New York Film Critics Circle Awards preview: Don’t count on it for Oscar predictions

The New York Film Critics' Circle is so determined to be one of the first groups to weigh in with its picks for the best of the year that the date of its decisionmaking keeps getting advanced; it will be on Dec. 2 this year. But how much influence does it have on the last group to be heard from — the motion picture academy which will reveal the Oscar winners 90 days from now on Feb. 28? 

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Last year's big winner with the NYFCC was "Boyhood," which won Best Picture, Director (Richard Linklater) and Supporting Actress (Patricia Arquette); only Arquette went on to win an Oscar. And the Gotham critics snubbed "Birdman," which was Oscar's big winner taking home four (Best Picture, Director, Original Screenplay and Cinematography). 

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Over the past 20 years, only four NYFCC picks for Best Picture have won over the academy too: "Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" (2003), "No Country for Old Men" (2007), "The Hurt Locker" (2009) and "The Artist" (2011).

Arquette was the 14th Supporting Actress winner at the NYFCC to repeat at the Oscars. The Circle predicted just one winner in the 1970s, five in the 1980s, two in the 1990s and four in the 2000s and two so far this decade. 

And J.K. Simmons ("Whiplash") became just the 14th winner of the Supporting Actor award (introduced by the NYFCC in 1969) to also claim an Oscar. After missing out with its first pick — Jack Nicholson ("Easy Rider") — the Circle predicted four Oscar winners in the 1970s, two in the 1980s, and then three apiece in the 1990s and 2000s and two so far this decade. 

While the NYFCC choice for Best Actress (Marion Cotillard) did reap an Oscar bid for one of her two cited films ("Two Days, One Night"), its Best Actor winner (Timothy Spall, "Mr. Turner") was snubbed by the Oscars. The Circle winners for Documentary Feature ("Citiizenfour") and Foreign-Language FIlm ("Ida") did repeat at the Oscars. 

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In 2013, "American Hustle" claimed three prizes from the Circle — taking home Best Picture, Supporting Actress (Jennifer Lawrence) and Screenplay — while Steve McQueen ("12 Years a Slave") was named Best Director; all contended but lost at the Oscars. The other acting awards went to two eventual Oscar champs — lead Cate Blanchett ("Blue Jasmine") and supporting player Jared Leto ("Dallas Buyers Club")  — and Robert Redford ("All is Lost") who was snubbed by the academy.

Blanchett became the 30th Best Actress winner at the NYFCC to go on to repeat at the Oscars (in addition, Peggy Ashcroft won this award but the Supporting Actress Oscar for "A Passage to India" in 1984). Note that the NYFCC did not meet in 1962 due to the newspaper strike. 

In its first half decade, the Circle foresaw two of the five Best Actress Oscar winners (their two-time honoree Greta Garbo was not among these). In the 1940s, it went only two for ten. Among those snubbed by the academy was Deborah Kerr, who picked up the first of her eventual three NYFCC awards in 1947 but never won any of her six Oscar bids.) It foresaw seven champs in the 1950s, four in each of the 1960s and 1970s, three in the 1980s and four again in the 1990s. While it predicted the Oscar winner just twice in the 2000s, it has done it twice already in the last five years. 

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In 2012, the NYFCC went with "Zero Dark Thirty" for Best Picture and Director (Kathryn Bigelow). While the film went on to lose the the top Oscar race to "Argo," Bigelow was snubbed by the directors branch of the academy (the Oscar went to "Life of PI" helmer Ang Lee.) Daniel Day-Lewis ("Lincoln") began his march to a third Oscar with a win from the NYFCC. However, two of the other NYFCC acting champs didn't even reap Oscar bids —  Best Actress Rachel Weisz ("The Deep Blue Sea") and Best Supporting Actor Matthew McConaughey ("Bernie" & "Magic Mike") — while Best Supporting Actress winner Sally Field ("Lincoln") lost her quest for a third Oscar to Anne Hathaway ("Les Miserables"). 

Day-Lewis was the 32nd Best Actor winner at the NYFCC to go on to repeat at the Oscars (in addition, Barry Fitzgerald won this award but the Supporting Actor Oscar for "Going My Way" in 1944).  After its first six winners were snubbed beginning in 1935, the Circle had a good run at forecasting Oscar winners: seven in the 1940s (including Fitzgerald), four in the 1950s, five in each of the 1960s and 1970s, and four in the 1980s.) After previewing only three of the Oscar winners in each of the 1990s and 2000s, it has gone two for five so far this decade. 

In 2011, the NYFCC named "The Artist" both Best Picture and Best Director (Michel Hazanavicius) and the academy did likewise. Meryl Streep won her fourth Best Actress prize from the Gotham critics for her portayal of British PM Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady" before claiming her third Oscar for the role. Brad Pitt was cited as Best Actor by the NYFCC for his work in both "Moneyball" and "The Tree of Life" and Jessica Chastain was named Best Supporting Actress for three films: "The Help," "Take Shelter" and "The Tree of Life." Pitt reaped an Oscar bid for "Moneyball" while Chastain was recognized for "The Help." Albert Brooks won over the NYFCC with his featured role in "Drive" but was snubbed by Oscar voters. 

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"The Artist" was the most recent of the 31 NYFCC Best Picture winners to repeat at the Oscars following: “The Life of Emile Zola” (1937), “Going My Way” (1944), “The Lost Weekend” (1945), “The Best Years of Our Lives” (1946), “Gentleman’s Agreement” (1947), “All the King’s Men” (1949), “All About Eve” (1950), “From Here to Eternity” (1953), “On the Waterfront” (1954), “Marty” (1955), “Around the World in 80 Days” (1956), “The Bridge on the River Kwai” (1957), “Ben-Hur” (1959), “The Apartment” (1960), “West Side Story” (1961), “Tom Jones” (1963), “My Fair Lady” (1964), “A Man for All Seasons” (1966), “In the Heat of the Night” (1967), “Annie Hall” (1977), “The Deer Hunter” (1978), “Kramer vs. Kramer” (1979), “Ordinary People” (1980), “Gandhi” (1982), “Terms of Endearment” (1983), “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991), “Schindler’s List” (1993), “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (2003), “No Country for Old Men” (2007) and “The Hurt Locker” (2009).

Since the Circle was formed, only eight of their top picks have not been nominated for Best Picture: “Day for Night” (1973), “Amarcord” (1974), “The Player” (1992), “Leaving Las Vegas” (1995), “Topsy-Turvy” (1999), “Mulholland Drive” (2001), “Far from Heaven” (2002), and “United 93” (2006). 

And Hazanavicisu, who helmed "The Artist," was the most recent of the 26 Best Director winners here to add an Oscar to their mantle. After getting it right the first time out with John Ford ("The Informer"), the Circle went 0 for 3 for the rest of the decade. It predicted seven Oscar winners in the 1940s (including two more for Ford), four in each of the 1950s and 1960s, just one in the 1970s (Woody Allen for "Annie Hall"), none in the 1980s, one again (Jonathan Demme for "Silence of the Lambs") in the 1990s and six in the 2000s. 

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What do you think will win Best Picture with the New York Film Critics Circle? Cast your ballot below. 

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