As irksome as the New York Film Critics Circle’s desire to shoot the first bullet of this year’s awards season often was — they didn’t even bother to see Stephen Daldry’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close prior to the vote — I must admit that I’m generally very pleased with the list of winners the group announced today via Twitter. My principal drawback of the bunch would be the top honors bestowed upon The Artist — in addition to a Best Director mention for Michel Hazanavicius — which, to me, is ultimately a technically impressive film that’s held back by a truly meager screenplay. Worth seeing? Yes. Worthy of best-of-the-year citations? Not in the slightest.
Brad Pitt, meanwhile, made a surprisingly satisfying splash himself. For my money, he’s a huge presence in what are currently the year’s two best films — Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life and Bennett Miller’s Moneyball — and I was delighted to see both of them honored with equal proportion. The group didn’t single out one of Pitt’s performances, but rather chose to celebrate them both. They took a similar route with Best Supporting Actress winner Jessica Chastain, choosing to award her for a total of three performances: The Tree of Life, The Help, and Take Shelter.
The brilliant Moneyball screenplay, co-written by the dazzling duo of Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, took home Best Screenplay honors. There are still some prestige-laden adaptations left to see, but I’ll be shocked if December can produce another adapted screenplay that so richly combines lofty thematic depth with down-to-earth, old-school pleasures.
Also worth mentioning is Meryl Streep, who won Best Actress for her Margaret Thatcher portrayal in Phyllida Lloyd’s The Iron Lady. More exciting is Albert Brooks’ Best Supporting Actor win for his spectacular work in Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive. Other winners include Emmanuel Lubezki for his glorious lensing on The Tree of Life and J.C. Chandor, earning Best First Film honors for the gripping Wall Street drama Margin Call.
The full list of NYFCC winners can be found below.
[Note: Be sure to check out this Lou Lumenick article, which provides an in-depth breakdown of the runners-up.]
Best Picture: The Artist
Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
Best Screenplay: Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin (Moneyball)
Best Actress: Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady)
Best Actor: Brad Pitt (Moneyball, The Tree of Life)
Best Supporting Actress: Jessica Chastain (The Tree of Life, The Help, Take Shelter)
Best Supporting Actor: Albert Brooks (Drive)
Best Cinematographer: Emmanuel Lubezki (The Tree of Life)
Best Non-Fiction Film (Documentary): Cave of Forgotten Dreams
Best Foreign Film: A Separation
Best First Film: J.C. Chandor (Margin Call)
Special Award: Raoul Ruiz