Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Awards Begin: Oscar Short List, New York Critics & Annie Awards

So, do we all ready know who the Oscar goes to because of the New York Critics Circle? No, they are no more accurate than you and I. The benefit they have, in really being the first to announce their awards, is that, one, they get more publicity; secondly, they don't have any competition of who "made the better choice" in a category (the LA Critics, for example, may not even consider Ms. Weisz for a Best Actress nomination, I'm just saying) and sometimes this works against them if they made a "ridiculous choice" (I won't name any names) and they were the only ones to chose that nominee. Of course it's prestigious to get the award, and someone who might not get an Oscar at least has the comfort of having the New York Critics Circle approval and that is, truly, no small thing. To make this point, consider that Les Miserables didn't pick up a single win, but is now carrying 10 nominations in the 17th Annual Satellite Awards, which also honors Ben Affleck's Argo, one the NY group snubbed.
It's not just about the "race to the Oscars."
It is a big factor, but let me put it this way: are you more likely to see Zero Dark Thirty in the theater because it has picked up the New York Critics' Best Picture and Best Director Awards? Even if it doesn't effect your decision either way, it will probably effect the decision of others. Does it effect the decision of the New York Critics that they are the first to award the film before it hits theaters? Probably. When Zero Dark Thirty finally gets to theaters on January 11, you can bet the critical award from the group will appear in the film's ad, thereby gaining them publicity as well. I am not criticizing the mutually beneficial arrangement which has evolved over the years, but--as savvy film goers--this is a situation of which we should be aware. I don't doubt that the film is excellent (it currently stands at a 100% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes) but it's helpful in understanding why films get which awards when.
Who else won?
Daniel Day-Lewis won Best Actor for his performance in Lincoln, as well as Sally Field for her Best Supporting Actress performance and Lincoln won the award for Best Adapted Screenplay.  The Best Actress Award does not go to Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty, rather to Rachel Weisz for the re-make The Deep Blue Sea, also starring Tom Hiddleston (Thor, The Avengers). Matthew McConnaughey won Best Supporting Actor for his work in Bernie and Magic Mike, and he's up for an Indie Spirit Award for Killer Joe.
The New York Critics Circle awarded Best Foreign Picture to Michael Heneke's Amour, about Anne and George two married, retired music teachers, both in their eighties; Anne has a heart-attack and her condition strains their bond. At this point, Amour is expected to also win the Oscar for Best Foreign Film, and there is the suggestion that it could even aspire to compete overall for Best Picture. (See how this works? The names of films you haven't heard, and the acclaim being associated with them makes you want to see them and that's a good thing, because there is really no arena, or public square, of free speech still left like the movies: anything and everything an artist wants to say, can be said here, and we can support that with our vote of the American greenback when we go see it, rent it or talk about it in our social media, and we do it because of the gratifying intellectual experience and the aesthetic enjoyment cinema offers us, so much so, that we are thrilled when we hear of new films that others say we will enjoy).
Official synopsis: How to Survive a Plague is the story of two coalitions-ACT UP and TAG (Treatment Action Group)-whose activism and innovation turned AIDS from a death sentence into a manageable condition. Despite having no scientific training, these self-made activists infiltrated the pharmaceutical industry and helped identify promising new drugs, moving them from experimental trials to patients in record time. With unfettered access to a treasure trove of never-before-seen archival footage from the 1980s and '90s, filmmaker David France puts the viewer smack in the middle of the controversial actions, the heated meetings, the heartbreaking failures, and the exultant breakthroughs of heroes in the making.
This is the first year the NY Circle has awarded a Best Animated Feature Award, which went to Tim Burton's Frankenweenie; Brave, Wreck-It Ralph and Rise Of the Guardians are all honored with Annie Award nominations for the same category (and, if you are not familiar with the Annies, they only give awards for animated films, so, for a film it's a big deal to rack up those noms). How To Survive A Plague not only won the NYCC's for Best Documentary, it made the Academy's short list to be considered for an Oscar, and here are the other nominees: Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry; Bull; Chasing Ice; Detropia; Ethel; 5 Broken Cameras; The Gatekeepers; The House I Live In; The Imposter; The Invisible War; Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence In the House Of God; Searching For Sugar Man; This Is Not a Film and Waiting Room. Why are documentaries important? They signal paradigm shifts in culture, not only in the topics being explored--AIDS, censorship, drugs, religion, etc.--but how the Academy sees itself seeing America (liberal, conservative or middle-ground).
Lastly, here is an interesting grid of who is expected to compete for what in Oscars 2013, and what the odds are in their favor, that you may want to check out; I know I am holding onto this list for myself: Predicted Winners Oscars 2013.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner