"The Descendants" was widely expected to win several awards from the New York Film Critics Circle. Our Experts heavily favored the film to win the top prize while star George Clooney, supporting player Shailene Woodley and the script were also forecast to be strong contenders. Instead, all were snubbed by the Gotham critics group.
"The Descendants" writer/director Alexander Payne has a strong track record with the NYFCC. First, he picked up the Best Screenplay prize in 1999 for "Election." In 2004, his "Sideways" swept Best Picture, Actor (Paul Giamatti), Supporting Actress (Virginia Madsen), and he won a second time for Best Screenplay.
While this year's voters were passionate about some contenders -- like Meryl Streep who won Best Actress on the first ballot with a whopping 38 points -- the New York Post's Lou Lumenick reveals "The Descendants" never managed to amass more than 17 points.
Jessica Chastain won Supporting Actress for her roles in "The Tree of Life," "The Help," and "Take Shelter" while Woodley did not even figure in the top three. Likewise, Clooney, who won Best Actor two years ago for both "Up in the Air" and "Fantastic Mr. Fox," lost to Brad Pitt for "Moneyball" and "The Tree of Life." Best Screenplay went to Aaron Sorkin and Steve Zaillian for "Moneyball." And "The Artist" won Best Picture and Director for Michel Hazanavicius.
While NYFCC is only the first of many groups that will announce their winners in the next two months, that early frontrunner status for "The Descendants" has been replaced by building buzz for "Moneyball," "The Tree of Life," and especially "The Artist" which also led with the most Indie Spirit nominations Tuesday.