You would not believe the sheer volume of critics awards that are about to come at you. For our purposes, the most important critics are: the New York Film Critics, the National Board of Review, the Los Angeles Film Critics, the National Society of Film Critics, the AFI’s Top Ten and the Broadcast Film Critics. You could maybe add Chicago and Boston if you wanted to. The other groups mostly serve to form a critical consensus but these really are the big ones.  As they come in, there will be a certain point where people stop caring. I can’t really tell when that point happens but jokes will be made at the expense of the smaller groups because by then it will seem like everyone and their brother and their mother had critics awards to announce. Essentially these groups are all pretty much the same people rescrambled in a different order.

Either way, this weekend, believe it or not, Los Angeles makes their big statement. Last year they opted, as did New York and the National Society, not to award the best reviewed film of the year, 12 Years a Slave, going instead for a tie between Gravity and Her.  They stepped outside the box a bit with James Franco for Spring Breakers… remember that? Bruce Dern won Best Actor while Cate Blanchett won Best Actress.

This year, there will be some speculation, I’m sure, as to which direction they will go. I would expect them to go for Birdman, Boyhood or something outside the consensus, like Under the Skin or even something foreign, like Ida. You just never know how those wacky voting members will go.

Tomorrow, the Boston Critics Online announce their awards. Sunday, LAFCA and Boston, plus  New York Film Critics online. Monday the AFI announces.  After that, the bigger announcements of the SAG awards and the Golden Globes.  We will be putting up a contest for LAFCA and AFI in just a little while.

In the meantime, here is a great rundown of the coming awards from Maverick’s Movies:

Saturday, December 6th- Washington DC Area Film Critics Award Nominations

Sunday, December 7th – Los Angeles Film Critics Awards

Sunday, December 7th- British Independent Film Awards

Sunday, December 7th- Boston Society of Film Critics Awards

Sunday, December 7th- New York Film Critics Online Awards

Monday, December 8th- AFI Top 10 List Announced

Monday, December 8th- Washington DC Area Film Critics Awards

Monday, December 8th- Online Film Critics Society Nominations

Wednesday, December 10th – SAG Awards Nominations Announced at 6 AM PT

Thursday, December 11 – Golden Globe Nominations Announced at 5 AM PT

Friday, December 12- Detroit Film Critics Society Nominees

Friday, December 12- African American Film Critics Association Awards

Sunday, December 14th- San Francisco Film Critics Awards

Sunday, December 14th- Kansas City Film Critics Circle Awards

Monday, December 15th – Critics’ Choice Movie Awards Nominations

Monday, December 15th- Online Film Critics Society Awards

Monday, December 15th- Chicago Film Critics Awards

Monday, December 15th- Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Awards

Tuesday, December 16th- Toronto Film Critics Awards

Wednesday, December 17th- Black Reel Award Nominations

Thursday, December 18th- Utah Film Critics Awards

Friday, December 19th- Detroit Film Critics Society Awards

Friday, December 19th- Florida Film Critics Society Awards

I’ll keep updating as I learn more.



What really matters, as far as critics are concerned, these four groups, New York, LA, and the NBR (we’ll deal with the Golden Globes in a separate post). They matter for various reasons. First, why do any awards matter at all, from critics, to industry, to Oscar? They matter to studios for two reasons, leaving off gratification of earned career high. 1) they lend prestige, and 2) they can make the difference between someone deciding to buy a ticket or not.  The Oscar brand is, right now, the most expensive of these because it’s by far the most valuable. This is why the Academy works so hard not to dilute that brand, especially where Best Picture is concerned.

In order to address the changing face of the film industry they could, for example, have a separate category for Best Effects Driven Film. But that almost always leads to diluting the brand. Look at the Broadcast Film Critics that birthed so many new categories (to ensure more stars attended their shows and perhaps to make it easier to pick winners across the board). Is anyone going to care if a film wins Best Action Movie by the BFCA? Similarly, who is going to care if a film wins Best Effects Driven Picture? One award, Best Picture, means everything.

The first Academy Awards in 1928 had a marvelous division of “best production overall” and “artistic achievement.” That is how Sunrise and Wings both won. What a marvelous idea that is. It addresses the continual conflict between popular entertainment/money makers and artistic daring. For instance, this year, you could give Best Production to, say, Interstellar and artistic achievement to Boyhood.  But that isn’t happening any time soon, so we have to deal with what is, not what should be.

December 1st is fast approaching. The New York Film Critics deliberately pushed their awards back to be “first” in the awards race and indeed, they have taken back power from the National Board of Review in a rushed season. Before Oscar pushed their own date back a month, the National Board of Review came out so early, too early. They could push a film into the race but they were considered too early to matter.  Later, the New York and Los Angeles Critics would take center stage and really drive the race (most of the time).  But the date change smushed everything together, so that Telluride became the most important film festival (over Toronto, for instance) and the NBR had the cat bird’s seat with early critics awards. The New York Film Critics then pushed their own date back to be first. And so it goes.

Los Angeles doesn’t seem to care to be first but they like to be different, especially these days. They seem to want to vote against what New York and the Oscar pundits have decided. In other words, they don’t feel like wasting their time merely confirming what everyone else has to say. Rather, they seem eager to be different, more challenging, to go against the grain a bit.  One of the strange side effects from an abundance of supply without corresponding demand is that writers, bloggers, critics and journalists are desperate for any sort of drama in the race and often concoct their own to keep things humming along.

The National Board of Review names a Best Picture and ten more best films. The Best Picture matters, and it’s nice to see some titles on their top ten, but their top ten matters less than, say, the AFI’s top ten. Their Best Picture DOES matter, it seems.  The New York and LA Film critics also have power to influence the acting and directing categories, perhaps more than any other group in the early part of the race.  Which director is named best by New York and LA really does count for something.

These announcements will come just before the DGA, PGA, SAG and Oscar voters fill out their nominees. Human nature dictates that most of us, except the most confident and assured among us, don’t know what is really the best, or what is thought of as the best. We like what we like but we also like to get along with our fellow humans. While some of us delight in being “different,” generally speaking human beings are inclined towards harmonious agreement, a sense of belonging to something. This is often how consensus votes are formed: what unites, rather than divides, voters?

So when the early awards come down, many humans feel inclined to agree, in order to get along and find harmonious sense of belonging. This consensus builds and becomes hard to shake.  That was why 2010 was so odd, with the entire film critic community backing the Social Network while the industry rejected it outright — they didn’t want t belong to a group that admired such cold and calculating characters. They’d much rather belong to the group that admired a sweet, cuddly, stuttering King with his cute little family and a while bunch of cute British people uniting against Hitler.  It remains the most interesting Best Picture race that I’ve ever seen, with the possible exception of the year 2000, when Gladiator, Traffic and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon were headed for the big prize.  There was division in the ranks for various reasons, most of them good.

When you think about what New York is going to do, you have to think: big statement. The past two years they’ve picked movies most people hadn’t seen. How dramatic that they named American Hustle Best Picture when everyone already knew that the two movies that could win were either Gravity or 12 Years a Slave (both films divided the consensus, uniting them over separate issues and objectives).  That prize launched American Hustle squarely in the race at a time when no one knew if the movie would land or not. When I saw it at a SAG screening I thought it went down badly. I thought: what a sloppy mess of a movie – while “fun” and entertaining, it is not going to have a shot against the other two films. Boy was I wrong. All it took was the anointing of “best” from the New York Film Critics OVER Gravity and 12 Years a Slave for that movie to suddenly become a powerful player. The Emperor’s New Clothes look mighty pretty today.  But here’s the question, did those critics really think American Hustle was better than Gravity or 12 Years a Slave, two films they reviewed as best of the year? Or did they merely want to stand out in a season that stuffs the turkey to the point of bursting?

12 Years a Slave Metacritic rating: 97
Gravity’s Metacritic rating: 96
American Hustle’s Metacritic rating: 90

90 is still very respectable. To me, that movie is about a 70, or a 75 to be charitable. But that just shows how little I know about what critics like.

Did they think it was best or did they want to stand out? Hard to say.  The National Board of Review then named Her Best Picture. They like to pick movies that no one else has chosen, thus making sure they also stand apart. That film was launched into the race in a big way.

Los Angeles then went for a tie between Gravity and Her, eliminating any big city critic’s approval of Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave. The film had been declared the Best Picture winner by Kyle Buchanan early in the race, which put a giant target on its back. Though it won, it was touch and go for a while there, with even the BAFTA awarding it their top prize but not screenplay, actor, etc.


In predicting these major awards, one has to factor in the desire to be different, not just from other critics but from what the predicted Oscar winner.  That’s a tough one. In the old days, before the awards-as-overstuffed-turkey days, they would merely pick “best” of the year.

They sometimes unite, as they did in 2012 with Zero Dark Thirty. Named “best picture and director” early, by the New York Film Critics, the film went on to be named best by the National Board of Review. But remember, the Los Angeles Film Critics mostly like to set themselves apart, so they went with Amour instead, which likely pushed Amour into the race, which also then gave Michael Haneke a Best Director nod instead of Kathryn Bigelow. It wouldn’t matter in the end because people like Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Sullivan would help lead a charge that demolished Zero Dark Thirty’s chances and pit film critics against political journalists until the movie was destroyed, perception wise. I remember one Los Angeles Film Critic member saying on Twitter, “we’re not going to vote for Zero Dark Thirty, I can tell you that.”  It wasn’t because they thought the film celebrated torture or admitted Americans got information from torturing (that is exactly what the movie says and exactly what really happened) but because the movie was winning everything and LA likes to stand apart.

The last time they were united in holy matrimony was – say it with me now:

2010 – The Social Network

But let’s do a quick chart of the last ten years since the date for Oscar changed to see how the three groups align for Best Picture:


Two things should be immediately apparent. 1) The Social Network is the only film in the last ten years to win all three critics groups, and the only film in their entire history to win all three groups and not win Best Picture other than LA Confidential (if you factor in the Golden Globes for Best Film Social Network is the only one to manage that).


2) since the Academy expanded their Best Picture category from 5 to 10, and then from 10 to a number between 5 and 10, all of their winners have gone on to be nominees.

Now, let’s get on to predictions.  We’ll be putting up our contest in the coming days but let’s start with a preliminary cheat sheet.

New York Film Critics
Top choices: Birdman, Boyhood or Foxcatcher
Would drastically change the race: Unbroken
Would really shift things: Selma

Los Angeles Film Critics
Top choices: Birdman, Boyhood or Foxcatcher
Depending on what New York decides, but we’re probably still looking at these.
The Scott Feinberg/Jeff Wells dream come true: CitizenFour
Big shocker that would change the race: A Most Violent Year

National Board of Review
Top choices: American Sniper, Selma, Unbroken
But would not surprise me if: Birdman, Boyhood or Foxcatcher

As you can see by the chart, it’s extremely rare to have the critics determine WHAT WILL WIN Best Picture but they are crucial in deciding which films start the proper race on top.  They generally pick films that are well reviewed, so you have to start there. So many films this year are surprisingly not that well reviewed as you’d think but Boyhood, Birdman and Foxcatcher seem to be the critics’ darlings thus far.

Unbroken is really the big question mark – if the New York Film Critics wanted to pull a third rabbit out of their hat they might pick that movie, which would then give the pundits further ammo to keep predicting a film they haven’t seen to win.  That still doesn’t mean it wins Best Picture at the Oscars, but it would sure help.

What they probably will shy away from overall? Gone Girl (except maybe the NBR that might name it as one of their top ten).  It earned mixed reviews from the critics and after the Social Network he’ll have to make a movie critics, not the ticket buying public, approve of.  If it were me voting, it would be a toss up between the films I think are the best of the year: Gone Girl, Selma, Boyhood, Inherent Vice.

How about you? How do you think they’re going to go?


Los Angeles Film Critics Association

  • Best Picture: TIE!! Gravity and Her
  • Best Director: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity; runner-up: Spike Jonze, Her
  • Best Actor: Bruce Dern, Nebraska; runner-up: Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
  • Best Actress: TIE!! Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine, and Adèle Exarchopoulos, Blue Is the Warmest Color
  • Best Supporting Actor: TIE! James Franco, Spring Breakers, and Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
  • Best Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave; runner-up: June Squibb, Nebraska
  • Best Screenplay: Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke,
  • Before Midnight; runner-up: Spike Jonze, Her
  • Best Foreign-Language Film: Blue Is the Warmest Color; runner-up: The Great Beauty
  • Best Feature Animation: Ernest & Celestine; runner-up: The Wind Rises
  • Best Documentary: Stories We Tell; runner-up: The Act of Killing
  • Best Music Score: T Bone Burnett, Inside Llewyn Davis; runner-up: Arcade Fire and Owen Pallett, Her
  • Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki, Gravity; Runner-up, Bruno Delbonnel, Inside Llewyn Davis
  • Best Editing: Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger, Gravity; Shane Carruth and David Lowery, Upstream Color
  • Best Production Design: K.K. Barrett, Her; Runner-up: Jess Gonchor, Inside Llewyn Davis
  • Douglas Edwards Independent/Experimental Film/Video Award:
  • Cabinets Of Wonder: Films and a Performance by Charlotte Pryce
  • The NEW GENERATION prize: Megan Ellison.

12 years

Boston Film Critics Association

  • Best Picture: 12 Years a Slave; runner-up: The Wolf of Wall Street
  • Best Director: , 1: runner-up: Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street
  • Best Actor: , : runner-up:, The of Wall Street
  • Best Actress: , Blue Jasmine: runner-up: Judi Dench in Philomena
  • Best Supporting Actor: Enough Said; runner-up: TIE! , Captain Phillips, and , Dallas Buyers Club
  • Best Supporting Actress: June Squibb, Nebraska; runner-up: Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
  • Best Screenplay: Enough Said; runner-up: Wolf of Wall Street
  • Best Documentary:  ; runner-up:
  • Best Animated Feature: The Wind Rises; runner-up: Frozen (near tie)
  • Best New Filmmaker: Ryan Coogler for ; runner-up: Josh Oppenheimer
  • Best Cinematography: Gravity, Emmanuel Lubezki; runner-up: The Grandmaster
  • Best Editing: Rush; runner up: Wolf of Wall Street
  • Best Use of Music in a Film: Inside Llewyn Davis; runner-up: Nebraska

Continue reading…

It was a very good day for Bret Easton Ellis in Los Angeles yesterday – although he hates Michael Haneke and Amour almost as much as he thinks Kathryn Bigelow is overrated and praised only because she’s a woman, he got some backing by the LA Film Critics yesterday when they shut out Zero Dark Thirty for the top two prizes.

As the awards watchers hunched over their Tweetdecks, and publicists watched hoping for a win, and contenders waited it out to see who won, the Los Angeles Film Critics, one of the oldest critics groups in the country, waged war against the general consensus. At the same time, the Boston Film Critics Society, formed back in the 1980s, quietly announced their winners without fanfare. The New York Film Critics Online, like LA, were tweeting their reactions to the voting, to the winners, and to those who didn’t win.  This happened in one day, over a span of a few hours, the drama unfolded on Twitter echoing the good, the bad and the ugly of the human nature we’re all stuck with.

The Los Angeles Film Critics tried so hard to come out from among them and be ye separate and it almost worked. They were almost able to pull off the claim that they  just liked these other films better. They would have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn’t been for a few pesky tweeters who betrayed (some of their) true motivations from behind closed doors. Was it the champagne they were drinking? Is it Twitter’s freeform style that allows us to admit much more than we otherwise would? Or was their desire to strike back stronger than their need for credibility? Does the awards race not matter to them until it suddenly does matter?  It’s hard to say. But when you start reading tweets like “at least it wasn’t Zero Dark Thirty” or “anything but “Daniel Day-Lewis”  the clouds begin to part and the angels sing.  It wasn’t really a vote for anything, was it. It was a vote AGAINST something else.

Continue reading…

Best Film: Amour
(runner-up:  The Master )
Best Director: Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master
(runner-up: Kathryn Bigelow)
Best Actress, tie: Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
and Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook 
Best Actor: Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
(runner-up: Denis Lavant, Holy Motors
Best Supporting Actor: Dwight Henry, Beasts of the Southern Wild
(runner-up: Christof Waltz, Django Unchained)
Best Supporting Actress:  Amy Adams, The Master
(runner-up: Anne Hathaway, The Dark Knight Rises and Les Miserables)
Continue reading…

Since one of the most important of the film critics groups announces tomorrow, it’s a good time to play a little No Guts, No Glory.

UP to three and make sure they’re good ones. Don’t forget to enter our contest. 

I’ll go first. I will choose two.

Best Picture: Looper
Best Actress: Emayatzy Corinealdi, Middle of Nowhere

Your turn.

This Sunday, the Los Angeles Film Critics will announce their awards. LA has been known to occasionally step out of the zone – they chose The Descendants last year, There Will Be Blood the year No Country was sweeping. It is nonetheless assumed that their winner will still be Zero Dark Thirty. The only possible upset, I figure, will be The Master. One of their members, and writer of the Gold Standard, Glenn Whipp, said on Twitter that he didn’t think the LA critics were going to go for Zero Dark Thirty.


What our Oscar wonk, Marshall Flores has to say about them:

Here are some stats and trends that may help in predicting the LAFCAs. On average, a LAFCA Best Film winner wins 3 awards total, compared to an average of 2 total at the NYFCC and the NBR. This is due to a a number of factors: Film and Screenplay are more likely to match at LAFCA (44%) than either NYFCC or the NBR (18% and 33%, respectively); Best Film gets both Director and Screenplay 3.5 times as often than at the NYFCC and the NBR. LAFCA also has additional tech awards (cinematography, production design and original score). At LAFCA, the Best Film winner gets Director 60% of the time, an acting award 51% of the time, and a tech award 27% of the time.

Continue reading…

Indiewire reports that the NBR will take place December 5, 2012, two days after the New York Film Critics and three days after their announcing date last year. What is the significance of this? There isn’t one except that the NYFCC will be the ones with their asses hanging out first. That’s a good thing for them, as Glenn Whipp reported earlier, “An NYFCC press release notes that the group’s awards are often viewed as harbingers of the Oscar nominations’. The circle’s awards are ‘also viewed — perhaps more accurately — as a principled alternative to the Oscars, honoring aesthetic merit in a forum that is immune to commercial and political pressures.”

Whipp then adds, “It’s curious that the author of the press release somehow fails to grasp that if you view yourself as a sort of (ahem) “principled alternative to the Oscars,” you probably shouldn’t mention the Oscars at all in your press release, much less tout your prizes as a precursor to those very same awards.”

December 3, 2012 – NYFCC
December 5, 2012 – NBR
December 7 – LAFCA (LA Film Critics)

They’ve only been around since 1975, but Los Angeles has, in its own funny way, carved out its own identity from the New York critics — perhaps part of that nowadays is due to the New York Times critics, inexplicably, not being part of the New York Film Critics circle. The New York Times. Also, we sort of deal in a more global film criticism community now so how do we start to distinguish one from the other? There is so much overlap. People who write about films and Oscars also vote in awards like the Critics Choice and the New York Film Critics Online and the Online Film Critics. The Critics Choice have always been a bit strange to me — simply because the people who vote on them are people like me —  Kris and David Poland and Jeff Wells and every Tom, Dick and Harry out there – that they refer to themselves as “critics,” is misleading.   I would never call myself a critic, for instance, which is why I never have joined that group.  I am a member of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists — and I and I can barely call myself a journalist.  If the BFCA called themselves Broadcast Film Critics and Bloggers that would more accurately reflect their voting membership.  As it is, they aren’t critics, and you are not a cop.

Continue reading…

The Los Angeles Film Critics Association announces it will vote to select its awards winners on Sunday December 11, and names Doris Day as this year’s career achievement honoree. Press release:

LOS ANGELES, OCTOBER 29, 2010 – Doris Day was selected to receive the Career Achievement Award, it was announced today by Brent Simon, President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA).

“Decades on from the main body of her work, Doris Day is still arguably the template to which Hollywood turns when trying to quantify and capture ‘girl-next-door’ appeal,” said Brent Simon. “Equally at home in snappish romantic comedies and more dramatic fare, Day was the biggest female star of the 1960s, giving a series of delightfully perceptive performances. LAFCA is thrilled to be able to honor her.”

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  • “The Social Network”
  • Runner-up: “Carlos”


  • Olivier Assayas, “Carlos,” and David Fincher, “The Social Network” (tie)


  • Colin Firth, “The King’s Speech”
  • Runner-up: Edgar Ramirez, “Carlos”


  • Kim Hye-ja, “Mother”
  • Runner-up: Jennifer Lawrence, “Winter’s Bone”


  • Niels Arestrup, “A Prophet”
  • Runner-up: Geoffrey Rush, “The King’s Speech”


  • Jacki Weaver, “Animal Kingdom”
  • Runner-up: Olivia Williams, “The Ghost Writer”


  • Aaron Sorkin, “The Social Network”
  • Runner-up: David Seidler, “The King’s Speech”

Continue reading…


If you think you are ready to do your worst, you may enter our contest to predict the New York and Los Angeles Film Critics — ENTER NOW!

Meanwhile, we have a few conditions of our own….Here are our predictions, such as they are. Remember, a grain of salt. Simply predicting what they will vote for can impact what they will vote for. ‘Tis human nature. They will all say, of course, that nothing impacts the way they vote and maybe they are right. I have no idea. But I settle into my armchair and make outlandish presumptions nonetheless.

Our players are Erik Anderson (ICS), Damien Bona (Inside Oscar), Ed Douglas (Coming Soon), Craig Kennedy (Living in Cinema), Kris Tapley (In Contention), Jeffrey Wells (Hollywood-Elsewhere) and AD, of course.

Continue reading…


Next weekend is going to likely shift the race in one direction or another. Up to now, we really have been just playing a guessing game, the kind where you throw it all up on the wall to see what sticks. But by the end of the weekend, when the New York Film Critics Online, the LA Film Critics and the New York Film Critics Circle announce their awards, it we should maybe have a better idea of consensus. It could also turn out to be all over the place and then we really do have a race on our hands. One odd pick by them could shift things, or it could be one of those American Splendor moments where it has nothing to do with anything at all. Sometimes a big move by them CAN alter the course of the race, but other times it proves interesting for sure, but has little or no impact on the way the Oscars turn out.

Continue reading…

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