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‘Spotlight’ Shines at National Society of Film Critics Awards

'Spotlight' Shines at National Society of Film Critics Awards

Spotlight” won Best Picture from the National Society of Film Critics today, chalking up yet another awards from major critics groups. (I was among the critics voting.) Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy also won Best Screenplay for the drama about Boston journalists investigating a sex-abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. “Carol” also won twice, for director Todd Haynes and cinematographer Ed Lachman, in voting that largely tracked with other critics groups.

The major exception was “Creed’s” Michael B. Jordan Best Actor, one of only two awards to go to a third round of balloting. Since the NSFC includes members from all over the country, voting proceeds in a two-tiered fashion, with those who cannot attend the meeting in New York submitting proxy ballots that are counted in the first round. If a winner is not selected in that round, the second and all subsequent rounds of voting are conducted only by members in the room, which can often lead to idiosyncratic results like last year’s selection of Jean-Luc Godard’s “Goodbye to Language” as Best Picture.

Read more: Goodbye to Awards Narratives: Why Critics’ Awards Shouldn’t Be “Relevant”

Jordan, for example, was narrowly tied for third in the first round of voting, which found six actors within three points of each other. But according to NSFC rules, the winner must appear on a majority of ballots in addition to receiving the most points, and none of the six met that criteria. So we voted twice more, with Jordan eventually winning a commanding victory over “Son of Saul’s” Géza Röhrig and “45 Years'” Tom Courtenay.

Courtenay’s “45 Years” co-star Charlotte Rampling easily cruised to a Best Actress win on the first ballot, and “Clouds of Sils Maria’s” Kristen Stewart did likewise in the supporting category. The most decisive win, however, was Mark Rylance’s for supporting actor in “Bridge of Spies,” trouncing second place Michael Shannon for “99 Homes.” (The society voted not to recognize Shannon for his turn in “The Night Before.” Sorry.) Radu Muntean’s “One Floor Below” was awarded a special citation for Film Awaiting American Distribution. Special Film Heritage awards were given to the Criterion Collection and L’Immagine Ritrovata for the restoration and packaging of Satyajit Ray’s “Apu Trilogy”; Association Chaplin for restoring Charlie Chaplin’s Essanay films; and the  Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Jake Perlin and Michelle Materre, for their program, “Tell It Like It Is: Black Independents in New York, 1968-1986.”

The narrowest win belonged to Todd Haynes, who edged out “Spotlight’s” Tom McCarthy in a second-round vote for best director only by appearing on more ballots. The biggest reversal of fortune: “Timbuktu,” which vaulted from fourth to first place to win Best Foreign-Language film in a second round of balloting. (That happens sometimes.)

Notably missing in action: overall critical favorite “Mad Max: Fury Road,” which had to make due with two third-place finishes, and Joshua Oppenheimer’s “The Look of Silence,” which was tied for second in the first round of balloting and fell off the list altogether in the second. Likewise “The Revenant,” which had some traction in first-round voting for actor and cinematography, but managed only one third-place finish when the totals were final.

Last year, the NSFC was both pilloried and celebrated for a Best Picture choice that diverged from the slate of pre-approved Oscar contenders. This year, they’ve been accused of “Oscar-itis.” So it goes. The National Society of Film Critics often takes advantage of batting last in the critics awards lineup to honor an under-recognized movie, but this year, they collectively decided that the best choice was also the most expected one.

National Society of Film Critics Awards 2015

Best Picture: “Spotlight”

Best Director:  Todd Haynes, “Carol”

Best Screenplay: Josh Singer & Tom McCarthy, “Spotlight”

Best Actor: Michael B. Jordan, “Creed”

Best Actress: Charlotte Rampling, “45 Years”

Best Supporting Actor: Mark Rylance, “Bridge of Spies”

Best Supporting Actress: Kristen Stewart, “Clouds of Sils Maria”

Best Foreign-Language Film: “Timbuktu”

Best Non-Fiction Film: “Amy

Best Cinematography: Ed Lachman, “Carol”

Special Citation for Film Awaiting American Distribution: “One Floor Below”

The complete press release follows: 

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.

in 1966, the Society differs from other critical associations in a number of
significant ways. In the first place, it is truly national. Its 53 members
include critics from major papers in Los Angeles, Boston, New York,
Philadelphia, Chicago, and Denver. Its members also include the critics not
just of Time, The Wall St. Journal, The Nation, and The New Yorker,
but also of The Village Voice, The Boston Globe, and prominent on-line
sites. Second, membership is by election.

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 serving as 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.

next book will be For All Ages: The NSFC on Children and Movies.
Previous anthologies include 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 1990’s, 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.

RESULTS 2015 films 


*1. Michael B. Jordan
(Creed)  29 points

2. Geza Rohrig (Son of
Saul) 18

3.  Tom Courtenay 
(45 Years)  15


*1. Charlotte Rampling
(45 Years) 57

2. Saoirse Ronan
(Brooklyn)  30

3.  Nina Hoss (Phoenix)  22



*1. Mark Rylance
(Bridge of Spies) 56

2. Michael Shannon (99
Homes)  16

3.  Sylvester Stallone (Creed) 14



*1. Kristen Stewart
(Clouds of Sils Maria) 53

2. Alicia Vikander (Ex
Machina) 23

3. Kate Winslet (Steve
Jobs) 17

3. Elizabeth Banks
(Love & Mercy) 17



*1. Spotlight (Josh
Singer and Tom McCarthy)  21

2. Anomalisa (Charlie
Kaufman) 15

2. The Big Short
(Charles Randolph and Adam McKay) 15



*1. Carol  (Ed Lachman) 

2. The Assassin (Mark
Lee Ping-bin) 22

3.  Mad Max: Fury Road (John Seale) 12



*1. Spotlight (Tom
McCarthy) 23

2. Carol (Todd Haynes)

3.  Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller) 13



*1.Todd Haynes (Carol)

2. Tom McCarthy
(Spotlight) 21 (because he was on fewer ballots)

3. George Miller (Mad
Max:  Fury Road) 20



*1. Timbuktu
(Abderrahmane Sissako) 22

2. Phoenix (Christian
Petzold) 20

3. The Assassin (Hou
Hsiao-hsien) 16



*1.  Amy (Asif Kapadia) 23

2. In Jackson Heights
(Frederick Wiseman) 18

3.  Seymour: An Introduction (Ethan Hawke) 15




Film Society of Lincoln Center and the programmers Jake Perlin and
Michelle Materre, for the series Tell It Like It Is: Black Independents in New
York, 1968-1986

The Criterion Collection and L’Immagine Ritrovata for the restoration
and packaging of the reconstructed version of The Apu Trilogy by Satyajit Ray

Association Chaplin for supervising the digital restoration of Charlie
Chaplin’s Essanay Films

film awaiting American distribution: One Floor Below, a Romanian film directed by Radu Muntean.

meeting was dedicated to the late Richard Corliss, longtime critic at TIME
magazine, not just a writer of extraordinary intelligence, wit, and energy, but
also a generous friend and colleague.

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