Thursday December 11, 2008
Oscar Watch: NY Critics Pick “Milk”
Now it’s the New York Film Critics Circle’s turn. “Milk” for best picture, actor (Penn), supporting actor (Brolin). “Happy-Go-Lucky,” which opened quietly in October, and whose widest release has been 202 theaters, won for best director (Mike Leigh) and actress (Sally Hawkins). Cruz won again. “Man on Wire” again. Momentum for these two.
BTW: I may preface these awards with the title “Oscar Watch,” but it really doesn’t mean much in terms of the Academy. Critics are critics, and, for best picture, the NY version has only agreed with the Academy twice this decade: 2007 and 2003:
2007: No Country for Old Men
2006: United 93
2005: Brokeback Mountain
2003: The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King
2002: Far From Heaven
2001: Mulholland Drive
More importantly, they’ve only agreed with me... a couple of times. I guess it only counts if you make a pick, and I don’t remember picking much earlier in the decade, but, if I had, I wouldn’t have picked what they picked. “Traffic” was a huge disappointment. Same with “Mulholland.” Can’t fathom “Far From Heaven” over “The Pianist.” Was never a big “Lord of the Rings” guy. Despite what I wrote yesterday, I chose “Munich” in ’05 but liked “Brokeback” well enough (OK, a lot). But for the last two years? Yes. “United 93” is a great, underrated movie that didn’t even get nom’ed by the Academy, did it? Don’t know if it’ll last but it’s truly powerful. And “No Country” definitely over “There Will Be Blood.”
There’s an article on the NYFCC site, from Stephen Garrett at Time Out New York, that touts this organization the way that I touted the National Society of Film Critics a few years ago, but either he, or they, left off some of the misses. Sure, they picked “Citizen Kane” over “How Green Was My Valley.” They also ignored both “Godfather” movies in place of foreign films. The valley isn’t always greener.
All of which is to say: It’s a tough biz saying within a year — really, within a month — what the best pics are, and Lord knows I’ve changed my own mind enough times. The last two years of the ‘90s, my original pics were “Saving Private Ryan” and “American Beauty” but now I’d go, in a second, and with full force, for “The Thin Red Line” and “The Insider.”
But it’s nice to have an opinion; it's nice to care. Most years I just shrug.