The New York Film Critics circle announced their 2011 award winners on Tuesday:
Best Film: The Artist
Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius – The Artist
Best Actor: Brad Pitt – Moneyball and The Tree of Life
Best Actress: Meryl Streep – The Iron Lady
Best Supporting Actor: Albert Brooks – Drive
Best Supporting Actress: Jessica Chastain – The Tree of Life, The Help and Take Shelter
Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki – The Tree of Life
Best First Film: J.C. Chandor – Margin Call
Best Foreign Language Film: A Separation - Iran
Best Non-Fiction Film: Cave of Forgotten Dreams
Best Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian – Moneyball
The awards season is officially under way. The New York Film Critics have been an excellent predictor for the Oscars as 79% of their winners have gone on to an Oscar nomination over the last 10 years. They've had an even better track record recently, as in 3 of the last 4 years every single winner has gone on to an Oscar nomination. However, while they are good at predicting nominations, their track record is not quite so good at predicting the winner. The NYFCC Best Picture has only matched up with the Oscars 3 out of the last 17 years.
Since the awards season begins with the New York film critics, they get to set the early tone for the Oscar race. The Artist definitely jumps to the front of the Best Picture race, but the unique film will need more support to stay there. Pitt's win is a bit of a surprise because his performance in Moneyball isn't showy (although it is excellent), but if he continues to get momentum in awards circles, he has an excellent shot at a nomination. I haven't seen The Iron Lady, but Streep playing Margaret Thatcher has got to be a lock for the Oscars. Albert Brooks was unexpected, but it's the kind of change of pace role that could generate lots of buzz. I wouldn't put too much stock in Chastain's win yet, as these multiple film wins are often misleading as the voters are rewarding for body of work instead of individual performance, which is much different than how the Oscars will be looking at it.