Monday, December 15, 2008

The NYFCO and Other Millionaires

<-- Sally wins again!

Is Danny Boyle related to someone in the New York Film Critics Online? I'm just asking because they practically spl[censored for sensitive readers]er him today by giving Slumdog Millionaire a million prizes. OK OK, I exaggerate. It was only 5 prizes but that's, 33.3% of said prizes. Is this:
a) luck
b) compromise
c) overkill
d) destiny
You can see their whole list here. It's pretty standard stuff though I did love seeing Milk pick up an ensemble prize --good call. I'm glad they repeated the Sally Hawkins for Best Actress critical meme because then I could rework my NYFCC graphic likeso. Less work for Natty! And it's 12:30 AM and this post isn't even half over so I'm all about the concept of less work.

In other critics org news the Alliance of Women Film Journalists (hi, awkward title) also quivered under their bodices over that rags to riches tale of the game show orphan handing it both Picture and Director. Someone wake me when the Slumdog awards are over in March. Their entire list is here. They do have some special categories.


There's also the Chicago Film Critics nominations. At one point in my awards addiction I loved that this group did nominations before the winners, mixing the critics awards routine up a bit. But now, after years of overkill in precursors --too many groups and too little individuality to justify having 27 organizations instead of, say, 10 -- it feels like empty king of the mountain posturing. Just announce your winners like everyone else. That said they do have a best picture lineup (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Dark Knight, Milk, Slumdog Millionaire, WALL-E) that would satisfy many and is also fairly representative of the film year rather than just hype/publicity for films that haven't opened yet: a trap that many other groups fall into each year, unable to think past the onslaught of wintry preordained Oscar Bait glut. Full list of nominations here.

Finally the AFI made their top ten announcement and I have to say the results are kind of a snore: Benjamin Button, The Dark Knight, Frost/Nixon, Frozen River, Gran Torino, Iron Man, Milk, WALL•E, Wendy & Lucy and The Wrestler. The only truly interesting move is putting Wendy & Lucy in there. It's annoying that it's 50% December releases but what can you do. Nobody who doesn't obsess on movies and keep excel spreadsheets all year long can remember a damn thing about what happened prior to Halloween in any given year... unless you're talking blockbusters. Everyone can remember those.

In the end, this list just reminds me that lists by committee are too bland to give a damn about. Unless by "list" you mean "shortlist" and by "shortlist" you mean "Oscar nominees" in which case: gimme! This is why I treasure "personal awards"... not just my own, mind you. I love hearing what one person thinks about what the best of the year is. Those lists have idiosyncratic flavor (unless that person hasn't developed their own aesthetic sensibility). When you get a whole group together it's almost impossible to avoid the flavorless.
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19 comments:

Peter Chan said...

I choose 'D'.

I finally saw 'Slumdog' tonight and realized a movie that can easily be called 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire: The Movie' can be my favorite film of the year.

FenixPahedi said...

Nominees of the chicago film association have been announced. Post them please and you'll see the perfect lineup for best picture !

Ryan said...

Oh please: C...

I'm getting so sick of this movie.

Shawn said...

D! It is written.

BTW my own theory on why Slumdog is winning A LOT is because it probably has roughly the same #1s as other films like Milk, Wall-E, Benjamin Button, Dark knight, BUT it's probably EVERYONE'S (or nearly everyone's) second choice.

I just love that I film I loved is getting the kudos.

Janice said...

And it's completely non-controversial, feel-good, and not completely embarrassing at the same time (hello, Australia). Apparently AMPAS freaked themselves out with their choices last year.

Nat - "quivering under their bodices"? Really.

ModFab said...

The NYFCO, more than any other critics' group, is really just a group of publicity-seeking prostitutes masquerading as film critics. The people in the group are known throughout the industry and among critics (even the onliners, like us) as pretty shady and insubstantial.

That said, SLUMDOG is a good movie. It's not my pick, but the good will it's picked up doesn't make me hate it more. Although I expect the backlash (and the backlash to the backlash) any day now...

NATHANIEL R said...

Janice -- it's a joke from Addams Family Values. Obscure old joke but I couldn't help it. Especially when they have categories like "Best Seduction!"

NATHANIEL R said...

ModFab --yes backlashes are coming. They're on their way. And not just the anti-slumdog brigade

as for NYFCO... I am friends with 2 members so I can't comment on your perception there except to say that there are some pretty big names among their ranks (Stephanie Zacharek, Glenn Kenny, etcetera).

But that said... there are a lot of organizations and groups with questionable membership practices. Or at least confusing ones. I'll never understand for example why Rex Reed a print critic is among their ranks. The excuse is that the New York Observer has a website but what print publication doesn't?

Nick M. said...

This whole idea of "destiny" is total nonsense in relation to the film. Listen, critics and organization voters, you have the choice not to vote for such a maudlin, obvious film.

Every discussion I've been in regarding this film has been full of "justifications" on the part of the movie's apologists (err, I mean defenders), not solid arguments.

Rick said...

I totally agree with ModFab ..

I am really surprised by the Hawkins love .. truly at least 3 other better actreeses this year.

I found her role OK, but quite monotonous...

Anonymous said...

Sally Hawkins deserves all her accolades and then some. She should win the Oscar, but won't.

ed gonzalez said...

Nathaniel: Yes, the love going around for SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE was quite effusive, but while it pissed off quite a bit of the voting bloc that the film was winning everything, most of the naysayers (like Glenn) understood that it could have been worse. Seems like Fox Searchlight really does have a Best Picture winner on their hands. But what do I know, I'm just a shady, insubstantial, publicity-seeking prostitute masquerading as a film critic.

NATHANIEL R said...

hee.

Although... is it really going to win best picture? I have my doubts but i do worry since i like it much less than some of the other choices.

i really wish i liked benjamin button more being a longtime champion of Fincher's work but it just doesn't feel as, um, Finchery as I'd like it to feel. And it's definitely not as haunting as Zodiac... in some ways I'm not sure it knows exactly what it wants to be: life affirming? haunting? creepy? cathartic? romantic? bittersweet? and like it's just trying to be everything at once...

which come to think of it is often the way to win best picture. Be everything.

JorgeRodrigues said...

I'm going crazy about all the praise to this OVERRATED picture... My good, isn't there something else other than Slumdog? Gee, looking at film critics' awards it can make someone think this was a slow movie year...

Slumdog looks fine to me but there are many films that need a push to the Oscars and that aren't having it. It's not that they need it but I think «Curious Case of BB» or «The Dark Knight» could win some awards too you know...


LOL. Hawkins will get nominated but her role, although joyful and fun, it's not at all oscary... We'll see. I believe in a Hathaway vs. Hawkins fight. Oscar WILL be different this year.

More open to what the public wants I believe (call it the side effects of having the lowest audience rate from the past decade :D)

JorgeRodrigues said...

Best Picture will go to The Dark Knight.

Will get A LOT of #2 in the Guilds list and A LOT of #1 (not as many as Slumdog apparently :S god stupid film - it's in my top 5 but it's still very annoying)

Curious Case will battle it out with Milk and they will cancel each other out. Frost/Nixon or Revolutionary Road will only appeal to very-aged members (the problem that TDK will have to overcome since I don't believe many sixty-year-old members like this kind of movie...) That leaves Slumdog and The Dark Knight to be. With Ledger taking the win for Supporting, I believe that the acting branch from AMPAS will prefer to vote in TDK rather than Slumdog (and you know, they are the biggest group in AMPAS!)

So eventually The Dark Knight will rise victorious, giving Nolan the steam to produce another sequel to this beloved franchise.

JorgeRodrigues said...

Or not. I really don't know at this point. :)

NATHANIEL R said...

Jorge --your right about older member digging FROSTNIXON but it's important to remember that for all the media coverage of the academy getting younger... they're median age is still much older than oscar fans :)

so FROST/NIXON is going to have a lot of votes. I hope WALL-E makes it in but it would have to unseat FROST/NIXON and or THE DARK KNIGHT and i don't know that that's possible

Arkaan said...

Not as haunting as Zodiac? I really disliked Zodiac. I actually vented on the internet about Zodiac while I was still watching it it was so goddamn long and pointless. And really ugly. And obvious. Gah, I'm so glad that film was snubbed by critics awards, even if they only did it because it was released too early.

I'm really beginning to believe in WALL.E, honestly. The year is so wierd. As Nick/Joe pointed out in the podcast, when a David Fincher film is the frontrunner for most nods, Danny Boyle has a major academy breakthrough (his previous films combine for a grand total of... one nomination) and Gus Van Sant is mainstreaming it in a biopic - it's gonna be a wierd year. WALL.E will get number ones. I don't know if it'll get enough, but I do think it can unset TDK.

Glenn said...

I like that Chicago nominated Andrew Stanton for Best Director.