Pre-Oscars Round Up: AFI, LAFCA, NYFCO, Boston, SFFCC

The Artist is now the Oscars favorite. Even the American Film Institute gave it an award and it's a European production.

Sunday was a big day in the magical world of pre-Oscar awards. Mulitple critics groups announced their selections for the best films of 2011. Below are the winners picked by five groups, as not to overwhelm anyone. (Especially myself.)

The Artist continues to be the film to beat, picking up awards from the New York Film Circle Online (NYFCO), Boston Society of Film Critics (BSFC), and a special award from the American Film Institute. But if critics don’t go with The Artist, they choose The Tree of Life, which was named best film by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA) and the San Francisco Film Critics Circle (SFFCC). The best picture race is turning into an East Coast-West Coast rivalry not unlike the Biggie-Tupac rivalry. I would pay good money to see film critics battle each other in the name of The Artist and The Tree of Life.

Michael Shannon (Take Shelter) is emerging as a contender for best actor. Brad Pitt received a best award from the BSFC for his performance in Moneyball. I’ve accepted that Brad Pitt will be nominated for an Oscar, even though he doesn’t do much in Moneyball except stare at statistics. (There is one great scene but that is a testament more to Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay than Pitt’s performance.)

Albert Brooks continues to dominate the best supporting actor category. If one thing is a sure bet at this point, it is Brooks’ nomination and that his biggest competition will be sentimental favorite, Christopher Plummer for Beginners. Jessica Chastain picked up a few wins for her many supporting roles this year as did Melissa McCarthy for Bridesmaids.

The Best Actress category has become a three-way race between Meryl Streep, Michelle Williams and Tilda Swinton. Okay, it is really a two-way race between Streep and Williams. (The Oscar Gods will bend over backwards to give Streep her third Oscar.) But Swinton should be winning all the awards for We Need To Talk About Kevin.

The best sign of things to come from this round of award winners is the rise of Bridesmaids. Can the comedy and Melissa McCarthy score Oscar nominations?  I hope so. Also, one of my favorite 2011 films, Martha Marcy May Marlene is still being slightly shortchanged, winning the New Generation Award from the LAFCA and best new filmmaker award (for director Sean Durkin) from the BSFC.

Speaking of the Boston Society of Film Critics, their support of Kenneth Lonergan’s film Margaret is simply awesome. (Read it here.) I stupidly did not see Margaret when it was briefly playing in NYC, even though it is about exactly what I am interested in: post-9/11 New York. (My undergrad thesis topic was post-9/11 American independent film.) So if anyone wants to help me see Margaret

Unpopular opinion: I'm convinced that I will hate My Week With Marilyn because I am sick of the Marilyn Monroe craze.

The round up of the critics awards winners is below. Share any of your thoughts on the awards season so far in the comments.

Continue reading “Pre-Oscars Round Up: AFI, LAFCA, NYFCO, Boston, SFFCC”

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Critics Roundup: LA Film Critics, AFI, NY Film Critics Online

There is nothing quite like sitting on a Greyhound bus and reading the tweets of your fellow film bloggers as several critics groups announce their annual awards. I probably seemed like a crazy person, muttering to myself about The Social Network. This awards’ season critical darling cleaned up at the Boston Film Critics, LA Film Critics and NY Film Critics Online awards. It was also named one of the ten best films of the year by the American Film Institute.

There were also plenty of surprises, courtesy of Colin Firth, Melissa Leo, Niels Arestrup and Carlos, to keep things interesting.  Here is a breakdown of the winners.

LA Film Critics

The most surprising and interesting critics awards yet. Sure The Social Network was named Best Picture but its star Jesse Eisenberg was left out of the mix. With Firth’s LAFCA win, the Best Actor race definitely came alive today. (He apparently lost the Best Actor prize from the Boston critics by just one vote.) Likewise, Natalie Portman for her performance in Black Swan was left off the winner’s list in favor of Kim Hye-Ja in Mother. Arguably the most surprising win of all is Niels Arestrup for his supporting role in A Prophet. (For an explanation of A Prophet‘s and Mother‘s Oscar eligibility, head here.)

Best Picture – The Social Network
(Runner-up: Carlos)

Best Actor – Colin Firth, The Kings Speech
(Runner-up: Edgar Ramirez, Carlos)

Best Actress – Kim Hye-Ja, Mother
(Runner-up: Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone)

Best Supporting Actor – Niels Arestrup, A Prophet
(Runner-up: Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech)

Best Supporting Actress – Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom
(Runner-up: Olivia Williams, The Ghost Writer)

Best Director – Olivier Assayas, Carlos and David Fincher, The Social Network (tie)

Best Screenplay – The Social Network
(Runner-up: The King’s Speech)

Best Cinematography – Black Swan
(Runner-up: True Grit)

NY Film Critics Online

What has made me beyond ecstatic here is Melissa Leo’s win. Leo is by far my favorite, and often one of the most unappreciated, actresses. Any attention a performance of her’s receives makes me happy. Other than that, the NY Film Critics named, at this point, fairly expected winners.

Best Picture – The Social Network

Best Actor – James Franco, 127 Hours

Best Actress – Natalie Portman, Black Swan

Best Director – David Fincher, The Social Network

Best Supporting Actor – Christian Bale, The Fighter

Best Supporting Actress – Melissa Leo, The Fighter

Best Breakthrough Performer – Noomi Repace, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Best Debut Director – John Wells, The Company Men

Best Ensemble Cast – The Kids Are All Right

Best Screenplay – Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network

American Film Institute Top 10

In a top 10 list that is fairly safe, although it is filled with excellent movies, Winter’s Bone stands out to me as an exciting selection. Special awards were given to The King’s Speech and Waiting for Superman.

Black Swan
The Fighter
Inception
The Kids Are All Right
127 Hours
The Social Network
The Town
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter’s Bone

Critics Roundup: New York, Los Angeles and AFI

The Hurt Locker continues to rake in the critics prizes; the film won two Best Picture honors and two Best Director honors for Kathryn Bigelow. But what I’m sure will get a lot of hype in the tabloids/bloggersphere is that Hurt Locker and Bigelow are frequently nominated against ex-husband James Cameron’s Avatar. Here is the critics roundup from yesterday:

Continue reading “Critics Roundup: New York, Los Angeles and AFI”

A Tribute to Warren Beatty

Airing tonight at 9pm on the USA Network is the American Film Institute’s Tribute to Warren Beatty.
Beatty is the 36th recipient of the Life Achievement Award, which was presented to him on June 12th.
Jack Nicholson, Julie Christie, Gene Hackman, Robert Downey Jr, Diane Keaton, Faye Dunaway, Keith Carradine, and Al Pacino as well as former President Bill Clinton were on hand to honor the actor and director.

Here’s Another AFI List (Blah)

I feel really blah and out of it today. Plus I just realized that the American Film Institute announced another movie list…. in September. So now I am blah and behind on the times. Here it is:

1 Singin’ in the Rain 1952
2 West Side Story 1961
3 The Wizard of Oz 1939
4 The Sound of Music 1965
5 Cabaret 1972
6 Mary Poppins 1964
7 A Star is Born 1954
8 My Fair Lady 1964
9 An American in Paris 1951
10 Meet Me in St. Louis 1944
11 The King and I 1956
12 Chicago 2002
13 42nd Street 1933
14 All That Jazz 1979
15 Top Hat 1935
16 Funny Girl 1968
17 The Band Wagon 1953
18 Yankee Doodle Dandy 1942
19 On The Town 1949
20 Grease 1979
21 Seven Brides For Seven Brothers 1954
22 Beauty and the Beast 1991
23 Guys and Dolls 1955
24 Show Boat 1936
25 Moulin Rouge!

How many have you seen? Any major oversights? Sound off below.