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 decision-making keeps getting advanced; it will be on Dec. 1 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 88 days from now on Feb. 26?

Let’s take a look back at the last five years of theGotham critics picks and see how well (or not), these early kudos previewed the Academy Awards.

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Last year’s big winner with the NYFCC was the period romance “Carol,” which four awards: Best Picture, Best Director (Todd Haynes), Screenplay (Phyllis Nagy) and Cinematography (Ed Lachman). However, the Circle turned to other films when it came to the acting prizes. While Michael Keaton won Best Actor here for “Spotlight,” the studio campaigned him in supporting at the Oscars where he was snubbed. “Brooklyn” ingenue Saoirse Ronan won Best Actress and did go on to reap an Oscar bid. “Bridge of Spies” scene-stealer Mark Rylance was named Best Supporting Actor and went on to repeat at the Oscars. Kristen Stewart, who won over the critics with her featured role in the Gallic import “Clouds of Sils Maria,” was overlooked by the academy.

In 2014, “Boyhood” won Best Picture, Director (Richard Linklater) and Supporting Actress (Patricia Arquette); only Arquette went on to win an Oscar. And the Gotham critics completely shut out “Birdman,” which was Oscar’s big winner taking home four awards (Best Picture, Director, Original Screenplay and Cinematography). The NYFCC choice for Best Actress (Marion Cotillard) did reap an Oscar bid for one of her two cited films (“Two Days, One Night”), Best Actor winner (Timothy Spall, “Mr. Turner”) was snubbed by the Oscars, and Best Supporting Actor champ J.K. Simmons (“Whiplash”) prevailed at the Oscars as well.

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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.

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”).

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And 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.

Predict the Oscar nominations now; change them till January 24

Be sure to make your Oscar predictions. How do you think “La La Land” will do with academy voters? Weigh in now with your picks so that Hollywood insiders can see how this film is faring in our Oscar odds. You can keep changing your predictions right up until just before nominations are announced on January 24 at 5:00 am PT/8:00 am ET. Be sure to read our contest rules. And join in the fierce debate over the Oscars taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our forums.


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