Two groups that fancy themselves as Oscar predictors weighed in Thursday with awards and nominations. And the results were … pretty predictable.
The New York Film Critics Circle, one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious critics organizations, spent the morning alternating honors between indie dramas “Moonlight” and “Manchester by the Sea” before giving its best picture prize to the romantic musical “La La Land.”
That trio of films seems well-positioned to continue to sweep through critics groups awards, guild prizes and the Golden Globes en route to January’s Oscar nominations announcement.
The Broadcast Film Critics Assn., a group comprised of radio and television critics, bloggers and movie junket press, went nuts for “La La Land” too, giving it a leading 12 nominations for its upcoming Critics Choice Awards. “Moonlight” went over big with this crowd as well, earning 10 nominations, as did Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi epic “Arrival.”
The Critics Choice Awards sports 27 categories, room enough to nominate the likes of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Suicide Squad” because, hey, you have to fill out the best actress in an action movie category the best you can, right? Another anomaly: Lucas Hedges (“Manchester by the Sea”) and Hailee Steinfeld (“The Edge of Seventeen”) earned two nominations each — for the same performance.
And even within the categories themselves, abundance rules the day. Why pick five directors when you can select seven? That’s one way to get Mel Gibson (nominated for “Hacksaw Ridge”) in the room.
With such a bounty of categories and nominees, it’s almost more instructive to look at the movies and performances that the Critics Choice voters ignored. The crowd-pleasing period drama “Hidden Figures” scored three nominations — screenplay, supporting actress Janelle Monae and acting ensemble (yes, that’s a category too).
But it didn’t make the best picture cut and lead Taraji P. Henson did not receive a nod. That meager total may stop all the comparisons to “The Help,” another period drama crafted with commercial considerations, that went on to earn four Oscar nominations, including best picture. “Hidden Figures” may well have to be content with being a box office hit when it opens wide in January.
“Jackie” did not earn a best picture nomination, either, though Natalie Portman did show up in the lead actress category. Pablo Larrain’s behind-the-scenes look at Jacqueline Kennedy’s efforts to preserve and shape John F. Kennedy’s legacy in the days following his assassination came up empty with the New York film critics. And as “Jackie” may be more of a critics movie than a movie that audiences embrace, that’s mildly alarming. But there’s plenty of time for others to weigh in. (The Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. votes Sunday.)
The New York group honored French actress Isabelle Huppert for her lead turns in “Elle” and “Things to Come.” Coming after a Gotham Awards win for “Elle” and a Critics Choice nomination for the same film, Huppert’s chances for her first Oscar nomination might be on the upswing. At the very least, Motion Picture Academy members will have an increased awareness of her work.
Elsewhere, the New York critics gave top prizes to actor Casey Affleck (“Manchester by the Sea”), supporting actor Mahershala Ali (“Moonlight”) and supporting actress Michelle Williams (“Manchester by the Sea,” “Certain Women”). Barry Jenkins won directing honors for “Moonlight.” Kenneth Lonergan took screenplay for “Manchester.”
All the New York winners also earned Critics Choice nominations.
Neither organization honored “Silence,” Martin Scorsese’s powerful exploration of faith, but there were extenuating circumstances. The Critics Choice members voted before the movie was available to screen, while the New York critics saw it just the day before their vote.
The Critics Choice winners will be announced on Dec. 11. A&E will televise the ceremony, beginning at 5 p.m. PST.