Ready or not, the movie awards season for 2012 began earlier this week with the announcement of the New York Film Critics Awards and today’s release of the best film work as chosen by the National Board of Review. This is the first organization to announce its winners while the Academy Awards are last on February 24th. In between, various film critics groups will weigh in on which movies they think are the cream of this year’s crop culminating in the Critic’s Choice Awards on January 10th, the same day Oscar nominations are announced. Following this, the Hollywood Foreign Press will present the Golden Globes on January 13th, the Producer’s Guild Awards will be announced on January 26th, the Screen Actor’s Guild Awards will be held on January 27th, the Director’s Guild Awards will be released on February 2nd, and the Independent Spirit Awards will be revealed on February 23rd. Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Golden Razzies, recognizing the worst films of the year, to be presented on February 23rd.
Does any of this mean anything? Not really as it a rather ridiculous exercise to try and determine what the best film is in any given year what with such a wide variety of possible choices. This is one reason that so many other awards ceremonies have sprouted up over the last 20 years. The Oscars were the only game in town for quite some time, and while the Golden Globes are only 20 years their junior, they’ve never been taken all that seriously due to the reputation of its members being easily swayed by press luncheons and heavy-handed schmoozing by the nominees of any given year. With only two organizations recognizing films annually, far too many movies were going unrecognized, so other groups were set up to recognize independent features and other genres.
What makes the New York Film Critics unique is the process they go through to determine the winners. Its 35 members gather in a downtown hotel suite and fill out multiple ballots until a winner is determined. For example, it took four ballots this year before Sally Field emerged as the winner of the Best Supporting Actress Award for her performance in Lincoln, as she repeatedly appeared on the most ballots while other nominees were being knocked off when they did not receive the required minimum number of votes in each round. In between ballots, it’s not uncommon for heated discussions to occur between the critics as they attempt to persuade other members to back their choices.
Below is a list of the winners of the New York Film Critic’s Awards, followed by those chosen by the National Board of Review, a group 110 New York film scholars and enthusiasts that’s been recognizing the best in cinema since 1930. If these initial lists mean anything, it’s that Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty, which recounts the United States’ efforts to find Osama bin Laden, and Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, are the early frontrunners. As other organizations release their results, we’ll see it these films are able to maintain their momentum.
New York Film Critic’s Awards (2012)
National Board of Review Film Awards (2012)
Best Film: ZERO DARK THIRTY
Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow, ZERO DARK THIRTY
Best Actor: Bradley Cooper, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
Best Actress: Jessica Chastain, ZERO DARK THIRTY
Best Supporting Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio, DJANGO UNCHAINED
Best Supporting Actress: Ann Dowd, COMPLIANCE
Best Original Screenplay: Rian Johnson, LOOPER
Best Adapted Screenplay: David O. Russell, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
Best Animated Feature: WRECK-IT RALPH
Special Achievement in Filmmaking: Ben Affleck, ARGO
Breakthrough Actor: Tom Holland, THE IMPOSSIBLE Breakthrough Actress: Quvenzhané Wallis, BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD
Best Directorial Debut: Benh Zeitlin, BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD
Best Foreign Language Film: AMOUR
Best Documentary: SEARCHING FOR SUGARMAN
William K. Everson Film History Award: 50 YEARS OF BOND FILMS
Best Ensemble: LES MISÉRABLES
Spotlight Award: John Goodman (ARGO, FLIGHT, PARANORMAN, TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE)
NBR Freedom of Expression Award: CENTRAL PARK FIVE
NBR Freedom of Expression Award: PROMISED LAND