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‘Goodbye to Language’ Wins National Society of Film Critics Awards

'Goodbye to Language' Wins National Society of Film Critics Awards

In a surprising departure from its fellow critics groups, the National Society of Film Critics — of which I am a member — awarded Jean-Luc Godard’s “Goodbye to Language” the prize for Best Picture today at its annual voting meeting. It also effectively won Best Foreign-Language Film, although, as per the NSFC’s rules, that award is skipped when a foreign-language movie wins Best Picture.

Other awards closely tracked the NSFC’s peers, especially the New York Film Critics’ Circle: “Mr. Turner’s” Timothy Spall for Best Actor, Marion Cotillard for Best Actress in “Two Days, One Night” and “The Immigrant.” J.K. Simmons and Patricia Arquette for Best Supporting Actor and Actress, in “Whiplash” and “Boyhood.” “Boyhood’s” Richard Linklater also won Best Director, with Wes Anderson taking Best Screenplay for “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “Mr. Turner’s” Dick Pope awarded Best Cinematography. Non-Fiction Film went to Laura Poitras’ “CITIZENFOUR.”

Update: Initial results had Cotillard winning only for “Two Days, One Night,” which was determined by a vote of members present at the meeting. (The overall win, which was a landslide, included proxy ballots.) On review, it was decided members had voted to award her for both films, which is the official determination.

Here are the complete results, including vote totals. The NSFC uses a weighted system, and requires that a winner both receive the most points and appear on a majority of ballots. The initial round of voting includes proxy ballots from members not present at the meeting — which, given that the Society’s members hail from across the country but balloting takes place in New York City, is always a substantial number — but if a winner is not selected on the first round, subsequent rounds only include members in the room. First-ballot winners this year included Cotillard and “CITIZENFOUR.”

Of particular note this year, as the NSFC’s Lisa Schwarzbaum pointed out on Twitter: “Boyhood” was only one ballot short of winning “Best Picture” in the first round, but when balloting shifted to the second round, the number of critics involved in voting dropped by two-thirds, which is often when the results start to get interesting (or, if you like, “quirky”). 

The National Society of Film Critics 2014 Awards


1. Goodbye to Language 25 (Jean-Luc Godard)

2. Boyhood 24 (Richard Linklater)

3. Birdman 10 (Alejandro G. Iñárritu)

   Mr. Turner 10 (Mike Leigh)


1. Richard Linklater 36 (Boyhood)

2. Jean-Luc Godard 17  (Goodbye to Language)

3. Mike Leigh 12 (Mr. Turner)


1. Citizenfour 56 (Laura Poitras)

2. National Gallery 19 (Frederick Wiseman)

3. The Overnighters 17 (Jesse Moss)


1. The Grand Budapest Hotel 24 (Wes Anderson)

2. Inherent Vice 15 (Paul Thomas Anderson)

    Birdman 15 (four co-writers)


1. Mr. Turner 33 (Dick Pope)

2. The Immigrant 27 (Darius Khondji)

3. Goodbye to Language 9 (Fabrice Aragno)


1.Timothy Spall 31 (Mr. Turner)

2. Tom Hardy 10 (Locke)

3. Joaquin Phoenix 9  (Inherent Vice)

    Ralph Fiennes 9 (The Grand Budapest Hotel)


1. Marion Cotillard  80 (Two Days, One Night and The Immigrant)

2. Julianne Moore 35 (Still Alice)

3. Scarlett Johansson 21 (Lucy; Under the Skin)


1. J.K. Simmons 24  (Whiplash)

2. Mark Ruffalo 21 (Foxcatcher)

3. Edward Norton 16 (Birdman)


1. Patricia Arquette 26 (Boyhood)

2. Agata Kulesza 18 (Ida)

3. Rene Russo 9 (Nightcrawler)


1. To Ron Magliozzi, associate curator, and
Peter Williamson, film conservation manager, of the Museum of Modern Art, for
identifying and assembling the earliest surviving footage of what would have
been the feature film to star a black cast, the 1913 “Lime Kiln Field Day”
starring Bert Williams.

2. To Ron Hutchinson, co-founder and director of
The Vitaphone Project, which since 1991 has collected and restored countless
original soundtrack discs for early sound short films and features, including
the recent Warner Bros. restoration of William A. Seiter’s 1929 “Why Be Good?”

DEDICATION:  The meeting was dedicated to the memory of two distinguished members of
the Society who died in 2014:  Jay Carr
and Charles Champlin.  

The National Society of Film Critics counts among its members many of the country’s leading film critics. Its purpose is to promote the mutual interests of film criticism and filmmaking.

Founded in l966, the Society differs from other critical associations in a number of significant ways. In the first place, it is truly national. Its members include critics from major papers in Los Angeles, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Denver. Its members also include the critics not just of Time, The Wall Street Journal, The Nation, and The New Yorker, but also of The Village Voice, The Boston Herald, and prominent online sites. Second, membership is by election.

The Society represents movie criticism in the United States by supplying the official critic delegate to the National Film Preservation Board of the Library of Congress and abroad by supplying the official American representative to FIPRESCI, the international federation of members of the film press. Besides responding to specific issues, such as imprisoned directors, film preservation, or the ratings system, the Society regularly meets early in January to vote on the Society’s awards for the finest film achievements of the year.

Our next book, due out in 2016, will be For All Ages, a book on children’s movies. The Society’s previous anthology, published in 2008, is The B List: The National Society of Film Critics on the Low-Budget Beauties, Genre-Bending Mavericks, and Cult Classics We Love. Prior to that The X List: The National Society of Film Critics’ Guide to the Movies That Turn Us On was published as a follow-up to The A List: 100 Essential Films (2002). In the 1990s, the Society published Produced and Abandoned: The Best Films You’ve Never Seen (1990); Foreign Affairs, its counterpart for foreign films (1991); Love and Hisses, a guide to the most controversial films and issues (1992); They Went Thataway: Redefining Film Genres (1993); and Flesh and Blood (1995). Earlier, the Society published six volumes of annual reviews, as well as The National Society of Film Critics on Movie Comedy (l977) and The National Society of Film Critics on the Movie Star (1981). The group can genuinely be said to represent the best of contemporary American film criticism.

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