Critics’ awards preview: Get ready for an onslaught of December announcements from LA to NY and more

Once Thanksgiving is in the rearview mirror, we’re going to start getting many film awards announced in quick succession, as a number of critics groups and others try their best to get their picks into the mix pretty early. 

Things really kick off on November 28 when the Gotham Awards hold their annual awards presentation ceremony, although the nominations have already been announced with “Everything Everywhere All at Once” and Todd Field’s “TÁR” leading the pack and likely to win a few awards each. Presented by the Gotham Film and Media Institute, the Gothams have been around since 2004, and it has gone one-for-one with Oscars, in terms of Best Picture five times in 18 years. Gotham tends to lean more towards the indie side of things, although it can be a terrific boost for a filmmaker like Chloé Zhao, whose earlier film, “The Rider,” won the Gotham in 2018, paving the way for her second win with Best Picture winner “Nomadland” a few years later.

Later next week, the New York Film Critics Circle (NYFCC) will have its annual meeting on December 2, announcing their awards ahead of their gala in January, and that’s also likely to give us a clearer picture of what one relatively small group of critics thinks is the best movie of 2022. The prestigious group has been around since 1936, when “The Informer” received their top prize. You’d have to go back 10 years to 2012 when they presented their top prize to “The Artist” for the last time their pick matched-up with the Academy, but their influence is undeniable, even if it’s something like shining a spotlight on Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s “Drive My Car,” paving the way for it to receive four Oscar nominations, winning for Best International Feature.

Despite its name, the National Board of Review (NBR) is not made up of film critics, but rather, a group of varied members who have offered their opinions on movies for over 100 years. They’re holding off having their annual awards meeting until Saturday, December 10, and similar to the New York critics, they’ll hold off on presenting to winners until January. Maybe it’s not nice to suggest NBR may be a little cray-cray sometimes, since often their annual Best Film goes on to at least earn a nomination for Best Picture at the Oscars. NBR did go with “Green Book” as its Best Film in 2018, but you’d have to go back to 2007 and 2008 when NBR matched the Oscars before that with “No Country for Old Men” and “Slumdog Millionaire.”

The next day, on Sunday, December 11, we’ll get two key critical groups, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA) and the Boston Society of Film Critics, who will similarly meet and decide on their awards. (Incidentally, my own group, the New York Film Critics Online, which has been around for over 20 years, will announce its own awards that same date.)

L.A. is equally significant to New York, mainly since they’re regularly around the Hollywood players that might vote for the Oscars. LAFCA has been around since the ‘70s, and they have been somewhat esoteric in years past, although they too picked “Drive My Car” last year. On the other hand, they also went with eventual Best Picture winner, “Parasite,” in 2019; “Moonlight” in 2016; and “Spotlight” a year earlier. And yet, in the past 20 years, LAFCA has only gone one-to-one with the Academy’s Best Picture four times.

The Critics Choice Film Awards (CCA), launched in 1995, will announce its nominations on December 14, a month ahead of its own awards gala. They may be considered a far more legit award to the world-at-large, possibly because it’s a major televised event each year. In past years it’s been interesting to see how the timing of the CCAs vs. other awards groups can either help or hurt an Oscar contender. Memorably, Ben Affleck was omitted from the Oscar Best Director nominations for “Argo” the same day he won Critics Choice for said movie, which also won Best Picture there and went on to become one of those rare Best Picture Oscar winners sans a connected directing nomination.

The Hollywood Critics Association (HCA) is one of the newer groups that has arisen in recent years, and they, too, will be announcing nominations in early December, including the newly-launched HCA Creative Arts Awards for below-the-line crafts. Those nominations will be announced on Dec. 9, while the HCA Film Awards Nominations will be out Dec. 15. Unfortunately, the HCA may be too young to really know how and if it has any effect on anything Oscar-wise. (HCA was one of the few groups that picked “CODA” as its Best Film last year, and of course, that went on to win Best Picture.)

So what does this all mean for the Oscar season? For those in the industry, either members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences or BAFTA or any of the guilds, those first two weeks in December will give them some idea what the critics want them to see. We’ll have to wait until January to see if any of the awards announced in December have any significant impact.

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