That no African American female has never won Best Actress at the New York Film Critics is not a comment on the available talent, but rather a comment on the film critics themselves. Regina Hall headlines Support the Girls, a film about highlighting working women. It’s written and directed by Harvard grad and godfather of Mumblecore, Andrew Bujalski. It has so far avoided blowback on that score, though it has flown under the radar, making just $129,000 at the box office, but it was definitely a favorite of film critics at the Gothams and now at the New York Film Critics.
The New York Film Critics have in the past (as has Los Angeles) made big movies that reach way way outside the confines of the awards race, which tends to bottleneck around a few names. This year, Best Actress is more competitive than ever.
Does that mean Regina Hall gets in? Maybe. Who knows. We in the awards race simply do the best we can based on intel we get throughout the year: what is getting the biggest buzz, who has the most tenacious publicist, what film is hitting the zeitgeist, what film has avoided shitstorms, and what performers are overdue for recognition. We do the best we can and we’ve come up with a list of five so far, a tight five.
Lady Gaga, A Star is Born
Glenn Close, The Wife
It was Melissa McCarthy in Can You Ever Forgive Me, but for whatever reason the critics have not seemed to see nor appreciate McCarthy in her first high profile serious role. They liked her when she was funny in Bridesmaids and Spy, but here not so much. So at this point it does seem like her position might be slightly weakened.
Olivia Colman — the sole lead nominee from The Favourite is also one who was expected to hit somewhere in the critics awards yet so far has not. So does this mean her spot is vulnerable?
Viola Davis — working at a level of career achievement where her headlining Widows should mean she is line for a Best Actress nomination and will need support from critics.
After that, you have:
Toni Collette, Hereditary
Nicole Kidman, Destroyer
Julia Roberts, Ben Is Back
Rosamund Pike, A Private War
Yalitza Aparicio, Roma
Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade
Emily Blunt, Mary Poppins Returns
So to make room for Regina Hall, there has to be some wiggle room somewhere. I guess we’ll have to see it goes. Either way, it’s great that her performance and the cast in the film are getting some worthy attention.
Beyond that, New York seemed to be a very close sibling to the Gothams, which isn’t that surprising considering many of their most influential members also decided the Gothams. The winners and sensibilities were quite similar, with not a lot of differences. Paul Schrader’s First Reformed is looking like a solid contender at the moment, as is Roma to triumph in these early critics awards. Eighth Grade is also staying strong and holding its buzz.
Onward to AFI and then to Los Angeles and the Golden Globe nominations.