Kristen Stewart ("Clouds of Sils Maria") has been a dark horse Oscar contender for Best Supporting Actress since February, when she became the first American to win that category at the Cesar Awards, France's equivalent to the Oscar. The film opened stateside in April, a long time ago for Oscar voters who seldom remember anything before September, but her win at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards could be very good news for the young actress.
The last nine NYFCC winners in a row have gone on to be nominated (or win) Oscars:
2006: Jennifer Hudson ("Dreamgirls"), WINNER
2007: Amy Ryan ("Gone Baby Gone"), lost Oscar to Tilda Swinton ("Michael Clayton")
2008: Penelope Cruz ("Vicky Cristina Barcelona"), WINNER
2009: MoNique ("Precious"), WINNER
2010: Melissa Leo ("The Fighter"), WINNER
2011: Jessica Chastain ("The Help" – also "The Tree of Life" and "Take Shelter" at NYFCC), lost Oscar to Octavia Spencer ("The Help")
2012: Sally Field ("Lincoln"), lost Oscar to Anne Hathaway ("Les Miserables")
2013: Jennifer Lawrence ("American Hustle"), lost Oscar to Lupita Nyong'o ("12 Years a Slave")
2014: Patricia Arquette ("Boyhood"), WINNER
The last time there was a disconnect was in 2005, when Maria Bello won the critics' prize for "A History of Violence," but Bello probably didn't miss an Oscar nom by much. That season she was also nominated at the Golden Globes and Critics' Choice Awards, and the film ended up with Oscar bids for supporting actor William Hurt and its screenplay.
NYFCC's Supporting Actress winner missed at the Oscars only one other time in the 21st century: In 2002, Patricia Clarkson was awarded by critics for "Far from Heaven" in but didn't make the academy's lineup.
Stewart is best known as the star of the "Twilight" franchise, but before and after that blockbuster series she was well received in smaller films like "Adventureland," "Camp X-Ray" and "Still Alice." She earned a SAG nomination for Best Ensemble for "Into the Wild" (2007), and she won BAFTA's Rising Star Award in 2009.
"Clouds of Sils Maria" is her most acclaimed film yet according to scores at both Rotten Tomatoes (89) and MetaCritic (78). In it, she plays Valentine, an assistant who clashes with her boss, a veteran actress (Juliette Binoche) revisiting the play that made her a star decades earlier. It was directed by Olivier Assayas, the much-admired filmmaker who previously helmed the Emmy-nominated miniseries "Carlos."
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"Clouds of Sils Maria" photo credit: IFC Films