and delighted and inspired audiences everywhere they are shown.

Not only does the court’s decision impose an outrageous penalty on artists whose sole crime is telling the truth, but it deprives Iran and the world of future works by filmmakers of outstanding talent and vision.

We intend our protest to affirm the value of artistic expression and the power of cinema to transcend political differences and unite people in their common humanity. We hope that the Iranian government will recognize the wisdom of releasing Mr. Panahi and Mr. Rasoulof immediately in the name of these universal principles.

3 Responses to “National Society Of Film Critics 2010 Awards & Statements”

  1. EOTW says:

    Wow. NOTHING makes fear mongering, religious despots quake in their shoes like the condemnation of film critics.

  2. yancyskancy says:

    Yeah, I’m sure other critical bodies supported the sentencing. :) Nice gesture anyway.

    Also, it’s always nice to see some awards go to a couple of folks who are out of the Oscar “conversation.”

  3. movieman says:

    If “Vincere” had been given an awards marketing push by, say, Sony Classics or the Weinsteins, Mezzogiorno would have been a lock for a Best Actress nomination. It’s an extraordinary performance, and infinitely superior to (for example) Marion Cotillard’s (Oscar-winning) “La Vie En Rose” performance.
    Glad to see that one of the crix groups remembered her.

Quote Unquotesee all »

What do you make of the criticism directed at the film that the biopic genre or format is intrinsically bourgeois? That’s the most crazy criticism. That’s an excuse for not engaging with the content of the movie. Film critics sometimes, you know, can be very lazy.

Come on, formal criticism is valuable too. But I’m amazed when this is the thing they put in front of the discourse. My situation is that I’m dealing with a highly explosive subject, a taboo subject that nobody wants to deal with.

Karl Marx? Yes, this is the first film ever in the Western world about Marx. And I managed to make an almost mainstream film out of it. You want me at the same time to play the artist and do a risky film about the way my camera moves and the way I edit? No, it’s complicated enough! The artistic challenge — and it took me ten years with Pascal to write this story — was the writing. That was the most difficult part. We were making a film about the evolution of an idea, which is impossible. To be able to have political discourse in a scene, and you can follow it, and it’s not simplified, and it’s historically true. This is the accomplishment. So when someone criticizes the formal aspects without seeing that first, for me, it’s laziness or ignorance. There’s an incapacity to deal with what’s on the table. I make political films about today, I’m not making a biopic to make a biopic. I don’t believe in being an artist just to be an artist. And by the way, this film cost $9 million. I dare anyone in the United States to make this film for $9 million.
Raoul Peck on The Young Karl Marx

“The Motion Picture Academy, at considerable expense and with great efficiency, runs all the nominated pictures at its own theater, showing each picture twice, once in the afternoon, once in the evening. A nominated picture is one in connection with which any kind of work is nominated for an award, not necessarily acting, directing, or writing; it may be a purely technical matter such as set-dressing or sound work. This running of pictures has the object of permitting the voters to look at films which they may happen to have missed or to have partly forgotten. It is an attempt to make them realize that pictures released early in the year, and since overlaid with several thicknesses of battered celluloid, are still in the running and that consideration of only those released a short time before the end of the year is not quite just.

“The effort is largely a waste. The people with votes don’t go to these showings. They send their relatives, friends, or servants. They have had enough of looking at pictures, and the voices of destiny are by no means inaudible in the Hollywood air. They have a brassy tone, but they are more than distinct.”All this is good democracy of a sort. We elect Congressmen and Presidents in much the same way, so why not actors, cameramen, writers, and all rest of the people who have to do with the making of pictures? If we permit noise, ballyhoo, and theater to influence us in the selection of the people who are to run the country, why should we object to the same methods in the selection of meritorious achievements in the film business? If we can huckster a President into the White House, why cannot we huckster the agonized Miss Joan Crawford or the hard and beautiful Miss Olivia de Havilland into possession of one of those golden statuettes which express the motion picture industry’s frantic desire to kiss itself on the back of its neck? The only answer I can think of is that the motion picture is an art. I say this with a very small voice. It is an inconsiderable statement and has a hard time not sounding a little ludicrous. Nevertheless it is a fact, not in the least diminished by the further facts that its ethos is so far pretty low and that its techniques are dominated by some pretty awful people.

“If you think most motion pictures are bad, which they are (including the foreign), find out from some initiate how they are made, and you will be astonished that any of them could be good. Making a fine motion picture is like painting “The Laughing Cavalier” in Macy’s basement, with a floorwalker to mix your colors for you. Of course most motion pictures are bad. Why wouldn’t they be?”
~ Raymond Chandler, “Oscar Night In Hollywood,” 1948