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MCN Columnists
Mike Wilmington

By Mike Wilmington Wilmington@moviecitynews.com

Wilmington on Movies: The National Society of Film Critics Awards for 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michael Haneke’s tragic and haunting French film Amour was named the Best Picture of 2012 by the 60-member National Society of Film Critics  at their annual meeting in New York City — and that vote included my picks, on a proxy ballot. Haneke’s film, which also won the Palme d’Or at the last Cannes Film Festival, took two other awards as well: Best Director for Haneke and Best Actress to  Emmanuelle Riva, for her heart-breaking portrayal of a dying musician.

A  bleak portrait of love and death and an elderly couple  (beautifully played by Jean-Louis Trintignant and Riva), living out their last act in near isolation in the Parisian apartment they have shared for years — Amour was the big winner at the NSFC’s 47th annual awards meeting. But two well-regarded American films also amassed two awards apiece.

Steven Spielberg’s richly detailed historical-polical drama Lincoln, won Best Actor honors for Daniel Day-Lewis’s brilliant homespun-crafty-genius performance as Abraham Lincoln, as well as a Best Screenplay prize for Tony Kushner’s insightful and highly dramatic script.

Also winning two awards was my own favorite movie this year, Paul Thomas Anderson’s richly novelesque saga of a master and a follower in the ’50s, The Master, which took top honors for its lush 65 mm cinematography by Mihai Malaimare, Jr. and won a Best Supporting Actress award for Amy Adams of The Master, for her  double-edged performance as the motherly but bossy wife of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s charismatic Dianetics-style  ’50s cult leader.

Matthew McConnaughey, in a slight surprise, won the Best Supporting Actor award for his role as the likably raunchy male strip tease impresario in Steven Soderbergh’s peeler show Magic Mike. (McConaughey, who was also named for his role as the relentless prosecutor in Bernie,  beat out both Hoffman and Tommy Lee Jones, who played the acidulous Congressman Stevens in Lincoln.

The other NSFC prizes went to Dror Moreh’s in-depth look inside Israel’ security agency, Shin Bet, The Gatekeepers (Best Non-Fiction Film) and Iranian director Jafar Panahi’s  This is Not a Film (Best Experimental Film), while the Heritage Award, for achievements in film revival, exhibition  and restoration, went to Laurence Kardish, Senior Film Curator at the Museum of Modern Art, and to Milestone Films.

The two runners-up  for Best Picture were The Master and Zero Dark Thirty, director Kathryn Bigelow’s controversial docu-thriller about the C. I. A. hunt for Osama Bin Laden.. The closest race of 2012 was for Best Director, where only four votes separated the winner, Michael Haneke, from the two joint runners-up P. T. Anderson, for The Master, and Bigelow, for Zero Dark Thirty. There was no Foreign Langauge Film Award  this year, because that NSFC award is dropped whenever a foreign language film wins the Best Picture prize, as was the case this year with Amour.

Our meeting, which was held at Lincoln Center, was dedicated, very appropriately, to our late, great founding member, Andrew SarrisDavid Sterritt, a prince, was re-elected chairman.

Following is the complete list of 2012 NSFC winners and runners-up. The numbers after each name refer not to the actual number of votes, but to the points received (from 1 to 3) from three votes in each category.

BEST PICTURE

*1. Amour   (Sony Classics) – 28

2. The Master – 25

3. Zero Dark Thirty – 18

BEST ACTOR

*1. Daniel Day-Lewis ( Lincoln) – (DreamWorks/Touchstone) – 59

2. Denis Lavant (Holy Motors) – 49

2. Joaquin Phoenix (The Master) – 49

 

BEST ACTRESS

*1. Emmanuelle Riva (Amour) (Sony Classics) -50

2. Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook) –  42

3. Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty) – 32

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

*1.  Matthew McConaughey – Magic Mike (Warner Bros.), Bernie (Millennium Entertainment) – 27

2. Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln) – 22

3. Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master) – 19

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

*1. Amy Adams – The Master (The Weinstein Co.) – 34

2. Sally Field (Lincoln) – 23

3. Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables) – 13

 

BEST PICTURE

*1. Amour  (Sony Classics) – 28

2. The Master – 25

3. Zero Dark Thirty – 18

 

BEST DIRECTOR

*1. Michael Haneke (Amour) – 27 (Sony Pictures Classics)

2. Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty) – 24

2. Paul Thomas Anderson (The Master) – 24

 

BEST SCREENPLAY

*1. Lincoln (Tony Kushner) – 59 (Dreamworks/Touchstone)

2. The Master (P.T. Anderson)– 27

3.  Silver Linings Playbook (David O. Russell) – 19

 

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

*1. The Master (Mihai Malaimare, Jr. ) – 60 (The Weinstein Company)

2. Skyfall (Roger Deakins) – 30

3. Zero Dark Thirty (Greig Fraser) – 21

BEST NONFICTION FILM

*1. The Gatekeepers  (Dror Moreh)– 53 (Sony Pictures Classics)

2. This Is Not a Film (Jafar Panahi) – 45

3. Searching for Sugar Man (Malik Bendjelloul) – 23

 

EXPERIMENTAL:  This Is Not a Film (Jafar Panahi)

FILM HERITAGE

  • To Laurence Kardish, Senior Film Curator at MoMA, for his extraordinary 44 years of service, including this year’s Weimar Cinema retrospective.
  • To Milestone Film and Video for their ongoing Shirley Clarke project.

DEDICATION: This year’s awards are dedicated to the late Andrew Sarris, one of the most original and influential American film critics as well as a founding member of the Society.

 

 

Every year, the National Society of Film Critics’ wonderful and indefatigable Executive Director, Liz Weis,  who has been an NSFC mainstay since the group’s early days, sends out a press release on the history, customs and eccentricities of our group, for use by journalists writing their stories and wishing to appear knowledgable. Here it is, adjusted to this year’s meeting. The list of winners above is also a Liz creation.

—————–THE NATIONAL SOCIETY OF FILM CRITICS —————————–

The National Society of Film Critics, which is made up of 60 of the country’s most prominent movie critics, held its 47th annual awards voting meeting, using a weighted ballot system, at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Center as guests of the Film Society of Lincoln Center. Scrolls will be sent to the winners. David Sterritt was re-elected chairman for 2013.

The National Society of Film Critics counts among its members many of the country’s leading film critics.  Its purpose is to promote the mutual interests of film criticism and filmmaking.

Founded in l966, the Society differs from other critical associations in a number of significant ways.  In the first place, it is truly national.  Its 60 members include critics from major papers in Los Angeles, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago. Its members also include the critics not just of Time, Newsweek, and The New Yorker, but of The Village Voice, The Boston Phoenix, and NPR. Second, membership is by election.

The Society represents movie criticism in the United States by supplying the official critic delegate to the National Film Preservation Board of the Library of Congress and abroad as the official American representative to FIPRESCI, the international federation of members of the film press.

Besides responding to specific issues, such as colorization, film preservation, or the ratings system, the Society regularly meets early in January to vote for its annual awards for the finest film achievements of the year.

The Society’s latest anthology, published in 2008, is The B List:  The National Society of Film Critics on the Low-Budget Beauties, Genre-Bending Mavericks, and Cult Classics We Love. Prior to that The X List: The National Society of Film Critics’ Guide to the Movies That Turn Us On was published as a follow up to The A List: 100 Essential Films (2002). In the 1990s, the Society published Produced and Abandoned: The Best Films You’ve Never Seen (1990); Foreign Affairs, its counterpart for foreign films (1991); Love and Hisses, a guide to the most controversial films and issues (1992); They Went Thataway: Redefining Film Genres (1993); and Flesh and Blood (1995).  Earlier, the Society published six volumes of annual reviews, as well as The National Society of Film Critics on Movie Comedy (l977) and The National Society of Film Critics on the Movie Star (1981).  The group can genuinely be said to represent the best of contemporary American film criticism.

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4 Responses to “Wilmington on Movies: The National Society of Film Critics Awards for 2012”

  1. CL says:

    Will we be seeing Mr. Wilmington’s top ten list for 2012?

  2. movieman says:

    I’m puzzled as to why McConaughey’s work in “Killer Joe” and “The Paperboy” weren’t mentioned in his supporting actor win. (The National Board of Review did something similar when they omitted “Paperboy” from the McConaughey roll call.)
    Personally, I thought his finest performance last year was in the Friedkin film–although he was terrific in all four movies.
    Weird.

  3. Keil S. says:

    180 mm cinematography?

  4. Daniella Isaacs says:

    What Keil said.

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~ Wes Craven, 1996, promoting Scream

MAMET
Well, that, to me, is always the trick of dramaturgy; theoretically, perfectly, what one wants to do is put the protagonist and the audience in exactly the same position. The main question in drama, the way I was taught, is always what does the protagonist want. That’s what drama is. It comes down to that. It’s not about theme, it’s not about ideas, it’s not about setting, but what the protagonist wants. What gives rise to the drama, what is the precipitating event, and how, at the end of the play, do we see that event culminated? Do we see the protagonist’s wishes fulfilled or absolutely frustrated? That’s the structure of drama. You break it down into three acts.

INTERVIEWER
Does this explain why your plays have so little exposition?

MAMET
Yes. People only speak to get something. If I say, Let me tell you a few things about myself, already your defenses go up; you go, Look, I wonder what he wants from me, because no one ever speaks except to obtain an objective. That’s the only reason anyone ever opens their mouth, onstage or offstage. They may use a language that seems revealing, but if so, it’s just coincidence, because what they’re trying to do is accomplish an objective… The question is where does the dramatist have to lead you? Answer: the place where he or she thinks the audience needs to be led. But what does the character think? Does the character need to convey that information? If the answer is no, then you’d better cut it out, because you aren’t putting the audience in the same position with the protagonist. You’re saying, in effect, Let’s stop the play. That’s what the narration is doing—stopping the play… It’s action, as Aristotle said. That’s all that it is—exactly what the person does. It’s not what they “think,” because we don’t know what they think. It’s not what they say. It’s what they do, what they’re physically trying to accomplish on the stage. Which is exactly the same way we understand a person’s character in life—not by what they say, but by what they do. Say someone came up to you and said, I’m glad to be your neighbor because I’m a very honest man. That’s my character. I’m honest, I like to do things, I’m forthright, I like to be clear about everything, I like to be concise. Well, you really don’t know anything about that guy’s character. Or the person is onstage, and the playwright has him or her make those same claims in several subtle or not-so-subtle ways, the audience will say, Oh yes, I understand their character now; now I understand that they are a character. But in fact you don’t understand anything. You just understand that they’re jabbering to try to convince you of something.
~ David Mamet

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