New York Film Critics Circle Honours Their Favourites of 2011

The National Board of Review is usually the first big critics group to announce their favourite films and performances of the year, but the New York Film Critics Circle beat them to the punch this year, naming their winners via Twitter this afternoon. While certainly not the be all and end all of Oscar season, the NYFCC is a major critics group, and many of their picks have historically gone on to receive Oscar nominations. Last year their acting winners were Colin Firth, Annette Bening, Mark Ruffalo, and Melissa Leo, and as we know, all four actors went on to receive Oscar nominations (and two of them won). With that in mind, here’s a rundown of the NYFCC winners.

I have a feeling the following may become a common phrase this year: The Artist won Best Picture. (Its writer/director, Michael Hazanavicius was also named Best Director.) The film was a critical darling at various festivals earlier this year, and even from these very early stages of awards season, it seems to be doing well, seeing as it also tied for the most nominations for the Independent Spirit Awards today. Only time will tell if it ends up like last year’s The Social Network, which swept various awards groups (including the NYFCC), but ultimately lost the Best Picture Oscar to The King’s Speech. But it’s off to a good start.

Best Actor went to Brad Pitt for Moneyball and The Tree of Life, and Meryl Streep took home the Best Actress award for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher for The Iron Lady. Both of these stars are already considered strong Oscar contenders (Pitt is considered a shoe-in for Moneyball, and some consider him as a contender for Best Supporting Actor for The Tree of Life), and these wins only cement their likelihood of being nominated for Oscar glory.

Albert Brooks was somewhat surprisingly named Best Supporting Actor by the NYFCC. My money would have been on Plummer, but since NYFCC typically shies away from deeply indie fare, perhaps his loss is not too surprising.

The most surprising award of all (to me, anyways) was Best Supporting Actress, which went to Jessica Chastain. She was recognized for her work in The Help, The Tree of Life, and Take Shelter this year. While this does bode well for her Oscar campaign, the Oscars obviously cannot recognize actors for multiple performances, so she could suffer from vote-splitting by the Academy between her various performances. I’m still predicting her for The Help, but we’ll have to watch for larger voting groups, such as SAG, to get an indication of where her votes will fall.

Elsewhere, Aaron Sorkin and Steve Zaillian unsurprisingly took home the Best Screenplay award for Moneyball, and Margin Call won Best First Film, The Cave of Forgotten Dreams (a film which is not on the long list for the Oscar Documentary category) won Best Documentary, and A Separation nabbed Best Foreign Film.

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