The New York Film Critics pushed back their dates (now voting December 3) so that they could announce before the National Board of Review (December 4). They did it to be out front of awards season and to be the first “important” voice of the season. Or perhaps they did it to dampen the impact of the National Board of Review. Both have been around a very long time but the date change is a fairly recent development, borne out of awards season hysteria where every city with a population of more than 500 has a critics group that votes on awards. At some point you just tune it out because it hardly feels like it matters anymore who wins what where. What you look at is the consensus building around certain films. It is also pointless to say the NYFCC are more prestigious than the NBR. As you’ll see from the chart at the end of this article, it really makes no never mind who they are. Their choices are not that different. Perception and positioning is what matters. Very few films that won either the NBR or the NYFCC did not go on to win Best Picture.
The New York Film Critics want to be first — but they will pay a price for that. Yes, they will be out front. There is a good chance their choice for Best Picture will go on to be nominated for Best Picture. This year, they will likely miss seeing The Wolf of Wall Street and perhaps American Hustle. Maybe they will be screened in time, maybe they won’t. But either way, it is not supposed to be their jobs to influence the awards race. They are supposed to carefully consider the films of a given year and decide which film deserves to be called best. Therefore, their choice to push back their date threatens their whole purpose of existing in the first place.