On Tuesday, the New York Film Critics Circle embraced the period romance "Carol," awarding it Best Picture as well as Best Director (Todd Haynes), Screenplay (Phyllis Nagy) and Cinematography (Ed Lachman). However, it turned to other films when it came to the acting prizes.
Michael Keaton won Best Actor for his portrayal of newspaperman Walter "Robby" Robinson in "Spotlight." The studio has been campaigning him in supporting; indeed he leads our Oscar predicitons in that category. His is the first performance from the picture to be singled out as the all-star cast picked up ensemble prizes at both the Gotham and Independent Spirit awards.
"Brooklyn" ingenue Saoirse Ronan won Best Actress. She is a strong contender at the Oscars for this heartwarming period film about the adventures of a young Irishwoman who emigrates to America in the early 1950s.
Recognition from the Circle is a big boost for Best Supporting Actress winner Kristen Stewart for her work as the put-upon assistant to a movie star (Juliette Binoche) in the Gallic import "Clouds of Sils Maria." She won the Cesar, the French equivalent of the Oscar, last spring but had not been seen as a strong contender this awards season.
Likewise for Supporting Actor winner Mark Rylance for his role as a Russian spy in Steven Spielberg's period drama "Bridge of Spies." The three-time Tony champ delivers a subdued performance that is the linchpin of the picture.
"Son of Saul," the Oscar frontrunner for Best Foreign-Language Film, won Best First Feature while one of last year's Oscar nominees for the foreign language prize, "Mauritania" won that award here.
And Best Animated Feature which went to Oscar frontrunner "Inside Out."
However, the Circle's pick for Best Documentary Feature, "In Jackson Heights," didn't make the academy shortlist.
Since it first handed out awards in 1935, the Circle has previewed just 31 of the 78 Oscar winners for Best Picture; it did not meet in 1962 due to the newspaper strike. However, all but eight of its honorees have gone on to at least reap a Best Picture bid.
That 40% success rate for foreseeing the Best Picture winner has held as it presaged only two — "The Hurt Locker" (2009) and "The Artist" (2011) — of the last five champs.
The Circle has predicted about the same number of lead acting Oscar champs: 32 for Best Actor and 30 for Best Actress (plus one of each who went on to win supporting at the Oscars). However, since introducing supporting acting awards in 1969, it has only presaged 14 winners of each of these categories at the Oscars.