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'Lady Bird' wins New York Film Critics Circle's top prize

'Lady Bird' wins New York Film Critics Circle's top prize
Saoirse Ronan in "Lady Bird." (Merie Wallace / A24 Films)

The New York Film Critics Circle loved "Lady Bird" and its star, Saoirse Ronan.

Will the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. follow suit on Sunday?

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Welcome to the Gold Standard, the newsletter from the Los Angeles Times that helps guide you through the ins and outs of the awards season leading up to the Oscars.

I'm Glenn Whipp, The Times' awards columnist and your newsletter host.

'Lady Bird,' 'Florida Project' top New York Critics' list

The New York Film Critics Circle voted for its awards Thursday, kicking off what will be a spate of critics groups weighing in on the best of 2017.

Greta Gerwig's "Lady Bird," a finely observed love story between a daughter and her mother, won best film. Sean Baker took the director prize for "The Florida Project," a look at the fraying edges of America, largely from the perspective of children living in a rundown motel in Disney World's shadow.

Both movies come from A24 Films, the exemplary indie studio behind this year's best picture winner, "Moonlight."

The lead acting honors went to Ronan and Timothée Chalamet ("Call Me by Your Name"), with supporting awards going to Willem Dafoe ("The Florida Project") and Tiffany Haddish ("Girls Trip").

The Haddish choice is inspired, an example of a critics group expanding the definition of what constitutes an awards-worthy performance. Critics give these prizes largely without an agenda. They are bestowed on the movies and performances considered the best by consensus. But once given, the honors provide cues to other voting groups, like, say, the motion picture academy.

Two years ago, George Miller's gonzo action-thriller "Mad Max: Fury Road" was thought to be an awards season long shot until the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. gave it three trophies — director, cinematographer and production design. The movie also landed the group's runner-up spot for best picture. Suddenly, the idea that Miller's crazy, unrelenting extravaganza belonged in the Oscar conversation wasn't that daft.

The L.A. Critics vote Sunday. I'm a member, as are Times staffers Justin Chang, Kenneth Turan, Mark Olsen, Geoff Berkshire and Jen Yamato. You can look for a story on the vote — and the importance of critics groups — from Justin and me on Monday.

Guillermo del Toro, left, Angelina Jolie, Darren Aronofsky, Jordan Peele, Greta Gerwig, Sean Baker and Kathryn Bigelow.
Guillermo del Toro, left, Angelina Jolie, Darren Aronofsky, Jordan Peele, Greta Gerwig, Sean Baker and Kathryn Bigelow. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Directors discuss ways to 'weaponize storytelling'

The Envelope's annual directors roundtable featured a supergroup of filmmakers talking about their craft. Guillermo del Toro ("The Shape of Water"), Darren Aronofsky ("mother!"), Angelina Jolie ("First They Killed My Father"), Jordan Peele ("Get Out"), Greta Gerwig ("Lady Bird"), Sean Baker ("The Florida Project") and Kathryn Bigelow ("Detroit") spoke with Times film writer Mark Olsen about the motivations behind their current movies. You can watch videos and see the conversation here.

The Envelope Screening Series recently hosted the team from "Call Me by Your Name" — director Luca Guadagnino and actors Timothée Chalamet, Armie Hammer and Michael Stuhlbarg. You can watch videos of the event, also led by Olsen, here.

Greta Gerwig, writer-director of "Lady Bird."
Greta Gerwig, writer-director of "Lady Bird." (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Five female filmmakers in contention this awards season

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I mentioned Gerwig earlier, an indie movie icon who could well earn two Oscar nominations this season, for writing and directing "Lady Bird."

I parsed the directing and writing Oscar races here, paying particular attention to the number of women who have made excellent movies in 2017. In addition to Gerwig, you have Dee Rees ("Mudbound"), Sofia Coppola ("The Beguiled"), Bigelow ("Detroit") and Patty Jenkins ("Wonder Woman"). Maybe the year's an outlier. Or maybe, finally, women are increasingly being given the opportunity to make movies and tell stories. I'd gladly spend a day watching those five fine films again.

Feedback?

I'd love to hear from you. Email me at glenn.whipp@latimes.com.

Can't get enough about awards season? Follow me at @glennwhipp on Twitter.

Twitter: @glennwhipp

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