New York Film Critics Circle Awards chairman Armond White cut a dapper figure as the evening’s host on Monday night, but he was also something of a jerk at his own show.
Highlights included his snide suggestion that presenter Tony Kushner should explain why “The Social Network” deserved to win best picture and choosing to praise presenter Michelle Williams for the 2004 “Land of Plenty” (back when she was best known as Jen on “Dawson’s Creek”) rather than any recent work that includes “Blue Valentine, “Meek’s Cutoff” and “Shutter Island.”
Maybe White wanted to show how well he knew Williams’ work. Maybe he wanted his tart remarks to provide a refreshing change from the showbiz tradition of praising recipients up to their eyebrows.
Or, maybe he lost the plot as Darren Aronofsky briefly did before introducing his d.p. Matthew Libatique. The director spent a good portion of his time addressing White (who hated “Black Swan”) with bon mots like, “Thank you for giving us another reason not to read the New York Press” and “It’s really hard when you’ve spent years working on something.” (He finally concluded: “Matty, it’s your award, and I’m a dick.”)
White apparently felt no such regrets. “Hey, Darren reads me,” he said as Aronofsky and Libatique left the stage. “That’s all right -- and because he reads me, he knows the truth.”
Throughout the evening, White repeated his belief that film critics are the last bastion protecting film culture from its bloggy destruction. Audience members’ responses to White’s comments ranged from polite applause to muted murmurs.
However, they roared to life with the introduction of the evening’s least-famous winner, veteran film publicist Jeff Hill, who received a special surprise award for his services.
In his thanks, Hill told the critics: “I learned from you how to do my job.”
Click here for the full list of winners, which were announced last month.