THE CRITICS: The Critics Start to Weigh In on 2010

This week several critic and film organizations released their best of 2010 awards in movies. I will only deal with three here: AFI top ten list; the Los Angeles Film Critics Association; and the New York Film Critics Circle. Others, like the Boston Film Critics, The New York Film Critics On-Line etc., are interesting and make the Oscar guessing game fun, but they have even less influence on the Academy than their bigger siblings do.

Well, sort of, kind of. This isn’t exactly true. It’s not that the LAFCC and NYFCC have no influence at all, it’s just that it’s so hit and miss, that what influence they have has to been garnered by instinct and weighted heavily against what seems to be trending with Academy voters, whom often have very different tastes than the critics, i.e., I don’t care what the critics have to say, The King’s Speech is going to beat out The Social Network when Jack Nicholson or whomever opens that envelope at the end of the show.

Also, there are some technical issues as well on some of these awards, as will be noted.

The AFI was most interesting because the top ten seemed to mirror almost exactly what is expected of the Academy this year: The Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, 127 Hours (someone at AFI needs to learn how to alphabetize—numbers go at the beginning of a list), The Social Network, The Town, Toy Story 3, True Grit and Winter’s Bone.

Notice what is missing? That’s right, The King’s Speech. However, AFI only awards films substantially made in America, which means The King’s Speech was ineligible (though, significantly, it did receive a special award). However, since the King’s Speech is supposed to not just only make the Academy top ten, it’s supposed to take home the top honor, the question is, which of the AFIers will be left behind? I predict The Town will not make the Academy cut.

Next is the New York Film Critics Circle, which according to an inside story, was a knock down drag out between The Social Network and The Kids Are All Right (see Though The Social Network won Picture and Director, it did not win screenplay—which, because of some manipulation of the voting (all perfectly within the rules), went to The Kids Are All Right. The same manipulation apparently got Marc Ruffalo Supporting Actor over Christian Bale for The Fighter. All this really means, though, is that The Kids Are All Right should be a lock for numerous top noms. Annette Benning’s award for Actress won’t hurt her chances for winning the Oscar (apparently The Black Swan left a few too many critics a bit cold). Also significant is Melissa Leo winning for Supporting Actress. Jacki Weaver has been doing well with her performance with other awards, but since she’s Australian in an Australian film, this may help Leo’s chances with the Academy.

Colin Firth won Actor, which should help him pull ahead of Jessie Eisenberg, who, with the critical awards, has taken James Franco’s place as Firth’s biggest threat. However, like Franco, it is doubtful the Academy is going to give it to a newcomer like Eisenberg, especially when they have to apologize to Firth for not giving the award to him last year for A Single Man.

Also of interest: Carlos won Foreign Language Film. However, Carlos was made for TV and is ineligible for the Oscars (and wasn’t Spain or France’s entry in the Foreign Language category). The Illusionist, the animated film from the makers of The Triplets of Bellville and based on a screenplay by Jacques Tati, won best Animated Film, which could help it make the third slot at the Oscars with Toy Story 3 and How to Train Your Dragon. Animal Kingdom received an award for Best First Film. If Animal Kingdom keeps getting recognitions like this, it will be interesting to see if it can somehow manage an upset and make the Academy’s top ten (but what could it possible replace—127 Hours if the bloom of its rosy red cheeks wears off, or True Grit if it bombs at the box office?

Next the Los Angeles Film Critics Awards.

AND THEY’RE ROUNDING THE FIRST CORNER: New York Film Critics announce their winners

The New York Film Critics announced their awards yesterday. Though they don’t influence the Oscars a great deal, they can add to the buzz and help voters remember possible nominees they may have forgotten. But it’s hard to say that the NYFC will be doing much of that this year in the top categories (since it has now become somewhat clear, though still a little vague, that the picture, directing and acting awards are more or less decided), though there are a couple of possibilities in the other categories.

The Hurt Locker once again won best picture and director, but I still contend that the Oscar voters will go for the less in your face Up In The Air, since it’s topical and not as heavy as the last couple of winners, Slumdog Millionaire and No Country for Old Men. Best pictures genres often run in cycles and I think something a tad lighter is due to take home the gold. George Clooney won the NYFC acting award (for two movies, The Fantastic Mr. Fox and Up in the Air), but it still looks like a Jeff Bridges career achievement year. Meryl Street, Christoph Waltz and Mo’Nique won the others, which will probably mirror the Academy Awards.

The two areas where NYFC might be of help to potential nominees is that In the Loop (perhaps the best writing of the year) won for best screenplay and since there are ten nominees for screenplay at the Oscars (original and adapted), this may very well help remind the voters. It was also runner up for the Los Angeles Film Critics award. Also to be noted is the win of The White Ribbon for cinematography in both the NYFC and LAFCA, which may help translate to Oscar noms (assuming it will be eligible; I’ve been told it’s going to open the last day of the year and unless it’s played for a week in either LA or New York, it shouldn’t be eligible for anything but foreign language film).

I was also excited to see that the NYFC awarded Of Time and the City, Terence Davies wonderful portrait of his home city, Liverpool, through found footage, best non-fiction film (no longer always called documentary because too many people are expanding what the term documentary means). Also Summer Hours, the beautiful French film, won best foreign film for both NYFC and LAFCA, but since it’s not the French foreign language film entry (The Prophet is), that won’t make any difference.

Today, the Golden Globes were announced, but I have to talk to my best friend Jerry first before commenting on that. Also, Wed. or Thurs. I’ll start listing what I think are going to be the nominees, unless I suddenly find myself with time on my hands and do it earlier.