With film critic Armond White ousted from the New York Film Critics Circle last year, after allegedly heckling “12 Years a Slave” director Steve McQueen during McQueen’s acceptance speech at the organization’s annual awards ceremony, this year’s edition was unsurprisingly a more muted affair; and all the better for it.
Freed from the negativity that plagued last year’s event, last night’s ceremony — held for the first time at TAO, the cavernous Pan-Asian eatery located in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District — was a wholly celebratory one, attended by most of last night’s winners, including Richard Linklater, Marion Cotillard, Patricia Arquette, J.K. Simmons and Timothy Spall. Everyone was gracious in accepting their awards (for the full list of previously announced winners, go here). Simmons fondly recalled his time living in New York and how much it means to receive an award from the city’s film critics. Spall spoke of his long career and how he “fucking loves” being recognized for his work.
But arguably the best speech of the night didn’t come from one of the night’s winners, it came from Rose McGowan, one of the night’s presenters. The actress — who spoke with Indiewire before the show got underway about her feature directorial debut, which is currently in the works — was on hand to award Best First Film to Australian newcomer Jennifer Kent for her startling horror film “The Babadook,” and accept the honor on Kent’s behalf since Kent couldn’t make it out.
McGowan kicked off her speech by singling herself and Kent out as part of the paltry six percent of female filmmakers currently working in the industry. While she said she wasn’t there to “rehash statistics” she deems “depressing,” she did champion the need for more female voices in film with infectious passion.
“Let’s give the six percent a shot,” she at one point said. “‘Cause that represents 50 percent of the audience, of which I am a member. I am not being served and I am not being heard. I ask you to take up the hand of the female director until we no longer say ‘female director.’ It is a unisex term. I am a director. Jennifer Kent is a director. Let’s do smart, let’s bring it. She did. I think she’s thrown down the gauntlet. When they say, ‘Oh, the box office is down,’ it’s perhaps because we don’t need more fucking superhero movies! It’s time. It’s getting a little old and Jennifer is a wonderful, dedicated director and I can’t wait to see what she does next.”
We can’t either.