The New York Film Critics Circle knew exactly what it was after when it decided to hold its year-end film vote on Nov. 28, leapfrogging past two orgs to become the first of any major group to declare its best picture.
“There is a lot to be said for setting the tone,” NYFCC chairman John Anderson said. “If we’re going to do this at all, we don’t want to be lost in the pack.”
The org announced the date change Wednesday, putting it in front of the National Board of Review and a day ahead of the Film Independent Spirit Awards nominations.
Anderson said there’s a resistance to choosing the same films for which other critics group have voted, which leads to “unnecessary distraction” during the voting. Being first out of the gate eliminates that.
For its part, the now second-place National Board of Review brushed off the notion that being first is crucial to directing the conversation.
“We are the strongest voting body in the New York area, who are not film critics but filmgoers,” the org told Variety. “We have prided ourselves on zeroing in on the early frontrunners. I am very proud of our track record as we have distinguished ourselves as the group who expands the dialogue about the Oscar contenders.”
Awards prognosticators often look to critics groups for some indication of a film’s Oscar potential despite a history of divergent opinions — most notably last year, when “The King’s Speech” won best picture after “The Social Network” was a resounding winner among critics.
While NYFCC’s move provides the enviable splash of being first — the group had, in fact, been accused of following the pack — the shift has the unintentional consequence of narrowing the field of contenders at a time when campaigners need to get kudos voters into theaters, and every hopeful needs to remain a part of the awards conversation. Being inclusive is particularly crucial this time around, as so many high-profile films are screening late in the year. Add in the complicated logistics of getting critics to see every awards hopeful in time for voting, and it makes for a harried November.
However, Anderson said there’s no reason to think the group won’t be able to see all of the films in time. He added that the date change will also give the NYFCC more time to put their event together.