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Inside the NYFCC Awards, from Lady Gaga’s 13-Minute Speech to Martin Scorsese’s ‘Power of the Dog’ Love

The dressed-up and in-person New York Film Critics Awards on Wednesday night toasted many of this year's inevitable Oscar winners — as well as one of its also-rans.

Best actress honoree for "House of Gucci" Lady Gaga attends the New York Film Critics Circle Awards gala at TAO on Wednesday, March 16, 2022, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Lady Gaga

Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Thursday night’s Omicron-delayed New York Film Critics Circle Awards dinner at TAO in the Meatpacking District in New York City gave many of this year’s Oscar nominees — and a few Oscar also-rans — a last chance to unbutton and let loose and celebrate before the big show finally, finally arrives a week from Sunday.

Attendees at the stylish and quite dimly lit event included NYFCC Best Director winner Jane Campion, who this time very carefully read her prewritten remarks off a piece of paper after her clearly riffed-upon Critics Choice Awards speech last weekend wrapped her up in backlash.

There was also Best First Film winner Maggie Gyllenhaal who, during arrivals on a cramped, packed swath of red carpet in TAO’s upstairs floor, swanned up to Best Foreign Language Film winner Joachim Trier and “Worst Person in the World” star Renate Reinsve. “I loved your movie,” Gyllenhaal, the first-time writer-director of “The Lost Daughter,” said.

Best Film winner Ryusuke Hamaguchi (“Drive My Car”) was also on hand with a translator, looking stunned but nonetheless chuffed at being the night’s big honoree. Meanwhile, Best Screenplay winner Paul Thomas Anderson arrived accompanied by his muse Alana Haim and co-star Cooper Hoffman.

The evening was emceed by NYFCC chair and Time Magazine critic Stephanie Zacharek, and it included a number of starry introductions. There was Al Gore on hand (and introed by IndieWire’s own Eric Kohn) giving a speech about Diane Weyermann, the beloved former Participant COO and film producer who died in October last year. Then there was, of all people, Guillermo del Toro (shut out of the NYFCC winners list) onstage to introduce Best Actress winner Lady Gaga. “Lady Gaga is not in ‘House of Gucci.’ Lady Gaga is ‘House of Gucci,'” the “Nightmare Alley” director said.

Likely the most significant moment of the night was, in fact, Lady Gaga’s 13-plus-minute speech, in which she spoke about her love of Italian art and the beauty of the Gucci family story. This was Gaga’s last chance at an awards pulpit, as she didn’t win at the Critics Choice or BAFTA awards last weekend, and isn’t Oscar nominated.

Best first film award honoree for "The Lost Daughter,", director Maggie Gyllenhaal attends the New York Film Critics Circle Awards gala at TAO on Wednesday, March 16, 2022, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Maggie Gyllenhaal

Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

“This absolutely means the world to me. I’m so honored to receive this in my hometown,” an emotional Gaga said, while emphasizing that “House of Gucci” is a story of a “real and complicated and authentic Italian family.” She became overwhelmed with emotion talking about her Italian roots and how the movie gave her a chance to explore them. “Thank you to the New York Film Critics Circle for recognizing my performance as Best Actress this year,” she said, beginning to weep. “In doing so you have recognized all of the women in my family, because it was through them that I was able to create the heart and soul of this character, the one that she [Patrizia Reggiani] deserved.

“Italians. We’re hard work and big feelings. And meatballs,” she said toward the end of her speech. Next, she’ll be presenting at the Oscars, and then it’s on to her rabidly anticipated Chromatica tour.

But catnip for film fans was Martin Scorsese’s introduction of the Best Director prize for Jane Campion. The “Killers of the Flower Moon” director went deep on Campion’s “Power of the Dog,” saying, “I saw the stills and it had all the trappings of Western. But the usual expectations that I bring to the genre, the Western genre, as I started to watch the picture, all this is turned inside out.”

He pointed to a particularly tangy scene toward the end involving Benedict Cumberbatch and Kodi Smit-McPhee, who both won acting prizes at NYFCC though neither was present (both are in production on other films). “The look in Kodi Smit-McPhee’s eyes as he takes the cigarette and he gives it to Ben Cumberbatch. It’s murder or love, or both really,” Scorsese said.

“I’m most impressed by Jane’s direction. And it’s a precious thing to have an artistic voice as powerful as Jane’s developing over time. It’s like a great ongoing conversation and it’s something that shouldn’t be taken for granted,” he added.

The Scorsese stamp of approval is the imprimatur of greatness indeed.

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