The New York Film Critics Circle, one of the oldest and most prestigious awards bodies of the season, have handed out their prizes for their picks of the best in cinema for 2014. Richard Linklater’s Boyhood ran away with the biggest loot, netting Best Film, the Best Director prize for Linklater, and Best Supporting Actress for co-star Patricia Arquette. The movie, a passion project that took twelve years to film, follows the lives of one family as they grow up and has been one of the biggest critical successes of the year. Since the IFC-backed film premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, Linklater’s coming-of-age drama has been picking up accolades (including a Best Director prize at the Berlin Film Festival in February) and steam (the film earned tops nods at both the Gothams and Independent Spirits) as a possible frontrunner for the Academy Award. It’s NYFCC victory adds greatly to that.
The NYFFC was founded in 1935 and is voted on by New York-based film critics from daily and weekly newspapers, magazines and qualifying online publications. The NYFFC are generally viewed as one of the most distinctive press bodies, and though they agree with the Academy Awards less than half of the time, the NYFFC has the reputation, history and clout that few other critics group have. Strangely, considering their history – sometimes they align with consensus, other times go to the beat of their own drum – the NYFFC moved up their voting date to the beginning of December a few years back in order to become the first critics group to announce for the year. In the past, the NYFCC group has selected auteur best pictures like Day for Night (1973), Topsy-Turvy (1999), Mulholland Dr. (2001) and Far From Heaven (2002), as well as alternative winners including Citizen Kane (1941), Brokeback Mountain (2005), The Social Network (2010) and Zero Dark Thirty (2012).
We will find out in the next few months how on or off track NYFFC was this year. Aside from Boyhood, other major winners included J.K. Simmons picking up the Supporting Actor prize for his acclaimed performance in Whiplash, one that’s already earned the former Oz star Oscar talk and an Indie Spirit Award nomination. Wes Anderson picked up a Screenplay prize for his early spring hit The Grand Budapest Hotel, while The LEGO Movie, the Edward Snowden documentary Citizenfour, and the Polish drama Ida each won for animated feature, documentary and foreign language film, respectively. Surprisingly, one film that failed to show at all on the NYFFC list was Alejandro G. Inárritu’s Birdman, one of the more widely acclaimed films of the year and early Oscar frontrunners.
The biggest surprises, perhaps, from the NYFCC list came for the leading actor categories, both of which already look to be closely followed. Timothy Spall won the Best Actor prize for his turn in Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner, the biopic of 19th century painter J.M.W. Turner – Spall won a prize at Cannes for the same film. While Spall had a smidgen of awards traction, NYFCC’s Best Actress pick was particularly off center as former Oscar winner Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose) won for her two acclaimed, if little seen 2014 films, the upcoming Two Days, One Night from the Dardenne Brothers and The Immigrant, James Gray’s melodrama co-starring Joaquin Phoenix and Jeremy Renner that distributor The Weinstein Company rather unceremoniously released with little fanfare in early spring. The Immigrant surprised once again by winning the Best Cinematography prize as well.
Full list of winners:
BEST PICTURE: Boyhood
BEST DIRECTOR: Richard Linklater, Boyhood
BEST ACTOR: Timothy Spall, Mr. Turner
BEST ACTRESS: Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night and The Immigrant
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
BEST SCREENPLAY: The Grand Budapest Hotel- written by Wes Anderson; story by Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE:
BEST FOREIGN FILM: Ida (Poland)
BEST NON-FICTION FILM: Citizenfour
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: The Immigrant- Darius Khondji
BEST FIRST FILM: Jennifer Kent, The Babadook
SPECIAL AWARD: Adrienne Mancia- curator at the Museum of Modern Art