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Gold Standard: ‘Roma’ wins big with New York film critics

Gold Standard: ‘Roma’ wins big with New York film critics
Marco Graf, Yalitza Aparicio, Fernando Grediaga and Marina de Tavira in "Roma." (Carlos Somonte / Netflix)

“Roma” won the top prize from the New York Film Critics Circle. The National Board of Review (whoever they are) went for “Green Book.”

What does this mean for the Oscar best picture race?

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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.

Alfonso Cuarón wins three prizes from New York critics

When “Roma” won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and then went on to earn ecstatic reviews at Telluride and Toronto, it was a foregone conclusion that critics groups would embrace Alfonso Cuarón’s drama in a big way.

The New York Film Critics Circle named “Roma” the year’s best picture Thursday and bestowed individual honors to Cuarón for his work as a director and cinematographer. The movie is currently playing in limited release in theaters and will begin streaming on Netflix on Dec. 14.

In the NYFCC’s acting categories, Ethan Hawke earned the best actor award for his performance as a spiritually tortured minister in the drama “First Reformed,” Regina Hall, in an inspired choice, was named best actress for the comedy “Support the Girls.” Regina King won the best supporting actress award for “If Beale Street Could Talk,” and Richard E. Grant was named best supporting actor for “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

Earlier this week, the National Board of Review, an iffy group that keeps the identities of its voters a secret (its website labels them “film enthusiasts,” and my movie-loving Aunt Ida will neither confirm nor deny her membership), named “Green Book” as the year’s best film.

Peter Farrelly’s drama of racial reconciliation earned an A+ audience rating with the market research firm Cinemascore, though its box office has been slow to take off and many critics have been cool to the way it approaches its subject matter.

Loyal readers are well aware that I’ve been touting “Roma” as an Oscar powerhouse for some time. And if you’re one of those people — and there are many — breaking into applause at the end of “Green Book,” you can probably take heart that there are plenty of academy traditionalists who share your tear-soaked enthusiasm.

"Roma" director Alfonso Cuarón accepts the Golden Lion award for best film at the Venice Film Festival.
"Roma" director Alfonso Cuarón accepts the Golden Lion award for best film at the Venice Film Festival. (Alberto Pizzoli / AFP)

Cuarón set to make history with ‘Roma’

The film academy’s cinematographers branch has never nominated a filmmaker who doubled as director of photography. That will likely change this year, as I wrote in this column looking at the Oscar races for director and cinematography. And, yes, the person in question is Cuarón, who won both those categories with the NYFCC and figures, at the very least, to earn Oscar nominations for his dazzling work on this visual masterpiece.

Josie Rourke, Yorgos Lanthimos (covering an eye issue), Ryan Coogler, Alfonso Cuarón, Karyn Kusama and Spike Lee take part in the Envelope's directors roundtable.
Josie Rourke, Yorgos Lanthimos (covering an eye issue), Ryan Coogler, Alfonso Cuarón, Karyn Kusama and Spike Lee take part in the Envelope's directors roundtable. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Six directors talk influences and legacies

The Envelope recently brought together directors Josie Rourke ("Mary Queen of Scots"), Yorgos Lanthimos ("The Favourite"), Ryan Coogler ("Black Panther"), Alfonso Cuarón ("Roma"), Karyn Kusama ("Destroyer") and Spike Lee ("BlacKkKlansman") to discuss their work, the highs and lows of their profession and, of course, the way Netflix is redefining the theatrical landscape.

“One of the things that actually starts to push our craft forward as theater directors is to think about the different spaces in which we're making that work,” said Rourke, who, like Lanthimos, began her career working on the stage. “And so that's a fascinating thing about cinema. It's such a young medium, and that's thrilling to think that this is the beginning of this change.”

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We have plenty of video footage of the conversation, led by Times film writers Amy Kaufman and Mark Olsen, as well as edited highlights on the website. Lots of great anecdotes and insights.

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.

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