Streamers like Netflix and Amazon may have dominated the 2020 film awards given out by the New York Film Critics Circle, but it was still two theatrical releases that took the top prizes.
The NYFCC named First Cow the Best Film of the Year. The low-key indie Western comes from critic-favorite director Kelly Reichardt, an auteur of artful slow-burn character studies like Wendy and Lucy, Meek’s Cutoff, and Certain Women. It dared to take on a theatrical run this past summer when movie theaters first reopened on a limited basis in July.
Best Director went to the other low-key female-directed indie called Nomadland, helmed by Chloé Zhao (The Rider). It stars Frances McDormand and will open wide in theaters in late February.
Both films recently cited as tops by the Boston Society of Film Critics as well, with Nomadland being named Best Film and First Cow cited as the Runner-Up.
Teen abortion drama Never Rarely Sometimes Always — a Sundance sensation that had a hybrid platform release just as the COVID pandemic hit, opening in limited theaters in March before moving to VOD in April — won two major honors from the NYFCC. Sidney Flanigan was named Best Actress and writer/director Eliza Hittman won for her screenplay.
Netflix, which had won the NYFCC’s Best Film award the past two years (for Roma and The Irishman) settled for three awards this year: Delroy Lindo won Best Actor and Chadwick Boseman won Best Supporting Actor for Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods, and Radha Blank won Best First Film for her The Forty-Year-Old Version.
Meanwhile, Amazon Studios (a.k.a. Amazon Prime Video) took three awards as well: Best Supporting Actress Maria Bakalova for her performance as Borat’s daughter in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, Garrett Bradley‘s acclaimed Time won for Best Non-Fiction Film, and director Steve McQueen‘s complete five-film anthology Small Axe won for Best Cinematography (which was lensed by Shabier Kirchner).
Streamer AppleTV+ also took home a prize: Best Animated Film for Wolfwalkers. It comes from the same animation team behind The Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea.
Here is the complete list of winners and special award citations.
NEW YORK FILM CRITICS CIRCLE
2020 Film Awards
Best Film: First Cow, dir. Kelly Reichardt
Best Director: Chloé Zhao, Nomadland
Best Actor: Delroy Lindo, Da 5 Bloods
Best Actress: Sidney Flanigan, Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Best Supporting Actor: Chadwick Boseman, Da 5 Bloods
Best Supporting Actress: Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Best Screenplay: Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Eliza Hittman
Best Animated Feature: Wolfwalkers, dirs. Tomm Moore, Ross Stewart
Best First Film: The Forty-Year-Old Version, dir. Radha Blank
Best Foreign Language Film: Bacurau, Brazil, dirs. Juliano Dornelles and Kleber Mendonça Filho
Best Non-Fiction Film: Time, dir. Garrett Bradley
Best Cinematography: Small Axe (all 5 films), d.p. Shabier Kirchner
Special Award: Kino Lorber, for their creation of Kino Marquee, a virtual cinema distribution service that was designed to help support movie theaters, not destroy them.
Special Award: Spike Lee for inspiring the New York community with his short film “New York New York” and for advocating for a better society through cinema.
Founded in 1935, the organization’s membership includes critics from daily newspapers, weekly newspapers, magazines and qualifying online general-interest publications.
Click on links below for other Critics Group Awards and Guild Nominees that have been announced so far for the 2020 / 21 season: