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Armond White Reportedly Ousted From New York Film Critics Circle

Armond White Reportedly Ousted From New York Film Critics Circle

UPDATE: This just in – according to The New York Times, the New York Film Critics Circle (NYFCC) has expelled Armond White from the organization after last week’s NYFCC event, during which White was accused of heckling Steve McQueen after he took the stage to collect his Best Director honor – an accusation White has vehemently denied, by the way, as you can read in the official statement he released after news broke of the incident.

Per the The New York Times, their source for the story shared the following: “They were repeat offenders… Action had to be taken.

The “They” in that quote includes Lou Lumenick, who has been suspended for a year for “revealing the tallies of votes, which the circle said went against its bylaws.

Armond White wasn’t as lucky however; his punishment was not a suspension, but an ousting – meaning, he’s gone for good! Something tells me that this isn’t the end of this narrative. I’ll expect a response from White soon enough.

For those just joining us, feel free to catch up on all you missed below, starting with the most recent update (before today’s).


UPDATE: Armond White has released an official statement on this matter, to, in effect, clear his name. The Hollywood Reporter has the exclusive on the statement. Here’s a snip of it:

The press has accustomed itself to treating me as a bete noir–so much so that eavesdroppers at the event continually misrepresent my behavior, even to the point of repeating such lies as distorting my cheer for Robert De Niro’s The Good Shepherd into “heckling” and that I “made Annette Bening cry”–both false allegations. Among some Circle members and media folk, there is personal, petty interest in seeing me maligned. I guess the awards themselves don’t matter. It’s a shameless attempt to squelch the strongest voice that exists in contemporary criticism. Right now former NYFCC Chairman Joshua Rothkopf, acting Chairman Stephen Whitty, Karen Durbin, David Denby, Rex Reed, Dana Stevens and others have arranged a Communist-style special “Emergency Meeting” supposedly in the interest of legislating “decorum”–a meeting based entirely upon something that none of them actually heard and one that is really intended to purge me from the Circle. Only David Edelstein, with whom I’ve had past public disputes, showed the common courtesy to inquire if the rumors were true.

You can read the rest in full on their website HERE.

UPDATE: The plot thickens! Thank to our Indiewire colleague Thompson on Hollywood, Armond White has apparently addressed this issue, in an email, stating, when asked about his reported outburst: 

“Wrong question, John. I was not
in a position or vicinity to yell at McQueen. It was talk among my
tablemates. The Variety and Wire lines are outright misquotes and lies.
You might want to ask why the gutter bloggers continue to misquote and
distort the event and NYFCC history.”

Thompson on Hollywood adds that White feels strongly that the comments he made (whatever they were) should have remained amongst colleagues at his table, and were apparently not to be shared publicly.

Too late unfortunately. 

The news of his heckling was first reported by Variety, followed by other mainstream industry websites, like Deadline, The Hollywood Reporter, etc. 

It’s a bit confusing, because, first he says he didn’t make the statements he is said to have made; but then he says that whatever he shared at his table, should’ve remained at his table, and wasn’t meant for others to hear and share. So obviously he must have said something, right? At least that’s how I’m reading it.

Also, the fact that the chair of the NYFCC felt compelled to apologize to Steve McQueen and Fox Searchlight in a formal letter (see below, my last update), suggests that the Chair obviously felt something was worth apologizing for.

Like I said, the plot thickens.

UPDATE: Courtesy of Deadline, an apology to Steve McQueen and promise of disciplinary action for Armond White, all in a letter penned by New York Film Critics Circle Awards (NYCC) chair Joshua Rothkopf

Read immediately below:

It truly was a wonderful night: We felt like we were in the presence of something truly historic, with Mr. Belafonte’s exquisite presentation and Mr. McQueen’s elegant words of acceptance.

Unfortunately, the moment was slightly marred, and I’d like to address that formally.

On behalf of the New York Film Critics Circle, I apologize sincerely for the crass bit of heckling Mr. McQueen encountered. I’m mortified to learn that this was from one of our own members. We are taking disciplinary action.

I’m especially pained that this occurred in your case. Rarely do we receive thank-you notes, as Steve sent us after the vote. Moreover, his speech showed a deep understanding of the history of our award winners: an honored group in which he stands as an equal.

Please forward our apology on to him.

Thank you, your talent and your team for making the night a special one,

Joshua Rothkopf, 2013 Chair, NYFCC

What kind of disciplinary action will be taken? I’m sure we’ll know more about that soon enough. 

One thing that I did find interesting is that nowhere in Rothkopf’s letter did he mention Armond White’s name. I guess he didn’t have to. I’m sure Fox Searchlight and McQueen know exactly who he’s referring to.

So might this be the end of Armond White’s NYFCC membership?

For those just joining us, read the original post that started all of this below, which was published at 9am this morning:


Apparently, Armond White maybe thought that he was at a Steve McQueen “roast” last night, instead of the 79th annual New York Film Critics Circle Awards.

In short, McQueen took the stage to accept his Best Director award for 12 Years A Slave, presented by Harry Belafonte, when Armond White reportedly shouted from his table at the back of the room: “You’re an embarrassing doorman and garbage man. Fuck you. Kiss my ass” – this is according to Variety.

And when McQueen thanked the New York Film Critics Circle for the award, White reportedly hissed “pulease.

McQueen either didn’t hear White, or, if he did, he just ignored him, because he apparently didn’t acknowledge any of it, as he continued with his acceptance speech.

We highlighted White’s disgust with 12 Years A Slave, in his review last October, as you might recall, in which he called it a “repugnant experience” he wished he’d never had. Maybe it shouldn’t have been a surprise that White didn’t care for the movie; after all, it won’t be the first time that he’s critically-obliterated a film that’s seemingly universally-loved. It’s humorously expected. And given the celebration that has been critical and audience reaction to 12 Years A Slave, a literary thrashing of the film by White was a near-certainty. And he certainly delivered in his review.

Here’s a sample of some of the more incendiary lines from the review, which, by the way, was titled “Dud of the Week; 12 Years A Slave,” prepping you for what’s to come:

– Depicting slavery as a horror show, McQueen has made the most unpleasant American movie since William Friedkin’s1973 The Exorcist. That’s right, 12 Years a Slave belongs to the torture porn genre with HostelThe Human Centipede and the Saw franchise but it is being sold (and mistaken) as part of the recent spate of movies that pretend “a conversation about race.”

– This is not part of social or historical enlightenment – the too-knowing race-hustlers behind 12 Years a Slave, screenwriter John Ridley and historical advisor Henry Louis Gates, are not above profiting from the misfortunes of African-American history as part of their own career advancement.

– These tortures might satisfy the resentment some Black people feel about slave stories (“It makes me angry”), further aggravating their sense of helplessness, grievance–and martyrdom. It’s the flipside of the aberrant warmth some Blacks claim in response to the superficial uplift of The Help and The Butler. And the perversion continues among those whites and non-Blacks who need a shock fest like 12 Years a Slave to rouse them from complacency with American racism and American history.

– The fact that McQueen’s harshness was trending among Festivalgoers (in Toronto, Telluride and New York) suggests that denial still obscures the history of slavery: Northup’s travail merely make it possible for some viewers to feel good about feeling bad (as wags complained about Spielberg’s Schindler’s List as an “official” Holocaust movie–which very few people went to see twice). McQueen’s fraudulence further accustoms moviegoers to violence and brutality.

– And Alfre Woodard as a self-aware Black plantation mistress rapidly sinks into unrescuable psychosis. Ironically, Woodard’s performance is weird comic relief–a neurotic tribute to Butterfly McQueen’s frivolous Hollywood inanity but from a no-fun perspective. By denying Woodard a second appearance, director McQueen proves his insensitivity. He avoids any hopefulness, preferring to emphasize scenes devoted to annihilating Nyong’o’s body and soul.

– The egregious inhumanity of 12 Years a Slave (featuring the most mawkish and meaningless fade-out in recent Hollywood history) only serves to perpetuate Hollywood’s disenfranchisement of Black people’s humanity.

– Steve McQueen’s post-racial art games and taste for cruelty play into cultural chaos. The story in 12 Years a Slave didn’t need to be filmed this way and I wish I never saw it.

And there’s a lot more where that came from.

What’s most curious to me about his reaction is that I actually didn’t find the film as harsh, repugnant and torturous as he did. In fact, as I’ve shared in previous posts, I believe that there are still even more brutal (physically and mentally) stories to be told about slavery. Although, I’ve also said that there’s a rich history here (of the Transatlantic Slave Trade), full of a myriad of tales of all kinds, mostly untapped, which could be fodder for countless films to last many lifetimes. And I certainly hope that 12 Years A Slave won’t be the final word on slavery movies in America, but instead the one that encourages a much closer, more comprehensive look at those many momentous years in American (actually, global) history, where numerous untold tales are currently buried – tales of the inhumanity endured, for sure, but also of the triumphs, the loves, the hopes, dreams, traditions and mythologies rooted in the cultures from which our ancestors were removed, and everything else between the extremes, whether historical fact, or creative fiction.

But I should note that White is notorious for his outbursts during the annual New York Film Critics Circle Awards (NYFCC). You might recall, 3 years ago, when the famously contrarian film critic hosted the NYFCC ceremony and used the opportunity to further verbally obliterate films and filmmakers he didn’t care for that year. 

And again, during the 2012 NYFCC event, while White didn’t host, he wasn’t shy about voicing his opinions from his table in the audience, for example, yelling “The Good Shepherd!” while Robert De Niro was speaking, and also yelling out the name of the second black actress to be nominated for an Oscar (“Ethel Waters!“) twice while Viola Davis was on the stage. 

However, last night’s condemnation of McQueen is the harshest I’ve heard, since I started following the NYFCC annual event, with White in attendance. And even though I wasn’t as enthralled with the film (12 Years A Slave) as others were (although I didn’t loathe it anywhere as much as White did), I’d say White was waaaay out of line last night. 

But maybe his outbursts are par for the course at these NYFCC awards celebrations, and are expected as simply “part of the show,” kind of like a “roast,” and everyone is “in” on the joke. 

Or maybe not.

Let’s wait and see what kind of blowback white receives from this (if any), other than articles condemning his behavior. 

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This smells like straight up b.s. They just wanted a way to get rid of him.

"Annette Bening and Michelle Williams were his targets in 2011 (when he was chairman of the group), while the following year, Robert De Niro and Viola Davis were heckled as well."

I did a search on this and couldn't find anything all I found is what supposedly happened recently.


Tarred & feathered like the self-hating charlatan that he is…

Ilona Granet

Just read your "review" in "Our Town Downtown", cityArts page 9, quote "Race-hustler Steve McQueen overplayed the guilt card". It is rare that I write in to anything, but I was so shocked by the stupidity and arrogance and cruelty of his response to what I considered to be one of the most important aspects of this film, to illustrate the horror perpetrated on the slaves by the overseers and the slave owners and the sickness and sadism let loose by them, even defending themselves with the use of the bible. I consider the film besides its many other attributes to be so overdue and important for others who have been talking so idiotically about slavery and The Confederacy that the time is ripe to See the horridness and corrosiveness embodied in slavery.
To see he is an African American is shocking. Is he in denial?


Ha! expose as Sen.Joe Wilson in Blackface;-}!!

Louis Proyect

Armond's sin is not writing the sort of bullshit hype that turns every film into the masterpiece of the decade. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone is the worst, but you get more or less the same thing from Denby, A.O. Scott, and all the rest. I strongly suspect that some kind of payola is going on otherwise you can't explain all the bravos for "American Hustle", a work of breathtaking mediocrity. Who in god's name would cast Christian Bale as a Bronx Jew? You might as well cast Woody Allen as an Episcopalian Minister whose ancestors came over on the Mayflower. Not that Russell's film would have been saved by proper casting. The screenplay should have been flushed down the toilet.


The /Filmcast has just released a special episode in which Armond White is doubling down on what he did or didn't say


Only dogs bark at moving cars, so Steve must be doing something right. There will be more haters to come. There is nothing wrong with voicing ones opinion but to be classless and unprofessional, will definitely put a smear on your professional reputation.


Egomaniac, too-faced laying motherf#%$@!!!


Give it a rest Mr. Potato Head. Please just suffocate yourself.


1) If he didn't say those things, why aren't his tablemates coming to his defense?

2) How can a conversation at a table at a public event be a private conversation not for public consumption? Presumably there are hundreds of people in this space for the awards. How can he expect anything he says there to be private?

Dude is coming off looking much worse. Like I said below, it's his right to not like the film or even McQueen. He made those feelings clear in his review. That's the place. The place is not at an event who's purpose is to recognize honorees. He was out of line and he should just make his mea culpa and go sit down somewhere.


Megalomania anyone?

"It's a shameless attempt to squelch the strongest voice that exists in contemporary criticism. "


Armond White is a disgrace. So glad we can focus on this film and Mr. Belafonte instead.


Anyone who defends Armond White is an idiot. He's slamming a black man but Armond should be left alone? TOO LATE! Double standard much? GTFOOH


"You'd think, reading these comments, that making a multi-million dollar movie with international celebrities was missionary work. My god… is assessing behavior at yet another self-serving awards' ceremony about the limit of indie film political consciousness?"

Most sane comment in the entire thread.

Listen, so Armond called Steve McQueen a doorman and garbage man, SO WHAT? Why is this ground breaking new that has the Armond White hater's panties all in a bunch? I mean, that's the real issue, isn't it. This little ado about nothing is just another platform for the Armond haters to get their roll out under the sham of defending a black man's honor. Please, spare me.

What, that's not true? Well, lets take a close at some of the comment to see if they're true or pure poppycock from the mouth of a do or die hater.

"Armond White is simply a failed, angry writer and director"

Really? A failed writer? POPPYCOCK!

"The man clearly needs help"

Really? Help at doing what? Surely one cannot question his intelligence nor his knowledge of films. And, as a film critic he's at the top of the game ("He knows the canon"), fully respected by many. So again, that comment is utterly ambiguous poppycock.

"I hope he chops off Armond's head and sticks it on a pike on Hater island. He is an irrelevant, jealous piece of horse feces. "

Really? No remarks necessary. Moving on :-)

"He's wrong about Steve McQueen and his important film"

Really? Important film?

" with his opinion on 12 Years a Slave I have lost a lot of respect for him. Armond White is a hater."

Really!? If one disagrees with others they are automatically a hater? POPPYCOCK.

"Tambay protests too much; he clearly enjoys White's outburst"

Poppycock. In fact, Tambay's entire post did not take a side. Heck, it was Tambay who implied that he wasn't aware of the dynamics of the NYFCC, and thus said "But maybe his outbursts are par for the course at these NYFCC awards celebrations, and are expected as simply "part of the show," kind of like a "roast," and everyone is "in" on the joke.". So poppycock to you too sir.

"this man should join the KKK he nothing but an uncle Tom."

Really? You obviously have not any of "this man's" articles or reviews. He is by NO MEANS an Uncle Tom. So have a seat on haters row, please.

"All White craves is attention, spotlight on him"

Really? Poppycock! How can one justify that statement? Besides, aren't we all seeking attention when we ask other to listen to our words?

" I stopped reading his reviews years because he was an incredibly toxic reviewer. He also has a great hatred for Samuel L. Jackson."

Really?! You stopped reading him because he's toxic. Really, splain dat to me? Toxic… how so, and what does that do to the reader? And po' ol' Samuel Jackson, Armond called him an Uncle Tom so let's bash the film critic, right? Poppycock.

Yep, this whole brouhaha has been nothing more than a manure spreader. In other words, it gave all the above the opportunity to talk shit about another black man who intimates some black folks and tells the brutal truth about others. And we all know some folks can't stand the truth.

GO ARMOND! There are those who understand and appreciate you.


Sad, immature, pathetic, and so exemplary of blacks hating themselves and those who look like them. Armond White would have never, ever acted so asinine were the director of the movie white and/or were it a mainstream white produced movie. This movie was a great start at examining the subliminal psychological atrocities of chattel slavery that has now evolved into modern day slavery. The directing and acting was stellar.

However, the transformation of chattel slavery into present day psychological slavery is what has created scarred minds of self loathing and disrespect as exhibited by this sad example of a lack of maturity, self-respect, and subliminal hatred and jealously of others who look like us as exhibited by this cowardly, self-loathing act by this imbecile who would not contemplate perpetrating such disrespect against a white director, film, or other mainstream ceremony honoring others outside of the black race. What a pity.

Dave the Beer Guy

No movie is perfect, and certainly not Mr. McQueen's film. But Armond White is simply a failed, angry writer and director.

Also, why do I come to this site? I should just stick to Deadline and Variety, they seem to get the info first. Nah, just kiddin, you guys are peachy. Waitress, round of drinks on me.


You'd think, reading these comments, that making a multi-million dollar movie with international celebrities was missionary work. Or it just that the "indie film community" doesn't know the difference between real life and the movies? Insult a movie or a director and you're insulting Universal Suffering?

If you need to vent moral outrage, why not find something worthwhile? Or is assessing behavior at yet another self-serving awards' ceremony about the limit of indie film political consciousness?


Why are people still trying to understand Armond White? He is who he is and he cannot be totally dismissed. He is thoughtful. He knows the canon… probably as well as anyone else out there. Particularly in this podcast here: I agree with his notion about the inherent optimism and empowerment of the slave narrative (that is arguably lacking in McQueen's film), as well as his ambivalence about a main character who is "beaten up" for an entire film. I also love that he raises up films that were never acknowledged and will probably be even more submerged by most mainstream folks because of the huge splash that 12 Years a Slave made (Beloved, NightJohn etc). All that said, it's also entirely possible that an intelligent man is also an emotional man. Talent doesn't always recognize talent. Some people just like being the smartest person in the room. They don't feel empowered or curious or invigorated by other talent… they feel threatened by it such that their blinders go up and they go into unfounded criticism mode. That's pretty much the basis of White's contrarianism. It's all emotional.


No excuse for his behavior but even still, White looks downright saintly compared to the deplorable antics of Dennis Rodman.

Ankh Entertainment

Apparently Mr. White is gifted at garnering press. We covered Steve McQueen here at the Los Angeles AFI Festival. He seemed quite elegant and brilliant in his interview with Blackhouse Foundation and seemed a bit above lowering himself to antics like the one that White pulled. We were happy to have the opportunity to hear a different perspective from a British born and reared dark man and found it refreshingly haunting. The movie itself, and for those of you who are over 50, is a difficult pill to swallow because your parents are only 2nd generation if not first, out of slavery and still remain sensitive and suffer from the painful residuals. It hurts to sit next to Caucasians of American descent knowing these truths to be self evident. On the other hand our doing business with all cultures who operate under an umbrella of intelligence, help to inspire hope. The transition from barbarism against one human or another is primitive and perhaps with therapy and global healing the Whites of the world will become insignificant. As a sidebar we did notice that because of movies like, The Butler, 12 Years A Slave, Half of A Yellow Sun and Mandela social media coverage a large majority of Independent channels have added more black films and commercial content to their line ups. Makes for both money and exposure for black culture as well as other people of color globally, and that my friends is part of the change that undoubtedly comes with chaos and sudden outburst.


Can't tell people who think they speak the truth any different. This whole thing will just fatten his attitude and outlook on the film even more, and the press just gives him a bigger microphone. Unenlightened know it alls like him should be ignored from the get go.


I hope he chops off Armond's head and sticks it on a pike on Hater island.


The issue isn't whether 12 Years a Slave is a good movie or even how Armond felt about it. The issue is his disrespectful, rude behavior at a public event whose purpose is to honor the winners. He didn't like the movie. He made his feelings felt in his review. Which is his choice. He also, presumably, didn't vote for it to win any awards. That is also his choice. But he had no right to verbally heckle the man at this event. That is not the place. He had his chance via his review. It was inconsiderate to the people at the event and highly disrespectful to McQueen. That said, the NYFC issued a statement denouncing the heckling and saying they would take disciplinary action. We'll see how this shakes out.


I said it once before, I'll say it again, Armond White is a few sandwiches short of a picnic. He is an irrelevant, jealous piece of horse feces.

His father should have pulled out in order to save us all from having one less stupid house negra on this planet.


I am sure that there are people who love Mr White and these people should now speak up.
Get the brother the help he needs and tell him when he's wrong.
He's wrong about Steve McQueen and his important film.
Fear of being called racist or an Uncle Tom is the only thing that allows Mr White to remain in polite society. People need to stop pretending that his behavior is okay!
Mr McQueen's film is not the intolerable horror claimed by some. It is a careful masterpiece.
I believe the horror tales are indirect threats to keep stupid people away from screens. Reports in some reviews nearly worked on me, I'm ashamed to say with me making jokes of having to be tipsy before attempting to go to a screening. If I went at all.
The horror is not what unfolds on screen but that millions of free men and women were stolen beaten subjugated raped and killed for hundreds of years and McQueen a black man shows just a tiny piece most eloquently.
Someone just tell Mr White that it is his behavior that's the horror on show.


White's outburst par for the course.
Tambay please.
If a white man had referred to McQueen as a doorman and a garbage man, all hell would have broken loose.
Please let's make it clear that White should be expelled


I don't always in fact very rarely agree with Armond White's views and even though he is a contrarian he always seemed to intelligently express his viewpoints that even if you don't agree then you have to respect it. "If I don't like it I don't like it that don't mean that I'm hating?" right? However with his opinion on 12 Years a Slave which I read and heard on the /Filmcast and this I have lost a lot of respect for him. Armond White is a hater. First of all to the opinion of likening 12 Years a Slave to torture porn because it depicted the horrors of slavery which said horrors were taken from the adapted experience from the man who suffered and witness them not only is a blatant disrespect to Solomon Northrop's legacy but a disrespect to every descendent of that horrific institution. Does he really think that the slavery was some sort of happy cake walk?! In his mind he can deny the institution and he may be far removed from slavery but he is no worse than people who deny it to a point where they feel that they can treat POC any kind of way and just think it's fine because "get over it." I digress.

It's okay if you don't like a filmmakers movie, it's okay to write a bad review for it. It is not okay to personally attack that filmmaker in a public forum because they are being celebrated and you didn't happen to like the work they are being celebrated for. Armond White does not speak for the entire NYFCCA and he should be disciplined accordingly.

Abraham Esau

Tambay protests too much; he clearly enjoys White's outburst.

sheral Jones

This man has poor taste and does nothing for the African American community all he is doing is opening the door of other people to attack black people! And if you were to complain they now can say you're using the race card, this man should join the KKK he nothing but an uncle Tom.

You are a shame to your people. We the people send a clear messages on all blogs this man, he no good who need racist none black folk if we got this coconut fighting their corner.


Why dignify White's toxic review by using your own space? Readers can look it up if they wish.
All White craves is attention, spotlight on him. The NYFFC is cowardly in not expelling him. He uses the group to aggrandize himself above all the honorees.


What I find a bit disturbing is this entire entry is giving Mr. White exactly what he wants. Attention, a big picture on the landing page and a repeat of his review, which he has every right to. That Mr. McQueen received the award and apparently gave a very heartfelt speech, with tears, after Mr. Belafonte's also wonderful intro, is not even mentioned, which I think should also be highlighted somewhere. Maybe for many, not the right film, but for the first time I can remember, a movie directed by, written by, starring and one of the producers being people of color has a chance to win major awards and most of what is written here and elsewhere emphasizes the negative (that whole silly deal with the posters being one case), which is a shame.

tyron tackett

That's old Uncle Armond.When he drinks his medicine, he can be a lil' obstreperous but he brings a certain comedy and reality check to these awards. His remarks are erratic and in our ever increasing digital noise, Armond is trying to stay relevant and be heard. I tell you let that Negro act out at Blacker affair, he gonna open up a can of asswhup!


It's interesting that Mike Ryan's article on the Huffington Post didn't even mention that Armond White himself is black. White may feel that he has a license to attack McQueen who is also black but hails from the UK.

I met White years ago at New York Press function and told him that he doesn't like anything, which he took exception. I stopped reading his reviews years because he was an incredibly toxic reviewer. He also has a great hatred for Samuel L. Jackson. He's known for his ad hominem attacks on actors and directors.

One wonders if White was indeed white would this be an even bigger issue. His cynicism is calculated: who will call him a racist? If White were not black, he is behavior surely would be called racist.

Calling McQueen a "doorman" and "garbage man," eerily recalls the kind rhetoric that the off-duty NYPD police officers once called then-Mayor David Dinkins at a rally. Dinkins was referred to as a "washroom attendant."

The film critic world should not tolerate that kind of behavior from anyone. However, White may have done the world a favor: he's revealed the mindset of an intra-racist.


Why does the New York Film Critics Circle still have him as a member? In fact this incident should convince them to kick him out for good. Who's going to complain that it's racism if they do except for White himself and no one listens to him or will believe him. This is not simple "being controversial or controversy's sake". The man clearly needs help

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