Awards: Are NYFCC and NBR winners “Her” and “American Hustle destined for gold?

Full Chart of winners after the jump.

It’s not really a rare occurrence that the New York Film Critics Association and the National Board of Review disagree with each other. They are usually the first precursors of the year, and truthfully they often mean very little for later ceremonies. Still, these decisions can have factors in the race to the Oscars.

Yesterday prognosticators were blindsided by “American Hustle” not only winning the NYFCC’s coveted best picture title, but also winning awards for its screenplay and Jennifer Lawrence’s supporting performance. Many had predicted it’d have some success with awards, but not that it’d breakthrough critical darlings “12 Years a Slave” and “Gravity.” Early consensus has stated that the film is good, but not that good.
Today the National Board of Review gave their best picture award to Spike Jonze’s “Her,” a film that has been receiving very high critical praise, but prognosticators have been cautious to predict due to its themes not being historically award friendly.Sneaks Scarlett JohanssonIn 2010 the majority of critic’s awards went for “The Social Network,” NYFCC and NBR followed suit, in the end “The King’s Speech” won the Oscar. In 2011 NBR and NYFCC kicked off the season giving “The Artist” back-to-back victories, the film eventually went on to win the Oscar. Last year it was “Zero Dark Thirty” that swept critic awards, another film the NBR and NYFCC agreed on, but was ultimately trumped by “Argo.”

So do these NBR and NYFCC awards mean something? Yes, but very little. This time of year many groups will be awarding their favorites, the momentum officially changed for “Zero Dark Thirty” last year when the HFPA awarded “Argo” the best drama award at the golden globes (there were other factors too.) So even with all the critics giving “Zero Dark Thirty” the praise, the HFPA and the Academy leaned towards “Argo.”Film-Review-NebraskaMomentum is what is important, and even though it is small “American Hustle” and “Her” have some momentum; which in this years crowded race they desperately needed. What is really interesting is how much the NYFCC and NBR disagreed with each other. If they had both went “American Hustle” it would’ve been decided that that was the film to beat, but the NBR didn’t even place “American Hustle” in its “top 10 films” category. The film received no attention at all from the NBR; while “Her” received no attention at all from the NYFCC.

In the beginning it was “12 Years a Slave” and “Gravity” they had the reviews, they held the momentum, and now people are realizing that they may not be the true front-runners after all. No film really has it in the bag at this point, so it’s definitely going to be an unpredictable award season. Here are some other interesting things we have learned from the NBR and NYFCC awards.fruitvale-aoas-articleLarge

American Hustle could be a threat – Despite receiving no attention from the NBR, it still won the top prize at NYFCC including attention for Lawrence and screenplay. “Hustle” can and should be considered a strong contender for a nomination (and maybe a win) as best picture of the year. Period.

Her could be a threat – The argument that “Her” isn’t a contender because it isn’t a “Oscar Movie” is invalid. It has the release date and the critical reception to be a serious contender and could show up in more categories across the board at the Oscars.

Cate Blanchett, Robert Redford, and Jared Leto are still on top – All considered early front-runners should stay at the top of the lists. NBR didn’t pick any of them, but they didn’t have to. The NYFCC win for these actors just reaffirms that they ARE the front-runners.

Inside Llewyn Davis and Bruno Delbonnel are in for Cinematography – It may have been downright wrong that Emmanuel Lubezki lost out for his work in “Gravity” in this category with the NYFCC, and “Gravity” should still be the Oscar front-runner here, but maybe “Llewyn Davis” should be lingering in the second slot.

Jennifer Lawrence is good in American Hustle – She is probably getting the most praise from the high-profile cast in “American Hustle” and the supporting actress category is starting to look even more mysterious than the supporting actor category. I’d say Lawrence is a definite safe bet at this point in the game.

Lupita Nyong’o and Oprah Winfrey shouldn’t be front-runners – Or you know, maybe they should be still. Octavia Spencer and Lawrence are our winners for now and will definitely contend, but maybe Nyong’o and Winfrey aren’t as strong as we originally presumed.

The Butler may not be in this race – It was hard figuring out who Weinstein would really back for Oscars this year. “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” is TWC’s box-office darling, but with low critical praise and without any attention for Oprah and not making NBRs top 10 (when so many non-contenders made it) definitely hurts it.

The Wind Rises > Frozen – It sad to see Miyazaki leave the world of animated film-making, but it looks like he is going to be handed on Oscar on the way out. “The Wind Rises” won with the NYFCC and the NBR and the contest between it and “Frozen” is looking less and less tight every day.

The Past likely could win the Foreign Film Oscar – It should definitely be considered to possibly win the foreign film Oscar, especially since “Blue is the Warmest Color” doesn’t qualify.

Fruitvale Station still has momentum – The NBR is notorious for going outside the norm, giving Bradley Cooper a best acting award last year when everyone else was screaming Daniel Day-Lewis. It’s interesting that this group, is giving so much attention to Sundance Winner “Fruitvale Station” which has been building momentum with wins for Ryan Coogler as best first-time director. This may be the one Weinstein competes with.

August: Osage County may fall short – Really depends on SAG, it seems like the film, if anything, deserves some attention for its talented ensemble. This could give it even more momentum.

Stories We Tell > The Act of Killing – Many loved “Stories We Tell” and after two documentary victories, it is definitely the front-runner in this category over “The Act of Killing”

Bruce Dern and Nebraska are still in this – As little as the NBR victories mean to the long-term awards race, it is still interesting to see how much attention “Nebraska” got. Making the top 10 films list and giving an award to Bruce Dern in a very packed best actor race.

There are many more things that can be taken away from these awards, but those were the key things to look at. The LAFCA is next and there strongest contenders for this group seem to be “Her,” “Blue is the Warmest Color,” and “Nebraska.” But who knows, maybe “The Wolf of Wall Street” or “American Hustle” will run away with it, or maybe “12 Years a Slave” or “Gravity” will finally show up. We’ll see. If “Her” or “American Hustle” wins then yes, we need to start paying attention.

Here is where we stand so far:

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National Board of Review Lists:

Top 10 Films
12 Years a Slave
Fruitvale Station
Inside Llewyn Davis
Lone Survivor
Saving Mr. Banks
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
The Wolf of Wall Street

Top 5 Foreign Films
Beyond the Hills
The Grandmaster
A Hijacking
The Hunt

Top 5 Documentaries
20 Feet from Stardom
The Act of Killing
After Tiller
Casting By
The Square

Top 10 Independent Films
Ain’t Them Bodies Saints
Dallas Buyers Club
In A World…
Mother of George
Much Ado About Nothing
The Place Beyond the Pines
Short Term 12
The Spectacular Now