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David Poland

By David Poland

NYFCC… Apology…

Man, I am letting Twitter eat this blog alive lately. Sorry.

So my take on NY Film Critics Circle… still voting way too early for my taste… is that I love almost every choice they made, though I could make arguments for alternatives in most of them. Just because they went “my” way doesn’t mean I suddenly think them perfect or almighty. What these awards do, almost across the board, is to offer hope… or lack of dismissal.

I believe now as I did 8 days ago that Zero Dark Thirty is unquestionably the only The Movie in the race this year. I stopped taking bets on it winning Best Picture on Friday, conscious that I was betting against an entire field and that I have no tangible control over the fate of this movie. My exposure is either $120 or $130 or $150, not sure. Of course, it was an interesting turn that the last person to insist on betting, when asked for odds, only offered 2:1… loud, but not 100% confident in the lack of gold for this film.

Anyway… I am very happy for Matthew McConaughey, whose amazing year I have been touting since September 2011, when Magic Mike kicked things off at TIFF. But I really wanted the Jason Clarke nomination. It’s a performance that screams, “nomination.” I mean, a walk. No one knows who the guy is… and it’s December 3 already… but as roles go, it’s close to the impact of Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross (not nominated), if not as quotable.

I was rooting for Jessica Chastain as Lead Actress, but I could not be happier for Rachel Weisz, who is a delight, and who gives perhaps her finest performance… an absolute raw nerve, twisting in the wind in The Deep Blue Sea, partnered with Terence Davies, who lets her linger in long, almost-pained shots that just let her exist on camera as she breaks our hearts with her breaking soul. Also, huge props to Rachel’s publicist, Mara Buxbaum, who has pushed as hard as any publicist could to get this performance out in front of people, in spite of an excellent, but not very wealthy distributor. This is the kind of role that gets lost, but it gets a new life today, thanks to NYFCC. It will need more support to get to SAG and AMPAS.

Who can fight with Daniel Day-Lewis’ Lincoln? I think there are other great performances this year that may, with a different context, be its equal, but certainly none better. And by his side, Sally Field, who does not sing, but still evokes deep human emotions with a true passion performance that she fought for years to get the chance to deliver.

I don’t know that it’s ever been true of a Spielberg movie for me before, but Tony Kushner is close to being the auteur of Lincoln, in collaboration with Spielberg and Daniel Day-Lewis. When you think of the tone and pace of that film, it feels more Kushner than Spielberg… which is a great compliment to Spielberg’s ability to put ego aside as well as a tribute to Kushner.

I don’t know that Kathryn Bigelow is so much better than she’s ever been… but she has chosen the most complex, dangerous, genre-less material of her career and once again shows profound skill as well as the sensibility to allow powerful material to breathe.

Cinematographer Greig Fraser has had an amazing year, from Snow White & The Huntsman to Killing Them Softly to Zero Dark Thirty, you would never know it was one DP. I’m sure there are tells, now that we know it’s him… but very different styles (even inside of ZD30) and much as I want to bow at Deakins’ feet for Bond, this was a sensational turn.

If there is a greater film than ZD30 being released to mainstream audiences in America this year, it’s Amour. Or maybe they are just in tandem. But i feel as though Amour is one of the great forever movies that will sit amongst people’s Top 10s and 20s and 30s forever. It is a movie that defies intellect, so deeply does Haneke drill into the psyche of natural loss.

And I haven’t see Frankenweenie yet. My bad. I’ll get on that. Love Burton and August and dead dogs, oh my.

44 Responses to “NYFCC… Apology…”

  1. Tara says:

    Love Rachel Weisz’s win for ” The Deep Blue Sea” Best performance of the year.

  2. Djiggs says:

    My movie of 2012 is “Holy Motors”. I think that it will be looked upon as “Vertigo” & “”Mulholland Drive” are now as classics. Wish it had upset “Amour” at NYFC (though I am glad to Lavant got some votes-though I knew Day-Lewis would be the Best Actor winner).

  3. arisp says:

    If I had a vote for Best Actor, it would be Denzel. Three days later, I can’t get his performance out of my mind.

  4. J says:

    ‘Deep Blue Sea’ is streaming on Netflix, as are the shortlist docs ‘The Invisible War’ and (as of tomorrow, according to ‘Ai Weiwei.’

  5. StellaPD says:

    Holy Motors is my least favorite movie of the year and should not be mentioned in the same sentence as Vertigo or Mulholland Drive. I hope it wins nothing.

  6. Monco says:

    Totally cool with McConaughey’s win. Caught up with Magic Mike recently and I can’t believe there was not immediate buzz about a possible Oscar nod. He owns every inch of that movie. It’s on a level with Cruise in Magnolia. “Can you touch that?”

  7. lazarus says:

    Note to self: disregard anything StellaPD says about any film, ever.

    Hopefully the Los Angeles critics will throw a bone to Holy Motors. Would love to see Lavant win. They have a history of daring choices in the acting departments and aren’t afraid to go indie or foreign.

    And would love to see it edge out Amour is well, a film that is a foregone conclusion and needs about as much help as A Separation did last year.

    I’m thinking Paul Thomas Anderson as your Directing winner, and BP could be anything. They love to contrast the NY’s choices, and maybe Moonrise Kingdom could do it. Of course, LA’s answer to NY’s The Artist pick last year was the equally lame choice of The Descendants, so who knows? It could be Lincoln, which would like last year be a stale fart in the seasonal winds.

  8. Don R. Lewis says:

    I caught the first half of LES MIS this weekend (before my Oscar screener DVD #2 decided it wasn’t in the mood) and I don’t see how it doesn’t get some maaaaajor best pic momentum by the time the actual awards hit. I was really enjoying it but thought it starting to drag.It just seems like the kind of film that will catch fire at the right time and piss off every Oscar lover and prognosticator.

    Also- I’ve never seen the play and was still very, very much into the film. Hooper elevates his game big time.

    Anne Hathaway’s performance of “I Dreamed a Dream” is one of the most incredible and heartwrenching moments I’ve ever seen in a film. The song, her performance of it and throughout it just left me slack jawed.

  9. Keil S. says:

    “Three days later, I can’t get his performance out of my mind.”


    I carry some bowel movements around longer than that.

  10. berg says:

    I liked the fact that one scene in ZDT takes place at Area 51

  11. YancySkancy says:

    Keil: What, like in a jar?

  12. Tuck Pendelton says:

    It’s still too early on consensus time.

    Well – Anne Hathaway for Les Miz, if it connects could turn into the the Jennifer Hudson model.

    I’d die to see Tommy Lee Jones take Supporting Actor, phenomenal work. And he truly is one of the best actors out there. But he’s not a charmer with the press and certain actors of I’ve heard interviewed detest his personality. But you never know.

    Roger Deakins for Best Cinematography – Please god!!! I want to live to see it happen.

  13. movieman says:

    “Magic Mike” didn’t premiere in Toronto, Dave.
    Were you thinking of “Bernie” instead?

  14. StellaPD says:

    Not liking Holy Motors makes me completely suspect and totally unreliable? That’s funny, and fine by me.

  15. Larry Gopnik says:

    Bernie didn’t premiere at Toronto either (it launched at LAFF).

    David is thinking of Killer Joe.

  16. Breedlove says:

    Tommy Lee Jones’ perf in LINCOLN seems overrated to me. He is a fine actor, was believable in the role, but don’t really see what the big deal is. I still have a bunch of movies to see, but so far it seems like a bit of a weak year for Supporting Actor. That will probably change when I see everything. Matthew Macfayden was really great in ANNA KARENINA, I’d nominate him over Tommy Lee Jones in a second. Jude Law too. Or Frank Grillo for THE GREY. I’ve always wanted to see Gary Oldman get a nom for Commissioner Gordon. He really is the heart and soul of that trilogy in a lot of ways. I’m excited about this Jason Clarke buzz.

  17. Breedlove says:

    And agreed on the Denzel love. Finally saw FLIGHT this week. He is just a brilliant actor.

  18. Sam says:

    The Weisz nomination is a real surprise. Hadn’t seen her in much of the awards conversation, and Lawrence and Chastain seemed to have some real traction. I haven’t seen any of those movies yet, so I won’t offer an opinion on whether it was the right choice or not. But it IS refreshing and reassuring to see that the NYFCC reached outside the usual suspects.

    Anybody know if they had been able to see Django or The Hobbit, though? If either of those movies had been off the table for them, or indeed any other plausible contender, the legitimacy of the awards is automatically called into question. That sucks for everyone — the winners, the people behind the missed movies, and the NYFCC itself. FIRST!! madness is for blog comments, not respectable critic groups, and blog commenters have largely gotten over that.

  19. StellaPD says:

    That story references votes for The Hobbit and Django Unchained, so it would seem that they were able to see them.

  20. movieman says:

    I knew that it definitely wasn’t “MM,” Larry.

  21. movielocke says:

    I’m not sold on ZD30 as THE MOVIE yet this year, I think it is THE DIRECTOR this year, because I don’t think Bigelow can be beat, but it’s a three horse race for picture with it and Les Mis and and Lincoln.

    Frankenweenie is a disappointment, typical critic drool over bland ‘boy makes movies’ bollucks that always seems to make the manboys cum in excessive glee–typical film-critic misogyny to overpraise a film that goes out of its way to flater the film-critics’ sense of ‘boyness’ and ‘specialness’. compared to the resounding brilliance of Wreck-it-Ralph and the Pixar comeback of Brave (top three Pixar, one of their most emotionally resonant and sophisticated films ever, up there with Up and WallE) Frankenweenie is not even in the same league.

    Sorry, Frankenweenie, being black and white doesn’t make you de facto artsy, and referencing Gremlins and Frankenstein etc doesn’t do anything but put you in a sad little ghetto. You’re just such a tremendously mediocre effort.

  22. Don R. Lewis says:

    I think the performances by Tommy Lee Jones and Sally Field in LINCOLN were incredibly “by the books” performances by both of them. Very *typical* Jones/Fields performances; cratchety old coot…..hysterical yet charming woman. Plus they pale in comparison to Day-Lewis who is clearly some kind of shape shifter or robot.

  23. Sam says:

    I’m a Brave fan, but surely you meant least sophisticated, right? WALL*E is sophisticated, sure, meditating deeply on the individual sense of purpose in life, framed in the context of environmental concerns, then grows into a love story and a coming-of-age story. The Toy Stories are sophisticated, each film examining a different aspect of parenthood and having the toy characters wrestle with the complicated emotions that accompany it. Up is sophisticated, being about coming to terms with loss and age and recapturing a sense of purpose. Ratatouille is sophisticated, pondering the value of art itself and how society’s expectations of conformity suppress our natural enjoyment of art, whether because society resists an understanding of art or because it overvalues art criticism.

    But is there much else to Brave, thematically, than a mother and daughter learning to listen to each other? It’s done REALLY well and is consistently entertaining; again, I love the film. But the thematic content itself doesn’t seem that ambitious or unique next to much of Pixar’s other work.

  24. Krillian says:

    Sally Field’s breakdown on the thought of another son dying rang very true, very powerful. She should at least get nominated. Anne Hathaway sounds like the front-runner. Catherine Zeta-Jones and Jennifer Hudson can attest that musicals are a good way to get a BSA.

    Sounds like the Best Director race is a three-way showdown between previous winners. Maybe PTA or Russell or Haneke or Anderson or Soderbergh or Affleck get nominated, but the winner will be Bigelow, Spielberg or Hooper.

    Of what I’ve seen, my Supporting Actor favorites are PS Hoffman, Matthew McConaughey, Tommy Lee Jones.

    Actor is DDL. Distant second is Joaquin Phoenix.

  25. Breedlove says:

    Joe Carnahan and The Grey should be getting all kinds of love. Oh well.

  26. sanj says:

    i forced myself to watch skyfall – i have a huge problem with movies over 2 hours – my ass started to hurt.

    – why do critics like the most basic bond story ever ?

    – i liked mi4 way better

    – good acting / directing – but Javier Bardem needed more crazy – his other films where he plays crazy are better

    – this way 1 hour too long

    – Berenice Marlohe was wasted …

    – hopefully LexG can write a Bond movie in the future –

    – cinematography saved the last half of the movie –

  27. Think says:

    First half of LES MIS is pretty good then it falls apart completely. It might be the worst movie that ever wins best picture.

  28. Mike says:

    Think, that sounds exactly like the movie that wins Best Picture almost every year.

  29. cadavra says:

    FRANKENWEENIE is glorious, running the entire gamut of human emotion–hilarity, heartbreak, horror, you-name-it–in around 80 min. Anyone who thinks it’s just fanboy drool just isn’t paying attention. As for WRECK-IT RALPH, it’s okay, but it’s just a TOY STORY knock-off with chunks of MONSTERS, INC. and CARS 2 stirred in. (No wonder “The Pixar Story Trust” gets a special acknowledgment.) The six minutes of PAPERMAN were far more satisfying on every level.

  30. scooterzz says:

    re: best supporting actor nominations… i’m thinking that hal holbrook might be a game-changer… not that he’s any better than the probable noms but he’s a sentimental fave and does an admirable job…

  31. Direwolf says:

    Glad to see some lover for Paperman, cadavra. My son worked on the music for the film. He works for Christophe Beck. Hope it gets short nom.

  32. chris says:

    You’re talking about “Promised Land,” Scooterzz? I was thinking the same thing, but it feels like he needs one more scene to make that kind of impression. (Which is maybe also true about his performance in “Lincoln.”)

  33. Sam says:

    The NBR awards were announced. This has previously been the hardest awards group to respect, as their choices are often transparently political or pandering. But is it just me, or is there some interesting original thought happening this time?

    Ann Dowd for Compliance. Looper for Screenplay. Cooper (but not Lawrence!) for Silver Linings.

    I kind of feel like the NBR made a step toward respectability this time. Not that the less trendy picks are necessarily the right ones, but if you’re choosing winners with the goal of seeming influential or of pandering to the Hollywood elite, I don’t think you make these choices.

  34. greg says:

    It may be because I just saw it but why is there no talk of A Late Quartet. I loved it. Christopher Walken for Best Supporting!

  35. anghus says:

    the only thing that i think ZD30 has going against it is that it’s Bigelow and a military themed drama, and it feels like it was just yesterday that Hurt Locker was having a lot of award love heaped in it’s general direction.

    And i realize that there are probably great differences between ZD30 and Hurt Locker, but it feels like this is a road that has already been traveled recently during Award Season.

  36. movieman says:

    NBR blew all credibility (again) with those insidious 10-best lists which seem to invent their own rules as they’re compiled.
    How is “Moonrise Kingdom” considered an “indie” when “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “Promised Land” (which has the same mini-major distributer as “Moonrise”), “SLP,” “Django,” “Perks” and even “Looper” aren’t?
    Their perverse desire not to leave anyone/anything out continues to annoy.

  37. David Poland says:

    They aren’t on the same level, Anghus. The Hurt Locker was a wonderful, tiny, intimate film. ZD30 is an epic that has three distinct acts with three distinct themes. And as great as Renner was in Hurt Locker, Chastain is giving a dozen connected performances in the body of one individual over a few years.

    Hurt Locker was an underdog surprise. ZD30 is one of the great war films ever made… about a ton of things… forcing the audience into self-reflection, consideration, and perfectly muted exhilaration. It makes all the other films – and there are some very good ones – seem minor standing next to it.

  38. anghus says:

    DP, i could be way wrong. It’s more of a trending argument than a criticism of the movies. Haven’t seen ZD30, so this is just an idle observation.

  39. Stephen Holt says:

    Well, if you’re not going to write about the National Board of Review, then I will. They named ZDT for BP, Director just like the NYFCC did. But then went for Jessica Chastain from that film, too! And Bradley Cooper for Best Actress and nothing for “Lincoln” accept a grouping in the Ten Best.

    And ANN DOWD for Supporting Actress!!! THAT award just changed her career! And maybe her life! And certainly her now possible Oscar chances. And who said the NBR isn’t relevant?

  40. Foamy Squirrel says:

    I would vote for Bradley Cooper for Best Actress.

  41. Js Partisan says:

    He is so damn pretty. Why not give him the Best Actress award?

  42. chris says:

    A National Board of Review best supporting actress award has never changed anyone’s career.

  43. Js Partisan says:

    Unless he’s a man baby, YEAH!

  44. Levi says:

    “Three days later, I can’t get his performance out of my mind.”

    You must have a mind the size of a stamp!

    “Holy Motors is my least favorite movie of the year and should not be mentioned in the same sentence as Vertigo or Mulholland Drive. I hope it wins nothing.”

    Agreed, but I think I hated it more.

    “I’ve always wanted to see Gary Oldman get a nom for Commissioner Gordon.”

    Oh brother, where art thou?

    “seems to make the manboys cum in excessive glee–typical film-critic misogyny to overpraise a film that goes out of its way to flater the film-critics’ sense of ‘boyness’ and ‘specialness’”

    Me thinks the lady protests too much.

    “I love the film. But the thematic content itself doesn’t seem that ambitious or unique next to much of Pixar’s other work”

    I concur completely, except for the part about loving the film.

    “Catherine Zeta-Jones and Jennifer Hudson can attest that musicals are a good way to get a BSA.”

    Proving that everyone who can sing in key deserves an Oscar. How wonderfully droll.

    “Joe Carnahan and The Grey should be getting all kinds of love.”

    Hopefully from a pack of rabid wolves.

    “i have a huge problem with movies over 2 hours”

    Your mother must have loved you during bedtime stories.

    “It might be the worst movie that ever wins best picture.

    But there are so many to chose from!

    “Ann Dowd for Compliance.”

    An inspired choice, even if the film is risible.

    “Their perverse desire not to leave anyone/anything out continues to annoy.”


    “The Hurt Locker was a wonderful, tiny, intimate film.”

    And also jingoistic, propaganda claptrap.

    “ANN DOWD for Supporting Actress!!! THAT award just changed her career! And maybe her life! And certainly her now possible Oscar chances. And who said the NBR isn’t relevant?”

    What are you smoking Steve? The Jaye Davidson reefer?

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