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New York Film Critics Circle Move to Vote Early Backfires

New York Film Critics Circle Move to Vote Early Backfires

When I reported–accurately, it turns out–that the members of the New York FIlm Critics Circle were having a tough time seeing all the films they needed to see in time for their pushed-up voting date of November 28, the NYFCC head John Anderson bit my head off: “We’re going to see everything we need to see,” he insisted. Monday he gave as a reason for postponing the vote the need to give the group time to see all the eligible films, but that is impossible. Why not admit that this was not a good idea?

The critics were accelerating the pace of their voting in order to get out ahead of the National Board of Review which has traditionally voted first. Well, now the date has been pushed back to November 29 in order to accommodate Sony’s November 28 screening of David Fincher’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” The critics are going to miss Stephen Daldry’s “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” altogether, which is not finished, says Warner Bros., which insists that no promises were made. Some writers are insinuating that this means that something must be wrong with the movie. Remember “The Reader?” Daldry extended his time to finish that movie against considerable pressure to get it done sooner. And Kate Winslet wound up winning best actress, as Nicole Kidman had before her for “The Hours.” What if the Daldry film is the one everyone has been waiting to see? And the critics miss it?

Every year the critics and members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association complain about the sleepless nights required to meet their early December deadlines. The HFPA have an actual January event to plan for. But the critics can vote whenever they wish. Why not wait until the end of the calendar year, as the Academy does? What’s the rush to judgement here? Which indie films are being left on the bottom of the critics’ screener piles? I am still catching up with countless animated features, documentaries and foreign films, not to mention small indies, that somehow I missed over the course of the year. Why not take more time, not less?

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