Another day, another couple twists and turns as the 2014-15 awards pulls full steam ahead. Yesterday we rounded up what the New York Film Critics Circle had to say about where awards season might be heading, and now 24 hours later we have three more major announcements to consider: The Gotham Awards, The National Board of Review, and the Academy’s shortlist of documentary contenders. You can click on those links for a full overview of how each of them went down. But here’s some cliff notes on arguably the seven big winners from the collective news:
1. “A Most Violent Year.” While its star Oscar Isaac might have lost at the Gotham Awards to Michael Keaton, he and his film made up for it in a very big way with the National Board of Review. In a sweep few saw coming, J.C. Chandor’s 1980s-set crime drama took home Best Film, Best Supporting Actress (Jessica Chastain) and Best Actor (Isaac, who actually tied with Gotham winner Keaton). That gives a huge boost to a film that really needed it. If next week’s Golden Globe, SAG and Critics Choice Award nominations follow suit, it could be a more “Violent” year than we thought.
2. “Citizenfour,” “Life Itself” and the other 13 documentary features shortlisted for Oscar (but especially those two). The Academy narrowed down its Best Documentary Feature race to 15 today, with a few major omissions (perhaps most notably “Point and Shoot,” “Red Army” and “Fed Up”). But the two films everyone most expected to be on the list were there indeed: Laura Poitras’ “Citizenfour” and Steve James’ “Life Itself.” And both of those films had additional reasons to celebrate. “Citizenfour” won Best Documentary at the Gothams last night, while “Life Itself” took those honors with the National Board of Review. It definitely seems like the Oscar race is down to these two (check out our updated predictions here).
3. Michael Keaton and “Birdman.” As noted, Michael Keaton took Best Actor honors at the Gothams last night, and it wasn’t the film’s only major feat. “Birdman” beat out “Boyhood” to take top honors at the awards, which gave it a very nice overall boost going forward. And that was only furthered today when the NBR gave Keaton Best Actor honors as well (tied with Oscar Issac), while also putting the film on its overall top 10 list and naming Edward Norton its Best Supporting Actor.
4. “A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night.” Though its chances in the overall Oscar race remain slim-to-none, Ana Lily Amirpour got a big spotlight on her acclaimed “Iranian vampire Western” when she surprised as the winner of the Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award. Beating out arguable favorites Justin Simien (“Dear White People”) and Dan Gilroy (“Nightcrawler”), Amirpour also charmed the audience with her humility — and her love for Tilda Swinton. “This is my first kind of these things,” she said during her speech. “Tilda Swinton is here! Goddess! Thank you so much for giving me this prize. I love making films. Maybe if I can say hi to Tilda Swinton and take a picture with her that would be really cool.”
5. Julianne Moore. Like Michael Keaton, Julianne Moore got a double dose of honors from the Gothams and the NBR, winning Best Actress with both groups. She’s absolutely the frontrunner to continue this momentum all the way to Oscar, and we fully expect her name to be announced a good dozen or two more times in the next week.
6. “The LEGO Movie” and “How To Train Your Dragon 2.” It seemed after its win yesterday as Best Animated Feature with the New York Film Critics Circle that “The LEGO Movie” might be heading for a clean sweep of such honors. But then the National Board of Review opted to go with “How To Train Your Dragon 2” instead. Which is great for that film, but not necessarily bad news for “LEGO” either. The film oddly lost that prize, but then still won Best Original Screenplay (over, yes, “Birdman,” “Boyhood,” “Whiplash” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” among others), and was on the NBR’s Top 10 Films of the Year. While we don’t quite understand how it — and not “Dragon” — can be on that list and then not win Best Animated Feature, we’re all for love being spread.
7. Tilda Swinton and Amy Schumer. Alright, so this doesn’t have so much to do with this year’s ultimate race, but you’d be hard pressed to find someone who watched last night’s Gotham Awards who didn’t think Amy Schumer’s feting of Tilda Swinton was not the singular highlight. You can watch it all its glory here — and we’re pretty sure it might end up being one of the highlights of this entire awards season once its all said and done.
Peter Knegt is Indiewire’s Contributing Editor and awards columnist. Follow him on Twitter.
Check out Indiewire’s latest chart of Oscar predictions here.
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