Four days ago the New York Film Critics Circle went with “La La Land” for Best Picture and this Sunday (Dec. 4) its West Coast counterpart, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association continued its tradition of being contrary and chose “Moonlight” instead. During the hours of deliberations by the L.A. critics, “Moonlight” won Best International Film at the British Independent Film Awards.
The west coasters did echo the endorsement of the Gotham crowd when it came to three other awards for “Moonlight”: Barry Jenkins won Best Director, Emmy nominee Mahershala Ali (“House of Cards”) claimed Best Supporting Actor for his scene-stealing performance in the film as a kindly drug dealer and James Laxton took Best Cinematography for his bravura work with light and images.
“La La Land” had to settle for runner-up status in the top race and others: Best Director (Damien Chazelle), Cinematography, Editing and Production Design. However, the trio that composed the songs in this Oscar frontrunner — Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul — did win Best Music Score.
Isabelle Huppert was also a winner on both coasts, once again winning for two films: “Elle” and “Things to Come.” She is a strong contender at the Oscars for the former, in which she plays a Parisian business tycoon who toys with her stalker.
“Manchester by the Sea” had prevailed in three key races from the NYFFC but each of those winners had to settle for runner-up status here. Casey Affleck lost Best Actor to Adam Driver (“Paterson”). Michelle Williams, who had been cited by the New York critics for her work in both “Manchester by the Sea” and “Certain Women” was bested by one of her co-stars in the latter, Lily Gladstone. And “Manchester by the Sea” writer/director Kenneth Lonergan lost the Screenplay award to Efthymis Filippou and Yorgos Lanthimos (“The Lobster”).
While “O.J.: Made in America” pulled off an upset in Film Editing, it was only the runner-up in Best Documentary Feature, edged out by “I Am Not Your Negro.” South Korea’s “The Handmaiden” won both Best Foreign-Language Film and Production Design. And “Your Turn” took Animated Feature.
The New York and Los Angeles movie critics rarely agree on Best Picture. The L.A. scribes began handing out awards in 1975 but it took till 1979 till they went with the same film — eventual Oscar champ “Kramer vs. Kramer” — as the New York crowd, which was formed in 1935. They have agreed 11 more times since: “Terms of Endearment’ (1983), “Hannah and Her Sisters” (1986), “Goodfellas” (1990), “Schindler’s List” (1993), “Leaving Las Vegas” (1996), “L.A. Confidential” (1997), “Saving Private Ryan” (1998), “Sideways” (2004), “Brokeback Mountain” (2005), “The Hurt Locker” (2009) and “Boyhood” (2014). Of these, only “Kramer,” “Terms,” “Schindler’s List” and “The Hurt Locker” went on to win the Best Picture Oscar.