This year, as with last, the New York and Los Angeles critics agreed on the Best Picture of the year — “The Social Network” — and its helmer, David Fincher, was their unified choice for Best Director. Colin Firth (“The King’s Speech”) solidified his frontrunner status, winning Best Actor with the New York Film Critics Circle a day after taking the prize with the west coast critics.
However, the Gotham group went with different people for the other acting races. “The Kids Are All Right” players Annette Bening and Mark Ruffalo were named Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor respectively while Melissa Leo (“The Fighter”) prevailed as Best Supporting Actress. Unlike LAFCA, the New Yorkers don’t name runners-up but we should be hearing about the balloting process later on Monday to see how the other west coast winners fared back east.
That love for “Kids” extended to the Screenplay award which was shared by director Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg. They edged out, among others, both L.A. champ Aaron Sorkin (“The Social Network”) and runner-up David Seidler (“The King’s Speech”). L.A. runner-up “The Illusionist” won Animated Feature while L.A. cinematographer winner Matthew Labique (“Black Swan”) repeated as did “Carlos” for Best Foreign Film.
Last year, both groups chose “The Hurt Locker” as the Best Picture and its helmer Kathryn Bigelow as Best Director. And both went with eventual Oscar champs Mo’Nique (“Precious”) and Christoph Waltz (“Inglorious Basterds”) for the supporting awards. Both of the NYFCC winners of the top acting awards — George Clooney (“Up in the Air”) and Meryl Streep (“Julie & Julia”) — vied for the Oscar. Last year’s LAFCA Best Actor winner (Jeff Bridges, “Crazy Heart”) repeated at the Academy Awards while their runner-up (Colin Firth, “A Single Man”) was an Oscar contender. However, the LAFCA choice for Best Actress — Yolande Moreau (“Seraphine”) — did not go on to compete at the Oscars though runner-up Carey Mulligan (“An Education”) did.
New York and L.A. critics don’t always select the same film, though. Two years ago, the Gothamites chose “Milk” while the west was won over by “Wall-E.” Three years ago, NYFCC opted for “No Country for Old Men” and LAFCA pumped up “There Will Be Blood.” And in 2006, the top film for New Yorkers was “United 93” while the L.A. critics penned a love note to “Letters from Iwo Jima.”
“Milk” did not win best picture with the NYFCC till ballot four with 29 points. “Rachel Getting Married” had 25 points while both “Happy-Go-Lucky” and eventual Oscar champ “Slumdog Millionaire” had 20 points. As Gotham critic circle member Mike D’Angelo of Esquire wrote on his Twitter stream that day: “My sense is that ‘Milk’ wound up as the I-can-live-with-that compromise choice for voters blocking ‘Slumdog’ and voters blocking ‘Rachel.'”
The NYFCC has a history of such compromised decisions. In 1994, “Quiz Show” did not reap any votes during the first voting round but still won the top award after the two camps gave up their fights for “Forrest Gump” and “Pulp Fiction. And “My Left Foot” won Best Picture in 1989 after the critics couldn’t decide between “Do the Right Thing” and “Enemies, A Love Story.” At least “My Left Foot” scored a few scattered points on the first ballot.
Image: New York Film Critics Circle logo (NYFCC)