For the first time in its history, Netflix is officially on the board as a major Oscar contender.
Their 1970s Mexico-set Spanish language drama Roma — from Academy Award-winning director Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity) — was named Best Film of 2018 by the New York Film Critics Circle. Cuarón also won for Best Director and Best Cinematography; Roma is a passion project he both helmed and lensed (and wrote as well)
Sweeping those top categories was hardly a shock, given the lavish praise that Roma has received, but neverthless it marks a major breakthrough for Netflix, the dominant streaming service that’s been trying to break through into the awards season for years. Now, it finally has.
Diversity and representation popped up elsewhere, too.
African-American women named Regina swept the Actress categories. Regina King picked up her second win of the awards season as Best Supporting Actress in If Beale Street Could Talk. This follows her citation by the National Board of Review. Meanwhile, in probably the biggest shocker, Regina Hall won Best Actress for her lead turn in the Hooters-satire Support the Girls, where she plays a manager who looks out for her waitresses. She becomes the first African-American to ever win the NYFCC’s top Actress prize.
Both of the Regina wins beat out assumed, er, favorites from the cast of The Favourite (Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone) and Glenn Close‘s heralded title perf in The Wife, two films that would seem to have played to New York critic sensibilities.
In the actor race, Ethan Hawke won Best Actor for First Reformed (while his writer/director Paul Schrader won for Best Screenplay). Hawke’s role as a priest in existential crisis has been his most critically-hailed performance in years, certainly this side of the Before Trilogy, but he’ll need a lot more critics group wins for this slow, dense drama to boost his traction for an Oscar nomination. Richard E. Grant won Best Supporting Actor for Can You Ever Forgive Me?, his first kudo on the path to a certain Oscar nod.
Along with the Regina Hall win, another place that NYFCC zagged from where the industry has long zigged is in animation. Sony’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was named Best Animated Feature, toppling box office blockbusters from Pixar (Incredibles 2) and Disney (Ralph Breaks the Internet), not to mention critical fave Wes Anderson‘s Isle of Dogs. Having been wowed by the lengthy teaser for Spider-Verse on the end of Venom, I can’t say I’m surprised. This looks like a legitimate breakthrough in its own right.
Snubs? Yeah, there were a few.
Complete omissions included Black Panther, Spike Lee‘s BlackKlansman, National Board of Review winner Green Book, the aforementioned The Favourite, and the biggest fish of all A Star Is Born. Of all those ignored, New Yorker Spike Lee may feel hurt the most.
Damien Chazelle‘s First Man was also slighted but, at this point, I’d be surprised if it shows up anywhere. It’s the year’s biggest awards season dud.
The NYFCC, with its occasionally iconoclastic bent, is spotty as an Oscar predictor. Last year, it gave love to Lady Bird and The Florida Project; the former went on to major Academy Award nominations including Best Picture while the latter had to settle for one (Willem Dafoe, Best Supporting Actor). Also, in 2015, the NYFCC chose Carol as Best Film and tabbed its helmer Todd Haynes for Best Director. Neither went on to receive nominations in their respective categories.
NEW YORK FILM CRITICS CIRCLE
2018 Film Awards
Best Film: Roma
Best Director: Alfonso Cuarón, Roma
Best Actress: Regina Hall, Support the Girls
Best Actor: Ethan Hawke, First Reformed
Best Supporting Actress: Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
Best Supporting Actor: Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Best Screenplay: First Reformed, Paul Schrader
Best Animated Feature: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, dirs. Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman
Best First Film: Eighth Grade, Bo Burnham
Best Foreign Language Film: Cold War, Poland, dir. Pawel Pawlikowski
Best Non-Fiction Film: Minding the Gap, dir. Bing Liu
Best Cinematography: Roma, Alfonso Cuarón
Special Award: Kino Classics Box Set “Pioneers: First Women Filmmakers”
Special Award: David Schwartz, stepping down as Chief Film Curator at Museum of the Moving Image after 33 years
Click on links below for other Critics Group Awards and Guild Nominees that have been announced so far for the 2018 / 19 season:
San Francisco Film Critics Circle
Los Angeles Film Critics Association
Toronto Film Critics Association
Philadelphia Film Critics Circle
Chicago Film Critics Association
Golden Globe Nominations
AFI Film Awards
Detroit Film Critics Society
Atlanta Film Critics Circle
The National Board of Review