‘12 Years a Slave’ Director Steve McQueen Heckled at New York Critics Circle Awards

New York Film Critics Circle Awards

Jared Leto, Cate Blanchett, Robert Redford accept their awards at dinner

The 79th annual New York Film Critics Circle Awards turned awkward on Monday night when CityArts editor Armond White started to heckle director Steve McQueen.

McQueen had just accepted his prize for “12 Years a Slave,” presented by Harry Belafonte, when the interruption broke out.

As soon as McQueen took the stage, White started shouting from his table at the back of the room. “You’re an embarrassing doorman and garbage man,” White boomed. “F—you. Kiss my ass.”

McQueen either didn’t hear the comments or pretended not to. He thanked the critics group for honoring him with an award previously given to John Ford and Woody Allen, at which point White hissed “pulease.”

This isn’t the first time White, a controversial critic who often hates the movies everybody else loves and panned “12 Years a Slave,” has thrown a public fit at the annual gala meant to celebrate film.

In 2011, White hosted the ceremony and took verbal jabs at the winning performances from Annette Bening and Michelle Williams. In 2012, he jeered at Robert DeNiro and Viola Davis as they were speaking on-stage.

Other than the interruption, the rest of the ceremony was a breezy, wine-infused affair with most of the winners in attendance at the Edison Ballroom. This wasn’t a coincidence. They were announced beforehand and included Robert Redford for best actor (“All is Lost”), Cate Blanchett for best actress (“Blue Jasmine”), Jared Leto for best supporting actor (“Dallas Buyers Club”), Jennifer Lawrence for best supporting actress (“American Hustle”) and “American Hustle” for best film (accepted by director David O. Russell).

Lawrence, who didn’t make the ceremony, sent her co-star Bradley Cooper on her behalf. He read a note from her that joked, “I’m not receiving this for ‘House at the End of the Street,’ so you guys must have missed that one,” in which she referenced her 2012 teen horror flick.

Leto brought his mom as his date, and he promised that he was going to make her cry. “My mom is a shining example of the possibilities in life,” he said. “She was someone who wasn’t born in luxury, someone who wrestled her own dreams into reality … She made a life for herself and in turn made a life for me.”

Blanchett received the best actress award from her “Blue Jasmine” co-star Sally Hawkins. She thanked her longtime agent Hylda Queally. “She not only has the best eyes in the business, but the legs,” Blanchett quipped. “She’s my leg double.”

Redford told a story about how he made a New York stage appearance many years ago in a play he didn’t name, other than to say the production wasn’t good, despite what the director kept telling the cast. After it opened, he read a review that said “what a sorry excuse for an actor he was.” That line drew a big laugh from the crowd.

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  1. Craig Hobson says:

    Just don’t invite his dumb ass, it’s apparent that he doesn’t know how to act like an adult.

  2. Dick Rambo says:

    I will never see this movie. It just doesn’t look interesting at all.

  3. nelia says:

    For me the attitude of this Mr White is very unprofessional, disrespect to the right
    of an individual to be honored. He is not the greatest man in this world.
    He only showed himself not to be respected at all and he should go to hell. There he can criticize all the demons just like him. He should be ban from any events because he doesn’t deserve to be present at all. He is a bitch.

  4. C.R. Smith says:

    Would you mind sending out an alert at one week before this annual event, so that I might filter out anything about it?

  5. Mike O says:


  6. Laura M. says:

    why is he still invited?

  7. MichaelZ says:

    Jeff, It’s called FILMMAKING. It’s what talented people in the entertainment industry do when they find a compelling story, especially true stories. It might be about astronauts, sailors, FBI-mafia stings, the AIDS crisis or (oh my!) even slavery. Duh.

  8. TJ says:

    Why not just kick him out of the organization if he’s going to act like this? Stop putting up with him.

  9. Armond White sounds like an insufferable piece of trash. No one should have to listen to his drivel.

  10. Wise up people – if not for that outburst, who besides the film critics and their groupies would even read about the awards?

    “Write whatever you want, but spell the name NY Film Critics Circle correctly . . .”

    They love this stuff – they’ll be gossiping about it for months.

  11. Finally, an African American who doesn’t fall in line just because of someone’s skin color. The movie was horrid and I feel the same way he does. If it weren’t about the African American experience it would’ve been panned by everyone.

    • mickeymat says:

      Thank you so much for explaining to us the nature of this movie. I suspected as much since such a fuss was made about it. That is usually the tip off. I, like so many others are sick and tired of this relentless, boring overkill of these subjects. Revenge is their only goal. Ironic though since NO ONE alive now has had anything whatsoever to do with slavery and NO ONE alive has been a victim of it.

      • Kate says:

        Paranoia will destroy you. It’s starting already. This is a brilliant movie. Fk Armond White. If you have guilt in your heart and don’t see how this is relevant, That’s in YOUR head. That’s something YOU need to address, coward. Simply stay home. t’s too mu for your brain

        As for Armond White, who listens to a man who makes a living as a contrarian for no reason?

  12. jnf663 says:

    Armond White is a bully and a fraud who does and says mean things to get attention. He is truly the Ann Coulter of film criticism, and I’m sorry that we’re writing about him today, because the more attention he gets, the more excuses he has to behave badly like this. What a dick.

  13. Chris H says:

    Why do they allow this person to attend He clearly has a history of histrionics — why include him?

  14. HRK says:

    You need a hug! tsk tsk

  15. Andrew says:

    What does politics have to do with him being a jerk?

  16. Andrew says:

    Was President Eisenhower a nice guy?

  17. Andrew says:

    Hahahahahhahaha wow you are insane

  18. David says:

    I don’t think anyone needed to heckled, but this is so politically correct it makes me sick.

  19. Just Confused says:

    Be sure to read KEVIN CLEARY, he’s not too far into the “comments”…he is spot-on and succinct.
    Cleary sees it very CLEARLY!

    IMHO Mr. WHITE is not only a disturbing presence but a DISTURBED individual. Without help, this man’s life cannot end well….or am I…..just confused?

  20. Stacy Garvey says:

    White sounds like a pretty terrible person. Having said that, there’s something pathetic about these endless award ceremonies of insiders backslapping constantly. Redford again, really?

  21. Undergraduate says:

    Have to agree with that original critic’s review of Redford. Always has been one of the most overrated individuals in Hollywood. And that’s a pretty high bar.

  22. Why continue to allow that critic into the awards? If McQueen went to that event as a viewer and berated everyone, he wouldn’t be invited back.

  23. GE says:

    Armond White for Oscar Host!

  24. DS says:

    Almond-White? Who?

  25. Lora Fraracci says:

    Wow, Armond White is a schmuck! To heckle and display general rudeness in this way makes me wonder what his mother would say about this behavior! If he wants to differentiate himself from other “critiques” by being unique this is a negative way to do it. At the risk of offending this group I propose Mr. White looks into collections as a new career.

  26. Joe says:

    the opposite – to not kick him out would be racist

  27. Steve Din says:

    “In 2011, White hosted the ceremony and took verbal jabs at the winning performances from Annette Bening and Michelle Williams.”

    Please get your facts straight. White was effusive over Bening, and Williams was a presenter and not an award recipient. White introduced Williams praising a performance she’d given perhaps a decade earlier, and when she got to the mike she said something along the lines of, “That was, like, years ago. If that’s the only performance you can say nice things about…” You can find plenty of evidence for White’s rudeness, so why not check your facts?

  28. ticker says:

    Gee, Danny, why don’t we drown ALL the critics? Better yet: let’s drown everyone who expresses an opinion in print. Plug your nose and jump, honey: I’ll be right behind you. Cross my heart.

  29. pimphat says:

    To kick him out would be raycist.

  30. Arnie Tracey says:

    Correction for the comment below ” . . . massive dose of , , , “

  31. Arnie Tracey says:

    Prior to these types of ceremonies, these august events, someone pullease do all in attendance a big favor and give the clearly disturbed Mr. White a massive of either Thorazine or Bute.

    Fr Wki:

    Phenylbutazone, often referred to as “bute”,[1] is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) for the short-term treatment of pain and fever in animals.

    Chlorpromazine (as chlorpromazine hydrochloride, abbreviated CPZ; marketed in the United States as Thorazine and elsewhere as Largactil or Megaphen) is a dopamine antagonist of the typical antipsychotic class of medications possessing additional antiadrenergic, antiserotonergic, anticholinergic and antihistaminergic properties used to treat schizophrenia.

  32. filmsharks says:

    His review of ’12 Years a Slave’ is posted on the New York Film Critics Circle website so apparently they don’t mind his outbursts. White definitely goes against the grain. I have to admit he is a better writer than anything you’ll find on Rotten Tomatoes.

    • Tom says:

      Well, White is on Rotten Tomatoes. Does that mean he’s better than himself? Also, White has some of the worst prose of any somewhat “major” critic – so your comment is kind of objectively wrong.

    • Jean-Michel says:

      Gonna go out on a limb and guess that was posted before the current outburst. He has a bad track record, but his 2012 heckling was pretty mild by comparison–actually it was pretty much incoherent and involved no name-calling, e.g. yelling “The Good Shepherd!” while de Niro was onstage–and 2011 wasn’t really an “outburst,” since he was speaking from the stage as the host. Dana Stevens has hinted on Twitter that there will probably be a discussion tomorrow on whether to kick him out.

      • Jean-Michel says:

        Oh yeah, and for a couple of years White actually organized the awards (supposedly because no other members had the time and/or the inclination to volunteer), which is probably another reason they put up with him as long as they have.

  33. Dennis Spalla Morris says:

    Heckler notwithstanding, congratulations to all recipients of the 79th annual New York Film Critics Circle Awards. I was particularly moved by Jared Leto´s words as recounted by Ramin Setoodeh:

    Leto brought his mom as his date, and he promised that he was going to make her cry. “My mom is a shining example of the possibilities in life,” he said. “She was someone who wasn’t born in luxury, someone who wrestled her own dreams into reality … She made a life for herself and in turn made a life for me.”

  34. Incremental Jones says:

    If they got rid of White, how many black critics would there be in the NYFCC?

  35. David says:

    Armond White is a child who throws tantrums to get attention. Why he is still invited to events is beyond me.

  36. Gary says:

    I don’t understand why the Armond White is allowed at an award ceremony given his behavior. What he has done is despicable and of the lowest possible class.

  37. Tania says:

    He’s just an immature man who is seeking attention without having the talent to actually do anything. Steve McQueen is pure class, exactly the contrary. That White guys should be blacklisted.

  38. Charles Besoin says:

    “Pay attention to me! Please!”

  39. jlinn says:

    I don’t understand why that guy White is allowed to continue to attend either. Sure you don’t have to be chef to know if you don’t like the food, but seriously, unless you want to make an attempt yourself, shut up at such a public gathering where someone is being praised for their hard work. Try to make a movie yourself before throwing such idiotic stones.

  40. Josh says:

    White is a child. McQueen would wipe the floor with him if they actually sat down to debate the relative merits of his brilliant adaptation of 12 Years a Slave.

  41. Dale Hopson says:

    They should stop serving booze at these events…

  42. Glenn C. says:

    This White guy is a complete ass himself! Why on earth does anyone keep letting this jerk in to awards shows etc?!! Why?! He should be blacklisted. McQueen is a very good director and deserves this. His film SHAME was amazing. Fassbender too.

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