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6 Things The New York Film Critics Circle Just Told Us About Awards Season

6 Things The New York Film Critics Circle Just Told Us About Awards Season

Awards season shifted into high gear this morning as the New York Film Critics Circle announced their annual awards. You can check out the full list of winners here, but here’s 6 bullet points in terms of how the NYFCC shifted a race that will continue to shift with near daily announcements in the weeks to to come:

“Boyhood” is now the frontrunner, if it wasn’t already before.
Taking three major prizes today — Best Film, Best Director and Best Supporting Actress — Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood” was the big winner with the NYFCC and can probably be considered the frontrunner to win Best Picture at the Oscars. Winning the top prize with the NYFCC doesn’t always translate into Oscar glory, but only once in the past 10 years — in 2006 with “United 93” — has the winner not gone on to receive at least a nomination for Best Picture at the Oscars. So consider “Boyhood” a lock for a nomination (which it pretty much was already), and the best bet to take it all home. For now.

Timothy Spall has a fighting chance in the Best Actor race.
Up until last year, the winner of the NYFCC’s Best Actor prize had gone on to get an Oscar nomination for eight years running, and on five of those occasions, they won. That certainly bodes well for Timothy Spall, who joins David Thewlis (“Naked”), Imelda Staunton (“Vera Drake”) and Sally Hawkins (“Happy-Go-Lucky”) in an impressive group of folks who have won NYFCC acting prizes for Mike Leigh films. The NYFCC could have gone with one of the five folks who seem like safe bets in the Best Actor Oscar race — Steve Carell, Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Keaton, David Oyelowo and Eddie Redmayne — but instead they gave a significant boost to who is now arguably the biggest threat to take one of them out. It’s no sure thing considering the insane competition in that category, though. Just ask Robert Redford, who ended the aforementioned streak last year when his NYFCC Award winning performance in “All Is Lost” didn’t make Oscar’s cut in a similarly crowded field. Either way, the folks at Sony Pictures Classics now have a major accolade to attach to their campaign for Spall and “Turner.”

Marion Cotillard is still a dark horse in the Best Actress race, but her profile just got boosted significantly.
Unlike its male counterpart, Best Actress is a depressingly weak race this year — at least in terms of genuine Oscar contenders. Four women — Felicity Jones, Julianne Moore, Rosamund Pike and Reese Witherspoon —  seem locked into nominations, but the fifth slot is a massive question mark. The NYFCC going for Marion Cotillard throws her very much in the mix for that last slot, even though one thing going against her is that the win was for two very worthy performances — “The Immigrant” and “Two Days, One Night” — which could end up canceling themselves out with Oscar voters. Cotillard would make a much more worthy fifth nominee (in these eyes, and clearly the NYFCC’s) than say, Hilary Swank or Amy Adams or Jennifer Aniston, so hopefully this win catapults her campaign a bit. But one of the two films will need to back off if Cotillard is to make the cut. Though notably, eight of the last 10 winners here did indeed go on to net an Oscar nod.

J.K. Simmons and Patricia Arquette solidified their frontrunner statuses.
Much less in need of a boost were J.K. Simmons (“Whiplash”) and Patricia Arquette (“Boyhood”), who were widely considered frontrunners in the Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress races before today, and their wins with the NYFCC only make that more clear. There’s still a way to go, but it’s very hard to imagine the two of them not at least getting nominated.

“The LEGO Movie,” “Ida” and “CITIZENFOUR” did too.
Even someone with a mild interest in awards season could have guessed that “The LEGO Movie,” “Ida” and “CITIZENFOUR” were the films to beat in the Animated Feature, Foreign Language and Non-Fiction Film races today, and sure enough all three won. Things could change after another announcement or two, but for now, this trio makes up the films to beat in those respective races with Oscar and elsewhere.

We might need to watch out for “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”
It might have only won Best Screenplay at the NYFCC, but that’s one more win that “Selma,” “Unbroken,” “Gone Girl,” “The Imitation Game,” “Birdman,” “The Theory of Everything” and “Foxcatcher” had combined. Wes Anderson has yet to really break into the Oscar race save a screenplay nomination or two, and “The Grand Budapest Hotel” was a huge hit both critically and commercially. This win boosts its profile and will definitely have people talking about its chances more than they were before.

Peter Knegt is Indiewire’s Contributing Editor and awards columnist. Follow him on Twitter.

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