N.Y. Critics Give Boost to ‘Boyhood,’ ‘Immigrant’ and More (Analysis)


Monday’s New York Film Critics Circle winners are significant, not only because the announcement is the first of the season, but also due to the uncertainty surrounding this year’s Oscar race. They also offer validation for “Boyhood” (best pic, director and supporting actress Patricia Arquette), already considered a strong contender, but some of the biggest beneficiaries (and surprise winners) on Monday are “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “Whiplash,” “Mr. Turner” and “The Immigrant.”

Even these early honors can exert an influence a voter’s ballot.

Those four films, winning in screenplay, acting and cinematography categories, could also affect Oscar’s wide-open picture race, but there’s still plenty more critics and guild awards to hand out over these next few months.

Arguably the most useful honors of the season for studio honchos are the National Board of Review (whose results are announced Tuesday), the AFI Awards (Dec. 8) and the Golden Globe noms (Dec. 11), since each org names 10 films and thus offers a better cross-section of the possible contenders.

As an Academy Awards bellwether, the NYFCC winners have had a 40% accuracy rate for the past five years. That’s not a high degree of correlation, but as the handouts begin, every announcement tells a studio’s execs (and their rivals) whether their hopes seem realistic. As for the NYFCC’s other 60%, most (but not all) went on to at least one Oscar nomination.

Monday’s Winners

IFC Films’ “Boyhood” has maintained critical heat since its July release. Its win on Monday wasn’t a surprise, and the film will no doubt chalk up more honors in the next few months, but the award marks a promising start to the Oscar season for Richard Linklater’s 12-years-in-the-making drama.

Double-winner “The Immigrant” also gets a big boost, with attention to Marion Cotillard and d.p. Darius Khondji. That film’s biggest Oscar challenge: It has been widely seen by critics, but not by general audiences or industry awards voters. (Cotillard was awarded for her work in that film as well as the foreign-language “Two Days, One Night.”)

The screenplay award for “Budapest” is a good reminder that the stylish film has substance. It’s a one-two punch for Timothy Spall and “Mr. Turner,” after he won the actor award at Cannes for his performance in the film. And J.K. Simmons for “Whiplash,” another Sony Classics picture, has drawn many predictions of a supporting-actor nomination.

Jennifer Kent’s win for “The Babadook” as best first film is a great pat on the back, but Oscar attention is unlikely. The film is currently playing a one-week run at a single theater in Los Angeles and has not been widely seen; in addition, Academy Awards voters tend to avoid horror/suspense films.

The other winners were not surprises: “CitizenFour” (documentary), “The Lego Movie” (animated film), and “Ida” (foreign-language).

Best-picture hopefuls shouldn’t be discouraged by today’s results or other upcoming critics announcements. In recent years, “Brokeback Mountain,” “Zero Dark Thirty” and “The Social Network” were among the films that scored well in critics awards, but ended up also-rans when Oscar’s best-picture award was handed out.

Last year’s NYFCC winners included “American Hustle” for best film, screenplay and supporting actress, Jennifer Lawrence. Also winning were Steve McQueen (“12 Years a Slave”) as director; Robert Redford (“All is Lost”) as actor; Cate Blanchett (“Blue Jasmine”) actress; and Jared Leto (“Dallas Buyers Club”) supporting.

Blanchett and Leto won the Oscar; Redford wasn’t nominated; and the others were nominated but didn’t win. Since 2009, the critics’ winners matched the Oscar victors two out of five times in most of the above categories (though the matches were spread out among the five years, with no consistency or pattern).

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  1. Goodbyenoway says:

    Cotillard puts me to sleep. What a bore.

  2. Stergios says:

    God, I’m so damn happy about watching the phenomenal Marion Cotillard winning for the New York Film Critics Best Actress In A Leading Role Award for her insuperable performances as Sandra Bya in Two Days, One Night and as Ewa Cyluska in The Immigrant!!! It fills me with joy and excitement. She should sweep all the awards with either of her immensely powerful and hauntingly beautiful performances. Any list of Best Actress contenders would look empty without the incomparable Marion Cotillard of either The Immigrant or Two Days, One Night in the lead. Both performances should be considered among the 10 greatest performances ever put on film. She gave the absolute best (Two Days, One Night) and the absolute second best female performance (The Immigrant) at the same year. I’ll be more than thrilled to watch her win a second Oscar for either. I would really love to watch Julianne Moore receiving at some point finally her long overdue Oscar trophy. She’s clearly phenomenal and worthy of an Oscar win in “Still Alice” (as always) and having seen recently “Maps to the stars”, I’m completely in awe of her raw, wild, tremendous work as Havana Segrand. But if there’s one performance that deserves the Best Actress Oscar win this year no matter what is without a hint of doubt the one the brilliant Marion Cotillard delivers in Dardennes’ latest masterpiece Two Days, One Night. Worthy of an Oscar to say the least.The second one would be Marion Cotillard’s outstanding performance in The Immigrant. Personally, I’m rooting for both but since only one can make the cut so that she avoids split voting with herself, I’d give a slight edge to her phenomenal turn in Two Days, One Night. Marion Cotillard’s performance as Sandra in the latest Dardennes Brothers masterpiece is the kind of performance that needs to be seen to be truly believed. There’s no way to overhype her work there, trust me. The whole theatre was in tears throughout the screening I saw for Two Days, One Night. You rarely get to watch such a towering performance from an actor / actress in your entire life. With her unmatched work in this film, you feel like she’s pushing acting to a whole another level. She makes you feel the deepest and most complex emotions for a woman who has to fight against depression and the possibility of losing her job at the same time. Acting doesn’t get any better. But the second greatest female performance of the year, as I’ve already said and a performance that deserves to be put among the finest achievements in the history of acting ever, is her bigger than life performance as a Polish immigrant who lands at Ellis Island, New York in 1921 in The Immigrant. It’s such a monumental achievement, such a towering combination of unlimited emotional depth and jaw-dropping technical skills, such a groundbreaking piece of brave and soul-shredding acting that it will definitely be used as a subject of study in drama classes for any aspiring actor / actress as long as this world keeps on turning. It’s a performance THAT astonishing. Watching Marion Cotillard transform into her each new role is like an otherwordly experience. She inhabits her every character so completely it ends up extremely scary. It doesn’t feel like a performance at all. You find yourself thinking you’re watching the most crucial parts of a person’s existence unfolding in front of your eyes. No-holds-barred, Cotillard dares to abandon herself into a role in a way no actress in the history of cinema can claim she did. Body and soul, she always gives her all. It’s always a marvel to watch, an unforgettable tour de force, a performance for the ages. She’s so immensely talented and gave such an awe-inspiring performance in both Two Days, One Night and The Immigrant this year (and I’m so glad so many people acknowledge her tremendous work there and the film itself since May, which is really brilliant) that it’s disheartening even to think of the possibility of her being snubbed again. The buzz she should take within the next few months should be endless. I think that after the criminal snubs for Rust and bone, Nine and Inception (among the endless list of others), there will be an uproar if she won’t be even nominated. She has to score her second win this year and if not for that at least a ridiculously overdue second Oscar nomination. Really, Academy voters shouldn’t underestimate the intelligence and knowledge of their viewers, especially the cinephile community that much, because losing their respect is a MAJOR LOSS, trust me. AND THE OSCARS WILL SUFFER THAT MAJOR LOSS FOR SURE IF A GENIUS LIKE MARION COTILLARD IS SNUBBED AGAIN AFTER PUTTING OUT CONSISTENTLY BRILLIANT AND OSCAR-WORTHY PERFORMANCES FOR SEVEN YEARS IN A ROW SINCE HER WIN AND IN FACT FROM THE VERY BEGINNING OF HER LEGENDARY CAREER.

    • Jason says:

      Calm down, boy — she already won once (for Piaf), that’s enough.

      • Stergios says:

        “That’s enough?” For God’s sake! Trust me, it’s not enough at all. Marion Cotillard gave the one legendary performance after the other after that unforgettable win you talk about and she has been criminally robbed of an Oscar nomination for every single one of them (Nine, Rust and Bone, Inception, I could go on and on and on). She has to score a second win this year and if not for that a ridiculously overdue second Oscar nomination. If that doesn’t happen, I don’t have any interest at the Oscars 2015 at all and trust me, I know for sure I’m not the one.

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